Opinion | AMD has messed up the release of the RX 5600 XT, but it still emerges victorious over NVIDIA
The RX 5600 XT has caused quite the stir. First, NVIDIA dropped the price of its RTX 2060 Founders Edition by US$50 to US$299, with EVGA announcing the comparably priced RTX 2060 KO at CES 2020. Then, AMD pushed out a new vBIOS to reviewers that yielded anywhere between 10-15% performance improvements for add-in board (AIB) partner cards. Seemingly, the newer vBIOS not only increased the TDP of these cards by 10 W, but it also boosted clock speeds and pushed the VRAM from 12 Gbps to 14 Gbps. Following us so far?
Well, Guru3D reported last week that these changes would only make their way to AIB cards, effectively relegating the reference card to being a lesser RX 5600 XT. While this seems rather odd from our view, things have become even more confusing in the last few days.
As reported by Videocardz, not only AIB cards will feature these changes, either. Moreover, MSI has now stated that not all RX 5600 XT cards can operate at 14 Gbps. AMD's BIOS update does not include a VRAM increase. The company covers this from about 13:20 minutes into its "RX 5600 XT, 1080p Ultra or 1440p territory?" YouTube video if you are interested in knowing more.
Essentially, MSI claims that AMD's vBIOS changed the power limit and GPU clock speed of AIB cards, without touching their VRAM speeds. MSI is even selling three versions of the RX 5600 XT GAMING, which all have different specifications. The performance difference between these three cards is around 10% by MSI's estimates, for reference.
Despite all of the above, the release of the RX 5600 XT has apparently still irked NVIDIA. Writing on Computer Base, Wolfgang Andermahr claims that NVIDIA repeatedly called several editors and asked about the current situation with the RX 5600 XT. Andermahr opined that AMD's new vBIOS challenged NVIDIA's worldview that an RTX 2060 price cut would hand it a simple victory over AMD.
The bottom line is that the release of the RX 5600 XT should have benefitted consumers, at least insofar as offering greater competition. The confusion about which RX 5600 XT to buy does not help, though.