As far as the CPU department is concerned, AMD has been continuously shooting the ball out of the park in its mainstream, server grade and workstation division making Intel look like an amateur kid.
And it’s so funny how evolution happens, just a few years back everyone considered the speed of evolution in CPU that was dictated by Intel.
Ain’t the case anymore my friend.
When you are performing so well on one front naturally people are going to expect that kind of performance on all fronts.
On the GPU side tech enthusiasts from around the world have been looking up to AMD and its new NAVI based GPUs.
AMD’s GPU division in 2019 is spent its year packing and shipping their 5700 XT Navi GPUs, first of their parts utilizing the new RDNA architecture.
As we move closer to the culmination of 2019, AMD has put forth a new mainstream 1080p focused Radeon RX 5500 series cards.
In this RX 5500 XT review I am going to put in all the perspectives into perspective and then give you a perspective (see what I did there ? ) into what is the place of 5500 XT in the overcrowded GPU division.
And also whether you should get one for yourselves.
A Backstory Before The 5500 XT Review
To provide sweetness to our eagerness AMD actually announced the RX 5500 series card back in October.
AMD said that the newly introduced cards will be shipping in systems of their OEM partners and the retail cards will be available in late Q4.
Well, the time is here and we can put our attention to what kind of performance can we expect from these cards and are they any good.
To be clear 5500 XT cards are targeting the sub $200 market segment for 1080p gaming with the aim to finally replace AMD’s long lift RX 500 series of cards.
AMD is following a similar pattern here where with the 5500 series of cards in two 8 GB and 4 GB variants.
Both of these cards are clocked the same but enter 2020 it would be quite interesting to see how the 4GB version of the card is going to hold up with new titles.
|Specs||RX 5500 XT||RX 5700||RX 570||RX 580|
|Compute Units (CUs)||22||36||32||36|
|Base Clock||1607 MHz||1465 MHz||1168 MHz||1257 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1845||1725 MHz||1244 MHz||1340 MHz|
|Game Clock||1717 MHz||1625 MHz||N/A||N/A|
|Throughput||5.2 TFLOPs||7.95 TFLOPs||5.1 TFLOPs||6.175 TFLOPS|
|Memory Bus Bandwidth||128-bit||256-bit||256-bit||256-bit|
|VRAM||4/8 GB||8 GB||4 GB||4/8 GB|
|Transistor Count||6.4B||10.3 B||5.7B||5.7B|
|Manufacturing Process||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm||GloFo 14nm||GloFo 14nm|
|GPU||Navi 14||Navi 10||Polaris 20||Polaris 20|
|Architecture||RDNA||RDNA||GCN 4||GCN 4|
|Typical Board Power||130 W||180 W||150 W||80 W|
Underlying the new cards is AMD’s new Navi 14 GPU.
AMD has taken the essential elements of its RDNA architecture and created a smaller cheaper and a power efficient GPU hitting that mainstream market segment.
In the process of its creation, the Navi 14 gets reduced number of CUs, ROPs And memory bandwidth when compared to the original Navi 10.
Having said that AMD has still retained the underlying features of the RDNA architecture including power efficiency improvements and improved gaming performance.
When compared to the Navi 10 GPU AMD has dropped about 3.9 billion transistors, leading to a 37% reduction in die size.
When put in contrast with the Polaris GPUs 12% more transistors are now cramped in just 70% of the space.
This improvement is a consequence of TSMC’s 7 NM process which is at the heart of AMD next gen products in the CPU and GPU division in 2019.
This is in stark contrast to Nvidia graphics card which are still using TSMC 12 nm process for their GPU’s.
Although 7 nm is an expensive process but this allows AMD to lay down smaller transistors in a given die size which operate at lower power levels which in the grand scale of things leads to efficient power management.
AMD has never officially revealed the complete specifications of Navi 14, but looking at the OEM parts released by AMD, particularly the Radeon Pro 5510 which has made its place in Apple’s laptops that Navi 14 comprises of 24 control units.
But here in we see the retail parts GPUs containing only 22 CUs.
This reduction in compute units doesn’t affect performance as such. But one wonders why is this done.
Well, one very appealing reasoning that I have seen behind this is since 7 nm is a very expensive process.
It may be a business decision to include or extract as many dies as they can from the Navi 14 wafers.
In any case business decisions aside, 5500 series of graphics card will take their position just below the RX 5700 series of graphics card with 14 less compute units.
Now although the compute units are less but the RX 5500 series of cards are clocked at higher speeds, 16% higher than the 5700 series of cards to be precise.
But don’t make conclusions here.
Clock speeds are not the only parameters of performance.
In terms of overall GPU performance the RX 5500s have a peak throughput of 5.2 teraflops which is 35% less than the peak rate of RX 5700 and is the typical kind of jump that one must expect from two cards of different tiers.
Product Positioning & Competition
We talked about how PC enthusiasts and builders have been expecting AMD deliver something in the 1080p category for so long.
While higher gaming resolutions demand is seeing a gradual increme nt over the years.
A recent research by steam revealed that the most popular gaming resolutions is still 1080p and it isn’t phasing out anytime soon looking at the metrics.
Source : Steam
And therefore you can predict what kind of expectations customers would have had with the NAVI news.
Why am I telling you this is because I want to paint a picture in your head about what is happening to create a reference from which you will know where the card and AMD stands after this release.
Whether they met your expectation or just curbed it.
The 5700 series cards were created to fulfill gaming requirements at the 1440p and to a great extent delivered pretty well in that arena.
The 5500 XT is developed to cater the 1080p gaming resolution demands. In our 5500 XT review we will have benchmarks and discussions with this segment in mind.
Truth be told there are certain doubts regarding the 4GB variant which we will discuss in a bit but to a great extent the 5500 series cards should hold their own pretty well.
Position In The Family
As I mentioned this in a previous segment of this post that AMD has in fact created OEM centric reference cards but we won’t be seeing any reference cards in retail.
This is a hard market launch of RX 5500 cards which is usually driven by the board AIB partners.
Don’t expect any exotic (ANIME :P), extra THICC designs apart from the usual two to three fan based designs.
When we talk about product stacks within AMD the launch of RX 5500 clearly indicates that AMD is now looking to wind up the production and sales of its RX 500 series cards.
In some cases, RX 590 even outperformed the 5500 cards.
We will see that in a moment.
This is what is creating a lot of confusion among the masses as to what is the point of creating these cards when they are not even blowing the previous gen cards out of the water.
And maybe these cards are performing better than the RX 500 series of cards in most cases, why are they not outperforming them the way they should ?.
These are the questions the masses have right now.
Don’t worry my child, I will answer everything by the end of this video.
In terms of power management, 5500 series cards are actually very god.
And I mean really really efficient.
But are the mainstream customers gaming at 1080p really gaming you all that monies to save power ?.
Too many questions padawan, too many questions ?.
In time you will know the answer to everything.
Trust in the force.
The Green Desk Of Competition
Now talking about what these cards are to fare against on the green side.
Both these cards are based on the TU1116 GPU.
Nvidia refreshed its 1660 and 1650 cards with the super suffixes which seems like a threatened response to RX 5500 series cards launch.
Looking at pricing it almost seems like the two companies are playing tug of war for 1080p grounds.
What is interesting is that the price setting also reflects the relative performance of these cards.
To add some spice to the mix AMD is bundling the cards with game deals.
Along with the 3 month trial to Microsoft Xbox games pass program the company is also bundling the forthcoming master edition of Monster Hunter Iceborne which is to be released in 2020.
Nvidia isn’t bundling jack right now but don’t be surprised if such bundle offers also start showing themselves off on Nvidia website.
5500 XT Review : The Benchmarks
Okay so we are in that part which I hope you have been patiently waiting for.
And for good reasons because they are our only source to cut the fluff and come to reality by breaking the delusions internet and society keeps us in.
Tomb Raider, F1 2019, Assassin’s Creed,Metro Exodus, Strange Brigade,Total War, Division 2, Grand Theft Auto and Forza Horizon 4.
Now let’s go ahead and look at various benchmarks.
If you want to have full look at all the benchmarks used here, go ahead and check out anandtech.
1080p highest preset for Shadow of The Tomb Raider GTX 1660 surpassed the 5500 XT GB by 5 frames on average and was just slightly better than the RX 580 and also 1650 super.
As I mentioned earlier the pricing accurately reflects the relative performance on these things but let’s go ahead and look at some more benchmarks.
In Oppo F1 2019 at ultra high quality preset, the 1660 super and the 1660 in this case surpassed the performance of RX 5500 XT 8 GB by a healthy margin and the thing to note here is the close calls shared between the RX 580 and the 5500 XT.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at for its very high preset saw 1660 and 1660 super exceed the performance of 5500 XT which again was very closely matched by RX 580.
My computer has an RX 580 just so you know ;). Which graphic card do you have. Comment down below.
Metro Exodus 1080p Ultra as you can see the story was quite similar and its pretty clear here.
AMD it seems is not giving us upgrades to the RX 500 series cards it seems just replacements. Hmm. :/
Strange Brigade 1080p Ultra quality saw the 1660 Super and the 1660 surpass RX 5500 with a significant margin followed by close almost equal performance by the 1650 super and the RX 580.
The performance gradient was quite similar for Total War Kingdoms.
1080p Ultra quality saw the 1660 super and the 1660 outperform RX5500 XT marginally followed by RX 580 and the 1650 super.
We are seeing a pattern here aren’t we.
For the Division 2 1080p Ultra preset 5500 XT actually traded closes blows with 1660 and 1660 Super.
I am having this feeling that people who have RX 580s and RX 590s are giggling reading this post.
Well well well, you go 1650 Super.
A good spike indeed with the rest of the story remaining almost same.
Power Management And Efficiency
Now if you have been in touch with the developments of Navi you must be very aware of the fact that AMD actually did a good job in creating power efficient cards.
But the thing is at this price point the consumers are not really looking at what power consumption profile the graphic card has.
All they want is that the graphic card should perform at its best and give them 60 fps magic number consistently.
A highly powerful graphic card is pretty good and its own light, an excellent one however must at the same time keeps power consumption and noise level to the minimum.
The development of Navi on 7 nm TSMC process has allowed AMD to put in smaller transistors in relatively small areas.
This directly means that the graphic cards are inherently going to extract less power in idle as well as load conditions.
This is very clear from the graphs as well.
It is pretty clear from the benchmarks that the 5500 XT both the 4GB and 8GB variants sit comfortably at 50 Watts which is pretty low when compared with other graphics card.
This is precisely the reason why custom cards like the one created by Sapphire are able to offer zero fan speed on idle load.
With idle system temperatures already low, the load power consumption look pretty cool too.
For titles such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the total system power consumption is very competitive with Nvidia as is clear from the benchmarks.
AMD cards do fall shot in the Furmark benchmarks because the 130 Watt TDP plus RX 5500 have higher TDPs than the Nvidia counterparts which sit somewhere around 120 Watts.
And Furmark pushes everything to the limits that’s why you see some peak here.
You know one other answer that we are seeing in this RX 5500 XT review.
This graph also clearly indicates why the graphic card built by Sapphire has more volume. Looking at the power specs this GPU is offering, it became possible for Sapphire to put in zero idle fan speed feature to the cards.
And the enhanced volume would help dissipate away any heat generated thereof.
Pretty Cool isn’t it.
In load conditions too however graphics card as you can clearly see are well with them the tolerances of 76 degree Celsius.
So this is that arena where the 5500 XT actually throws everyone out of the park.
Have a look.
5500 XT in terms of noise performance tops all the charts.
A card that portrays TDP as 130 Watt, the fans actually have to do very little work.
The fans seem to cross the 1000 RPM mark only when the high performance BIOS of the Sapphire is brought into action.
Else everything stays under 800 rpm even on gaming workloads.
So yes although the card has a high volume but it is also “quiet cool” card.
See what I did there ?.
The noise levels rest below 39 dB which means the card is always going to be below the rest of the system.
Sapphire using these parameters have created a card that strikes a great balance between temperatures and cooling and delivers great acoustics in the process.
Conclusion For Our RX 5500 XT Review
Now that we have seen specifications, parameters and real world performance of the card.
The question is what do we make of the card and the RX 5500 XT review.
Now before we go ahead and conclude what place this card has it is important to understand different perspectives this card is attracting.
As far as the tech community and tech enthusiasts are concerned from the different perspectives that I have seen the general consensus is that the card is nothing special and that the price that AMD is asking for it is pretty high.
And that is because for a sub 200$ category the consumer base is performance sensitive not power sensitive.
So you are asking us for a large price and giving us a performance that can be matched by RX 580 and many times outmatched by something like RX 590, then what is the point.
Power management ?.
Pfft, we will pay that extra dollars. We are paying that anyway because of the old power lines in our houses.
So the general advice from the tech community is, you can go with it or you can decide not to go with it and pick something like RX 580, RX 590 or even a GTX 1650 super depending on your situation and needs.
And you can understand their understanding.
Now let’s look at where the consumers are.
With disrupt that AMD has caused with its Ryzen processors all the way from consumer, server grade to workstation market people now expect from AMD.
Well that expectation can be understood and because of that whether they are vocal about it or not they want releases from AMD have that can bring excitement in their life.
Where they can look forward to something new.
And when that dosen’t happen then sadness happens.
Now let’s go ahead and look at where AMD stands.
Guys let me make this pretty clear.
AMD with the release of the 5500XT is not looking to break or disrupt the market which is very clear with our discussion here.
On the other hand it is looking to first re-infuse some Mojo back into a distorted mainstream GPU market.
Let me explain.
For the past 18 months we have seen some really really cheap deals on the RX 500 series cards.
While that has been very good for the consumers but what is also true is that it has caused AMD to rethink it’s marketing strategy in the mainstream segment.
Now while the Polaris based graphics card have held their own quite nicely over a long period.
I am pretty sure even AMD couldn’t have predicted the longevity.
With the release of the RX 5500 series of cards, AMD is not necessarily trying to upgrade its mainstream segment but replacing its older segment with newer technology so that they can charge more for the same performance.
The 5700 cards can be seen as upgrade true but not the 5500 series of cards.
And conserving power and low noise profile is a marketing edge they are using help you now look at this new lineup.
Do you see how business happens now ?. It’s always based on what you can’t see.
The real task of upgradation is a job that AMD as company has given to its RX 5700 series cards.
If you still want to look at RX 5500 cards as an upgrade you have to look it at it as an upgrade for the Radeon RX 560.
AMD has been selling Polaris based RX 570 and RX 580 for quite a while now and for the past year we have been saying really Steal deals over RX 580 and RX 570 cards which was a welcome addition for us after the hole mining fiasco.
But now AMD is not looking to provide you a highly upgraded performance in the sub $200 category but it now wants to replace the existing stock with something that can sustain the pricing for quite a large amount of time.
That is the marketing strategy behind this product release.
Point is no matter how many conclusions we make the real picture is always elusive.
Coincidence or conspiracy ?. Hmm.
So what to do now ?.
We are all confused and don’t know what to do.
I have been saying this from the very first posts on yantraas.
Always look at what your need is and not what you can get and you will never be confused.
So I obviously cannot cater to everyone’s need in a single post.
But I sure hope that you are going to fall into one of these categories.
You are upgrading your PC.
If that is the case. STAY AWAY FROM 5500 XT.
Keep rocking your RX 570, RX 580 and wait some more for RX 5600 XT release.
RX 5600 series cards are said to occupy slots between the 5500 and 5700 cards and if the only thing that you want to do is upgrade WAIT.
You Are Building A New Computer And Are On A Tight Budget
If that is the case find a RX 580 or even an RX 590 you can find them really cheap and invest the extra amount you are saving in a better PSU or high capacity SSD.
Even a second hand card is a good option.
You Are Building A New Computer And Have No Budget Problems.
Now if you are entirely sure that you want a 1080p resolution no complaint gaming and budget is not a problem I can actually happily recommend you the 5500 XT 8 GB graphics card.
Plus I don’t want to say this but fine I will say it.
The extra power you will conserve when compared with the RX 580 can justify the cost that RX 5500 XT is presenting.
But guys, this is not the place you conserve power come on.
If you are really worried about conserving power, the electrical wiring that is wiring your house if they are not upgraded from the last 4 or 5 years you have no idea how much extra power they are extracting.
So don’t make that the only solid justification but use that as an argument.
You can also see if you can find a GTX 1660 Super at a good price.
Truth be told both of these cards will serve you just fine and you can pick one depending on your situation and other hardware that you are using.
RX 5500 4 GB or The RX 5500 XT 8 GB ?
So this is a good question.
If you have locked on to the 5500 XT and wondering which card to pick 8 GB or 4 GB this is what you can look into.
The gaming requirements and demands as far as gaming experience goes are often set by the current gen consoles.
With the next gen consoles soon to be launched next year I seriously doubt that 4 GB VRAM capacity will hold its own.
As far as the current situation is concerned Stephen Burke suggests that you can just skip on the 8 GB variant and save some cash by picking the 4 GB variant.
And to a great extent that is correct, you won’t miss anything necessary per se.
Especially so if you don’t want to max everything out and are okay at playing at medium settings preset.
However, if you want to max out 1080p experience without compromises I would definitely suggest going for the 8 GB variant.
Solely for the sake of being ready at what you are going to throw at your computer right now for the times to come when gaming demands want you to have that extra VRAM.
For builders who absolutely can’t afford the 8 GB variant or the 1660 Super than the 1650 Super or the RX 5500 are your best choices.
Holy cow that was a big RX 5500 XT review.
I am off to have some tea now.
I really hope you loved this RX 5500 XT review and learnt some insights you didn’t find anywhere else on the planet.
That doesn’t these are the only insights on the planet. I am interested in knowing what your insights are regarding the new cards and this RX 5500 xt review.
Comment your heart out in the comments section below and I am going to see you in the next one :).
Namaskaram 🙂 _/\_