2019 turned out to be quite a successful year for AMD’s graphics division with the launch of graphics cards based on the new RDNA architecture. Starting with the middle segment, at the end of the year, the company also introduced budget models of the Radeon RX 5500 XT. These solutions are available with different memory capacities. In this review, we will focus on the older version with 8 GB of memory, remembering to compare it with the simpler 4 GB version during testing. And we will devote a separate review to a more detailed comparison of different Radeon RX 5500 XT.
With the advent of the Radeon RX 5500 XT, AMD will finally update its lineup in the sub-$200 segment, where the Radeon RX 580 and Radeon RX 570, which are direct successors to the Radeon RX 480 and Radeon RX 470, have long held a strong position. At the same time, NVIDIA managed to preemptively release the GeForce GTX 1650 Super. The advantages of the next Radeons are the new AMD RDNA architecture, which we got acquainted with in the review of the Radeon RX 5700 series, and the advanced 7nm process technology.
The Radeon RX 5500 XT is based on the Navi 14 processor with 22 Computer Units, while the chip has only 24 CUs, so we have a slightly stripped down version, and this is similar to the situation with the Radeon RX 460. The CU structure is the same as in older GPU Navi. Therefore, as a result, we have 1408 stream processors with 88 texture units and 32 rasterization units. Thanks to the advanced 7nm process technology, the graphics core has high operating frequencies with low power consumption. The memory bus is 128 bits, but this is offset by the use of fast GDDR6 memory.
With a base GPU frequency of 1607 MHz, the declared Boost Clock is 1845 MHz. But in the Navi generation, another frequency parameter appeared – Game Clock. For the Radeon RX 5500 XT, this value is stated at 1717 MHz. The real operating frequencies in the gaming load are often kept in the range from Game Clock to Boost Clock. The effective memory frequency corresponds to 14 GHz, which makes it possible to achieve a throughput at the level of the Radeon RX 570 with a 256-bit bus.
|Video adapter||Radeon RX 5500 XT||Radeon RX 580||Radeon RX 570|
|Core||Navi 14||Polaris 20||Polaris 20|
|Number of transistors, million pieces||6400||5700||5700|
|Process technology, nm||7||14||14|
|Core area, sq. mm||158||232||232|
|Number of stream processors||1408||2304||2048|
|Number of texture blocks||88||144||128|
|Number of render units||32||32||32|
|Base core frequency, MHz||1607||1257||1168|
|Game Clock, MHz||1717||–||–|
|Boost Clock, MHz||1845||1340||1244|
|Memory bus, bit||128||256||256|
|Memory frequency, MHz||14000||8000||7000|
|Memory size, GB||8/4||8||8/4|
|Supported version of DirectX||12 (12_1)||12 (12_1)||12 (12_1)|
|Interface||PCI-E 4.0||PCI-E 3.0||PCI-E 3.0|
According to the general characteristics, the Radeon RX 5500 XT looks more modest than the Radeon RX 580/570, however, it is these video cards that the new product should replace. And all this with lower power consumption and heat dissipation. A TDP of 130 W is declared, which is an excellent result compared to the Polaris family.
According to AMD, the new product is 12% faster than the Radeon RX 480 with 160% better energy efficiency.
It is important to note that the Radeon RX 5500 XT is available in two configurations – with 4 or 8 GB of memory. And for this video card, this is an important parameter that not only significantly affects the cost, but also performance. AMD points to a noticeable advantage of the older version from 8 GB to 20-24%, but in our testing you will see a more significant gap between the two solutions. The MSRP for the 4GB model is $169, while the 8GB version starts at $199.
Navi video cards are the first on the market to receive support for the new high-speed PCI Express 4.0 interface. But the Radeon RX 5500 XT uses 8 lanes instead of 16. And since only configurations based on the latest generation AMD Ryzen processors can support the new PCI Express standard, all owners of older configurations or systems based on Intel can get a product whose potential will not be much limited. In the case of a not the most powerful video card, the benefit of a fast bus and 16 lines may not be critical, but you should take this nuance into account when studying our results, which were obtained on the basis of an Intel system, where the video card worked in PCI-E x8 3.0 mode.
A detailed review of the available version with 4 GB will be in the next article. Now let’s focus on the 8 GB version from ASUS.
The ASUS Radeon RX 5500 XT video card of the Dual EVO line fell into our hands, the key feature of which is a dual-fan cooling system. Supplied in a medium sized box.
The length of the video card is 24 cm. Cooling is quite large and takes up more than two expansion slots.
Strict straight lines are maintained in the external design. There is a continuity with other ASUS models and the case is vaguely reminiscent of the models of the TUF family.
Even with an external examination, thick heat pipes are visible, peeking out from under the casing. There is an 8-pin power connector in the corner.
The reverse side of the video card is covered with a metal plate.
For image output, there are three DisplayPort 1.3 ports and one HDMI version 2.0b.
Under the cover is a cooling system that has much in common with the cooling of the ASUS Dual GeForce GTX 1060, but with some improvements.
Two thick copper heatpipes are involved, which bend and penetrate the heatsink fins at several points. Thermal contact with the graphics chip is made through a small base plate. All elements are nickel plated.
This design is blown by a pair of thin fans with an impeller diameter of 95 mm.
The fans are made according to the unique Axial-tech design, which is used in top-end ASUS ROG products. The special shape of the blades and the ring around the outer perimeter allow you to create a more powerful air flow with better dispersion.
A pleasant surprise was the use of a reinforcing plate as an additional radiator. To do this, thermal pads are provided between the plate and the textolite in the area under the GDDR6 memory chips and under the GPU chip.
There is a separate heatsink for VRM elements.
Black printed circuit board. The core power system has six phases, plus a two-phase memory power supply.
The Navi 14 processor is surrounded by a massive protective frame. Eight gigabytes of memory are provided by four Micron 9VB47 D9WZX chips.
The frequency characteristics of ASUS DUAL-RX5500XT-O8G-EVO are as close as possible to standard specifications. The base core clock is 1647 MHz with a Boost Clock of 1845 MHz, but the Game Clock has been increased from 1717 MHz to 1733 MHz. Such factory overclocking can provide a tiny advantage over cheaper versions.
Testing was carried out on an open bench at 23 °C indoors. With a Full HD gaming load, the core frequencies often kept around 1810-1860 MHz. Possible peak frequency value (according to utilities) 1900 MHz. But in reality it is never achieved. The core temperature was kept within 58 °C. In the heaviest applications, the fans ran at variable speeds from 1300 rpm to 1900 rpm, as illustrated below in the monitoring screenshots during tests in The Division 2 and Gears 5. Fans rarely peaked, in some games running at more low revs. Therefore, the actual noise level is also low.
Summing up, we can say that the video card is really cold and quiet. But if you want to slightly change the operating parameters, this can be done through the Radeon Settings menu. This application traditionally offers the widest possibilities for regulating frequencies, voltages and the operation algorithm of the cooling system fans. Through the performance settings menu, you can manually change the Boost-frequency curves and the fan speed curve or correct them through fixed values for individual points.
During overclocking, we managed to raise the top point of Boost to 2040 MHz while fixing the maximum voltage at the initial level of 1.145 V. That is, overclocking was done without increasing the voltage. The power limit has been increased to the maximum (+20%), the fan speed has been slightly increased. The memory is accelerated from 1750 to 1860 MHz (14880 MHz).
In this mode, the video card passed almost all tests in Full HD without failures. But it is worth noting the unstable behavior in a couple of applications, which did not prevent us from reaching the required number of control repetitions of benchmarks, although it hints at the limit of the capabilities of this model. With the given parameters, the Boost frequencies approached the 2 GHz mark. In many games, the operating range was 1940-1990 MHz, with some drawdowns at certain points. This is reflected in the screenshots of the Final Fantasy XV and The Division 2 tests below.
With the given parameters, the Boost frequencies approached the 2 GHz mark. In many games, the operating range was 1940-1990 MHz, with some drawdowns at certain points. The temperature of 58°С was maintained at the peak fan speed up to 1700–2000 rpm. Due to the smooth change in speed, the overall noise was within acceptable limits.