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.
|GTX 1650||$150||896||32||1485 MHz||1665 MHz||2000 MHz||TU117||unknown||4 GB, GDDR5, 128-bit|
|RX 570||$110||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|
|RX 5500 XT||$170||1408||32||1717 MHz||1845 MHz||1750 MHz||Navi 14||6400M||4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit|
|Sapphire RX 5500 XT 4 GB|
|$180||1408||32||1737 MHz||1845 MHz||1750 MHz||Navi 14||6400M||4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit|
|RX 5500 XT 8 GB||$200||1408||32||1717 MHz||1845 MHz||1750 MHz||Navi 14||6400M||8 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||$160||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||$180||2304||32||1469 MHz||1545 MHz||2000 MHz||Polaris 30||5700M||8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit|
|GTX 1660||$210||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||$270||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||$280||1536||48||1500 MHz||1770 MHz||1500 MHz||TU116||6600M||6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit|
Sapphire's Radeon RX 5500 XT Pulse follows the "Pulse" design theme set by previous models from the company. Two large 100 mm fans provide cooling. The metal backplate explores the "Pulse" theme even further with a waveform resembling a heartbeat line.
Dimensions of the card are 23 cm x 12.5 cm.
Installation requires two slots in your system.
Display connectivity options include three 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.
AMD's Navi generation of GPUs no longer supports CrossFire. DirectX 12 does include its own set of multi-GPU capabilities, but the implementation requires game developers to put serious development time into a feature only a tiny fraction of their customers might ever use.
In this area, you'll also find a dual-BIOS switch, with the default setting being "Boost" and the other BIOS "Silent." It runs the fans at slightly reduced speed, but the differences are small, as we'll find out later during testing. It would have been nice had Sapphire printed some labels on to the PCB to make it easier to figure out which switch position you want.
Sapphire's cooler looks well-engineered; it uses three heatpipes. The cooler's base provides cooling for the memory chips and VRM circuitry. In its center, a copper core soaks up heat from the GPU.
The backplate is made from metal and protects the card against damage during installation and handling.
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).
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