ASUS Radeon RX 5500 XT STRIX 8 GB Review 26

ASUS Radeon RX 5500 XT STRIX 8 GB Review


Value and Conclusion

  • The ASUS Radeon RX 5500 XT STRIX OC 8 GB is currently listed online for $230.
  • Beats Radeon RX 580 performance with much better power/heat/noise
  • Uses Navi RDNA architecture
  • Extremely quiet in gaming
  • 8 GB VRAM
  • Excellent overclocking potential
  • Idle fan stop
  • Faster memory chips
  • Low temperatures
  • Backplate included
  • Better power efficiency than other RX 5500 XT cards
  • Excellent board design, especially the VRM is very well engineered
  • Additional fan header for case fan
  • PCI-Express 4.0
  • Dual BIOS
  • 7 nanometer production process
  • AMD game bundle
  • Very high pricing
  • GPU and memory overclocking limited by slider range
  • Wrong fan-control configuration, RPM overshoot as the card heats up
  • High multi-monitor power draw
  • Some driver bugs when it comes to monitoring
The ASUS Radeon RX 5500 XT STRIX OC is the company's most premium custom design variant of the RX 5500 XT. It features two fans and 8 GB of VRAM for future-proofing. Out of the box, the STRIX OC runs at 1737 MHz rated Game Clock. In reality, we measured an average clock frequency of 1834 MHz for 1080p gaming. This review is our fifth Radeon RX 5500 XT review—all tested cards come with a 1737 MHz Game Clock rating and roughly similar measured average clocks in our reviews. This means that no matter which card you buy, you'll end up with pretty much the same FPS.

Overall, the ASUS RX 5500 XT STRIX OC achieves a 6% performance increase over the base RX 5500 XT, which is more than expected. When taking a closer look at the benchmark results, you'll see that most of that gain comes from the larger VRAM size, which can be quite impressive in some games. In games where 4 GB VRAM is enough, the card matches the RX 5500 XT 4 GB almost exactly. Compared to the GTX 1650 Super, the ASUS STRIX does win, delivering 4% higher performance. The RX 5500 XT STRIX also beats the aging RX 580 by 8%, and the RX 570 4 GB is 20% behind. AMD's Radeon RX 590, which is Polaris-based as well, is only 3% faster than the RX 5500 XT. NVIDIA's GTX 1650 is 30% slower, which is the reason why the green team launched the GTX 1650 Super. The GTX 1660 is 8% faster and actually cheaper than the ASUS STRIX. Overall, we can definitely recommend the Radeon RX 5500 Series for all games at 1080p Full HD.

ASUS is using the same "mostly black" design language as on their other Navi cards. With two fans, the STRIX matches most other premium RX 5500 XT cards—only the Gigabyte Gaming OC is triple-fan, yet runs hotter with similar noise levels. Thermal performance of the ASUS STRIX is outstanding; we measured only 64°C with the default BIOS and 66°C with the "quiet" BIOS. Noise levels are just as impressive. Both BIOSes are extremely quiet, pretty much inaudible even when the card is heavily loaded. While we could measure a difference in fan RPMs and noise levels between the default and quiet BIOS, subjective differences are minimal, so either is fine. ASUS also includes the almost mandatory fan-stop feature on their card, which completely turns off the graphics card fans in idle, Internet browsing, productivity, and light gaming. The metal backplate is definitely a nice touch, and somewhat expected considering the high price increase over reference.

During testing, I noticed that the BIOS fan settings for the card are configured sub-optimally. Once the card heats up and the fans start spinning, RPM will quickly climb to over 1650 RPM (there's a BIOS setting for that value). As temperatures increase even further, fan speed will actually go down, as AMD's fuzzy fan control algorithm takes over at that point and slowly adjusts fan speed to properly match heat output. In the end, after 10 minutes, fan speed will have reached 1000 RPM—only half of the initial fan speed!

With Navi, AMD made substantial improvements in power efficiency, and Navi 14 on the RX 5500 XT is no different. Looking at performance per watt, we see the ASUS STRIX beating both the RX 5500 XT and RX 5700 XT by a few percent. ASUS is using a highly overbuilt PCB with very powerful VRM on their card, which seems to have a positive effect on energy efficiency. Compared to NVIDIA, this means the RX 5500 XT is roughly as power efficient as NVIDIA's Pascal architecture, which is a good improvement. NVIDIA's Turing architecture remains more efficient, and NVIDIA is still on 12 nanometer, while Navi uses the more advanced 7 nanometer tech. Nevertheless, looking at what the RX 5500 XT delivers in terms of power/heat/noise, it seems the differences in user-experience aren't that major anymore.

Overclocking worked very well on the ASUS card and reached the second-highest GPU clock of all RX 5500 XT samples we've tested so far. Unfortunately, AMD has been limiting overclocking for a while now. We maxed out both the GPU and memory clock slider, which is a lost opportunity for AMD—there are no such limits on NVIDIA. Our manual overclocking gained 8% in real-life performance. While nice, NVIDIA's GTX 1650 Super does overclock a bit better, regularly achieving +10% performance gains or higher.

The Radeon RX 5500 XT comes with memory sizes of 4 GB and 8 GB. We've tested both, and there are significant differences in some titles, even at 1080p. For example, Assassin's Creed, Far Cry 5, Gears 5, GreedFall, Tomb Raider, and Wolfenstein see improvements of varying degree from doubling the memory amount. I'm still not convinced that these gains are worth spending $30 more. Personally, if shopping in this segment with a limited budget, I'd still opt for the 4 GB variant for the enormous cost savings, and possibly dial down memory intensive settings one notch. Also important here is that NVIDIA does manage limited VRAM more efficiently than AMD, as indicated by some of our benchmarks.

The ASUS RX 5500 XT STRIX OC is currently listed online for $230, which is way too high. I can see how the better cooler and VRM cost money, but at that price, there are plenty of better alternatives on the market. For example, the GTX 1660 Super retails for $230 right now and offers higher performance. The RX 5500 XT 4 GB starts at $180 and is the much better choice for performance per dollar if you are willing to live with 4 GB VRAM. The 8 GB RX 5500 XT models can be found for $200, which is still over 10% cheaper than the ASUS STRIX, with no difference in performance and similar noise levels.
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