What matters most, of course, is what's under the hood: AMD's RDNA architecture, previously known to enthusiasts as "Navi." The Radeon 5700 and 5700 XT are built on a 7-nanometer process, which makes them more efficient than the 14nm Vega. This isn't a first for AMD -- the beefy Radeon VII, which remains its high-end option, is also a 7nm card, but one built on its older "Graphics Core Next" (GCN) platform.
The real benefits for the Radeon 5700 and 5700 XT come from AMD's revamped computing unit design, as well as a higher bandwidth and lower latency memory. Most important is the more efficient graphics pipeline, which the company says will allow for better performance per clock, in addition to higher speeds. AMD claims that an RDNA card will be about 50 percent faster than a GCN card with the same clock speed and power consumption.
Both new GPUs also support PCIe 4.0, which will offer twice the bandwidth of the PCIe 3.0 standard found on modern PCs. That should help to reduce load times in games with faster NVMe drives. If you're excited about PCIe 4.0 though, just be aware that you'll need to snag a new motherboard to take advantage of it. And at the moment, it's only supported in AMD's X570 chipset with third-generation Ryzen CPUs. Not surprisingly, Intel is trying to downplay the importance of PCIe 4.0 today, since the current standard can still handle 4K/144Hz displays without any issue. At the very least, AMD is showing that its new platform is future proof. Sony, for example, is already touting incredibly fast load times for the next PlayStation, which will also run AMD's RDNA hardware.
The Radeon 5700 XT features 40 compute units, 2,560 stream processors and a boost clock speed of 1.9GHz. The 5700 is based on the exact same hardware, but it has four fewer compute units, 2,304 stream processors and tops out at 1.73GHz. Both cards include 8GB of GDDR6 RAM, instead of the HBM2 memory from AMD's last few GPUs. Technically, HBM2 offers faster bandwidth, but AMD says the move to GDDR6 allows for more flexibility when designing GPUs. As for ports, both offer three DisplayPort connections and an HDMI port. The Radeon 5700 relies on a single 8-pin power connection, while the XT uses an 8+6 pin configuration.
So what are AMD's new cards going up against? Originally, the company positioned the 5700 XT as something that could clobber NVIDIA's RTX 2070, while the 5700 against the RTX 2060. In most cases, the new Radeons were noticeably faster. But now they're competing with the speedier RTX Super cards, which makes things a bit more complicated.
On a broad level, both new Radeon GPUs deliver excellent 1,440p performance. The XT, naturally, fares better when pumping up graphics settings -- I saw between 85 and 105 frames per second in Destiny 2, compared to 75 to 90 FPS on the 5700. Most importantly, they're both able to run that game beyond 60FPS without a sweat. But if you're a discerning gamer with a 144Hz monitor, which can handle higher frame rates, then you'll probably want to invest in the pricier XT.
I saw a similar bump in performance with Hitman 2's benchmark. The Radeon 5700 XT reached an average of 92 FPS with all of the graphics settings dialed up, while the 5700 clocked in at 79 FPS. In 1080p, both cards performed about the same, but that's not a huge surprise. At that resolution, your performance relies more on your CPU than the GPU.