Launching AMD's Radeon RX 5600 XT was a confusing affair, but the company has now clarified which models have faster out-of-the-box memory and which require a BIOS update for significant performance improvement .
AMD's announcement on Twitter has, let's say, a positive twist, noting that the 5600 XT can reach 14 Gbit / s (unlike the 12 Gbit / s initially planned) in terms of memory speed, either from the start or with a downloadable BIOS update that offers a 10% increase in game performance. (That's about what we found in our launch tests, roughly, though slightly less in some benchmarks) .
Fast has become faster. Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics cards are now available with 14 Gbps memory speed, giving you superior performance right out of the box or as a downloadable update for many existing GPUs.May 4, 2020
However, the full picture of what is going on here is quite a thorny affair, which we fully explored in depth at the time of the messy launch of the RX 5600 XT. To try to summarize it briefly, Nvidia interfered with the launch of the RX 5600 XT by lowering the price of the RTX 2060, and AMD reacted by increasing the performance of the 5600 XT via this aforementioned BIOS update.
Now, some RX 5600 XT graphics cards came with this update applied by the manufacturer, so it was in place ready for use, and other GPUs required that the update be applied by the user to get increasing the speed of memory.
What AMD has done here is officially stated which RX 5600 XT cards have the BIOS updated and therefore have reached 14 Gbps without doing anything, and which will require an update to be applied by the owner. The full list is available on the AMD website, with a link to the necessary instructions where the update process should be performed.
That seems to cover all the 5600 XT models we can see on sale, but if you have a GPU that isn't listed, you're out of luck right now. AMD observes: “This list will be updated as new models are added and new instructions become available.”
Proceed with caution
Note that updating the BIOS of a graphics card is a business that should be treated with some caution. For example, in Asus' instructions, the motherboard manufacturer marks this as an optional BIOS update and mentions its tool which is necessary to flash the BIOS in the event of a problem.
We have seen at least one complaint on AMD's Twitter feed where a user says that their PC freezes now after the update – at least in some games – and although this is just an anecdotal story, like mentioned, some care needs to be exercised here. A power outage that shuts down your PC in the middle of flashing the BIOS, for example, could cause untold problems for seriously unlucky people.
Certainly, those looking to buy an RX 5600 XT now would probably be wise, if possible, to stick with the graphics cards that are confirmed to come with the BIOS update already applied and a memory speed of 14 Gbps off of the box.