Right at the final hour, AMD provided its OEM partners with updated microcode to enable faster clockspeeds by default on the Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card. Unfortunately, the first batch of custom 5600 XT cards arrived at retail before the updated microcode was made available, hence why every model up for sale right now shows the original clockspeeds. Fortunately, Sapphire is making it easy for owners of its Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT to unlock the faster clocks with a mostly simple BIOS update.
I say "mostly simple" because updating the BIOS on a graphics card (or motherboard, for that matter) can be a little intimidating for users who have never done it before. Things can go wrong. For example, a power outage (or little Billy tripping over the power cord) in the middle of an update can mess things up in a big way. As in, it will no longer function.
For the most part, though, updating the BIOS is not that difficult these days. As it applies to the 5600 XT, AMD opted to push out the updated microcode to its OEM partners after Nvidia dropped the price of its GeForce RTX 2060 to $299. While AMD has not commented on this publicly, AMD's move is a reactionary one to increase the performance of the 5600 XT and increase the value proposition, compared to the competition. Or as one theory goes, it baited Nvidia into making a move, and intended for the 5600 XT to run faster from the get-go, though a late-shipping BIOS is a weird way to go about it. Either way, faster performance is available for the taking.
It's not clear how many of AMD's hardware partners will follow suit, and which specific cards will receive a BIOS update (either at the factory or through support portals). At least one is available right now, however, that being Sapphire's Pulse model (the same one Jarred used when benchmarking and reviewing the 5600 XT).
In a video posted to YouTube (posted up top), Sapphire says this will not be necessary on cards that are manufactured later. In the meantime, it has made available a BIOS update for Pulse edition cards with the following part numbers:
As shipped, those models sport a 1,560MHz game clock and 1,620MHz boost clock. After applying the updated BIOS, those numbers jump to 1,615MHz and 1,750MHz, respectively. Those are gains of 55MHz on the game clock and 120MHz on the boost clock.
I highly recommended watching the short YouTube video before embarking, but if you're just looking for step-by-step instructions, here they are (as outlined by Sapphire—follow at your own discretion):
- Check the part number on your Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT to make sure it's one that is compatible with the updated BIOS.
- Go here, expand the 'New V BIOS Update' section, and download the latest BIOS (version 1.01 currently).
- Extract the contents of the ZIP file to a folder.
- Turn off your PC and move the dual-BIOS switch on the Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT to the left-hand side.
- Reboot your PC and go into the folder with the BIOS update.
- Run the BIOS_update_SW_left batch file (double-click it). You may see a Command prompt window open and close rapidly. This is normal.
- Turn off your PC again, and this time move the dual-BIOS switch on the Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT to the right-hand side.
- Reboot your PC and go back into the folder with the BIOS update.
- Run the BIOS_update_SW_right batch file.
- Restart your PC.
Once you go through the necessary steps, the Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT will run at the faster clocks, as this puts the card into Performance mode, with a 160W power draw. You can also choose to run it in Silent mode by flipping the switch (turn off your PC first), which drops the game clock to 1,460MHz and boost clock to 1,620MHz, with a lower 135W power draw.