SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB – A Solid Card In A Tough Place
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT Pulse 4GB12/08/2019
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT Pulse 4GB Overview
The SAPPHIRE Pulse lineup is their more cost effective lineup when compared to their Nitro+ line and while that brings some cuts to design and delivery it doesn't mean it falls short on delivering a well made product. The SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB comes with features that give it the much more premium look and feel than it's price tag would suggest.
Borrowing design language from its big brother, the SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5700 XT, but in a more muted tone. Gone are the metal mesh and red accents on the fan shroud itself and now it's replaced by a mute solid black design. The back is adorned by an aluminum backplate with vent cutouts to allow the oversized heatsink to breathe better and carries the classic pulse design cues. There's also a cutout for the dual BIOS switch that is not a common feature on cards in this class and very welcome for those tinkerers out there.
The SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT features their Dual X cooler sporting a pair of large 95mm fans that are removable thanks to SAPPHIRE's Fan Quick Connect technology that lets you replace a failing fan or simply clean the heatsink easily. I/O is handled by triple Display Ports 1.4 HDR (DSC 1.2a for 8K 60 Hz) and a single HDMI 2.0. While the PCIe slot is wired and pinned in a x16 fashion the RX 5500 Series of cards only function on a PCIe x8 connection, whether than be PCIe Gen.4 or Gen.3.
The heasink on the SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB is fairly substantial running the length of the 9" card. The heatsink is arranged in a front to back orientation meaning while some heat will exhaust out of the back of your case through the I/O some of it will still pour back into the case and will need to be aided by case airflow to be removed from the system. This is typically not an issue on lower power draw cards like this.
The 3 heatpipes that carry the heat away from the Navi 14 die are situated on the PCIe slot side of the graphics card so you won't be seeing them once it is mounted in your case but that leaves a rather clean appearance. The rear of the card is fully open to allow for as much airflow as possible for dispelling heat from under the shroud.
Since this card will remain in our lineup for future testing as games are released and will be replacing the Radeon RX 570 in our standard 1080p preset scaling we got the opportunity to break the card open and look at the PCB layout as well. Separating the card was fairly simple as it only took the 4 screws around the GPU itself and 4 more screws around the rest of the card for a total of 8 screws to dismantle the cooler from the card.
Once separated we can see that the tiny Navi 14 GPU core is mating directly to a copper core that the heatpipes terminate into while the memory is handled by the aluminum plate surrounding the core. The massive 6 phase GPU and single phase Memory VRMs are cooled by the primary heatsink by way of an aluminum contact point near the I/O of the card. This power delivery is very solid and clearly built to take the most advantage of the 8-pin power adapter.