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MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT GAMING X Review

By Damien Gula on November 12, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT GAMING X Review

AMD has dealt a hot hand with their summer release of the new Navi architecture. The RX 5700 and 5700 XT fit into a midrange price market and performance segment that AMD has needed to be in and their board partners have helped fill that sector with a myriad of options. The tricky space for these GPUs has been to remain budget friendly while overshadowing their competition with pure frames-per-second performance power. Into this cluster, MSI releases a new challenger. This is our review of the MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT GAMING X.

Specifications

  • MSRP: $449.99 (via Newegg)
  • Core Clock: 1730 MHz (Base), 1870 MHz (Game), 1980 MHz (Boost)
  • Memory: 8 GB 256-Bit GDDR6
  • Memory Clock: 14 Gbps
  • Stream Processes: 2560
  • Power Delivery: 10+1 Phase Power
  • Bus: PCI-e 4.0
  • Ports: 3x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0b
  • Cooling: TWIN FROZR 7 Thermal Design, Torx Fan 3.0 fan design (2x fans)
  • RGB Logo with MSI Mystic Light
  • Backplate: Black and Gunmetal Grey Metal Plate
  • Size: 2.5 slot

While they already have three other 5700 XT on the market, the GAMING X stands head and shoulders above the pack as the flagship offering from MSI. With a core clock speed 125 MHz higher than the reference edition, the MSI RX 5700 XT GAMING X offers a modest performance bump.

A clock boost, however, won’t be of benefit with the card itself can’t handle the heat. Enter the GAMING X’s double-threat: twin Torx 3.0 fans with TWIN FROZR 7 thermal design. This thermal system partners heat piping, their placement, and fan coverage to provide efficient airflow to keep components cool. Does it really work? We’ll find out shortly.

Speaking of design, the GAMING X has sleek, two-toned gunmetal gray design with a solid metal backplate to match. With on-brand red accents and subtle programmable RGB on the side of the GPU, MSI has delivered a GPU that is both well-built and beautiful, albeit a bit on the heavy side. Then again, so was the ASRock Taichi we reviewed a few weeks ago.

With a solid design, higher core clock, and promises of thermal control, how does the MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT GAMING X perform?

Let’s dive into the numbers:

Benchmarks and Thermal Performance

Before we get into the numbers, here are the system specifications for our test bench:

  • CPU: Ryzen 5 2600X
  • Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H100i RGB Platinum SE (Closed loop cooler)
  • RAM: 16 GB Patriot Viper Gaming RGB, 16 GB Silicon Power Gaming Turbine
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte X470 AORUS Gaming 7 WiFi
  • GPU: MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT Gaming X
  • Storage: 1TB WD_Black SN750, 1 TB Seagate FireCuda
  • PSU: NZXT E850
  • Case: NZXT H510 Elite

Since the RX 5700 XT promises to be the premier 1440p card, we will be focusing test numbers within both the 1440p and 1080p ranges, adding in some of the 4K numbers for comparison. Alongside MSI’s RX 5700 XT offering, we will be providing results for the same tests used on the ASRock Taichi RX 5700 XT, the Gigabyte RTX 2070 WINDFORCE 8G (non-SUPER), and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition cards.

We will also be making some reference to the PowerColor Red Devil RX580 as well as the GTX Titan X (Maxwell). Here is why: While both GPUs are older, the RX580 is a point of reverence for AMD’s frontrunner in the midrange. In the case of the Maxwell Titan X, in gaming it shares similar performance numbers to the GTX 1070 (with the Titan of old edging it out slightly). Since it was the closest proxy I had available and the GTX 1070 is still a GPU that occupies the price point that the RX 5700 XT falls within, we have included these numbers.

It is also worth noting that while the RX 5700 XT can operate in the new PCIe 4.0 bus, our testing was done in PCIe 3.0. This should not impact performance numbers.

Our first synthetic test is the 3DMark Time Spy Extreme. This benchmark shows MSI’s offering blowing the doors off of the RX580 in both 1440p and 1080p tests, while falling slightly behind ASRock’s Taichi with it’s higher core clock speed. Much like the other 5700 XT, we see MSI’s card splitting the performance difference between the RTX 2070 and the RTX 2080. Performance at 4K still leaves a bit to be desired, however, the MSI GAMING X outperformed both the RTX 2070 and the ASRock 5700 XT (non-overclock) right out of the box.

Moving along to our gaming tests, we used some of the highest settings available in these modern titles, disabling settings like RTX and DLSS (where available) to give us as close a comparison as possible between GPUs.

While these numbers are a bit more anecdotal (and nearly impossible to capture), one set of FPS results that was tricky to quantify are those drawn from Destiny 2. What we were able to gather was this: we saw FPS averages in high combat encounters were the mid-80s to 90s - much like ASRock’s offering performed. Interestingly, the performance of MSI’s Radeon RX 5700 XT GAMING X was almost indistinguishable from that of the Founder’s Edition RTX 2080. While these numbers are not in a chart since they are not exact, we were, however, able to grab temperatures and fan speeds while testing. Those will be included later.

Comparing 5700 XTs, we see an interesting fight back and further between the MSI and ASRock cards. At highest settings, MSI’s RX 5700 XT average frame rates in both 1080p and 1440p hovered ~80 FPS with Far Cry 5 whereas ASRock’s 5700 XT could not seem to average above 75 on either. In Warhammer: Vermintide 2, both 5700 XT cards were neck and neck at 1440p with the ASRock Taichi coming in at 93 FPS and MSI’s GAMING X at 96. Interestingly enough, the RTX 2080 came in at 97 FPS. Not too shabby on it’s own, but this information is even better considering that the RX 580 showed a meager 50 FPS and the Titan X at 65.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we reinforced a trend that we saw before. While this was one of the first application designed to implement features promised with the RTX cards and heavily favor NVIDIA, MSI’s GAMING X closes the gap between the 5700 XT and the RTX 2080. In our 1440p tests, the GAMING X has a 9 FPS lead over the RTX 2080 in averages frame rates - 86 to 77 and the RTX 2070 at 86 to 66.

Navi is proving to be quite the specimen.

That lead takes a bit of a hit in the Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood benchmark. Both RX 5700 XTs were beat out by a significant margin by the RTX 2070 and with performance of the RTX 2080 nearly untouchable. The MSI RX 5700 XT did, however,  beat out ASRock’s and show continued improvement over the RX580.

The Final Fantasy XV Benchmark, showed a similar picture to what we saw with Time Spy: a more even playing field for the 5700 XTs, sandwiched squarely between the performance data for the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080.

Within all of this performance, does the MSI’s promise to keep things cool hold up to the heat?

In a word: Yes. In two words: Emphatically, yes.

The MSI 5700 XT GAMING X does just that what it promises. It keeps the GPU cool under load while maintaining solid performance. While this is in large part due to the fan speeds, even after rapid-fire batteries of tests, the GAMING X remained below 80 C for the majority of our testing. The closed it got to that was 76 C, which, ironically, was the lowest temperature recorded by the ASRock Taichi in its performance-forward OC BIOS mode.

Speaking of performance comparisons, much like the ASRock Taichi, there MSI GAMING X did not perform well enough with overclocking where we would recommend it. While we did not get deep into finer tuned overclocking, we used MSI Afterburner to safely increase power to the card and fan speeds in both cases. The ASRock RX 5700 XT did show some signs of improvement in 4K performance in TimeSpy, but we saw the opposite in the GAMING X: a degradation. 

Final Thoughts

Coming in around $450 USD, the MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT GAMING X finds itself in similar territory with its higher-end 5700 XT counterparts. Its pricing puts it in striking range of the RTX 2070 (Non-SUPER) and RTX 2060 SUPER. This is where we recommend you, the consumer, take inventory of what is important to you: the promise (and delivery) of pure performance or the anticipation (and present implementation) of cutting-edge technology?

The MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT GAMING X is a well build card that is both parts beauty and brawn. It’s solid construction and delivery of thermal control make this, in our summation, a card that will be able to hand with the pack for a while. As previously mentioned, it is on the heavier side, so we would recommend using this in a motherboard with reinforced PCI slots!

Performance-wise, the GAMING X is a standout GPU. With our test numbers showing it edge out the RTX 2070 and come close to the RTX 2080 (at nearly half the price), MSI’s flagship 5700 XT is a solid choice if you are upgrading from a lower-end GPU or building fresh.

Pros

  • Thermal management is handled exceptionally well
  • Great performance leap over previous generation
  • Strong contender for AMD’s best high-end 1440p GPU at a midrange price

Cons

  • This is a heavy card - I noticed some sagging within the PCI slot.
  • While it makes a decent 4K showing, we would have liked to have seen better performance out of the box

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.