Graphics Cards

Gigabyte Radeon RX 5500 XT

AMD continues to push NAVI with its RDNA architecture

Introduction

AMD unleashed their latest NAVI GPU, the Radeon RX 5500 XT. AMD claims the Rx 5500 XT is a 1080p powerhouse. Based on the Steam Hardware Survey, there are a ton of gamers utilizing 1080p. It makes perfect sense to me to build a product where a good majority of your customer base is. The Radeon RX5500 XT comes in two flavors, a 4 GB version and an 8 GB version. The RX 5500 is designed to compete in the $200 GPU market. AMD has really been clicking on all cylinders lately one both the CPU and GPU sides of the house. Back in July, AMD revealed NAVI to the world in the form of the Radeon RX 5700 and the Radeon RX 5700 XT models. I had a chance to review each of them and was impressed with gaming performance at both 2560×1440 and the 3840×2160. Most games were playable at 1440 utilizing the ultra preset. At 2160, I tested the cards that the Ultra preset but later played on the 5700 XT using high settings and was for the most part satisfied. Sadly, no reference cards are being built for the Radeon RX 5500 XT so all cards are going to be from add-in board (AIB) partners. Our sample is the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5500 XT.

Coinciding with the release of the Radeon RX 5500 XT is a new software suite called Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 edition. The new software is an evolution of the suite AMD has been working on and focuses on three key areas, software features, performance, and stability. The beauty is that the new software features not only work on the latest and greatest hardware but it also works on older GPUs back to the RX 400 series.

Specifications

 

Packaging

RX 5500 XT Box FrontRX 5500 XT Box Back

Since AMD is not making a reference version of the RX 5500 XT, AIB partners will have first dibs on getting their products to market. Our sample is the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5500 XT. This version features 8 GB of ram. The gigabyte eye is prominently displayed on the front of the box. Take note, this is also the OC edition card. On the rear of the box, Gigabyte has included key features as well as minimum system requirements. Also, graphics are features showing off the cooling solution as well as the RGB lighting and the backplate of the GPU.

Inside, you’ll find a thicker clamshell-style cardboard box. The top cover features gigabyte’s logo. You’ll need to move this out of the way to get to the goods underneath. The RX 5500 XT is protected by a thick foam housing and wrapped in an antistatic bag.

A Deeper Look into the Radeon RX 5500 XT

The first look at the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5500 XT shows it has a triple-fan cooling solution called Windoforce 3. The main shroud is made from black plastic with silver plastic accent pieces.

RX 5500 XT

The fan blades feature a triangular leading edge and raised stripes to help further direct airflow down through the heatsink.

 

The fan shroud doesn’t completely cover the heatsink. The lower half of the heatsink is left exposed. This allows the air to escape from the heatsink. Keep this in mind if your case doesn’t have great airflow inside as a lot of the hot air is exhausted from the sides of the card rather than out by the I/O ports.

 

RX 5500 XT

The backplate on the GPU is made from plastic as well. It fully covers the PCB. During testing, I didn’t notice the backplate getting hot like other recent cards I’ve tested.

 

RX 5500 XT

A single 8-pin PCIe power cable is all that is needed to power the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5500 XT.

 

RX 5500 XT

As far as connectivity for displays, the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5500 XT has 3 Display Port and one HDMI port. I was hoping we would see a USB C style connector on some of the new Radeon cards but it has not happened yet.

Radeon Software

As I mentioned earlier, along with the RX 5500 XT release, AMD busted out their latest version of the Radeon Software called Radeon Software Adrenaline Edition 2020. The new software allows the user to do most things without leaving the software. Overclocking globally as well as per game is now available in the settings. Streaming is included as well. (Note, I needed the 8700K CPU for another review I’m working on. I swapped in my 9900K for the software screenshots.)

This is the home tab and changes based on what you were doing. For example, the last benchmark I ran was FarCry 5. The software shows how many minutes I’ve played as well as an average FPS. The same goes for other games that I’ve played. If I was streaming, then more information would be populated.

 

The gaming tab 1st lists out all the games you have installed on your system The green checkmarks show that your game meets the recommended specifications of that game whereas the yellow exclamation mark shows that the system meets the minimum system requirements.

 

Once you click on a game, you can set per-game settings as well set up per-game overclocking.

 

The media tab under gaming allows you to record/view videos as well as create GIFs. You can also apply video filters or trim videos.

 

Compatibility shows a matrix of games and if your set up currently meets the recommended or minimum requirements.

 

In the streaming tab, you no longer have to leave the game to start or stop your stream. Hit the hotkey and go. There is a list of predefined streaming providers like Twitch, Facebook, Mixer, or you can set up a custom stream provider.

 

The scene editor allows you to edit what you’re broadcasting. you can add or remove elements or overlays, create new scenes, etc.

 

The performance tab shows you how the GPU is doing on a hardware level. It shows the utilization, memory and GPU clock speed, temperature and fan speeds.

 

Tuning allows you to overclock your GPU. You can choose to do it automatically or if you’d like you can tweak and tune to your heart’s desire. Manual overclocking gives you sliders to adjust frequency and voltage. Under each setting, there is more advanced control to give finer adjustments to the overclock. My experience with the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5500 XT and overclocking were limited. The Gigabyte card is already overclocked and I’m assuming highly binned as I was seeing 1900+ MHz while gaming.

 

Finally the advisor’s tab. This gives you recommendations for gaming based on performance in games. There also 3 profiles to choose from. Standard, Gaming, and eSports. Each profile enables/disables a set of options.

StandardGamingeSports
FreeSyncXXX
Enhanced SyncX
Radeon Image SharpeningXX
Radeon Anti-LagXX
Virtual Super ResolutionX
8x tessellationX

Overall the software works really well. I also like the fact that while it detected my games, it didn’t try and auto-optimize them.

 

Test System and Synthetic Test

Component
Product NameProvided By
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8700K (Retail)Intel
MotherboardAorus Z390 ProGigabyte
MemoryG.Skill SniperX 2x8GB @ 3400MHz 16-16-16-36 (XMP)G.Skill
DriveSamsung 240 EVO 256GB SSD, Crucial MX500 1 TB SATA III SSDSamsung/Crucial
Video CardsGigabyte Radeon RX 5500 XT, Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 Super, AMD Radeon RX5700XT, AMD Radeon RX 5700, Zotac Geforce RTX 2070 Mini, Nvidia RTX 2080 Founders Edition, MSI RTX 2060 VentusAMD/Zotac/Nvidia/MSI
MonitorBenQ EL2870U 28 inch 4K HDR Gaming Monitor 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz
CaseDimasTech EasyXLDimasTech
Power SupplyCooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500WCooler Master
Operating SystemWindows 10 1909 x64 Pro with latest patches and updates


Testing Methodology:

There are many ways to benchmark GPUs. With these benchmarks our goal is to do two things: first to show the performance of the card and secondly to make them easy to replicate. With a similarly configured system, you should be able to get similar results to compare your current graphics card against. There will always be a variance from system to system. All games for this review are tested with the HIGHEST IN-GAMEPRESET unless otherwise specified. A fresh build of 1909 and all drivers and games were installed. No changes were made from the defaults in the BIOS, Windows 10 operating system, or provided manufactures software.

Game frame rates are averaged from the results of 3 benchmark runs at each resolution.

A few things to note –

  1. I’ve changed the way my data is presented in the charts. I’ve included all the GPUs that I’ve tested in 2019 in the chart which includes the RTX 2080 and 2080 Super. This isn’t meant to be a direct comparison between an 800 GPU and a 300 GPU. It is meant to be more of a guide in the GPU landscape. The RTX 2080 Super shows up at the top of the chart, and the RX 5500 XT shows up at the bottom, as expected.
  2. The RX 5500 XT is designed to compete in the $150-250 market place and be a 1080p powerhouse. This put the RX5500 XT in line with the GTX 1600 series. Unfortunately, I do not have any GTX 1600 series cards to test against. This is why you don’t see it on the charts. As we get more GPUs, the GPU list will grow and they will be placed accordingly.

Synthetic Tests

3DMark Firestrike from Futuremark is a Semi-synthetic DirectX11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. Firestrike performs advanced geometry, illumination and particle tests with its Graphics benchmark and performs physics simulations using the CPU. Firestrike Ultra Kicks it up a notch and ratchets up the resolution to 4K and turns the quality up a bit.

RX 5500 XT

AMD has never claimed the RX 5500 XT was going to perform well above 1080p resolution. However, to keep in line with the rest of the testing, I ran Firestrike Ultra against the card anyway. The overall score came in at 3512 with a graphics score of 3488.

 

RX 5500 XT

TimeSpy Extreme is another brutal 4K test much like Firestrike Ultra. The RX 5500 XT scored 2326 overall with a 2128 graphics score.

 

RX 5500 XT

VR Mark Orange room is designed to test systems that meet the recommended hardware requirements for VR utilizing the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. The Radeon RX 5500 XT did well here with an average frame rate of 158.66 frames per second and an overall score of 7278.

RX 5500 XT

VR Mark Cyan Room is designed to test DirectX 12 and VR. This test is a bit more demanding than the Orange Room test above. The Radeon RX 5500 XT was able to maintain an average of 111 frames per second with an overall score of 5116.

RX 5500 XT

VR Mark Blue Room leverages higher resolution for upcoming or new headsets using 5K. This is a brutal test on most GPUs. The RX 5500 XT only averaged 29 frames per second during the test and scored 1330 overall.

During our briefings on the RX 5500 XT, I don’t recall AMD stating either way on VR. However, based on the Orange Room test, I’d say there’s a good chance the RX 5500 XT would run most VR games decent enough with the image quality settings tuned appropriately.

Unigine’s Superposition features both a monitor benchmark but also a VR load as well. I used the 4K optimized and 8K optimized presets. Superposition also allows you to explore the environment in VR Mode with your headset connected.

RX 5500 XT

Superposition is a beautiful benchmark. The Radeon RX 5500 XT received a combined score of 3833.

RX 5500 XT

At twice the rendering resolution of the previous test, the Radeon RX 5500 XT scores 1572 in the 8K test.

Radeon RX 5500 XT Gaming Benchmarks

I almost didn’t test the Radeon RX 5500 XT in 1440 or 2160 as it wasn’t really designed for it. But curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see how far a $200 GPU could push performance at higher resolutions at ultra image quality.

 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Eidos Montréal in conjunction with Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It continues the narrative from the 2013 game Tomb Raider and its sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Using the highest preset available in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the RX 5500 XT was able to hit an average frame rate of 65 fps in 1080, 44 FPS in 1440, and 21 FPS at 2160. In both 1080 and 1440, the game played well. At 1080p I didn’t notice any studdering or tearing. The gameplay was smooth. At 1440, there was a little bit of tearing here and there but still no stuttering. Dropping the image quality down a notch or two would do well to further smooth out and bring up the average frames per second. 4k ultra was unplayable which is expected however, playing on the low preset did bring up the framerate although it was too much of a sacrifice on image quality for me.

Witcher 3 closes the chapter on Geralt’s life. The game features a massive open world that the player can explore. Witcher 3 uses REDEngine developed independently by CD Projekt RED. The game engine features stunning visuals.

Visually, Witcher 3 is probably my favorite game in the benchmarks. Overall, it is a beautiful game. At 1080, the RX 5500 XT dips below 60 FPS average at 57 FPS. 42 FPS was the average framerate while a bit lower than the magical 60 minimum, the game was still playable at ultra settings. I didn’t notice any issues during my benchmarking. At 4K, 24 FPS is all the little brother to the 5700 XT could average.

Mordor: Shadow of War is an action RPG game based on the novels of J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s the sequel to Monolith’s successful Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor game and the events of the game take place after The Hobbit but before the Lord of the Rings. The game builds upon the nemesis system that made the first game such a surprise hit, and it’s just brutal to PC hardware.

At 1080, gaming performance was good for the RX 5500 XT as I was able to get 85 FPS average. In 1440, it drops a bit to 54, but again completely playable. 4K hammers this card at ultra settings and manages 24 FPS.

Far Cry 5 is an action-adventure first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Toronto and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the successor to the 2014 video game Far Cry 4, and the fifth main installment in the Far Cry series. The game was released on March 27, 2018

FarCry is one of my favorite series. FarCry 5 is my personal favorite out of all of them. The gameplay is just fun, especially playing community-created maps in the Arcade. Tearing through Montana the RX 5500 XT averaged 83 FPS at HD resolution and ultra image quality, 57 FPS at 1440 Ultra settings, and 29 FPS at 4K ultra.

 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action role-playing game with first-person shooter and stealth mechanics. Players take the role of Adam Jensen, a man equipped with mechanical cybernetic implants called augmentations.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is brutal at ultra quality at any resolution but it is another one of those beautiful games. At 1080 ultra, the RX 5500 XT averaged 54 FPS, at 1440 Ultra, 37 FPS, and 4K ultra settings just 19 FPS. The numbers seem low, but it was playable for the most part. There were a few stutters and dropped frames. Dropping to high or medium quality settings really increased the framerate and made gameplay much smoother at 1080.

 

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

AMD continues to push NAVI with its RDNA architecture. With the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT, I was impressed with the performance across all resolutions at the price the card was retailing for. Although AMD says they are 1440 cards. They performed well at 4K. The RX 5500 XT is a bit different. AMD claims great 1080p performance in high and medium settings. I wanted to push it a bit further to ultra. The RX 5500 XT delivered. For the most part at 1080p, the GPU delivered smooth gameplay. And even better, launch day drivers were rock solid. I didn’t experience any glitches or crashes. That is until I went messing with things.

The Radeon RX 5500 XT that I tested is from Gigabyte and more specifically, their OC version. AMD claims the game GPU clocked at 1717 MHz and boost GPU clock at 1845 MHz. However, with this Gigabyte card, I was constantly hitting 1945 MHz. So it is really not a surprise to me that trying to overclock this GPU even further resulted in both game and Radeon Software crashes. Temperatures on this GPU and good as well. I didn’t see any game breach 65°C during testing or gaming. Fans were silent as well. Gigabyte’s Windforce 3 does a great job of keeping this card cool and quiet.

RX 5500 XT

My experience with the Radeon RX 5500 was pleasant. Surprisingly, more so than I had imagined. I attribute it to AMD focusing on its software. After all, hardware can’t run without software support. In the past, launch day drivers have been buggy and not only from AMD. I’ve experienced it on both sides. However, it would be safe to say in my experience it has happened more frequently in the past with AMD drivers and software. Not this time.

The new Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition was rock solid. The new features in the software are nice to have and work well. More specifically Radeon Boost. When fast motion is detected, like a quick 180° turn in FPS, is detected, the software cuts the resolution up to 50% during the motion. This lowers the load on the GPU and thus increases the frame rate only when Radeon Boost is active. At launch, there are a few supported games these include Borderlands 3, PUBG, Overwatch, Shadow & Rise of the Tomb Raider, GTA 5 and Destiny 2. When I tested in PUBG, I noticed a little softness and some clarity loss but only when I was performing the fast motion. As soon as it stopped, the game was back to normal graphically. It worked well.

Now it comes to price. As I mentioned earlier, there are two flavors of the RX 5500 XT. One contains 4 GB of ram and the other 8. Gigabyte’s Gaming OC Radeon RX 5500 XT retails for $219. The best I can tell is the RX 5500 XT from other manufactures will land somewhere between $150 and $270 with the 8 GB GPUs being on the higher end of the prices. This puts them competing with Nvidia’s GTX 1600 series. I don’t have any 1st hand experience with the 1600 series (yet) but as nearest, I can tell, the two manufacturers should be trading blows. Competition is here, it is good for all of us. Add on top of it a solid software solution and AMD keeps on swinging for the fences. If you’re looking for a strictly 1080p card and on a tight budget, the RX 5500 XT shouldn’t disappoint.

 

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