Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB ReviewJanuary 15, 2020
AMD has been relentless with new releases since October of 2019. They’ve recently introduced their new graphics solutions aimed for 1080p gaming, the RX 5500 series. Just after that, they followed up with the reveal of their new powerful desktop processors in the form of Ryzen 9 3950X and the successor for the Ryzen Threadripper, the Ryzen Threadripper 3770X and Ryzen Threadripper 3760X.
We thought that was it, the last hoorah for AMD this 2019. But, lo and behold, AMD followed through with the reveal of the Adrenalin Software 2020 Edition, which brought in new features along with upgrades for the current Adrenalin feature set. But this wasn’t the last hoorah for AMD this year either. Because they’ve just recently upped the Radeon 5500 lineup with the reveal and global release of the Radeon 5500 XT.
The Radeon 5500 XT hones the power and efficiency of AMD’s new Navi chip with its 7nm process technology. This new graphics card will claim the 1080p throne of the AMD Radeon graphics card lineup. The question would be is, if the new RX 5500 XT could outrun the competitor offerings?
Design & Configuration:
As AMD mentioned in a media briefing, the RX 5500 XT will not have and will not be available in the reference design.
AIBs decide which design the Radeon RX 5500 XT would be available in. As such, temperatures and speed will vary depending on the manufacturer’s configuration. But one thing is for sure, the Radeon RX 5500 XT will have two variations, one fitted with a 4GB GDDR6 VRAM, and one with an 8GB GDDR6 VRAM configuration.
What we have is the 4GB variant from Sapphire on our testbench. It’s a 23cm x 12.5cm graphics card and will require 2 PCIe slots. It follows the Sapphire design theme and comes equipped with two large fans that feature Sapphire’s Dual-X technology which provides excellent heat dissipation.
Tho, the entirety of the Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT revolves around plastic materials, it still has a premium feel to it with its metal backplate which some brands won’t include for this segment especially on a lower 4GB variant. The backplate is entirely made of metal and showcases the Pulse logo in its full glory. You’ll find 3 lines, which mimic a pulse reading, on the backplate.
Sapphire includes a BIOS switch on this RX 5500 XT variant that will let users change from Silent mode to Boost mode. By default, the BIOS switch is on Boost mode which lets the RX 5500 XT run on full speed.
Performance, Power Consumption & Price:
There’s a lot to expect from a new generation graphics card from AMD since they are fighting their way back into the market. First, they’ve introduced their graphics card for the 1440p segment the RX 5700 series. This time around, the RX 5500 series aims for the 1080p segment.
But with the competition’s unrivaled dominance in the 1080p segment in the past, the Radeon RX 5500 XT needs to showcase top-notch price-to-performance to be able to outshine or just to even make a dent to the competition’s long-time reign.
However, the price reveal gave the RX 5500 XT a bumpy start, with the price starting at $169 USD for the 4GB variant which goes up to $199 USD for the 8GB variant. This puts Radeon RX 5500 XT near the pricing of the well-received Nvidia offerings. So, they’ll need more than just a fancy feature set to dethrone the long-time kings.
|Apex Legends at 1080p, High Settings, V-Sync Off|
|Final Fanstasy XV at 1080p, Highest Settings, V-Sync Off, Nvidia Add-on Features Off|
|Gears of War 5 at 1080p, Ultra Settings, V-Sync Off|
|Power Consumption (load)|
As seen on the performance charts above, the Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB offered only a slight performance increase from its predecessor. The most notable difference of the RX 5500 XT from its predecessor is its lower power consumption which was possible due to its 7nm process.
Unfortunately, even with the lessened power consumption, the Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB still wasn’t able to level with the reigning kings of the segment, the Nvidia GTX 1650 Super and GTX 1660. Even on AMD backed titles, the Radeon RX 5500 XT still can’t outperform the mentioned Nvidia graphics cards.
It’s disappointing for those who already have the mentioned competitor graphics cards but have been planning to upgrade to the new Radeon based graphics card once it was released. However, if you’re coming from an integrated graphics setup or from a much lower graphics card, then the performance leap will be more noticeable.
We’ve seen a lot of previous Radeon graphics cards getting significant performance boosts through software updates, haven’t we? So, we’re really hoping that the Radeon RX 5500 XT will have the same driver unlockable potentials.
What we think:
With the slew of new graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia, it’s getting harder and harder for consumers to choose the best GPU for a certain budget and segment. However, heating competition is nothing but beneficial to consumers.
AMD’s recent slingshot to the top of the CPU market wasn’t carried over to their GPU segment, however. The RX 5700 series holds its own against its competitions, while the RX 5500 XT gets beaten by the long-time kings of its segment. The price-to-performance is nothing to be proud of, but then again, AMD is best known for its fine wine tactics for their GPU offerings. Which is why, we still recommend the RX 5500 XT 4GB variant to those who are still using iGPU or lower-tier graphics cards. Price-to-performance, the Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB variant is the best choice out of the two variants available.
AMD also bundles the RX 5500 XT graphics card with a FREE copy of Monster Hunter World: Icebourne. Take it as a less $20 – $30 USD from the SRP of a Radeon RX 5500 XT graphics card.
With all of the things we’ve covered, the Radeon RX 5500 XT, even with its shortcomings, deserves a spot in any 1080p focused gaming machines. And because of that, we give the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB a Bronze Award.