Bottom line: Despite rumors saying otherwise, AMD and Scott Herkelman have publicly put the matter to rest. AMD will transition to support custom Navi-based AIB graphics cards, but reference designs will still be offered through AMD.com and any partners that want to keep offering them.
Recent rumors inspired headlines and stories across the web insisting that AMD had killed off its reference design Radeon RX 5700-series GPUs. The rumors seem to stem from an unsubstantiated report by French website Cowcatland, where the publication claimed AMD was going end-of-life status with its RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT reference models.
“We expect there will continue to be strong supply of Radeon RX 5700 series graphics cards in the market, with multiple designs starting to arrive from our AIB partners. As is standard practice, once the inventory of the AMD reference cards has been sold, AMD will continue to support new partner designs with Radeon RX 5700 series reference design kit.”
So, while it is true that AMD is going to allow AIB partner cards to saturate the retail channels going forward -- which is normal --AMD's reference cards will still exist and remain available. That's also a point that AMD's Scott Herkelman reinforced on Twitter.
We will continue to offer the Radeon 5700 series reference design on https://t.co/5ixAVwSJf6 and select OEM, retail and etailers. However, we are fully transitioning our AIB partners over to their own custom designs.— Scott Herkelman (@sherkelman) August 10, 2019
While many enthusiasts likely won't miss the reference cards with the blower style cooler, those cards are important to liquid cooling aficionados. Water blocks for GPUs are usually based on reference boards, such as the one from EKWB used in our Radeon RX 5700 XT overclocking testing.