XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra review: A high-performance muscle car of a GPU

It's high-performing, a little loud, extremely impressive, and in need of some slight tinkering for peak performance.

Credit: Brad Chacos/IDG

Gamers, start your engines. The $440 XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra is the first custom Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card we’ve laid hands on, and it screams.

The Thicc II Ultra evokes XFX’s beloved Double Dissipation design, with an ultra-clean, black-and-chrome scheme reminiscent of American muscle cars, and revved-up clock speeds to match. Like any hot rod, though, you’ll need to tinker with it a bit for the best performance, and you can hear it purring when you put the pedal to the gaming metal.

It’s worth it. The XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra is extremely impressive and extremely fast, pushing AMD’s new flagship GPU well past the similarly priced GeForce RTX 2060 Super’s performance. With its optimizations, the Thicc II Ultra inches awfully close to the $500 RTX 2070 Super’s frame rates. You’ll be able to find it at retailers this week, but XFX sent us an early review sample to test. Let’s get to it.

XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra: Specs and features

XFX’s graphics card puts an overclocked, custom-cooled spin on AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 XT’s “Navi” GPU.

This generation’s Navi chips are chock full of cutting-edge features. They’re the first consumer GPUs built using the 7nm manufacturing process, the first GPUs to support the ultra-fast PCIe 4.0 interface (if you pair it with a Ryzen 3000 CPU and an X570 motherboard), and the first GPUs created with AMD’s new underlying “RDNA” graphics architecture. The combination of RDNA and 7nm greatly improved the power efficiency of Radeon GPUs, and the RX 5700 series performs much better in games that used to strongly favor Nvidia’s GeForce graphics cards. AMD also introduced helpful software tricks like Radeon Image Sharpening to help get better performance out of your hardware, though Navi does not support real-time ray tracing like the GeForce RTX 20-series.

Check out our Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT review for the full recap. This review will focus on the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra’s tweaks and performance. Here’s a look at the stock specifications for the Radeon RX 5700 series compared to last-generation’s Radeon Vega GPUs to get you up to speed:

radeon navi vs vega specs AMD

XFX ups the ante by increasing the base clock to 1,730MHz, the game clock to 1,870MHz, and the boost clock to 1,980MHz—at least on paper. In practice, we observed the Thicc II Ultra hovering closer to the full-blown boost speed in most games, as opposed to the game clock it’s expected to achieve in typical gaming scenarios. In some scenarios and scenes, it even topped 2,000MHz—no joke. Pushing Navi so hard requires much more power than the Radeon RX 5700 XT reference card, as you’ll see later in our review.

It also requires a more substantial cooler.

xfx cooler description XFX

The XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra uses the company’s “Ghost Thermal 2.0” design, which sets a pair of large 100mm fans over a thick heatsink bristling with four 6mm composite heat pipes. The fans include idle stop functionality, so they won’t kick in until you put the GPU under load. It’s silent during normal desktop use.

A single HDMI 2.0b connection and a trio of DisplayPorts make up the output selection. The 2.5-slot graphics card measures 11.5 inches long, so it’s not small by any means, though it isn’t as unreasonably big as some fully kitted-out custom GPUs. Muscle cars aren’t small.

But they are gorgeous. Taste is subjective, but I was always an admirer of the original Double Dissipation design, and the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra is one of the most beautiful graphics cards I’ve ever laid eyes on. The card’s rocking an ultra-clean, ultra-solid-looking black vibe with chrome accents, going so far as to outfit the end of the card with a chrome grille that enhances the roadster look.

xfx radeon rx 5700 xt thicc ii ultra 4 Brad Chacos/IDG

The black plastic shroud wraps the edge of the card, providing a glimpse at the aluminum heatsink underneath, while a metal backplate with the XFX logo on the top of the card completes the stark, sturdy look. You won’t find any RGB lighting on this graphics card, though a pair of blue LEDs indicate that you’ve plugged the 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors correctly into this 210W GPU.

xfx radeon rx 5700 xt thicc ii ultra 1 Brad Chacos/IDG

The view from the side. Mmmmm.

I’m in love with the hardware. But keeping with the muscle car analogy, you need to tweak and tune things to get it running properly—at least if you pick up some of the first Thicc II Ultra cards to hit the streets.

Next page: Some necessary tinkering

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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