This summer saw AMD and NVIDIA release new GPUs. AMD launched two entirely new cards, the RX 5700 and 5700XT based on the ‘Navi’ architecture, whilst NVIDIA refreshed their products using the existing ‘Turing’ architecture to squeeze out a bit more performance and suffixed these cards with the ‘SUPER’ designation. The higher specification AMD card is the 5700 XT which promises excellent 1440p performance, and (after a launch day price drop) aggressive pricing to pitch it directly at NVIDIAs 1440p offerings. At $400-$500 (£400-£500) you’ve got a host of non-blower 5700XT cards to pick from, whilst spending a little more, $500/£500 sees you into the realm of the RTX 2070 SUPER.
Both of these cards are pitched squarely at the mid-market 1440p sectors, offering excellent performance and their own take on what gamers want: The value of the 5700XT, or the additional features built into the RTX 2070 SUPER with hardware ray-tracing and stream encoding.
In this article we’ll examine the performance of these two GPU’s and assess which might suit your premium build best.
The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT: Power to the people
The AMD Radeon RX 5700XT continues AMD’s tradition of bringing a lot of performance to consumers at an attractive price. Initially, these cards were available only as reference ‘blower’ designs from a handful of partner manufacturers and benchmarks showed them running hot enough to thermally throttle – not a great start. Manufacturers have now had time to refine and release multi-fan versions of the cards, enabling the GPU to run to its full potential whilst creating less noise and shedding heat much more effectively. We’d certainly only recommend an axial fan version of this card for the sake of your ears and superior performance.
The card delivers reasonable efficiency from the ‘7nm’ Navi architecture, with a claimed 225W power draw, and this time around AMD have dropped the expensive HBM memory offered on their Vega cards in preference for GDDR6 primarily to keep costs down and availability high. AMD’s drivers include enthusiast features like inbuilt overclocking software – wattman is buried in Radeon global settings but is a very powerful tweaking tool. AMD is marketing this as a strong 1440p GPU and the benchmarks back this up. This GPU will not disappoint in even the most demanding titles at 1440p.
The NVIDIA RTX 2070 SUPER: Premium but pricey
The RTX 2070 has been superseded less than a year after its launch by the upgraded RTX 2070 SUPER. This GPU uses the same ‘Turing’ die, but opens it up by adding about 200mhz on clock speed, another 256 CUDA cores and 40 texture units (bringing them to 2560 and 184 respectively). This has provided a healthy bump in performance, but as ever NVIDIA makes certain that you’re paying for it! These cards start at $500/£500, roughly where the 5700XT offerings tail off. Is it worth the extra spend? That really hinges on how much value you place in the added extras of the tensor cores which promise to use AI to boost performance using the anti-aliasing technique ‘DLSS’, and the possibility of exploring hardware Ray tracing technology using the RTX cores. Right now, we’d advise that these features are in their introductory phase rather than a fully-fledged must-have feature. One very worthwhile trick is the inclusion of the hardware nvenc encoder, giving the ability to stream with minimal system overhead. If you’re a content creator and streamer then an NVIDIA card offers a significant advantage there.
Again NVIDIA is marketing the RTX 2070 SUPER as their high performance 1440p offering, and it’s rendered the outgoing 2070 obsolete whilst nearly matching the (also defunct) RTX 2080 in performance at a $100 cheaper price point. Indeed, the RTX 2070 SUPER represents the tipping point in NVIDIAs product stack: Above this card, only the Radeon VII can compete and given that NVIDIA operates uncontested, the value proposition of the RTX 2080 SUPER and RTX 2080 Ti fall off a cliff. This makes the RTX 2070 SUPER a very sensible sweet spot if you’re looking for an NVIDIA GPU for a 1440p gaming PC, but don’t want to throw next months rent at the problem.
RTX 2070 Super vs RX 5700 XT: Gaming Performance
RTX 2070 Super vs RX 5700 XT: 1440p benchmark roundup – Average FPS across benchmarks, high settings:
|AMD RX 5700 XT||NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super|
|Forza Horizon 4||131||134|
|World War Z||194||192|
RTX 2070 Super vs RX 5700 XT: 4K roundup – Average FPS across benchmarks, high settings
|AMD RX 5700 XT||NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super|
|Forza Horizon 4||83||92|
|World War Z||97||107|
These benchmarks are intended to be indicative, with neither of these cards really able to be separated at 1080p (We’d suggest you keep your cash in your pocket, with the RTX 2060 SUPER and 5700 non-XT being much more sensible buys for 1080p). They’re both excellent performers across the board at 1440p and certainly capable at 4k. We can see that the RTX 2070 SUPER has a slight advantage in most games, but it’s by no means a league ahead, and it loses out in certain other games depending on the preferences of the game engine and rendering API. On aggregate most benchmarks put the NVIDIA GPU 5-10% ahead overall – but given its 20% more expensive that’s no great achievement. The Radeon 5700XT gives a remarkable account of itself at the price point though, and the performance is good enough that you’re not going to notice or feel just a few FPS difference between the two cards at 1440p. We’d recommend that you check your favourite games yourself, just in case it happens to be one of the few anomalies where one card or the other performs dramatically better.
It’s also worth noting that the NVIDIAs party trick – hardware ray tracing – is off for all of these benchmarks. That’s for two main reasons: firstly, just a handful of games (Battlefield V here) support it, and secondly it still has a large detrimental effect on FPS. It feels like game developers and game engines are going to struggle for a while to implement it in a way that doesn’t have such a huge impact, and whilst it’s undeniably cool technology it has the feel of something that’s not really market-ready yet. Certainly once you’ve experienced it, you’ll probably be happy to switch it off to preserve your frame rate, because that’ll save you more deaths than the odd occasion you catch a reflection of an advancing enemy in a window or puddle.
Conclusion: The Radeon RX 5700XT is the best value 1440p GPU
The conclusion is clear: The smart money goes on the AMD Radeon RX 5700XT. It’s $100 cheaper, performs within a hairsbreadth of the more expensive RTX 2070 SUPER, and the only thing standing between it and you is probably the limited supply due to high demand at the present time.
That said, if you game at 1440p, stream using nvenc, or also need CUDA acceleration for CAD or creative work or Tensor cores for machine learning, the RTX 2070 SUPER will have added value that might make it the better purchase for your needs. It absolutely won’t disappoint, but it will cost you a fair amount more than AMD’s competitive offering!
Best RX 5700 XT Aftermarket Graphics Card: Sapphire Radeon RX 5700 XT 8 GB PULSE
The core offering of the RX 5700XT is its value, and Sapphire was one of first to market with the Pulse version of this GPU. It utilises their smart through-hole backplate to allow the fans to blow air through, not just over, the heatsinks. The relatively compact design means it should fit into most cases. It has 3 Displayport and one HDMI video output to allow a versatile monitor set up. At just £409 it represents outstanding value for money, the hallmark of the 5700XT lineup.
Best RTX 2070 SUPER Aftermarket Card: EVGA XC Ultra
Frequently discounted to around the price of the less well binned RTX 2070 SUPERs, the EVGA XC Ultra GPU offers EVGA’s solid customer support and a 3-year warranty. Given the way EVGA bin their GPU’s we’re willing to bet this version will boost substantially higher than its claimed 1800mhz. It uses a 3 slot thick cooler along with the EVGA translucent 2 fan shroud to ensure plenty of heat dissipation. NVIDIA is clearly feeling the heat of competition as they’ve bundled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with their GPUs at present. If you were considering buying that game anyway, that could represent a £40 or so saving.