We got our hands on a Radeon RX 5500 graphics card, and with official drivers already available, we decided to take it for a spin. The RX 5500 is an OEM model manufactured by PCPartner, who also produce the AMD reference design board, so it qualifies as MBA (made by AMD) and is possibly the closest thing to a reference-design for the RX 5500. The card we have with us today has the same exact core configuration as the RX 5500 retail, the same memory configuration, and the same exact GPU and memory clock speeds. Official AMD drivers for the RX 5500 already exist as the card is already on sale in prebuilds. The Radeon RX 5500 series has been designed by AMD to succeed its Radeon RX 570 and RX 580 "Polaris" graphics card. With it, the company is likely to retire Polaris and sell RX 5500 series at price points ranging between $150 to $230.
The RX 5500 is based on the second entry to AMD's "Navi" family of 7 nm GPUs codenamed "Navi 14." This tiny 158 mm² piece of silicon has all the features the RX 5700 series "Navi 10" chips have, as they implement the same RDNA graphics architecture. The silicon physically features 24 RDNA compute units, amounting to 1,536 stream processors. 22 of these are enabled on the RX 5500, with the remaining two left for the future RX 5500 XT. Besides these, the RX 5500 features 88 TMUs, 32 ROPs, and a 128-bit wide GDDR6 memory interface, holding 4 GB of memory on our card. Besides 4 GB, there will probably be 8 GB variants of the RX 5500 when the SKU is launched in the retail channel.
The "Navi 14" chip, interestingly, features a PCI-Express 4.0 x8 host interface. The card has x16 gold fingers, but wiring for just 8 lanes. Even on older platforms that don't have PCIe gen 4.0, we reckon PCI-Express 3.0 x8 has plenty of bandwidth for a card of this market segment. Built on the 7 nm process at TSMC, the RX 5500 has TDP and typical board power figures aligned closely with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 16-series. The card makes do with a single 8-pin PCIe power connector. A simple fan heatsink cools the "Navi 14" GPU on the OEM RX 5500 card, which is tucked under a plastic cooler shroud. The design is nothing to write home about, but when installed inside a prebuilt OEM system without a window on the case it won't matter.
In this review, we pair the Radeon RX 5500 with the latest Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.11.3 drivers and put it through our test bench. Just to reiterate, this is an official AMD product with identical clocks to the AMD reference, tested on official drivers that support the card. We're comparing it to the freshly minted GeForce GTX 1650 Super which released today.
|GTX 1050||$135||640||32||1354 MHz||1455 MHz||1752 MHz||GP107||3300M||2 GB, GDDR5, 128-bit|
|GTX 1050 Ti||$150||768||32||1290 MHz||1392 MHz||1752 MHz||GP107||3300M||4 GB, GDDR5, 128-bit|
|GTX 1650||$150||896||32||1485 MHz||1665 MHz||2000 MHz||TU117||unknown||4 GB, GDDR5, 128-bit|
|RX 570||$130||2048||32||1168 MHz||1244 MHz||1750 MHz||Ellesmere||5700M||4 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit|
|RX 5500||unknown||1408||32||1670 MHz||1845 MHz||1750 MHz||Navi 14||6400M||4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit|
|GTX 1650 Super||$160||1280||32||1530 MHz||1725 MHz||1500 MHz||TU116||6600M||4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit|
|RX 580||$180||2304||32||1257 MHz||1340 MHz||2000 MHz||Ellesmere||5700M||8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit|
|GTX 1060 3 GB||$170||1152||48||1506 MHz||1708 MHz||2002 MHz||GP106||4400M||3 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit|
|GTX 1060||$210||1280||48||1506 MHz||1708 MHz||2002 MHz||GP106||4400M||6 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit|
|RX 590||$195||2304||32||1469 MHz||1545 MHz||2000 MHz||Polaris 30||5700M||8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit|
|GTX 1660||$220||1408||48||1530 MHz||1785 MHz||2000 MHz||TU116||6600M||6 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit|
|GTX 1070||$300||1920||64||1506 MHz||1683 MHz||2002 MHz||GP104||7200M||8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit|
|RX Vega 56||$300||3584||64||1156 MHz||1471 MHz||800 MHz||Vega 10||12500M||8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit|
|GTX 1660 Super||$230||1408||48||1530 MHz||1785 MHz||1750 MHz||TU116||6600M||6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit|
|GTX 1660 Ti||$275||1536||48||1500 MHz||1770 MHz||1500 MHz||TU116||6600M||6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit|
|GTX 1070 Ti||$450||2432||64||1607 MHz||1683 MHz||2000 MHz||GP104||7200M||8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit|
Despite being a sub-$200 card and using copious amounts of plastic in its construction, the reference RX 5500 card is of solid build quality, and feels heavier than some of the GTX 1650 Super cards we tested today. A large matte-black plastic shroud covers three sides of the card, and a large 95 mm fan dominates the top of the card. There's no backplate.
Dimensions of the card are 18 cm x 11 cm.
Installation requires two slots in your system.
Display connectivity options include two DisplayPort 1.4a outputs and one HDMI 2.0b.
The board uses one 8-pin power connector. This input configuration is specified for up to 225 watts of power draw.
Radeon RX 5500 does not support AMD CrossFire.
The amount of engineering that has gone into designing this cooler is impressive for a card of this price segment, as there is a proper aluminium fin-stack heatsink with a pair of copper heat pipes to spread the heat, a copper base plate to pull heat from the GPU, and a secondary aluminium base plate that pulls heat from the memory chips and VRM.
High-resolution PCB PicturesThese pictures are for the convenience of volt modders and people who would like to see all the finer details on the PCB. Feel free to link back to us and use these in your articles or forum posts.
High-res versions are also available (front, back).
Circuit Board (PCB) Analysis
The GPU VRM is a staggering 6-phase setup controlled by an International Rectifier IR35217 controller mated with LFPAK MOSFETs.
The memory VRM is single-phase and managed by an OnSemi NCP81022N controller (another premium part that's originally designed for 4 phases).
The GDDR6 memory chips are made by Samsung and carry the model number K4Z80325BC-HC14. They are specified to run at 1750 MHz (14 Gbps GDDR6 effective).
AMD's Navi 14 graphics processor is their second chip to use the new RDNA graphics architecture. It is made on a 7 nanometer silicon fabrication process at TSMC, and has a transistor-count of 6.4 billion. The die measures just 158 mm².
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