In brief: After messing up a bit on the launch of the Radeon RX 5600 XT, AMD is now encouraging users to “unlock the full potential” of their graphics card by manually upgrading its firmware. The added performance is well worth the effort, but suffice to say that it took the company long enough to make it official.
Back in January, when AMD was readying the launch of the Radeon RX 5600 XT, the plan was to have it debut with 12 Gbps memory and be pitched as a direct challenger to Nvidia’s GTX 1660 Ti at a sub-$300 price. However, Nvidia didn’t sit idle and revealed its answer to that challenge, the aptly-named RTX 2060 KO, a graphics card that was competent enough to steal the spotlight from the RX 5600 XT on the mainstream market, and positioned at the same price point.
This prompted AMD to push out an updated firmware to its partners at the last minute to compensate for Nvidia’s aggressive move. The firmware upgrade, which is now officially recommended by AMD, raises the RX 5600 XT’s typical board power (TBP) and upgrades the memory speed from 12 to 14 Gbps.
As shown in extensive testing, the 5600 XT and RTX 2060 KO are evenly matched in terms of performance, but the upgraded vBIOS that made it possible didn’t compensate for the fact that AMD botched the drivers. This is why our recommendation skewed towards the RTX 2060 as a safer option, and why many people ended up ditching their RX 5600 XTs, even as the quality of the drivers has improved.
Still, many still own or plan to buy AMD’s 5600 XT, and for them it’s important to get every little bit of additional performance out of their card. AMD says all models use memory chips that should be able to run at 14 Gbps, but due to the complicated nature of validating individual 5600 XT models for the upgrade, now there’s a mix of cards out there that either come with the new vBIOS out of the box or require a manual upgrade to be done by the user.
Below you have a table for quick reference on the 19 models of Radeon 5600 XT and whether or not you need to perform the firmware upgrade yourself…