The newest kid of the block for gamers is the Radeon RX 5500 XT from AMD. We got our hands on a Sapphire RX 5500 XT 4 GB Pulse graphics card to explore the most affordable custom-design rendition of the GPU. The RX 5500 XT is targeted at the DIY retail channel (standalone graphics cards you buy at a store or online). It comes in two variants, 8 GB and 4 GB. Besides memory size, the two variants have identical specifications. The RX 5500 series was originally announced back in October, and since then, the company prioritized shipping the RX 5500M and RX 5500 (desktop) to OEMs, with no retail availability in sight.
The RX 5500 series is based on AMD's second 7 nm "Navi" family GPU, the "Navi 14." This chip has all of the generational newness in the form of the RDNA graphics architecture, GDDR6 memory, PCI-Express gen 4.0 support, and the entire software feature set of the RX 5700 series. AMD is stabbing at the crucial sub-$200 market with the RX 5500 series, promising full-detail AAA gaming at 1080p and bleeding edge e-Sports gaming. The company is expected to phase out the "Polaris" based RX 570 and RX 580 with the introduction of the RX 5500 series, as the new cards are designed for the same use case, but with improved power and noise characteristics thanks to 7 nm.
The Radeon RX 5500 XT surprisingly does not max out the "Navi 14" silicon, which physically features 24 RDNA compute units. The RX 5500 XT has the same 22 compute units as the RX 5500 we reviewed last month. What's more, it even has the same GPU and memory clock speeds with up to 1845 MHz boost and 14 Gbps (GDDR6-effective) memory. The only contraption that currently maxes out "Navi 14" is the Radeon Pro 5500M found exclusively on the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch.
The RX 5500 XT is configured with 22 RDNA compute units amounting to 1,408 stream processors, 88 TMUs, 32 ROPs, and a 128-bit wide GDDR6 memory interface. The 4 GB variant uses four common 8 Gbit memory chips, but the 8 GB variant uses segment-first 16 Gbit chips. AMD rates the typical board power of the RX 5500 XT at 130 W, which is perhaps the biggest dividend of the switch to 7 nm.
The Sapphire RX 5500 XT 4 GB Pulse we're reviewing today sticks to AMD-reference clock speeds and has a design focus on low gaming noise. The Pulse features a proper aluminium fin-stack heatsink with a copper base-plate and three heat pipes spreading heat across the fin stack and also offers a few premium features, such as idle fan-stop, dual-BIOS, and a metal backplate. Sapphire is pricing the Radeon RX 5500 4 GB Pulse at $180, a minor $10 premium over the $169 AMD baseline.