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Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT review: Punching above its class

Make sure you get that new BIOS, though.

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F1 2019

The latest in a long line of successful racing games, F1 2019 is a gem to test, supplying a wide array of both graphical and benchmarking options, making it a much more reliable (and fun) option that the Forza series. It’s built on the latest version of Codemasters’ buttery-smooth Ego game engine, complete with support for DX12 for the first time. We test two laps on the Australia course, with clear skies.

f1 2019 Brad Chacos/IDG

Power draw, thermals, and noise

We test power draw by looping the F1 2019 benchmark for about 20 minutes after we’ve benchmarked everything else and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion. 

power Brad Chacos/IDG

AMD’s move to 7nm, GDDR6, and the new RDNA architecture paid off. While Radeon GPUs have been hot and power-hungry compared to their GeForce rivals for several years running, the Radeon RX 5600 XT’s “Navi” GPU rivals Nvidia’s vaunted power efficiency. Note, however, that the upgraded BIOS’s performance boost requires a power boost to hit the higher frame rates.

We test thermals by leaving GPU-Z open during the F1 2019 power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temperature Brad Chacos/IDG

Sapphire’s Pulse might be affordable, but the cooler does its job even in Performance mode, topping out at 72 degrees Celsius under load. That’s higher than most of the results here, but still very chilly in the real world. It’s pretty damned quiet, too. As with the power draw test, the lower-powered BIOS achieves better results—as you’d expect—but the tradeoff’s worthwhile for the performance.

Next page: Should you buy the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT?

At a Glance
  • The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT delivers outstanding 1080p gaming, knocking out the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti thanks to a last-minute BIOS upgrade. The need to install that upgrade manually and price cuts from rival Nvidia cards takes off some of its shine, though.

    Pros

    • Excellent 1080p gaming performance
    • Fast GDDR6 VRAM, PCIe 4.0 support
    • Faster BIOS unlocks much better performance
    • Sapphire Pulse has great features for the price
    • Trixx Boost software uses smart downscaling for FPS gains
    • Very quiet

    Cons

    • Have to manually install critical performance-boosting BIOS
    • No real-time ray tracing capabilities
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