AMD‘s new Navi GPUs are finally almost upon us. Unveiled at AMD’s E3 2019 Next Horizon Gaming event and launching on July 7, the first two Navi graphics cards going on sale will be the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT, which are AMD’s answers to Nvidia’s RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 cards respectively. Based on AMD’s all-new 7nm (nanometer) architecture known as RDNA (or Radeon DNA), these two Navi GPUs might just be the thing to put AMD back in the best graphics card game. Here’s everything we know so far about their price, specs and performance.
AMD Navi: what is it?
Navi is the name of AMD’s new family of Radeon RX 5000 graphics cards. Set to replace AMD’s current Radeon RX Vega cards (but not the Radeon 7, which will continue to co-exist with the new Navi GPUs, according to AMD’s most recent roadmap), Navi will use a 7nm manufacturing process, as well as a brand-new GPU architecture known as RDNA, or Radeon DNA, which has been built from the ground up to make Navi more efficient (and therefore powerful) than AMD’s current-gen graphics cards.
RDNA sounds like it’s going to be quite the step up from AMD’s previous GCN architecture. It not only has a brand new compute unit design that’s focused on efficiency and doing lots and lots of things simultaneously while keeping power and latency nice and low, but it also has a new, streamlined graphics engine that ties everything together, offering performance speeds that are 1.5x or higher per watt compared to AMD’s existing Vega GPUs.
AMD Navi release date
After a heck of a long wait, the first two AMD Navi GPUs will arrive on July 7 2019. The RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT will both launch on the same day, and yes, 7/7 is a very apt date given their 7nm manufacturing process.
It’s certainly been a long time coming, as there was once a time when Navi was supposed to arrive by the end of 2018. But then the 14nm version of Vega got pushed back (the Vega 56 and 64), which in turn bumped back the 7nm version of Vega. The latter finally came out earlier this year in the form of the Radeon 7, but it also means this continual shuffling back of release dates also caused further delays to the launch of AMD’s 7nm Navi GPUs.
Finally, though, we have a date, and it’s coming very, very soon.
AMD Navi price
The next question, though, is how much are the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT going to cost? Well, as confirmed during AMD’s E3 press conference, the RX 5700 XT will launch at a competitive $449 (UK pricing TBC), while the regular RX 5700 will cost $379. The latter isn’t quite as low as I was hoping given you can find a lot of Nvidia RTX 2060 cards for $349 these days, but AMD’s argument at least is that its supposedly superior performance will help make it worth the extra expense.
Speaking of which…
AMD Navi specs
Let’s talk specs. You can see all the finer details in the images below, but arguably one of the biggest surprises about the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT Navi cards is the type of memory they use. Whereas previous high-end AMD graphics cards have tended to favour HBM2 (or 2nd Gen High Bandwidth Memory), both the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT will come with 8GB of GDDR6 memory – the same type of memory found in all of the Nvidia RTX graphics cards. What’s more, the RX 5700 will have 2GB more of the stuff than Nvidia’s RTX 2060, which only comes with 6GB of GDDR6.
AMD have also listed a ‘game clock’ in their RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT spec sheets, which is a new term they’re using to refer to the kind of average clock speed you’ll see when playing games. Of course, these things fluctuate all over the place depending on the game and the intensity of what’s happening onscreen, but considering the maximum boost clock speeds for Nvidia’s RTX 2070 and RTX 2060 Founders Edition cards only reach as high as 1710Hz and 1680MHz respectively, it looks like both of AMD’s cards are going to be just that little bit faster overall.
They’re going to be the world’s first gaming GPUs to support the super fast PCIe 4.0 standard as well, which massively increases the amount of bandwidth available to your graphics card from your motherboard. You’ll need a PCIe 4.0 motherboard to take advantage of it, of course, but it will likely be the only way to make the most of what AMD’s offering with their new Navi GPUs.
One thing AMD hasn’t talked about so far, though, is whether their new RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT Navi GPUs will support ray tracing – the fancy new lighting tech that’s currently one of the big selling points of Nvidia’s RTX family of graphics cards, as well as the AMD Navi-powered PS5 and Microsoft’s Project Scarlett. I must admit, I was surprised AMD didn’t mention it in their E3 Next Horizon Gaming event, but I’ll be putting the question to them next week when I go and take a look at the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT in person. After all, why else would they tease us with an Radeon RX Vega 56-powered ray tracing demo back at GDC? It’s still possible, of course, that ray tracing will just be a unique property of AMD’s custom Navi chips for the next gen console boxes, but when everyone and their dogs are barking about ray tracing this and ray tracing that these days, I’d be astonished if the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT gave it a miss entirely.
Instead, the only special features we do know about are AMD’s Fidelity FX and Radeon Anti-Lag. The former is an open-source toolkit designed to make low-contrast areas of a game look just that teensy bit sharper without taking a knock on performance (as demonstrated by the Borderlands 3 example below), while the latter is meant to cut down the amount of lag there is between you clicking your mouse and the action appearing onscreen.
Arguably, neither feature is quite as instantly sexy as ‘Hey, look at all these incredible new lighting effects!’ but for competitive, esports-y types, AMD’s Radeon Anti-Lag could be quite attractive. In AMD’s E3 presentation, they claimed the RTX 2070’s input lag was around 59ms, while the RX 5700 XT came in just below it at around 56ms. That’s definitely not something you’re going to notice in everyday use, but enable AMD’s Radeon Anti-Lag and that figure drops to around 44ms, which AMD claims will give you an extra frame and a half of performance back. Again, us plebs with normal human reflexes probably won’t notice this in the slightest, but if you’re a twitchy shooter fan who lives, breathes and eats minuscule frame rates for dinner, then Navi might just be able to give you that competitive edge against Nvidia players.
Here’s a graph showing the kind of click-to-response time speeds you can expect with the RX 5700 XT both with and without Radeon Anti-Lag enabled:
AMD Navi performance
Enough chat about specs and features, though. What about performance? Well, I’ll be testing both cards with my own suite of gaming benchmarks as soon as I can, but right now, AMD are pitching both cards as max settings 2560×1440 GPUs, with the RX 5700 coming in around 10% faster than the RTX 2060. Here’s one of AMD’s graphs comparing the two cards side by side, although without exact frame rate scores it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of boost we’re actually looking at here.
As for the RX 5700 XT, AMD have only shown off two performance demos so far – Strange Brigade at Computex and World War Z at E3 – but it’s once again good news compared to the RTX 2070. In Strange Brigade,the RX 5700 XT was around 10% faster than the RTX 2070, and in World War Z they showed it finishing the game’s built-in benchmark an average of 15fps faster than its Nvidia rival at 1440p on Ultra quality settings. Whereas the RTX 2070 finished in 102fps, the RX 5700 XT came in with a result of 117fps.
That’s pretty good news for owners of high refresh rate 1440p monitors, but it’s also important to bear in mind that both Strange Brigade and World War Z have been included in AMD’s previous free game bundles and are thus more likely to favour AMD’s hardware than Nvidia’s. Still, if the RX 5700 XT can maintain this kind of lead over Nvidia’s RTX 2070 elsewhere while also costing $50 less, then it could be a very tempting graphics card indeed for those after a top notch 1440p experience.
I will, of course, be testing both cards myself as soon as I’m physically able, so stay tuned for more performance analysis closer to launch on July 7.