12 Hours Before Launch: Lots Of Swearing
At the time of writing (1.5 hours before launch right now) I still didn't have the SAPPHIRE sample, but it is 11PM in my city of Adelaide, South Australia. I should have the card in my hands tomorrow, but then I need a few hours with the card to test it... so I'm at least 24 hours behind right now and that sucks.
I've been doing this particular job (of reviewing graphics cards and covering all things GPU-related for TweakTown) for many years. It has been around 6-7 years of me doing this full-time, and I've been knee-deep in the graphics card and consumer PC market for over 20 years at this point. I can't remembe the last time the 24 hours before a graphics card launch, it being this much of a mess.
I had pre-release Radeon drivers, a custom MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT GAMING X... but no VBIOS to test it with the clocks that AMD and MSI are now promising on the eve of release. I don't want to have to test it before in its never-to-be-seen-by-consumers state (lower clock speeds = not the performance you'll see at retail). This would be lying on my part, and I won't have a part of it.
So around 6 hours ago I realized I wouldn't have a launch day review and thought I would go a different route. I thought I would explain what I've had to go through until now, to give you some insight into the 'other side of the fence' -- the reviewer side of the fence.
AMD felt threatened enough by the price changes of NVIDIA and its GeForce RTX 2060 being slashed in price to $299 in the week leading up to the launch of the Radeon RX 5600 XT, so much so that they tacked on 10W to the TBP and forced AIBs to release new VBIOSes offering higher clock speeds.
This is a really shitty move, as it means that there have been thousands of cards sent out by AIB partners with lower clock speeds that require VBIOS updates before you use them. Sure, they'll work without the updated VBIOS but you'll get suckier GPU clocks, an inferior, held-back product that AMD tweaked in the hours leading up to the release.
I can't review a graphics card like that and publish a review, so I've decided to hold off for a few days on my review to give myself some real-time with the card. I'm angry at AMD for doing this, and there is absolutely zero onus on AIB partners.
AMD did this, AMD is at fault, and AMD needs to own it.
I spent half the day trying to secure my sample, talking with AIB partners to work out what would, in the end, be useless because the VBIOS is having issues, and then no review at the end. This would be one of the first times I've ever missed a launch day review and I apologize. I wanted to, and I tried -- I spent most of the last few days stressing out over this and in the end I gave up.
I used to sell these graphics cards for a living in my old job for 10 years, and I can't believe we're in 2020 and have a release where AMD is forced to send us reviewers alist of VBIOSes for custom Radeon RX 5600 XTs that I have to tell the world about and say "so hey guys, you need to update the VBIOS on your new graphics card to get the performance AMD recommends because at the last minute they decided to make the card better -- meaning they actually held the performance back and made this more of a Radeon RX 5700, but with 6GB of RAM versus 8GB".
Yeah, it's not good.
Last updated: Jan 30, 2020 at 08:29 pm CST