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AMD’s E3 gaff kinda proves Navi 12 isn’t ‘Big Navi’

I don't think AMD would've been so close to calling the RX 5700 cards RX 690 if Navi 12 was going to be the 'Nvidia Killer'

AMD RX 690 on stage at E3

When will AMD’s ‘Nvidia Killer’ GPUs launch? There’s still a whole lot of talk about the so-called ‘Big Navi’ GPU, with much of that speculation suggesting the upcoming Navi 12 silicon will form the chip to finally take on the RTX 2080 Ti. But, while there may well one day be an RX 5900 XT that can stand toe-to-toe with Nvidia’s RTX range, it’s not going to be powered by the Navi 12 and I think AMD’s E3 gaff kinda proves it.

When Dr. Lisa Su announced the RX 5700 XT 50th Anniversary Edition on stage at the company’s Next Horizon Gaming event at E3 she stood holding the new card, bearing her own signature, in front of a slide showing the basic specs of the new special edition GPU. And the huge image behind her had a fan with the name ‘Radeon RX 690 Special Edition’ emblazoned on it.

At E3 AMD would have known it was shipping both Navi 12 and Navi 14 GPUs to follow the Navi 10 chips it was announcing at the show, and I doubt it would’ve been so close to calling its special edition card the RX 690 if some higher-spec GPU was going to follow just a few months later.

You could maybe argue that AMD might have gone for some sort of RX Fury-style branding on a subsequent enthusiast graphics card release, but I’m not convinced. Everything we’ve seen about the next generation of Navi GPUs suggests we’re looking at mainstream graphics cards.

We’ve recently heard about the RX 5300 XT getting dropped into pretty standard HP desktop PCs and an AMD RX 5500 GPU has popped up on GFXBench. To me that sounds a lot like the Navi 14 and Navi 12 cards respectively.

AMD RX 690

For 2019 then I’m pretty convinced the RX 5700 XT is going to be the pinnacle of AMD’s Radeon graphics cards. Which is no bad thing. The XT is a great GPU out of the box, and gets mighty close to pushing the much more expensive Nvidia RTX 2070 Super to its limit.

For our money, however, the lower-spec AMD RX 5700 is the one to go for, but only because there is now 3rd party software available which unleashes the full potential of the second-string Navi 10 GPU which AMD had previously locked away.

Given that AMD has shifted its GPU naming scheme to match the Ryzen model, with the 5300, 5500, and 5700-series matching the Ryzen 3, 5, and 7 ranges of its CPUs, it stands to reason that there could well be a 5900-series following it up à la Ryzen 9. But I’m betting on that not happening until AMD has filled out its mainstream lineup first, with the second-gen RDNA GPUs, the Navi 20-based chips, coming out in 2020.

These larger die-size GPUs could well be the ‘Nvidia Killers’ the AMD faithful are aching to see, but the price/performance ratios of the RX 5300 and RX 5500-series cards will still likely mean they’re the ones that most of us will actually buy for our gaming rigs.