Sapphire Radeon RX 5500 XT Pulse 4 GB Review 39

Sapphire Radeon RX 5500 XT Pulse 4 GB Review

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Introduction

Sapphire Logo

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.

Radeon RX 5500 XT Market Segment Analysis
 PriceShader
Units
ROPsCore
Clock
Boost
Clock
Memory
Clock
GPUTransistorsMemory
GTX 1650$150896321485 MHz1665 MHz2000 MHzTU117unknown4 GB, GDDR5, 128-bit
RX 570$110 2048321168 MHz1244 MHz1750 MHzEllesmere5700M4 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RX 5500unknown1408321670 MHz1845 MHz1750 MHzNavi 146400M4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
RX 5500 XT$1701408321717 MHz1845 MHz1750 MHzNavi 146400M4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
Sapphire RX 5500 XT 4 GB
Pulse
$1801408321737 MHz1845 MHz1750 MHzNavi 146400M4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
RX 5500 XT 8 GB$2001408321717 MHz1845 MHz1750 MHzNavi 146400M8 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
GTX 1650 Super$1601280321530 MHz1725 MHz1500 MHzTU1166600M4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
RX 580$160 2304321257 MHz1340 MHz2000 MHzEllesmere5700M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
GTX 1060 3 GB$1701152481506 MHz1708 MHz2002 MHzGP1064400M3 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit
GTX 1060$2101280481506 MHz1708 MHz2002 MHzGP1064400M6 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit
RX 590$1802304321469 MHz1545 MHz2000 MHzPolaris 305700M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
GTX 1660$210 1408481530 MHz1785 MHz2000 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit
GTX 1070$3001920641506 MHz1683 MHz2002 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RX Vega 56$2703584641156 MHz1471 MHz800 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1660 Super$2301408481530 MHz1785 MHz1750 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
GTX 1660 Ti$2801536481500 MHz1770 MHz1500 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit

Packaging

Package Front
Package Back


The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back
Graphics Card Front Angled

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.

Graphics Card Dimensions

Dimensions of the card are 23 cm x 12.5 cm.

Graphics Card Height
Graphics Card Back Angled

Installation requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include three DisplayPort 1.4a outputs and one HDMI 2.0b.

Graphics Card Power Plugs

The board uses one 8-pin power connector. This input configuration is specified for up to 225 watts of power draw.

Multi-GPU Area

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.

Disassembly

Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

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 Pictures

These 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.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back


High-res versions are also available (front, back).

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