PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT Review — unassumingly powerful
For a card that slips right into a 2-slot form factor and comes without a single lick of RGB, you might expect it to be rather basic. You won't be wrong, but the performance on tap here is nothing to scoff at.
2 Year Warranty
+ Simple, no-frills design
+ Dual-fan, dual-slot design fits in most modern cases
+ Good performance across the board
+ Runs really silently even in OC BIOS
+ Requires only one 8-pin power connector
+ Reasonably priced
- No RGB
The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT is a pretty interesting mid-range graphics card, and PowerColor makes two variants of them. AMD Malaysia sent us both cards, and we will first be looking at the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT which is the lower-end variant of it. Well, without directly comparing the two cards, we will be testing the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600XT.
The front offers little information about the differences that this card brings to the table. It just lists the features which the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT offers, and none of what PowerColor added.
Here we see more of that. PowerColor actually went pretty light in terms of features. Since there’s no reference design, this is about as basic as it gets, although you do get dual BIOS functionality, not something you would commonly find to affordable mid-range cards.
The contents are very simple. You only get a quick installation guide and the card itself. For drivers, PowerColor asks you to go download them from their website, or you could of course head over to AMD’s website. There’s a lot of foam in the box to keep the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT secured during shipping, so while there isn’t a lot here, it will more than suffice.
Now the dragon might remind you of a certain other brand, but let’s overlook it. The two fans are pretty huge which should bode well for a good cooling-to-noise ratio, and feature a chrome ring around them for a touch of style. There’s a sneaky dragon hiding in the lower right corner of the card, but otherwise the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT is one relatively plain looking graphics card.
On the side the theme of minimalism continues. The PowerColor logo is printed in white on the fan shroud. There are some copper heatpipes running around under the heatsink but that’s about it. The PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT only requires one 8-pin PCIe power connector, which is more than plenty for a Radeon RX 5600 XT.
Over on the back is a no-frills metal backplate. The BIOS switch is positioned near the bracket, with the legends printed on the backplate so you won’t ever be left guessing which BIOS you are currently running. There is no RGB to be seen anywhere, which might be a boon for those who are always very vocal about their hatred towards RGB.
PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT
|GPU||AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT (Navi 10 XLE)|
Boost: 1620 MHz
Game: 1560 MHz
Boost: 1620 MHz
Game: 1460 MHz
|Cores||2304 SP (32 CU)|
|Memory Clocks||14 000 MHz|
|Display outputs||3 x DisplayPort 1.4
1 x HDMI 2.0b
|Power connector(s)||1 x 8-pin|
|Multi-GPU support||DX12 mGPU|
|Dimensions||24.0 x 11.8 x 4 cm|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-5820K @ 4.125 GHz|
|Motherboard||ROG Rampage V Extreme|
|Memory||4 x 4GB Kingston HyperX Predator 3000 MHz CL15|
|Storage||256GB Samsung 850 EVO SATA SSD
512GB Plextor M9PeY PCIe 3.0×4 NVMe SSD
256GB Toshiba PCIe 3.0×4 NVMe SSD
|Power Supply||Cooler Master V850 Gold|
|GPU Driver||Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.1.3|
We will be running in-game benchmarks where available, at the specified resolution(s) and at the maximum graphics preset, unless otherwise specified. Average framerates during gameplay will be recorded with Fraps, in the event of a benchmarked game not having an in-game benchmarking tool. Temperatures will be recorded with HWiNFO, and the maximum temperature in a 45-minute long Superposition stress test run will be reported. Fan speeds will be according to the default fan curve as defined by the manufacturer. The latest drivers available will be used, unless otherwise specified. Default clocks will be used, unless otherwise specified.
Now it’s worth noting that we received the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT with bumped up clocks, but the BIOS was somewhat wonky. PowerColor has already released an updated BIOS before we got our hands on the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT, so let’s see the performance with the latest BIOS available to end users.
In our 3DMark Time Spy benchmark we can see that a Radeon RX 5600 XT runs very close to the Radeon RX 5700 indeed. This is kinda expected as the the two cards have virtually the same GPU, with the only difference being the power limiter and clocks, as well as possibly binning.
Superposition sees it come really close too, but it leaves the similarly priced GeForce GTX 1660 Ti In the dust. With the recent price adjustment on the GeForce GTX 2060, the advantage of the Radeon RX 5600 XT against NVIDIA’s offerings are less clear cut though.
AMD officially brands the Radeon RX 5600 XT as a 1080p card, while the Radeon RX 5700 series is targeted at 1440p. But as usual, we will be testing our usual games at 4K and 1440p as well, just to see if it can keep up with the higher resolutions.
At 1080p, the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT doesn’t even break a sweat. The only games that can bring it down are Metro Exodus and AC Odyssey, with all the other titles seeing it pushing well above 60 fps.
1440p is where we see it start to stumble a bit more. More games drop down below 60 fps but if you are using a 1440p monitor, it would still be possible to enjoy most of the games we tested as long as you turn down the graphics options a bit.
The PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT is definitely not designed for 4K, with games now dropping below the 30 fps mark. Then again the Radeon RX 5700 series aren’t either, so you would have to opt for much pricier cards if you intend to play at 4K with respectable graphics settings too.
The PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT runs rather warm, although there isn’t too much of an issue as the card still maintains a rather impressive boost of around 1721 MHz. This is rather interesting as the card is only supposed to have a boost clock of 1620 MHz, but hey, I am not saying no to free performance.
Here are more squiggly lines to represent the temperatures observed on the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT throughout the 45 minutes Superposition stress test. We see the GDDR6 run at 78°C, the GPU hotspot at 85°C and the VRM at 64°C, at their respective peaks. I do believe PowerColor did a great job for the VRM cooling as these are impressive temperatures. I do wish PowerColor went with a more aggressive fan profile as while the GPU is pretty comfortable at 85°C, I prefer my hardware to run at below 80°C. In their current configuration, the fans on the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT run at around 1100 RPM, or around 30% of their maximum fan speed. The plus side is that they are virtually silent at this level.
Make sure to update your BIOS!
We have already discussed the thermals of the card after the BIOS update. Now we have a PSA: make sure to update your BIOS if you get the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT. The difference is night and day, and it’s not just extra performance but literally a necessary update to ensure that you don’t kill your card.
For some weird reason PowerColor made this sort of a fan profile where the fans only turn on at 110°C. Obviously AMD has mentioned before that 110°C hotspot temperatures are “acceptable” but the card has throttled down to nothingness in this run. It’s worth noting that this graph is generated from a short Superposition benchmark run, which lasts for just about 5 minutes.
This is the data after the BIOS update. We can see that the fans do turn on a lot earlier at 60°C, which is what you would expect a properly designed fan profile to do. The fan stops at once the GPU temps are below 50°C, allowing for silent operation when puttering around in non-GPU intensive applications.
The PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT is a great card for $289. It doesn’t look like it’s going to summon the devil in your PC, and yet it does its job well. For a short-ish card that doesn’t exceed the 2-slot thickness, I would say that the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT is great for gamers who are using smaller cases which might not have support for longer or thicker cards. Performance is still great, and if you take the time to customize the fan profile, you will have an even better card on your hands.
With that said, the Radeon RX 5600 XT actually might cannibalize the Radeon RX 5700 rather than the green camp. It comes really close to the Radeon RX 5700, and for less money too. And our PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT here even beats its slightly pricier brethren for less money ($309 vs $289). Now that’s a real win, albeit one I didn’t expect to see. But you will have to make sure that your Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT is running on the final BIOS, but that can be said for any Radeon RX 5600 XT out there.
Our thanks to AMD Malaysia for providing us with the PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT for review. We will update local pricing once it’s available in Malaysia.