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AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT Review

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT Review

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 02The AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT is the cheapest AMD graphics card to emerge for quite some time, with US and UK prices of $179 and £170 placing it firmly into the entry-level marketplace. The new card takes aim at 1080p gaming, and is sold in both 4GB and 8GB versions – and in this review, we’ve used an MSI reference model with 8GB of memory. Read our AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT review to find out if this affordable GPU can tackle tough competition from Nvidia.

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT Review – The AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT Core

Unusually for an entry-level graphics card – and especially in 2020, when ranges are simpler than they used to be – the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT is sold in two different versions.

The more affordable model, with prices of $179 and £170, is configured with 4GB of memory. That’s the absolute bare minimum for a gaming card these days, and it indicates that this GPU is only really suitable for 1080p and esports gaming.

AMD sells a more expensive model for $200 and £200. That pricier card includes 8GB of memory. That’s better for gaming, although at 1080p it’s only going to provide a minor boost.

Elsewhere, the two versions of the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT are the same. The card has 1,408 stream processors, a base clock of 1,670MHz, and game and boost speeds of 1,717MHz and 1,845MHz. The memory runs at 14Gbps, and this GPU has a TDP of 130W.

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 04One of the AMD card’s key rivals is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super. It’s a little cheaper than the 4GB AMD card, with prices starting at $160 and £150, and its specification reflects that: it has 1,280 stream processors, speeds of 1,530MHz and 1,725MHz, and 4GB of memory clocked to 12Gbps. It does have a lower TDP, though, of just 100W, and slightly more transistors.

The higher price of the  $200/£200 8GB card also brings the Radeon RX 5500 XT into contact with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Super. That GPU is more powerful, with 1,408 stream processors and 6GB of 14Gbps memory, and it has starting prices of $230 and £200.

As usual, this AMD card doesn’t have Ray-Tracing. That doesn’t cost this GPU when lined up against Nvidia, though – at this end of the market the GTX 1650 Super and GTX 1660 Super can’t handle Ray-Tracing either.

Elsewhere, the Navi GPU inside the RX 5500 XT adheres to the usual industry standards. It supports DirectX 12, Vulkan, OpenGL 4.6, OpenCL 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, and it supports PCI-Express 4.0 – one advantage over Nvidia. The 5500 XT has H265/HEVC and 4K H264 encoding and decoding.

Need more news on the latest kit? Click here to check out the latest headlines.

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 05The MSI Card and Pricing

The 4GB MSI card we’ve reviewed here runs at reference speeds, and it matches up with entry-level pricing for the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT across the rest of the market: it costs $179 in the US and £170 in the UK.

It looks decent, with gunmetal material used to build the heatsink and a couple of heatpipes poking out of the bottom of the cooler. It’s got two 90mm fans and, like other RX 5500 XT cards, it requires a single eight-pin power connector. It’s got three DisplayPort connectors and one HDMI port, but no DVI.

This card is a markedly different beast than the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super. Nvidia’s card had a lower TDP, so it used smaller designs and only required one six-pin power connector. The Nvidia card, for instance, was just 165mm long – but the Radeon RX 5500 XT reviewed here is a 250mm card.

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 06For those reasons, the Nvidia card is a better option if you’re building a small form-factor PC.

The MSI card reviewed here is not unusual in the wider market when it comes to its size and design. The higher power demands of the RX 5500 XT mean that the vast majority of board partner cards arrive at this sort of size – so any AMD card you buy is going to be larger than a GTX 1650 Super. That’s the same whether you’re buying the 4GB of 8GB model.

It’s also possible to get plenty of GTX 1660 Super cards in smaller form factors. That more powerful Nvidia option is also a better bet for a smaller system.

The Radeon RX 5500 XT’s 4GB version peaks at $190 in the US and £170 in the UK – so there’s hardly any difference between entry-level and top-tier 4GB models. For that money, expect cores with modest overclocks. Prices for the 8GB model rise to $240 and £219 with similar overclocks.

Head here for the latest information on the status of ray-tracing on the entire Nvidia range of GPUs!

Performance

Because this card and its rivals are more affordable graphics options, we’ve run our gaming tests using High settings, not Very High or Ultra – so we can record playable framerates from the majority of our titles. We’ve also included the GTX 1660 Ti and RTX 2060 scores where relevant. The larger graphics in this review show 1080p and 1440p average framerates, while the thumbnail images show minimum framerates at those resolutions.

We’ve tested the 8GB version of the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT in this review. However, there is very little difference between the 4GB and 8GB models – a couple of frames at most.

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT is a good performer at 1080p. At this resolution, its average framerates ranged between 45fps and 82fps. That’s enough speed to deliver smooth gaming in most triple-A titles at good quality levels. It’s ample for playing esports games at 144fps. Those averages are also level or ahead of the GTX 1650 Super in the majority of games.

However, the AMD card was a little behind the Nvidia GPU at 1080p minimums. Those minimum framerate results aren’t poor enough to cause concern. However, they do prove that AMD doesn’t have it all its own way – and that the GTX 1650 Super is a good 1080p card too. In most top-end games, Ultra settings will be beyond this GPU if you want consistently smooth play.

The more expensive 8GB version of the RX 5500 XT also cannot compete with the GTX 1660 Super at 1080p. The Nvidia card always has better minimum and average framerates.

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT was always a little faster than the GTX 1650 Super at 1440p. However, its minimums here still sometimes dipped below 30fps – so it won’t always provide a smooth experience. This isn’t a card to buy if you want to play games at 1440p

And, while it was usually quicker than the GTX 1650 Super in 1440p averages, the AMD card still fell behind the GTX 1660 Super.

Theoretical benchmarks demonstrate the hierarchy of these closely-matched GPUs. The AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT scored 12,425 and 5,237 in 3D Mark Fire Strike and Time Spy, with the GTX 1650 Super comfortably behind.

However, the GTX 1660 Super scored 14,447 and 6,385 in the same tests. That clearly demonstrates that Nvidia’s card has a healthy lead.

Head Here for our full guide to AMD Ryzen 3000 and AMD X570 motherboards

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT Review – Conclusion

Where does this leave the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT?

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 01It means that this card needs to be judged differently depending on which memory variant you’re going to buy. Performance between the 4GB and 8GB models may not be much different, but the price changes have a huge impact.

The 4GB version of the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT is great. Its 1080p averages and 3D Mark results are usually better than the GTX 1650 Super, and it’s usually better at 1440p too. The GTX 1650 Super remains a good budget option, but for 1080p and esports gaming the Radeon RX 5500 XT is better – it’s faster, which means better performance now and more future headroom, and it’s only a few pounds more expensive.

The 8GB version is less convincing. It’s only a little cheaper than the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super, but that Nvidia card is significantly quicker.

If you want a 1080p or esports card without spending too much than the 4GB AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT is excellent – it’s the best all-round choice at this level thanks to its slight performance advantage over the GTX 1650 Super. We’d only opt for the marginally slower Nvidia card if we wanted to save every penny or if you want a particularly small GPU. Don’t bother with the 8GB version, though; head to the GTX 1660 Super instead.

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT costs $179 in the US and £170 in the UKDiscuss our AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading our AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The GoodRecommended Award

  • Solid 1080p speeds;
  • A little faster than rivals
  • A very affordable GPU

The Bad

  • Pricier than competitors
  • Can’t handle 1440p gaming
  • Physically quite large

The Specs

Stream processors: 1,408
Base clock: 1,670MHz
Boost clock: 1,845MHz
Memory: 4GB/8GB, 128-bit 14Gbps GDDR6
Connectivity: PCI Express 4.0
Display Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0b
Max Resolution: 7,680 x 4,320
TDP: 130W
Power connections: 1 x 8-pin
Supported APIs: DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.6, OpenCL 2.2, Vulkan 1.1

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT

About Author

Mike Jennings

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