Drivers, Observations, & the Test

With the launch of a new GPU architecture also comes the launch of new drivers, and the teething issues that come with those. We’ll go over performance matters in greater detail on the following pages, but to start things off, I wanted to note the state of AMD’s driver stack, and any notable issues I ran into.

The big issue at the moment is that while AMD’s drivers are in fairly good shape for gaming, the same cannot be said for compute. Most of our compute benchmarks either failed to have their OpenCL kernels compile, triggered a Windows Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR), or would just crash. As a result, only three of our regular benchmarks were executable here, with Folding@Home, parts of CompuBench, and Blender all getting whammied.

And "executable" is the choice word here, because even though benchmarks like LuxMark would run, the scores the RX 5700 cards generated were nary better than the Radeon RX 580. This a part that they can easily beat on raw FLOPs, let alone efficiency. So even when it runs, the state of AMD's OpenCL drivers is at a point where these drivers are likely not indicative of anything about Navi or the RDNA architecture; only that AMD has a lot of work left to go with their compiler.

So while I’m hoping to better dig into the compute implications of AMD’s new GPU architecture at a later time, for today’s launch there’s not going to be a lot to say on the subject. Most of our usual (and most informative) tools just don’t work right now.

As for the gaming side of matters, things are a lot better. Compared to some past launches, I’ve encountered a surprisingly small amount of “weirdness” with AMD’s new hardware/drivers on current games. Everything ran, and no games crashed due to GPU issues (outright bugs, on the other hand…).

The only game I’d specifically flag here is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a DirectX 11 game. With an unlocked framerate, this is not a benchmark that runs incredibly smoothly to begin with; and the RX 5700 series cards seemed to fare a bit worse here. The amount of (additional) stuttering was easy enough to pick up with my eyes, and the game’s own reporting tools recorded it as well. It is not a night and day difference since the game doesn’t start from a great place, but it’s clear that AMD has some room to tighten up its drivers as far as frame delivery goes.

Finally, for whatever reason, the RX 5700 cards wouldn’t display the boot/BIOS screens when hooked up to my testbed monitor over HDMI. This problem did not occur with DisplayPort, which is admittedly the preferred connection anyhow. But it’s an odd development, since this behavior doesn’t occur with Vega or Polaris cards – or any other cards I’ve tested, for that matter.

Meanwhile, as a reminder, here is the list of games for our 2019 GPU benchmarking suite.

AnandTech GPU Bench 2019 Game List
Game Genre Release Date API
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Action/TPS Sept. 2018 DX12
F1 2019 Racing Jun. 2019 DX12
Assassin's Creed Odyssey Action/Open World Oct. 2018 DX11
Metro Exodus FPS Feb. 2019 DX12
Strange Brigade TPS Aug. 2018 Vulkan
Total War: Three Kingdoms TBS May. 2019 DX11
The Division 2 FPS Mar. 2019 DX12
Grand Theft Auto V Action/Open world Apr. 2015 DX11
Forza Horizon 4 Racing Oct. 2018 DX12

And here is the 2019 GPU testbed.

CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K @ 5.0GHz
Motherboard: ASRock Z390 Taichi
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i
Hard Disk: Phison E12 PCIe NVMe SSD (960GB)
Memory: G.Skill Trident Z RGB DDR4-3600 2 x 16GB (17-18-18-38)
Case: NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition
Monitor: Asus PQ321
Video Cards: AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
AMD Radeon RX 5700
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
AMD Radeon RX 580
AMD Radeon RX 570
AMD Radeon R9 390X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 2070 Super Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 2060 Super Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 2060 Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
Video Drivers: NVIDIA Release 431.15
AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.7.1
OS: Windows 10 Pro (1903)
Meet the Radeon RX 5700 XT & Radeon RX 5700 Shadow of the Tomb Raider
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  • Ryan Smith - Sunday, July 7, 2019 - link

    Hey all,

    As you've probably noticed, this review is a bit bare-bones on information outside of benchmarks. With 2 video card launches in the span of a week - not to mention AMD's very important CPU launch - I've been stretched a bit thin trying to get everything to fall into place.

    So with the basics done and all of the benchmarks processed, I'm posting this now to let you all see how the RX 5700 series did on our testbench, and what my impressions are of the card. After getting some much-needed sleep, I'll be working on fleshing out the article some tonight, and then later in the week after I return from a further trip. I have 15 pages of notes on everything from threads to video decoding, and I want to get to it all.
    Reply
  • Icehawk - Sunday, July 7, 2019 - link

    I know there is Bench and only so much space but considering who the target market is (you even specify in the conclusion) it would have been nice to see a 970 and a 580 in graphs. I’m still thinking it’s wait another generation though as my 970 handles 1440p on most games and I want the full jump to 4k from my next card - especially if it’s going to run north of $350. Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Sunday, July 7, 2019 - link

    Agreed.

    I've got a 960M, a GTX 970 in one machine and 970 SLI in another.

    I'm just now starting to look hard at the newer cards. Direct comparisons would be appreciated, however, direct comparisons are already found on the Bench.
    Reply
  • Surfacround - Monday, July 15, 2019 - link

    sorry, but dump the gtx970 SLI, and get a super2060, or a gtx1660ti... or an AMD card, nvidia needs to have a ZERO graphic cards sales period for a year, so they realize that they have it be in the GPU making business, not the sell-overpriced-GPU-business...

    nvidia needs to sell its rtx2070,2080 cars at half price... because the new consoles are going be as fast or faster than a gtx1660ti... (same speed as a 5700 my guess, or effectively that speed... for AMD it is moot, if you buy the new console in two years, or their graphics card... NVIDIA still loses.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Sunday, July 7, 2019 - link

    Just so it's noted, a 580 is in the graphs (it's in blue). As for a 970, with half of AT's video cards on the other side of the country right now, I couldn't swing one. But I do have a 980 in there. Reply
  • just4U - Sunday, July 7, 2019 - link

    I think I would have preferred to see the last generation king included (1080ti) but other than that there's some great reference points overall to compare to. Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Monday, July 8, 2019 - link

    If I may: in general, it's great to see the new cards stacked against their direct competitors, however, for people looking to upgrade, it's almost always more interesting to be able to look back at 2, 3, even 4 generations.
    The benchmarks of the RX400 and RX300, with latest drivers and modern titles, don't exist, so it's difficult to compare them against the new breeds.
    Obviously, everyone expects the new ones to be considerably faster, however, the question is "is it worth it"?
    Example: I have a Ryzen 5 1600 and I wonder if I should upgrade to the 3600x. More cores, higher clock, same power: for sure it is faster, but does it really make a difference?
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, July 8, 2019 - link

    They always forget to include the previous 2-3 generations which are in fact the cards 85% of us 'normal' folks looking for a midrange upgrade have. We only get to see how they compare with cards from 6 months previous.

    Just a note...some of us sweat our hardware for 2-4 years...cos we have to.
    Reply
  • BikeDude - Monday, July 8, 2019 - link

    "some of us sweat our hardware for 2-4 years...cos we have to."

    No, we are not cheap, but "environmentally conscious". ;)
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, July 8, 2019 - link

    That and some of us just don't waste our lives running benchmarks all day.

    "Mmmm man that $650 got me an extra 3FPS!"
    Reply

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