SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB – A Solid Card In A Tough Place



SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT Pulse 4GB

Type Graphics Card
Price $179.99

The Radeon RX 5500 XT uplifts AMD by bringing a modern architecture design and moving away from its GCN design featured on the Polaris GPUs. This allows AMD to bring more streamlined graphics performance in modern workloads and gaming titles. AMD was already ahead of the curve in utilizing new techs such as HBM and smaller process nodes and Navi is no exception. Aside from the new graphics architecture, AMD has also introduced GDDR6 memory and a smaller 7nm process node for their mainstream lineup which is a big update from the 14nm process on Polaris and Vega series cards.

GTX 1650 SUPER And RX 5500 XT Vs The $200 Used Market


While the Radeon RX 5500 series cards bring new technologies and features to the segment, the tech itself doesn't come cheap. The Radeon RX 5500 XT is hence available in two flavors, directly competing against NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 16 SUPER graphics cards. The Radeon RX 5500 XT 4 GB has an MSRP of $169 US which is $10 US more than the reference MSRP of the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER which costs $159 US. The Radeon RX 5500 XT 8 GB has an MSRP of $199 US which is $30 US less than the reference MSRP of the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER which costs $229 US.

AMD Radeon GPU Segment/Tier Prices

Graphics Segment2015-20162016-20172017-20182018-20192019-2020
Ultra Enthusiast TierRadeon R9 Fury X
Radeon R9 Fury
Radeon R9 Nano
Radeon R9 Fury X
Radeon R9 Fury
Radeon R9 Nano
Radeon RX Vega 64Radeon RX Vega 64Radeon VII
Price$649 US
$549 US
$649 US
$649 US
$549 US
$649 US
$499 US$499 US$699 US
Enthusiast TierRadeon R9 390XRadeon R9 390XRadeon RX Vega 56Radeon RX Vega 56Radeon RX 5700 XT
Price$429 US$429 US$399 US$399 US$399 US
High-End TierRadeon R9 390Radeon R9 390N/A
Radeon RX 590Radeon RX 5700
Price$329 US$329 USN/A$279 US$349 US
Mainstream TierRadeon R9 380X
Radeon R9 380
Radeon R9 370X
Radeon R9 370
Radeon RX 480
Radeon RX 470
Radeon RX 580
Radeon RX 570
Radeon RX 580
Radeon RX 570
Radeon RX 5600 XT
Price$229 US
$199 US
$199 US
$179 US
$229 US
$179 US
$229 US
$169 US
$229 US
$169 US
$279 US
Entry TierRadeon R7 360Radeon RX 460Radeon RX 560Radeon RX 560Radeon RX 5500 XT
Radeon RX 5500 XT
Price$109 US$129 US$99 US$99 US$199 US
$169 US

Well, in terms of performance the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 4 GB is supposed to be much faster than the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER at about 10-13% average. The Radeon RX 5500 XT 8 GB is said to be about 20% faster than the 4 GB variant. This should put the Radeon RX 5500 XT 8 GB models close to the GeForce GTX 1660 (non-SUPER). The higher memory buffer that the 8 GB model comes with should definitely help in high-resolution and modern AAA titles but again, these are marketing numbers and I will see how the card actually performs in my own set of benchmarks.


AMD’s Radeon RX 5500 XT Graphics Cards Bottlenecked by PCIe Bandwidth?


Unlike the GeForce RTX cards which had some feature advantage over the Radeon RX 5700 series cards, the GeForce GTX cards don't feature RTX/DLSS support. This puts them just on par with the Radeon RX 5500 series in feature set with the exception of the Turing NVENC encoder which does an exceptional job for gamers on a budget. The Radeon RX 5500 is supported by the latest AMD Adrenaline 2020 Edition bringing features such as Radeon Boost, Integer Scaling, Radeon Image Sharpening, Radeon Anti-Lag, and Freesync support. These are an impressive list of features on their own and something to really consider when comparing AMD's and NVIDIA's budget tier range of cards.

So for this review, I will be taking a look at the SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB. This is SAPPHIRE's more cost effective custom design for the Navi 14 GPU that features dual replaceable fans. The card has an MSRP of $179.99 US which is spot on compared to the reference MSRP.

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 Series Family

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 series lineup is made up of several variants which include desktop and mobile parts but there are only two desktop variants with one of them making their way to the DIY market and the other one aiming the OEM market. The Radeon RX 5500 XT is the DIY variant while the Radeon RX 5500 is the OEM variant. We will only be focusing on the Radeon RX 5500 XT as that is the one we received for our review and is the only card that you can actually buy in the market.

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 4 GB / 8 GB Official Specifications ($169-199 US)

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT is a very important graphics card that is placed in a super competitive segment. Taking up the battle with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER, the RX 5500 XT will not only compete against the upgraded Turing offering, but also the Radeon RX 590 which is currently being sold at discounted prices and has a really good price to performance value. Still, the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT packs a lot of crunch for a little beast that it is.

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT features 1408 stream processors which means that there are 22 CUs or compute units featured on the card. It also packs 88 TMUs and 32 ROPs with clock speeds rated at 1670 MHz base, 1717 MHz game, and 1845 MHz boost clocks. The card manages to deliver up to 5.20 TFLOPs of compute performance at 130W. The card comes in 8 GB and 4 GB GDDR6 memory options. The memory featured on the card runs across a 128-bit bus interface, delivering 224 GB/s bandwidth.

The 8 GB model is launching at an MSRP of $199 US which is close to the $229 US of the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER while the 4 GB model is launching at an MSRP of $169 US which is $10 US higher than the $159 US GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER (4 GB). In terms of performance, the 4 GB variant has performance that matches the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER while sipping in more power. The 8 GB model should offer slightly better performance than the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER with its higher frame buffer uplifting the performance in games with high-res textures.

AMD Radeon RX 5000 '7nm Navi RDNA' GPU Lineup Specs:

Graphics CardRadeon RX 5700 XT 50th AnniversaryRadeon RX 5700 XTRadeon RX 5700Radeon RX 5600 XTRadeon RX 5500 XTRadeon RX 5300
GPU Architecture7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)
Stream Processors2560 SPs2560 SPs2304 SPs2304 SPs1408 SPs1408 SPs
TMUs / ROPs160 / 64160 / 64144 / 64144 / 6488 / 3288 / 32
Base Clock1680 MHz1605 MHz1465 MHz1130 MHz1670 MHzTBD
Boost Clock1980 MHz1905 MHz1725 MHz1560 MHz1845 MHz1645 MHz
Game Clock1830 MHz1755 MHz1625 MHz1375 MHz1717 MHz1448 MHz
Compute Power10.14 TFLOPs9.75 TFLOPs7.95 TFLOPs7.19 TFLOPs5.19 TFLOPs4.63 TFLOPs
Bus Interface256-bit256-bit256-bit192-bit128-bit96-bit
Bandwidth448 GB/s448 GB/s448 GB/s288 GB/s224 GB/s168 GB/s
Price$449 US$399 US$349 US$279 US$169 US (4 GB)
$199 US (8 GB)
$129 US?
Launch7th July 20197th July 20197th July 201921st January, 20207th October 201928th August, 2020

Radeon RX 5500 "7nm Navi RDNA GPU" Feature Set and A Word on HW-Enabled Ray Tracing

While we would share a few tidbits of the RDNA architecture itself below, there are also some highlights we should mention for the Navi GPU. According to AMD themselves, the Navi 14 GPU will be 12% faster at the same power and should consume 30% lower power at the same clock speeds as Polaris GPU. The AMD Navi 14 GPU has a die size of 158mm2 and delivers 1.7x perf per area over the Polaris 10 GPU. The chip packs 6.4 Billion transistors while the Polaris 10 GPU packed 5.7 Billion transistors on a die that was almost 70% bigger.

Also, when it comes to ray tracing, AMD is indeed developing their own suite around it. According to their vision, current GCN and RDNA architecture will be able to perform ray tracing on shaders which will be used through ProRender for creators and Radeon Rays for developers. In next-gen RDNA which is supposed to launch in 2020 on 7nm+ node, AMD will be bringing hardware-enabled ray tracing with select lighting effects for real-time gaming. AMD will also enable full-scene ray tracing which would be leveraged through cloud computing.

New Compute Unit Design
Great Compute Efficiency For Diverse Workloads

  • 2x Instruction Rate (enabled by 2x Scalar Units and 2x Schedulers)
  • Single Cycle Issue (enabled by Executing Wwave32 on SIMD32)
  • Dual Mode Execution (Wave 32 and Wave 64 Modes Adapt for Workloads)
  • Resource Pooling (2 CUs Coordinate as a Work Group Processor)

As you can tell, AMD is changing a lot in terms of architecture with RDNA (Radeon DNA) compared to GCN. There's a new Compute unity design, a more streamlined Graphics pipeline & a multi-level cache hierarchy. Aside from the GPU architecture, support for GDDR6 memory is another major change that brings AMD's graphics cards on par with NVIDIA in utilizing modern memory designs for higher bandwidth.

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