For a long time now, AMD has been the underdog in both the CPU and the GPU market. The situation changed when the Ryzen CPUs first arrived in 2017, and again last year with the arrival of AMD’s new Navi GPUs.
At the moment, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is one of the most powerful cards in the Navi lineup.
It can be best categorized as an upper mid-range GPU that mainly competes with the RTX 2060 Super, but it also comes close to Nvidia’s significantly pricier high-end models.
Needless to say, the RX 5700 XT is an excellent GPU on virtually all fronts, barring some driver issues that AMD has mostly resolved at this point.
It offers impressive performance at an even more impressive price point, so if you intend to get one, read on for a list of the best RX 5700 XT models available in 2021!
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- Good performance with reference settings
- Better-looking than older XFX models
- MSRP pricing
- Barely any overclocking headroom
For the first entry on the list, we have the XFX RX 5700 XT Raw II. Seeing as XFX is known for their reliable cards and reasonable prices, it makes sense that one of the cheapest RX 5700 XT models would come from them. But how does it fare in practice, and how much corner-cutting is involved?
First of all, you might notice that XFX has updated its design, which is a very good thing considering that their RX 400 and RX 500 series sort of looked cheap and unappealing for the most part.
The Raw II does away with gaudy highlights and features an entirely black shroud that blends almost perfectly with the metal backplate. As far as we’re concerned, this is a very effective design, and it is much better than what XFX had to offer in the past.
As for in-game performance, we should note that the XFX RX 5700 XT Raw II is not factory overclocked, so it has the same core and boost clock speeds as the AMD reference model. However, XFX’s version does offer slightly better performance thanks to the dual-fan open-air cooler, which is a much better solution than a blower for a GPU that runs as hot as this one.
With its dual fans, this card runs both cooler and quieter than AMD’s blower-equipped reference model, all the while coming with the same $400 price tag attached. That said, if you’re trying to make the RX 5700 XT fit your budget and don’t really care about overclocking, then this might be the perfect card for you.
Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT Gaming OC
Boost Clock: 1905 MHz
Connectors: 3x DP, 1x HDMI
- Quiet triple-fan cooler
- Neutral design
- Approachable price
- Limited overclocking potential
For our next pick, we have the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT Gaming OC, another attractive budget option of this GPU.
Much like the XFX RX 5700 XT Raw II, the Gigabyte Gaming OC version doesn’t place much stock into overclocking, as it comes with the default 1905 MHz boost clock. However, it does come with an even better triple-fan cooler, which allows the Gigabyte version to offer comparable performance while running more quietly and at even lower temperatures.
However, as mentioned above, this isn’t a card designed with overclocking in mind. While there is some overclocking headroom to work with, the temperatures can shoot up rather quickly, so don’t expect to squeeze much more performance out of the RX 5700 XT with this cooler.
Design-wise, the Gigabyte and the XFX model are also quite similar, as this card also presents a simple black shroud with some gray highlights. It may look a bit bland compared to some other rival models, but we feel that this is a very simple and neutral design that is bound to appeal to many gamers.
Ultimately, with its modest price tag (just above the MSRP) and solid triple-fan cooling, this is a great RX 5700 XT for those who want a balanced version of this GPU that won’t put a hole in their pocket.
- Slightly better performance
- Sapphire TriXX useful for smoothing out FPS
- Design is a bit too much
The next card is brought to you by one of AMD’s most reliable partners, Sapphire. We’re talking about the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT.
This model features a somewhat unusual design, at least considering what we’ve come to expect from Sapphire and other manufacturers these days. We feel that the combination of black, white and red is a bit too much in 2021, considering that more and more OEMs are switching to a more neutral design philosophy. However, if you like having a more detail-heavy shroud and backplate, you’ll find little to complain about here.
What also makes the Pulse version stand out compared to the XFX and Gigabyte models is its slightly higher boost clock, as this card is factory overclocked and thus performs a bit better. Granted, we’re only talking a few extra frames, but with the help of Sapphire’s TriXX software, hitting your target performance in 1440p or 4K should be a bit easier.
All in all, if you’re willing to pay a little bit extra for slightly better performance or if you just like the design of this card, then the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT might be a good pick for you. Personally, we’re not big fans of the design, and there are other cards out there that we feel would offer better overall value for your money.
- Great performance
- Quiet triple-fan cooler
- Clean and unique design
- Shroud may seem cheap at first glance
- A bit pricey
For the next card, we come back to XFX, with a more serious performance-oriented solution. Meet the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra (we know — just roll with it).
Visually, we have to say that the card looks quite impressive. With its rounded edges and the way that the shroud and the backplate come together, plus the metal grille on the side, the RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra comes across as a very serious model with a relatively low price tag attached.
The design of the shroud is smooth with no striking details, so it might come across as a bit cheap, but we actually really like the minimal black and silver aesthetic.
We’ll now talk about performance which, as you might have guessed, is a fair bit better than in most of the cheaper models. XFX has equipped this card with three fans and a hefty heatsink, both of which allow it to hit markedly higher clock speeds than most models. As a result, it runs both faster and quieter.
Ultimately, the RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra is a great choice for those who want to squeeze extra performance out of this GPU. The quiet and efficient cooler can more than handle the factory overclock. So, when tweaked a bit, this is one of the faster RX 5700 XT models currently available.
The card usually goes for $440, so it’s a bit above the MSRP, but if you can catch it at a discount, you’d be getting a very good deal.
- Great cooling and performance
- Lower than average noise
- Sleek new design
- A bit on the pricey side
Our penultimate pick comes from MSI, and it’s a card that pretty much has it all — the MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT Gaming X.
First, on the design front, you’ll notice that the RX 5700 XT differs quite a bit from MSI’s latest Nvidia Gaming X models. Where the Nvidia cards feature a black shroud with some sharp angles and, often, extensive RGB lighting, this card is something completely different.
Namely, this RX 5700 XT features a smooth black and gray shroud with a brushed metal texture, which blends exceptionally well with the metal backplate. Plus, while we were never fans of red highlights, they are fairly subtle and look quite good here. Plus, the card also has RGB, although it is reserved for the MSI logo on the side.
Now, when it comes to performance, the MSI RX 5700 XT Gaming X definitely doesn’t disappoint. The dual Torx 3.0 fans keep the card running at temperatures noticeably lower than those of most other RX 5700 XT models, all the while being remarkably quiet to boot.
Needless to say, the card can also hit clock speeds a bit higher than the already-impressive factory overclock, and the overall performance is on par with XFX’s Thicc III Ultra.
That said, much like the XFX Thicc III Ultra model, the MSI RX 5700 XT Gaming X is on the pricey side, usually going for $430-$450 these days. However, in between its performance, cooling efficiency, low noise generation, and the appealing design, we think it’s well worth the money.
- Superb overclocking performance
- Stylish waterblock and backplate design
- Extremely expensive
- Dubious value
For the final entry, we have what is probably the most powerful version of this graphics card, the PowerColor’s Liquid Devil RX 5700 XT.
This model comes with a preinstalled waterblock, and the design is much better than what we’re used to seeing from PowerColor’s Red Devil lineup. After all, this isn’t Red Devil. With the RGB lighting and the dye pack that comes bundled with the card, you can rest assured that the Liquid Devil looks great and is highly customizable.
But you wouldn’t be getting a water-cooled GPU just for the aesthetics. How big of a performance boost can you expect from it?
Well, for one, the card runs much cooler than any air-cooled variant of the RX 5700 XT, that’s for sure. And when overclocked, it can easily add another 10 FPS to your framerate in 1440p, which is no joke. When compared to what Nvidia has to offer, it beats the RTX 2070 Super and even comes close to one of Team Green’s flagship models, the RTX 2080 Super.
While this is an admirable demonstration of the RDNA architecture’s potential, the real question is – how much will this extra performance cost you?
Well, the Liquid Devil goes for a whopping $600, which is $200 more than the RX 5700 XT’s MSRP. It is also more than the $500 MSRP of the RTX 2070 Super, but it is cheaper than the RTX 2080 Super, which starts at $700.
However, we should also note that this is just a waterblock. What this means is that you’ll have to get the rest of the liquid cooling setup (pump, radiator, fans) separately, which will only add more to the price. Besides, you could get an air-cooled RTX 2070 Super for less. Not only would it perform about the same, but you’d also get the option of using real-time ray tracing in games that support it.
That said, the Liquid Devil RX 5700 XT is really a niche product aimed towards enthusiasts. As such, it is by no means what you would call a “value” pick.
How To Pick The Right Graphics Card For Your Needs
Now that we have gone over our selection of the best RX 5700 XT models available at the moment, let’s look at some of the things that you need to keep in mind when selecting a GPU.
When compatibility is concerned, one of the main factors to consider is the physical size of the card. If you want to ensure that the card you’re getting can fit inside your case, the two key dimensions to keep in mind are length and width.
Some graphics cards are longer than others, be it due to a longer PCB or a longer cooler that extends past the PCB. In either case, you should always make sure that the card won’t be obstructed by the HDD/SSD rack.
As for width, some cards take up more vertical space inside the case due to having a bulkier cooler, usually due to a thicker heatsink. This can lead to two potential issues:
- They might obstruct some of the PCIe slots on the motherboard, thus preventing you from installing any additional PCIe expansion cards in those slots.
- They might be too close to the bottom of the case, and even if there is enough room to fit the card, being too close to the bottom or to a bottom-mounted power supply could inhibit the cooler’s air intake, thus leading to higher temperatures and higher noise generation.
Now, the RX 5700 XT can hardly be called compact. While some of the models listed here are smaller than others, it’s always a good idea to be safe and compare the dimensions of the card you intend to buy with the dimensions of your case or the case that you plan on getting in the future.
The graphics card is where most of the heat generated by your PC comes from, and AMD GPUs have a reputation for running much hotter than the competition. As such, like any other component that generates a lot of heat, the graphics card needs active cooling.
Modern graphics cards use three main types of cooling solutions:
Open-air coolers are the most common, and all of the graphics cards currently listed in this article utilize them. For the most part, open-air coolers are the best solution for the majority of gaming PCs because they feature good overall heat dissipation and can benefit more from case fans. These coolers can use anywhere from one to three fans, but RX 5700 XT models generally come with either two or three.
As for blowers, they contrast open-air coolers in that they feature a closed heatsink and a single blower fan that blows the hot air out of the back of the card, directly out of the case. This prevents heat buildup inside the case, which makes the blower good for smaller cases with limited airflow. However, blower-cooled cards are almost always much hotter and noisier than their open-air counterparts.
Finally, liquid cooling is the most efficient cooling method by far, which makes it ideal for overclocking. Liquid-cooled GPUs can hit higher clock speeds, all the while running at significantly lower temperatures than their air-cooled counterparts. However, they are not necessarily quieter, as they still need a pump to cycle the liquid and fans to cool the radiator.
However, seeing as they are quite expensive and considering that a quality AIO liquid cooler can easily add over $100 to the price of a GPU, liquid-cooled graphics cards are really a niche product targeted mainly towards hardware enthusiasts.
Now that we have touched upon cooling, we have to mention a few words about overclocking. In case you’re not familiar with the term, overclocking is the act of pushing a GPU’s clock speed beyond the default speed set by the producer.
Now, the RX 5700 XT is a very powerful GPU that also runs really hot. So how much extra performance can you squeeze out of it through overclocking?
Well, generally speaking, an overclocked GPU can get you roughly 5-15% more frames per second compared to a card running with reference settings, but this will inevitably vary from game to game.
In the case of weaker mid-range or budget GPUs, this is a mostly negligible boost. However, when it comes to the RX 5700 XT, some proper tweaking can get you a decent chunk of FPS that could very well smooth out your gaming experience, especially if you’re aiming for high performance in 1080p.
In any case, the kind of performance offered by all the models here is roughly on the same level, and the differences usually come down to only a couple of frames, so there’s not much need to split hairs when it comes to overclocking.
You’ve probably noticed that we talked a lot about these cards’ design in this article. Sure enough, aesthetics are more important than ever, what with the rising popularity of translucent cases and RGB lighting.
As a result, the OEMs are trying harder than ever to make their cards visually appealing, both because of that and because a better-looking card makes for a more marketable product.
So, if you’re getting a translucent case or are building an open rig and want to make sure your setup looks good, what should you keep in mind when it comes to your future graphics card’s design?
First and most noticeably, we have color. Only a few years back, many graphics cards had specific color highlights that served as something of a manufacturer’s signature. For example, Gigabyte had orange, Zotac had yellow, and MSI had red, although the design varied from series to series.
However, most OEMs have moved away from this design approach for two main reasons: consistency and RGB lighting.
Naturally, for it to look aesthetically pleasing, a build must have a consistent color scheme. By painting their shrouds and backplates a specific color, OEMs made it more difficult for their cards to blend in with different setups. Now, cards mainly have black shrouds with more subtle gray or white highlights, which makes them much more neutral.
Then, there’s the RGB lighting, surely a better solution on every front if you want to add some color to your setup. RGB is flexible and allows you to easily establish and change the color scheme across different components whenever you feel like it, not to mention that it is cheaper than ever and is now quite commonplace even among the more affordable graphics cards.
Finally, there’s the backplate. Much like RGB, backplates are slowly making their way to the lower price ranges. In 2021, it’s not uncommon to find them even in budget graphics cards such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super.
Most can agree that backplates look great, but what purpose do they serve?
Well, the main purpose of a backplate is just that – they look cool. In practical terms, however, they do protect the PCB, preventing it from bending. They also make it easier to get the dust off the back of the card, which is always convenient.
Something that a backplate does not do, however, is help with the cooling. Despite what some OEMs might claim, tests have shown that having a metal backplate doesn’t help with heat dissipation at all, so graphics cards with backplates won’t be hitting higher clock speeds or running any cooler than their backplate-less counterparts.
Conclusion – The Best RX 5700 XT For 2021
When all is said and done, you’re probably wondering which one of these cards we would pick as the winner.
Well, as is always the case with computer hardware, taste, preferences and budget constraints differ from user to user. As such, we’ve picked three models that best suit three types of consumer.
For the budget-conscious who don’t want to spend more than they absolutely have to on an RX 5700 XT, we feel that the XFX RX 5700 XT Raw II would be the ideal pick. As mentioned before, it features a neutral design, and it is a reliable card all in all. It’s not exactly an overclocking beast, but it beats the reference model and is cooler and quieter to boot.
If you’re on the other side of the spectrum, an enthusiast who wants nothing but the very best RX 5700 XT model they can get, then the PowerColor Liquid Devil RX 5700 XT is the obvious choice. It is a high-quality card with an excellent, beautifully designed waterblock that runs a lot cooler and can be pushed further than any other model listed here.
Finally, there’s the value pick, that is, the card that offers the best value for your money. In that regard, we’d say that the rest of the graphics cards listed here are on roughly even terms. The prices and the exact performance metrics vary only ever so slightly, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.
If we had to choose one, we’d pick the MSI RX 5700 XT Gaming X. As mentioned before, it pretty much has it all — good performance, efficient cooling, quiet fans and a sleek exterior.
So those would be our top picks for the best RX 5700 XT models available at the moment. Keep in mind that we also take availability into consideration when making these lists. In addition, don’t forget that the prices might differ slightly depending on where you live.