MSI RX 5700 XT Evoke Review
Whenever a new product gets released there is a tendency within any industry, but particularly PC Hardware, to make sure that it has more of everything. More performance. More lighting. Better cooling. More efficient. Manufacturers websites are festooned with all the buzzwords to try and show that the thing the design team have been working on is unquestionably bigger, better, faster than what has come before.
MSI have taken a different approach with their Evoke, focussing upon the minimalism of the design. Shorn of any extreme takes upon the Twin Frozr cooler formula, dispensing with the Mystic Light RGB lighting, concentrating solely upon a simple philosophy it is a bold plan indeed and one that requires the product to either be seriously good value, or have hidden performance depths, to make work. The choice of going with a non-standard colour - MSI call it champagne and it's a very light rose gold - also demands that the product is good enough to negate any reservations people might have about stepping away from the monochrome internals we've become accustomed to. Thankfully the colour choice is subtle enough that in the right light it can look silver, and so once ensconced in your rig and bathed in RGB it won't look out of place.
The looks then are fine, albeit nothing that you're going to be shouting from the rooftops about. If you've grown weary of black, triple fan coolers with endless creases and vents then certainly the Evoke will be right up your street, but it invokes very neutral emotions looking neither brilliant or awful. It doesn't seem to cool like a superstar though. Anyone familiar with MSI throughout the years will know that their Twin Frozr range of coolers has been the benchmark, combining outstanding cooling performance with quietness and thus desirability. The cooler on the Evoke is quiet, but it's not very cool. At stock we saw 82°C and the mild overclock topped out at 86°C, largely limited by the thermals. Comfortably, by nearly ten degrees, the warmest of the four RX 5700 XT cards we've reviewed so far.
This thermal limitation has a knock on effect in the performance graphs. With the card running so warm out of the box the automatic driver overclocking has significantly less headroom to work its magic and even manually fettling it didn't really extract a significant boost. However, we can't be too down upon the MSI Evoke for this as none of the RX 5700 XTs we've reviewed made a big feast out of their overclocking and the Evoke matches up pretty closely to the PowerColor Red Devil in our testing. Although all of the Navi GPU cards are tightly bunched. It seems that AMD have extracted the maximum performance from their GPU yield in its regular guise and there just isn't much more that you can squeeze from it with either a factory overclock or a manual one.
So if the performance is much of a muchness, the looks a matter of personal taste, temperatures warm but within manufacturer specifications, then it all boils down to pricing. Currently the AMD reference card is around £380, the Red Devil £450, the Strix £520 and the MSI Evoke slides into the middle with a street price of £440. Costing about the same as the PowerColor Red Devil, Gigabyte Gaming or MSIs own Mech card means that how much you like the looks and design ethos of the RX 5700 XT Evoke will be the deciding factor. Personally we'd go with improved temperatures of the Red Devil, but if you are in the market for one of the new AMD Navi cards and like the looks of the MSI Evoke then the performance and price is good enough for you to be happy with your purchase.