The Best (and Worst) Radeon RX 5600 XT Graphics CardsBy
TechSpot's Best Of features are designed to simplify your shopping process by condensing all the information we gather from reviews and tests into digestible buying guides broken down by price bracket or intended use. Granted, once you've settled on the best GPU for you, you will still have to choose a specific brand and model. And more often than not, you can find several different models based on the same GPU.
For the past few months we've had on hand about a dozen Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics cards from different manufacturers which is almost every 5600 XT model in existence. We've tested them and now we want to share what are the best models, and more importantly, which one you should (and shouldn't) buy. Here goes a quick breakdown that will steer you in the right direction for your 5600 XT purchase.
Best Value / Best 5600 XT
When it comes to Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics cards, this is about the only category that matters, and that’s because the 5600 XT is a cut-down 5700, which is a lower-clocked 5700 XT, and therefore you don’t want to go spending 5700 money on a fancy 5600 XT.
Radeon RX 5700 graphics cards have been known to go on sale for as low as $300. As of writing we could find an Asus Dual Fan Evo model selling for around $310 at Newegg, and MSI and Asrock base models are usually fetching $330. That being the case, $300 is the most you should consider spending on a 5600 XT.
Thankfully, the two best cards are found around the $280 MSRP: the Sapphire Pulse and Gigabyte Gaming OC. In terms of cooling performance they rival premium models from the likes of Asus, MSI and PowerColor. Out of the two, we favor the Sapphire Pulse as it just feels like a step up from the Gigabyte in terms of quality. Also when looking at user reviews people seem to be having a better experience with the Pulse.
Going by those reviews, for some reason cards like the Gaming OC have been more susceptible to black screen issues and other bugs that have plagued AMD for over a year now. Unfortunately we have little to no experience with these issues. We’ll admit after seeing the verified user reports on Newegg -- it does make us a bit hesitant to recommend any 5600 XT graphics card -- but we also find it puzzling how a card like the Gaming OC can have so many unhappy user reports, while the Pulse has almost none.
We have both cards on hand and in our experience both have worked flawlessly. Even more puzzling is that the issues reported for the Gaming OC seem to be driver related, but again nowhere near the volume of issues has been reported with the Pulse.
Taking that into account, we feel the Sapphire Pulse is the best value Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card and the one you should be looking to buy.
If we could pick one of the many 5600 XT graphics cards and pick one for my own gaming system, and we didn’t have to pay the retail price, we’d take MSI’s Gaming X. This massive graphics card borrows its cooler from the 5700 XT, so it’s complete overkill on a 5600 XT. That said, it’s not that much better than the Sapphire Pulse which is shocking given the Gaming X weighs almost 70% more.
The massive heatsink means you can turn the fans right down and still keep the hot spot below 80C. It’s also a menacing looking graphics card and while looks aren’t that important, it’s a nice bonus. Unfortunately though, the 5600 XT Gaming X isn’t a product you should buy at the current asking price of $330. It makes no sense as you can purchase an RX 5700 for that price.
The RX 5700 isn’t just better because it’s faster, you also get an 8GB frame buffer opposed to the 6GB buffer that comes on the 5600 XT.
There are a few other high quality 5600 XT graphics cards like the Gaming X that are priced so high they make no sense to purchase. In that group we find the Asus TUF Gaming, Asus Strix, XFX THICC 3 Pro and PowerColor Red Devil.
But we believe it's worth mentioning them because they are all good quality 5600 XT’s and if any of them are discounted later in their life cycle and are available for a price that makes sense (same or less than the Pulse), then they’d certainly be worth purchasing.
The vast majority of 5600 XT graphics cards will take up three slots in your system and most are fairly long. The Sapphire Pulse is one of the more compact designs measuring 254mm long, but again it will require three slots. If you're after a dual-slot card your options are quite limited and we recommend avoiding cheaper models such as the Gigabyte WindForce OC.
The best dual-slot 5600 XT that we’ve come across is without question the PowerColor Red Dragon. It’s by far the best performing model that takes up two slots and it’s relatively compact at just 240mm long. The Red Dragon seems to be available for $290 right now (it's usually a tad more expensive) which isn't ideal, but it’s not a bad price either.
There is a second option that’s even smaller. Also from PowerColor, the RX 5600 XT ITX is nice, simple and to the point. We’ve got the ITX model on hand and it works quite well, though as you might expect it runs a bit hotter than the larger models. With the fan spinning at 1600 RPM it’s reasonably quiet and a peak hotspot temperature of 90C isn’t terrible given the card's size. The memory and VRM temps are surprisingly good, the GDDR6 memory peaked at 76C in our test while the VRM reached just 71C. Overall impressive stuff for a tiny single-fan 5600 XT, and we've got no issues recommending it for compact Mini-ITX builds.
As for which models you need to avoid... thankfully most 5600 XT cards are good, which wasn’t the case with the first wave of RX 5700 series graphics cards. We do recommend you actively avoid the XFX THICC II Pro, MSI Mech, and Gigabyte WindForce models.
The XFX THICC II Pro suffers from high hotspot temperatures while the Mech and WindForce models are loud and despite that still run quite hot. We're also going to tentatively recommend you avoid the Asrock Challenger D. This one in particular we don't have on hand and have been unable to buy locally, but the fact that Asrock tried to avoid us testing it and it’s selling below the MSRP already, is not a good sign.