Oh, boy, I don’t know where to start. So, I actually had a plan to do a separate review of these two cards, as they were coming in, but… Well, let’s just say that I had a tiny teeny mishap of losing all the data on one of my three SSD’s. Coincidentally that was filled with project files for the Sapphire RX 5600 XT Pulse review. What’s actually even more funny or sad, is that it happened while I was rendering out that same video. It’s not as bad as it sounds, because I only lost that ongoing project, I have a backup of the rest, plus I still do have the video files for Sapphire’s car on my cameras SD card, together with the benchmarking results, so it’s not that terrible, but I lost like two days of work putting that all together. Anyhow, where one door closes, another opens, and in the meantime, I got Gigabyte RX 5600 XT Gaming OC model, so I’ve decided why just not compare them. And that is what I’m going to do.
Since some time has passed after the initial launch of AMD’s RX 5600 XT, I had some time to reflect on the whole launch of this series, which had a few interesting turnarounds to say at least. Long story short, Nvidia decided to dump the price of the RTX 2060 just before the release of the RX 5600 XT series, so they can compete with its price and performance-wise, which AMD responded by releasing a new BIOS update that significantly raised the GPU and memory clocks speeds. But, there is a twist with this too, as not all cards will actually receive those new clocks, I’ll talk about that later on. All of that actually happened right before the launch, so it ended up being a bit of a mess since reviewers had to redo all the test basically moments prior to the release, which also created a certain level of confusion among users because they are not sure what exactly are they going to get.
By that I mean two things. First one is that some cards were already shipped to retailers with the original BIOS, one with lower clocks, so some users will have to manually update their BIOS to the latest one, which is not a big deal, for example, Sapphire has a really straightforward guide and one-click solution, but still, for some buyers out there that will be inconvenient cause maybe they not feel comfortable doing it. The second thing is the fact that not all manufactures are going to update their video memory speeds from 12 Gbps to 14 Gbps because they can’t vouch that the memory will be perfectly stable since it either didn’t undergo their strict quality control standards for that higher clock scenario or they know that they didn’t use a higher quality video memory chips that could without a problem withstand those speeds.
Although most of the cards probably wouldn’t have any problem with being bumped up to that video memory speeds, it seems like some manufactures didn’t want to make any change, potentially causing users stability issues, even if it was for 1% of them. This issue, of course, generated an outcome which doesn’t go in anyone’s favor, are these two cards are the perfect example of that. Sapphire’s RX 5600 Pulse model video memory runs at 14 Gbps, while this particular review sample of Gigabyte’s runs at 12 Gbps, but with also higher GPU clock, so now we have this discrepancy where in theory we shouldn’t, as it was intended to be a one-product, without any variations. Gigabyte also still has old specifications listed for this model on their website, so on top of all of that’s an additional factor that can confuse some users.
Gigabyte RX 5600 XT Gaming OC – an interesting case
But actually, that’s not the whole store, the most confusing part is about to come. You probably saw others reviewing this particular Gigabyte’s RX 5600 XT Gaming OC model at 14 Gbps of video memory speed, so why does my sample has 12 Gbps of video memory speed, but still has the newly updated GPU clocks? That’s a good question, and honestly, I don’t know the right answers to it, because I don’t have anyone from Gigabyte to communicate with me on that.
There is a BIOS update on their website which states that it bumps up to the video memory speed to 14 Gbps, but this particular BIOS on my card sample is also the newer official one which was received from Gigabyte prior to the launch, and as I mentioned it has updated GPU clocks, but it doesn’t have the updated video memory speed too. Also, there’s another BIOS update which quotes on the quote, “improve stability”, lowers down the total graphics power of the card, which may indicate again some retroactive changes to the memory, but they don’t mention the clocks here. Since this is not my sample, but rather from a colleague, I didn’t want to fiddle with re-flashing the BIOS again, before all as there are a few different BIOS versions for different card version, my is revision 1.0, so my guess is that maybe ones have better-binned memory than others which Gigabyte’s internal quality control would approve running at 14 Gbps. In the end, I decided to leave it at 12 Gbps, just so you can see what kind difference does the faster 14 Gbps video memory makes, while for all of you out there who are wondering what kind of performance would a 14 Gbps RX 5600 XT Gaming OC has, well, basically the same as Sapphire’s model, within a margin of an error. And again, all of this can easily be fixed just by doing some overclocking.
Putting that aside, with the hope that this will resolve itself with time, let’s check out what this series actually offers. What’s maybe most interesting about it is that it’s basically an RX 5700 series in disguise. Although you would think that on a count of it’s naming scheme it would stand somewhere in the middle of the RX 5500 and the RX 5700 series, the RX 5600 XT is actually far apart from the RX 5500 series and sits right next to the RX 5700 series, like, really, really close it. So close that it’s GPU is spec per spec the same, shaders, texture units and ROP’s, and where the difference comes from is in the amount of video memory, 6 instead 8 GB’s, and width of the memory bus, 192-bit instead 256-bit, which lowered down the video memory bandwidth.
Since these changes are not enough to make a bigger impact on the performance, AMD decided to clock down the RX 5600 XT GPU. Originally it was far lower, but now with the BIOS update it hangs just above the 1700 MHz mark under load, but it’s more than obvious they have a decent amount of headroom to play with, especially now knowing what they’ve done in the midst of this launch, together with the fact that they’re locking down the core clocks when you go in and try to do some overclocking, so it seems that they have pretty consistent quality of their chips, which they can just scale up or down as needed.
Taking a closer look at these two particular models, I see some familiar faces. I already had a chance to check out two models coming from Pulse series and based on the current generation of AMD Navi GPU’s, while I also had a chance to check out few variations of Gigabyte’s Gaming series, both with Nvidia’s and AMD’s GPU, feel free to check them out in the right top corner of this video.
Sapphire RX 5600 XT Pulse – chilled mainstreamer
With that said, both of the cards look decent, nothing special about their esthetic design, the Pulse one’s is a little bit edgier with these red details, which I kinda don’t prefer to be honest, they kinda feel unnecessary, while the Gigabyte’s card is just plain black with some hints of silver. Crossing over to the backside of it, this theme continues on with the back-plate, which is thankfully metal, Gigabyte actually started using the plastic cover on their lower tiers models, while with Sapphire’s model, which also has a metal backplate, we have a little bit more going on here, a lot of graphics, colors, and cutouts.
To no one’s surprise, both of the cards have the same video outputs setup, one HDMI, and three DisplayPorts, which also a standard setup seen in some of my other graphics cards reviews. What’s also the same is their PCI-express power configuration – where we have one 8-pin PCI-express power connector. They also carry some LED lighting on the side, lighting up their logo, but Gigabyte here takes the win if you will, since it has RGB LED’s, while Sapphire only has red LED’s. On the other hand, Sapphire does have a dual BIOS switch, the other BIOS which it carries is the silent profile, although, to be honest, it’s not like you’re going to use it, especially since these are low TDP GPU’s to being with.
Finally what makes them obviously different from each other is the cooling solution. With the Gigabyte’s model, we have a four copper heat-pipes configuration running through the three-part aluminum heatsink, while Sapphire’s Pulse model has a single-piece aluminum heat-sink with three nickel-plated copper heat pipes going through the fins and coming to the copper GPU base. They both have an additional cooling solution for the VRM’s and video memory, in a form of cold plates, which then make direct contact with them and the heatsink, pulling the heat off of it and being additional cooled by the fans.
Speaking of that, both, of course, have the fan stop technology, and their idle temperatures are pretty much the same as you can see it here, the cooling setup keeps their GPU temperature at around 40°C in this passive state, with the hot spot being a bit higher on Gigabyte’s model. When the things started to ramp up, Sapphire RX 5600 XT Pulse ended up mostly having lower GPU Hot spot, memory and VRM temperatures, although in some scenarios they had pretty similar results, but in that case the Gigabyte three 80 mm fans were ramping up higher than average, while Sapphire two 95 mm fans were always running at 800 to 900 RPM at most. With that in mind, Gigabyte’s card runs just a tad louder during load, the fans are spinning anywhere from 1000 to 1300 RPM, but it almost wasn’t a fair fight since it’s really hard to beat that Sapphire fan speed. What again bothered me a bit is Gigabyte’s fan tuning, the fan speed moves around constantly, they don’t ease into a fan speed change, plus those changes come on a small and frequent scale, instead of using some kind of median, but thankfully with this model, it’s a little bit less pronounced. Here’s a short sound clip of the fans with the cards being under full load, while also showing the sound meter for measurement comparison.
Before I jump over to the benchmarking results, let’s first take a look at some of my gameplay footage with these two series, I will put them side by side, you can see the live performance figures of each in the left top corner of their screen. You can find my setup which I used here to test them in the description box down below, and if you have any questions about them, free feel to leave them in the comment section down below and I will try to help you out!
RX 5600 XT Pulse vs RX 5600 XT Gaming OC – expected battle
Taking a look at the results, the Sapphire model obviously brings in a bit more performance on a count of the video memory clock being higher, which in some synthetic benchmarks stands out even more than what’s to be expected. And this in itself is the 12 vs 14 Gbps video memory speed comparison, what you will get if you end up with the model that has a lower video memory clock, around 3-7% of a performance difference. Overall, when it comes to the RX 5600 XT series itself, it proved to have enough power to deliver a performance worthy of 1440p gaming at high graphics settings, even when it comes high-refresh rate monitors in some games, more so if you have a 1080p monitor, where it easily pumps out way above 100 FPS. 4K is doable, but don’t count on crossing 60 FPS mark in more demanding titles.
Again, I wouldn’t be too stuck onto their performance in this particular case, since this can easily be leveled off with manual overclocking if you ever wish to, which is why I don’t look at the performance as the end all be all when comparing cards coming from the same series, but from different manufactures. I know that their performance will be in a margin of an error, even if for some reason it’s not, like in this case, but that’s not a big deal, you can always overclock them further.
Speaking of overclocking, as you can see it here in MSI’s Afterburner, both of the cards managed to achieve basically same results in this area, 1820 MHz on both of them for the GPU clock speed, that’s the limit which was pre-set, which in practice resulted in them ramping to just a bit below 1800 MHz. I also pulled down the voltage and power limit a bit, which resulted in even lower temperatures, which suited Gigabyte’s card a bit more. Feel free to use these settings for your case, if this is not working out for you, if it keeps freezing or chasing, just lower down the clocks step by step until you’re in the clear and fully stable. The video memory was also maxed out at 1860 MHz, as far as it can go, just pull those sliders all the way to the right to the right, once again proving that that isn’t a big issue if you really want to have that 14 Gbps video memory speed, even above that, with Gigabyte’s card. So if you really end up with a 12 Gbps video memory version of a certain model, Instead of flashing cards BIOS, just open up MSI Afterburner, or other overclocking utility, and fix that problem within few seconds time. This basically put both of the cards on the same level performance-wise, and overall you can expect around 5-10% of performance gain with doing so.
Taking a look at their power consumption, the numbers from the GPU-z are telling us that’s around 110W during gaming for Gigabyte’s card, while for Sapphire’s it’s more around 110-120W. The difference in power consumption could be due to faster memory speed or it has a higher power limit, but important, the Sapphire GPU runs at,01-0,02V higher than Gigabytes. If we subtract the system idle power consumption from the FurMark’s GPU stress test load, where only the GPU is doing the work, the consumption from the wall is around 165W for Gigabyte’s and 180W for Sapphire’s card, so the difference here is even a bit higher on the Sapphire cards as it GPU voltage goes to,975V. Take this power consumption and temperature figures with a little bit of a grain of salt in terms of Gigabyte’s model, since maybe this BIOS version that I have here won’t be comparable with yours.
So, what’s my conclusion? With everything shown here, when we take the performance difference out of the account since this is a particular scenario in question, Sapphire’s RX 5600 XT Pulse still ends up being a bit quieter and runs cooler. Gigabyte’s RX 5600 XT Gaming OC model will have a bit of problem-fighting this off, especially since its price is higher, at least here in Europe.
When it comes to the series itself in general, the RX 5600 XT overall seems like a really good buy, a mainstream card that can handle anything you throw at it, the only thing a resent it a bit is that it’s so close to the RX 5700 series price-wise, that it kinda makes you want to pull that extra 20-30$ and go for its bigger brother. Then again, the RX 5700 XT isn’t that far from the RX 5700 either, so you’re in this never-ending loop of reaching out to your pocket for the more, bottom line, they’re pulling an Nvidia on you with this one. But hey, I really can’t complain, I think we have a lot of options to choose from around this mainstream segment, together with it, so in the end, it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to go for based on the information I showed you here and your personal preferences.
That’s it for this time from me, I hope this parallel RX 5600 XT Pulse review and RX 5600 XT Gaming OC review comparison helped you in see the exact difference between these to cards, granted one wasn’t at its full potential for the sake of science, if you have any question feel free to hit me in the comments section of my YouTube video listed above, you can contact me via my social media channels!