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Radeon RX 5700/ RX 5700 XT: performance analysis

Strange Brigade, Metro Exodus, Battlefield 5

The graphics card reviewer's nightmare is this: there's an almost infinite amount of different graphics workloads you can test, and there's always the nagging doubt that maybe your selection of tests overlooks something important. Our collection of titles for benchmarks consists of established older titles and legacy games - and it's like that for a reason. Game developers tend to move on after a while of optimising performance, while driver optimisations from the GPU vendors on a particular game usually peter out within a year or so. Performance is pretty much set in stone at this point then, allowing us to build up a consistent library of test games.

But what it does mean is that we lose out on the latest and greatest, plus we may have overlooked some interesting benchmarks that may prove to yield interesting data. With that in mind, we spent a day benchmarking a further three titles across the Navi and Super cards. Strange Brigade from Rebellion seems to be a particular favourite of AMD for benchmarking, and it's an engine that supports toggleable async compute as well as DX12 and Vulkan support (we opted for DX12, which seems slightly more performant).

Battlefield 5 stood out as a game where Navi posted some frankly astonishing results, based on AMD's official benchmarks. We know that Battlefield 1 really does like AMD hardware, so it's not a stretch to imagine that the same applies to its sequel - but is it really that much faster than Nvidia? Finally, we had to give a slot to 4A Games' Metro Exodus. Try as we might, the official benchmark just produces a black screen whenever we boot it, but the initial cutscene on entering the Volga chapter is challenging for both CPU and GPU. This game a true visual benchmark, so we thought it well worth including here.

But does the trend in performance alter at all compared to our established benchmarking suite? Well, there's a reason why two of these titles feature so strongly in AMD marketing - and equally, it's easy to see why Metro Exodus typically doesn't.

Strange Brigade

OK, so now we understand why AMD loves this DirectX 12 game and its benchmark - Rebellion's engine absolutely screams on AMD hardware, producing results in favour of Radeon in the same region as the Battlefield titles.

Strange Brigade: Ultra, DX12

Metro Exodus

A disappointing turnout for the new Navi cards - at 1080p resolution, at least. This area of the game is CPU intensive, and allows us a peak at driver performance, where even under DX12, AMD is suffering. The RTX 2060 beats both Navis, with 2070 and Super streaking ahead. But something closer to normal service kicks in at 1440p, with the 5700 and the XT moving into more comfortable territory. However, at 4K, Navi struggles badly again. This title performs very strangely on AMD kit...

Metro Exodus, Ultra, DX12

Battlefield 5

AMD's lead over Nvidia isn't as pronounced as the firm's official benchmarks would have us believe - certainly based on the area we tested, but we're still looking at a substantial lead for Navi here. With the price drop in place, the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT are pitched as competitors to the RTX 2060 and 2060 Super - but here, the AMD offerings comfortably out-perform RTX 2060 Super and even RTX 2070 Super. You can't help but imagine what might have been if AMD were able to bring this level of performance to many more titles.

Battlefield 5, Ultra, DX12

AMD Radeon 5700/ Radeon RX 5700 XT Analysis

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About the Author

Will Judd avatar

Will Judd

Deputy Editor, Digital Foundry

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2. Will also tweets the latest tech deals at @DealsFoundry.