Overclocking the Radeon RX 5600 XT

Introduction

This is the ever-evolving chronicles of the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT.  On January 21st AMD launched the Radeon RX 5600 XT and we reviewed the XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro video card for $279.99. 

Then, in a reaction to NVIDIA lowering pricing on GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition to $299 it was decided that the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT could actually be pushed higher.  Add-in-board partners released new BIOS’s with faster clock speeds.  We tested the new BIOS that XFX has released for the XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro which raised the game clock from 1460MHz to 1560MHz. 

Now it is time to do our due diligence, and manually overclock the video card.  Manual overclocking will always yield the highest GPU frequency and memory frequency boost no matter what new performance BIOS’s are released.  To really see how far the Radeon RX 5600 XT GPU can be taken we must push it to the limits ourselves, so we have done exactly that for today’s review.

Clock Speeds

Let’s first dp a quick briefing of specifications so that we can see where we are starting from.  A reference Radeon RX 5600 XT has a game clock of 1375MHz and a peak clock of 1560MHz.  The memory is clocked at 12GHz and provides 288GB/sec of bandwidth.  The total board power is 150W.  MSRP is $279.99.

Our XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro originally had a game clock of 1460MHz and a peak clock of 1620MHz.  The memory clock is at the standard 12GHz.  In our testing of the real-world clock speed while gaming we found that the video card actually runs around 1600MHz clock speed while gaming.  This was right under the peak clock.  This clock speed is very high and way over the reference spec.

However, it got even better.  Right before the official launch XFX released a new BIOS that you can download and install that raises the official game clock.  The new official specifications are now a 1560MHz game clock and the same 1620MHz peak clock and 12GHz memory clock.  In our testing the actual real-time frequency now was raised from 1600MHz up to between 1720-1740MHz while gaming.  This is a pretty big increase.  Therefore, when we overclock our baseline we are starting from with the new performance BIOS is this 1720-1740MHz area.  We are therefore looking for clock speeds higher than this with overclocking.    

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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12 Comments

  1. Nice deep dive into the new bios and what it means. This also means that vendors are releasing cards with a lower performance metric specifically designed to be unleashed with overclocking. I’m not against it but when vendors then release a bios to hamper competition I find it an interesting proposition.

    I don’t really overclock my personal systems. (Minor overclock at best.) So this would be a boon for me. And make it look like my card had more value built into it by the vendor bios release.

    But on the other hand does this decrease the lifecycle of the card itself? Only time will tell.

  2. But on the other hand does this decrease the lifecycle of the card itself? Only time will tell.

    I don’t see how it would, at least not appreciatively. The amount of power used doesn’t increase dramatically. The extra heat generation is quite small and the cooler had no issues keeping it cooled. There was also no increase in voltage needed. Extra voltage and heat are the two main items which would reduce the perceptible lifetime of a component and neither one is a factor in this case.

    I just retired a Q6600 several months back. It was retired because the motherboard died and I didn’t have a replacement. That CPU over the course of more than 11 years was run at 150% of stock clockspeed with a decent but still safe increase in voltage and for much of the lifetime of that CPU it ran 100% load. The cooler I had on it kept the temps around 60C under full load as well. I’m pretty sure the CPU is still perfectly good and if I find I’m really, really, really bored sometime I’ll swap it and the heatsink I used on it into my server to replace the Q6600 in it which doesn’t clock as well and needs higher voltage even at stock.

    Outside of excessive overlocking you’re unlikely to have any noticeable decrease in the life of the component. It will be obsolete and replaced long before overlocking can kill it.

    As for the article, nice review. The only pity is the clock limits built into the card by AMD but it’s obvious why it has them. From the look of things the 5600XT could end up at the same performance in many cases as the 5700 if the limiters were removed and you could clock that thing the way it wants to be clocked.

  3. Question:
    In Afterburner, there is a tick box "Extend official Overclocking limits" that is near the bottom of the General page, under the heading of AMD compatibility properties.
    If that box is ticked it does allow you to go beyond the limits set by AMD as far as OC is concerned, if I recall.
    Did you utilize that?
  4. Thanks for all the hard work in following this little roller coaster ride. It’s nice seeing what this little engine that could really can do now.
  5. Interesting review, why was AMD drivers Tuning not used for OCing? Was there an issue or did I miss something there? Same limitations for memory and/or core clock? Are there registry mods for power tables out for the 5600XT?

    Personally I do not like stop signs from the manufacturer limiting performance to a ceiling. This GPU would most likely be able to go to 2000mhz and beyond if unlocked. While really being memory bandwidth limited, GPU OCing in a number cases would probably increase performance in the end beyond the current stop signs. Bios modding and OCing the 5700 can be very very fruitful so not sure why AMD would be concerned about the 5600 XT encroaching upon the 5700 which has way more memory bandwidth for an effective GPU OC. I think XFX put out a rather nice good card here, too bad AMD limits its potential.

  6. Question:
    In Afterburner, there is a tick box "Extend official Overclocking limits" that is near the bottom of the General page, under the heading of AMD compatibility properties.
    If that box is ticked it does allow you to go beyond the limits set by AMD as far as OC is concerned, if I recall.
    Did you utilize that?

    Negative, checking this box does not allow you to go beyond the limitations AMD has imposed. I tried it, does nothing on this video card currently. I think it has more to do with range enhancement on the slider, than anything. ASUS GPU Tweak has a similar feature.

    1. ok got it.
      this has worked for me in the past, but may be a pretty hard lock imposed by AMD.
      too bad, it would be interesting to see what this card could do unleashed.
  7. Why wasn’t the 2060 FE overclocked at all?

    It is currently out for other testing at the moment. In the future we may do a specific 5600 XT OC vs. 2060 OC article, though the 2060 would be a Founders Edition, not a custom card.

    Another test, for another time that should be very interesting to do a versus article on.

    Keep in mind, we don’t always cover every single aspect in one review, we do several reviews to bring focus on specific comparisons. That means stay tuned to our site for more reviews on these GPUs in various comparisons!

  8. Interesting review, why was AMD drivers Tuning not used for OCing? Was there an issue or did I miss something there? Same limitations for memory and/or core clock? Are there registry mods for power tables out for the 5600XT?

    Personally I do not like stop signs from the manufacturer limiting performance to a ceiling. This GPU would most likely be able to go to 2000mhz and beyond if unlocked. While really being memory bandwidth limited, GPU OCing in a number cases would probably increase performance in the end beyond the current stop signs. Bios modding and OCing the 5700 can be very very fruitful so not sure why AMD would be concerned about the 5600 XT encroaching upon the 5700 which has way more memory bandwidth for an effective GPU OC. I think XFX put out a rather nice good card here, too bad AMD limits its potential.

    It has the same limitations since they are imposed by AMD. Frankly, Afterburner is still easier to use, and Riva Tuner statistics OSD in-game is a powerful tool.

    I need to spend some more time with the new version of it, however, so once I get a feel for it we might switch to it for AMD cards if I find it works easily enough. I know we had a lot of problems with Wattman. But I need more time with it to determine if it can replace using Afterburner.

  9. It has the same limitations since they are imposed by AMD. Frankly, Afterburner is still easier to use, and Riva Tuner statistics OSD in-game is a powerful tool.

    I need to spend some more time with the new version of it, however, so once I get a feel for it we might switch to it for AMD cards if I find it works easily enough. I know we had a lot of problems with Wattman. But I need more time with it to determine if it can replace using Afterburner.

    Thanks for the reply.

  10. It has the same limitations since they are imposed by AMD. Frankly, Afterburner is still easier to use, and Riva Tuner statistics OSD in-game is a powerful tool.

    I need to spend some more time with the new version of it, however, so once I get a feel for it we might switch to it for AMD cards if I find it works easily enough. I know we had a lot of problems with Wattman. But I need more time with it to determine if it can replace using Afterburner.

    I’m not surprised that you’re using Afterburner instead. I’ve been using it for years, GeForce 8800GT then Radeon HD5770 and now Radeon RX570. Maybe it’s just because I’m so accustomed to Afterburner but to me the overlocking options in the new Radeon drivers feels clunky and confusing in comparison to the simplicity of Afterburner. It’s a **** nice piece of software.

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