AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT was a bit of a confusing mess. The company launched a last-minute vBIOS update that unlocked higher clock speeds and memory speeds for its GPUs. And that meant you could see drastic differences in performance from one 5600 XT to another, depending on whether or not the manufacturer had provided the best software. That let me recommend everyone opt for the Sapphire Pulse RX 5600 XT. In January, it was the only card I knew had the fastest vBIOS out of the box. But now AMD is working with partners to resolve this confusion. And that has led to products like the updated PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon 5600 XT, which has a memory speed of 14 Gbps (instead of 12 Gbps).
To be clear, while PowerColor is updating its Red Dragon, this product still faces the same issues as the RX 5600 XT at launch. AMD’s updated software has clearly surprised companies like PowerColor. And now he’s trying to fix it. But it’s still an RX 5600 XT, so don’t expect serious improvement over something like the Sapphire Pulse.
So what should you expect? Ideally, I would like to see the Red Dragon deliver framates and Sapphire Pulse thermals. This would facilitate the recommendation of the card. And that’s about what I got with this GPU.
PowerColor Red Dragon has the RX 5600 XT performance you want
The 5600 XT is an excellent 1080p GPU. As I have said in my opinion, it has more than enough power at this resolution. It also ranks respectably at 1440p. And really, it’s at 1440p where faster memory is going to make a much bigger difference. So for my tests, I put the Sapphire Pulse and Red Dragon head-to-head at 1440p. I especially want to see that the PowerColor card is in the same range as the Sapphire card.
I tested with the following rig:
- Z490 Aorus Master
- 32 GB 3200 MHz HyperX Predator memory
- NZXT E850 PSU
- Samsung 860 Evo Sata 500 GB SSD
Also, to force more load on the GPU, I tried to maximize the settings at 1440p. In benchmarks like Gears Tactics, which put 100% of the load on the video card for the duration of the test. In reality, you would probably be disallowing many of these graphics features if you use the 5600 XT at 1440p. So don’t expect these numbers to accurately reflect the performance of the game. I’m just trying to see how one card compares to the next.
Here are the results:
In Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, the PowerColor Red Dragon was released before the Sapphire Pulse. It is 10% faster in terms of average framerate. But it also has a more stable overall refresh rate, which you can see on the lows of 1% and 0.1%.
But in the rest of the games, the Sapphire Pulse finished ahead. Sometimes the Sapphire card is just about 2% faster (Hitman 2), but in Gears Tactics it was 19% faster. While maybe something else is going on with the game in this case, it’s clear that the Sapphire Pulse is still the RX 5600 XT to beat.
And it makes sense. Although the Red Dragon has increased memory to 14 Gbit / s, it does not have the same increase in clock speed as the Sapphire Pulse. The former can constantly increase to a game clock of 1560 MHz, while the latter reaches 1615 MHz.
I would always recommend the Sapphire Pulse over the Red Dragon. But I have to admit that the 5600XT landscape is a little less confusing than it used to be, and I think that was the purpose of AMD. If you are going out to buy a 5600XT today, you will still need to do your research. Make sure you get this 14 Gbps memory speed in the datasheet. But finding it is easier now than in January and February.
I think you are probably pushing these two cards too far if your goal is 1440p gaming. But in 1080p, one or the other is exaggerated. And it’s a good sign that the Red Dragon is doing so well in a massive Ubisoft game like Odyssey.
In terms of thermal and noise, both cards are great. Again, the Sapphire has the edge, but I have no complaints about the Red Dragon – especially when it comes to fan noise.
At $ 300, the PowerColor card is more expensive than its Sapphire counterpart. But if Pulse sells, the Red Dragon is a good alternative.