AMD Launch The Radeon 5500 XT For 'Best In Class' Performance

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅12.12.2019 14:00:18


AMD’s launch of the Radeon RX 5700-series in July signalled a revitalisation of competition within the performance gaming market as both they and their competitors finally had equivalent generation products within the same pricing and performance bands. It may not have had hybrid ray-tracing support or fancy deep learning inferencing resources, but the architecture was able to crunch through the raw performance necessary for great frame rates in titles you play today rather compromising that to serve an uncertain future.

That being said, the RX 5700-series serves a performance-oriented segment pitched well above £250 and out of the reach of mainstream customers, so an equivalent release satisfying less affluent consumers was inevitable. A next-generation GPU tailored for 1080p gaming, with better frame rates that complement the latest range of affordable FreeSync monitors, would certainly fit the bill. Today that’s here, in the form of the Radeon RX 5500 XT.

Read our launch review of the Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT

Pricing and performance guidelines released by AMD line it up against NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1650-series, in particular the recently released GTX 1650 SUPER. That said, their competition have piled in multiple SKUs in the £150 to £250 bracket up to and including the GTX 1660 Ti, with the consequence that pricing is an exceptionally sensitive aspect influencing the release’s expectations of success.

NVIDIA GTX 16-series Mainstream Lineup*

GeForce GTX 1650 - From £128.99
GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER - From £149.99
GeForce GTX 1660 - From £188.99
GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER - From £ 199.99
GeForce GTX 1650 Ti - From £248.99

*Pricing as seen on Overclockers.co.uk, 12/12/2019


As you can see from the above, if pitched too high sales will be gobbled up by ‘affordable’ versions of NVIDIA’s next higher placed GPU. It will be up to AMD’s board partners to keep customers keen in the wake of launch reviews.



Launching as a range of graphics cards starting from £159.99/$169.99 with no reference model, the various flavours of AMD’s Radeon RX 5500 XT will be available in a plethora of partner designs differentiated by cooling solution, factory overclock and other features exclusive to that partner. Be it ASUS, Sapphire, MSI or others, interested parties should have a wide enough range to choose from immediately. Given the criticism levied at timed exclusivity for the RX 5700-series reference model, or more precisely its' blower cooling solution, that’s something to be welcomed.

AMD’s guidance is that the Radeon RX 5500 XT would be a good upgrade for owners of Radeon RX 480/GTX 970-class GPUs that need just a bit more horsepower to maintain 60fps in the titles they play, and an ideal mainstream replacement for even lower performing GPUs now long in the tooth. In house testing judges it to be between 4 and 30% faster than the GTX 1650 SUPER, depending on title and in-game settings, but you also check out independent reviews (including our own) today before you lay a penny down.



Moving on from OEM - XT as a retail exclusive

In November the Radeon RX 5500 and RX 5500M were launched into OEM markets, and at the time it was widely anticipated that the add-in-card would make its way to customer/DIY discrete sale segments. Instead AMD have chosen to maintain OEM exclusivity for this SKU, reserving the XT moniker for 4GB and 8GB variants cards sold to the public through retailers.

That strikes us as poor practice. The only clear differences between RX 5500 and RX 5500 XT 4GB specifications is a minor bump to the Game Clock target operating frequency, which itself will vary from unit to unit based on cooling solution and the ‘silicon lottery’. It doesn’t feature any more Compute Units or faster memory, and even the quoted 15W lower TDP is an essentially meaningless metric for consumers given how partners push these boundaries to the limit and beyond.

Simply reserving the XT suffix for the 8GB model would also mitigate against less than scrupulous system integrators disingenuously selling an ‘RX 5500 XT’ without specifying VRAM configurations. We’re not at NVIDIA GTX 1060-level of potential confusion thankfully, but this is not a trend that AMD should be in the habit of continuing.

Under the Hood - Navi’s Back



The Radeon RX 5500 XT is based on AMD’s Navi GPU architecture, manufactured using TSMC’s 7nm lithographic node. Although it doesn’t operate at the same performance level as the RX 5700-series, it does roll through the improvements incorporated into the RDNA architectural framework that serves as a broad replacement for Graphics Core Next.

A more detailed breakdown of the benefits of RDNA over GCN can be found in our RX 5700-series Primer, but the core takeaways are the improvements to performance per watt and performance for the chip package size, the same fundamentals that have made Ryzen such a rip-roaring success in the DIY PC market.

Returning once again is GDDR6 memory, supplying a memory bandwidth of up to 224GB/s. The 5500 XT can be configured with 4 or 8GB of memory, the latter of which will make a difference in a subset of games at the 1080p ‘sweet spot’ resolution running at Ultra image quality presets. However for now at least AMD believe that 4GB of VRAM is sufficient for 1080p gaming at 60 fps, and so have opted for that as the baseline specification in order to keep costs down. Nonetheless prospective owners may want to pick up the 8GB variant with an eye to the future.

Like the RX 5700-series, the RX 5500 XT also supports the PCI-Express 4.0 standard, and just like the 5700-series it’s unlikely to make a significant difference to real-world performance. Plus, equipping an AMD X570/3rd Gen. Threadripper platform (the only ones currently capable of PCIe 4.0 support) with a <$200 GPU seems like an odd missmatch.

Technical Specifications

Architecture:- Navi
Manufacturing Process:- 7nm
Transistor Count:- 6.4 billion
Die Size:- 158 mm2
Compute Units:- 22
Stream Processors:- 1408
Game GPU Clock:- Up to 1717 MHz
Boost GPU Clock:- Up to 1845 MHz
Peak SP Performance:- Up to 5.20 TFLOPS
Peak Half Precision Performance:- Up to 10.4 TFLOPS
Peak Texture Fill-Rate:- Up to 162.4 GT/s
ROPs:- 32
Peak Pixel Fill-Rate:- Up to 59.0 GP/s
Memory:- 4GB/8GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth:- 224GB/s
Memory Interface:- 128-bit
PCI-E Power Connector:- 1 x 8-Pin
Board Power:- 130W


Apart from an 8GB variant, the only difference from the Radeon RX 5500 for OEMs is an increase in Game Clock from 1670MHz to 1717MHz. Even the Boost Clock is unchanged at 1845MHz.

The RX 5500 XT isn’t a full-fat, 24 CU version of the Navi GPU each card is equipped with, which is disappointing given that in the past AMD have used the XT suffix to denote a fully utilised GPU. That being the case, we should expect to see an RX 5600 XT in the very near future, bridging the gap somewhat between 5500 and 5700-series performance.

Features



As part of the Radeon RDNA family the RX 5500 XT fully supports all of AMD’s latest gaming technologies, including:

FreeSync 2 HDR - An updated version of FreeSync variable refresh rate technology supported by a selection of HDR gaming panels. It’s fully backwards compatible with FreeSync 1, offering tear-free and stutter-free gaming on a huge variety of monitors over both DisplayPorts and HDMI.

Radeon Anti-Lag - Increases the responsiveness of your game by reducing the mouse-click-to-fire latency times. Particularly of value in competitive games that rely on twitch reflexes to get you an edge.

Radeon Boost - This new technology, launched just this week, dynamically reduces texture rendering resolution to keep frame rates smooth. The resolution scaling is based on camera movement and, due to the way our eyes perceive objects at different frame rates, the dip in quality is hardly noticeable. As it kicks in when frame rates then to dip the most, the effect on average frame rates can be significant (although it should be disabled when benchmarking for apples-to-apples comparisons with other hardware configurations).

Radeon Image Sharpening - A technique that’s quickly picking up speed in developer adoption, RIS algorithmically adds detail to low contrast textures while leaving high contrast zones untouched with little performance impact.

Integer Scaling - Also launched this week, Integer Scaling helps clean up low resolution games by mapping single pixels to 2x2 (or larger) pixel squares. It gives older titles running below 1080p a far sharper and cleaner look at higher resolutions, and scales up to 4K display native resolutions.


Pricing and Availability

AMD have released the following MSRP guidance for the Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB & 8GB:

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB: $169 USD / £159.99 / $269 AUS
AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB: $199 USD / £179.99 / $319 AUS




The GPU will however be sold as partner cards only, each with their own MSRP set by the manufacturer. Cooling solution and level of factory overclock (if any) will vary, and the lack of a reference PCB layout may make for novel implementations.

Both 4GB and 8GB versions of the RX 5500 XT are part of AMD’s Raise The Game promotion. The purchase of a card from an eligible retailer qualifies for a free copy of Monster Hunter World Iceborne Master Edition and three months of the Xbox Game Pass for PC. Terms and conditions are available at amd.com/rewards.

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