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AMD continues to take a bite at both Intel and Nvidia’s market share thanks to their revolutionary/groundbreaking 7-nanometer processors. AMD has mostly taken up the spotlight with its Ryzen 3rd gen processors, which offered a clear price-to-performance advantage over Intel’s 9th gen core processors. On the graphics card of things, Nvidia has not a lot to run fall thanks to their “super” strategy of filling up different price segments with cut-down graphics cards. But that all changes as AMD have just released the Radeon RX 5500 XT in 4GB and 8GB variants. Here we have the RX 5500 XT 4GB variant in the form of Sapphire’s Pulse model.

While we both have 4GB and 8GB cards in our benchmarks, we’ll focus more on the 4GB variant in this review. To know our thoughts regarding the 8GB variant and which is a better purchase, please read our review of the Gigabyte RX 5500 XT 8GB Gaming OC as we’ll also compare it with the 1650 Super, 1660 Super, 1660 Ti and AMD’s own RX 580.

Specifications Table

Specs GTX 1650 Super RX 580 RX 5500 XT RX 5700 RX 5700 XT
CUDA Cores / Stream Processors 1280 2304 1408 2304 2560
SMs / Compute Units 36 22 36 40
Base Clock 1530 1257 1717 1465 1680
Boost Clock 1725 1340 1845 1725 1930
Texture Units 80 144 144 160
Memory Clock 12,000 Mhz 8,000 Mhz 14, 000 Mhz 14, 000 Mhz 14, 000 Mhz
Memory Bandwidth 192GB/sec 256GB/sec 244GB/sec 448GB/sec 448GB/sec
Memory Size 4GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR5 4GB / 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6
TDP 100w 185w 130w 185w 225w
MSRP $159 $220 $169 / $199 $349 $399

AMD Radeon Adrenalin 2020 Software

Radeon Adrenalin 2020 Edition Home CaptureAMD also the Radeon Adrenalin 2020 Edition Software alongside the RX 5500 XT 4GB and 8GB variants. We’ll be using the new drivers for this review. Listed below are the new features of the software. Refer to this article for an in-depth look at AMD’s new software.

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Radeon Integer Display Scaling

AMD Radeon Adrenalin 2020 Edition Interger Display ScalingRadeon Integer Display Scaling upscales your olds games to render a better quality image. It takes one single pixel and scales it to four-blocks or more depending on the image for a crisp image display. Radeon Integer Display Scaling is very beneficial in olds games to breath some life into it, especially if these games are your timeless classic. Gamers with high-resolution displays will also benefit from Integer Display Scaling.

DirectML Media Filters

AMD Radeon Adrenalin 2020 Edition Directml media filtersDirectML is Microsft’s machine learning API which enhancing videos and photos by reducing noise and upscaling filters. Think of it as a gamer’s simplified photoshop.

Radeon Boost

AMD Radeon Adrenalin 2020 Edition Radeon BoostRadeon boost increases your system’s performance during fast-motion scenes. The software automatically adjusts your game’s resolution when every time it detects enough movements / in-game motion. It smoothens the animation as it lowers resolution during these motions such as running, camera rotation. And since the feature takes place during motion, the perceived image quality won’t degrade since its a fast-motion scene.

Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB Overview

Unlike the beefier RX 5700 Series, the RX 5500 in both 4GB and 8GB configurations, will not have a reference cooler. Our RX 5500 XT 4GB is dressed with Sapphire’s Pulse branding, which sits in the middle of Sapphire’s SKUs. It’s not the entry-level variant, but it’s also not the flagship model from the brand.

AMD claims a 1.6 performance per watt improvement with the new RX5500 XT over its previous RX 500 series. The Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT features an updated shroud and a boxy design compared to last gen’s cooler setup.

Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB Review 028

Ports selection on the Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB is standard with three Display Ports and one HDMI port.

Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB Review 014The boxy design of the Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT makes it look more compact and only occupies 2 PCIe slots.

Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB Review 020

The new RX 5500 XT has a 130w rated TDP and requires a single 8-pin PCIe for power. The Pulse armor full wraps the RX 5500 XT with the backplate extending on the side as well the plastic shroud for a premium-looking design.

BENCHMARKS
Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB Review 032

The performance of the Sapphire Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Pulse shall be evaluated using a mixture of synthetic and gaming benchmarks. Windows is updated to the latest stable build as well as drivers. BIOS settings are set to UEFI default as well as each individual GPUs’ clock and fan speeds.

TEST BENCH

Processor: Intel Core i9 9900K @ 5Ghz
Cooling: NZXT Kraken X62 280mm AIO
Motherboard: ROG Strix Z390-F Gaming
Memory: HyperX Predator 16GB  3200Mhz
Storage: SanDisk 512GB M.2 SSD | HyperX Fury 240GB  RGB SSD
PSU: Corsair HX1200i
GPU: ROG Strix GTX 1650 SUPER  | ROG Strix RX 580 | Galax GTX 1660 Ti | Galax GTX 1660 Super | Colorful iGame GTX 1660 Super Ultra | Gigabyte RX 5500 XT 8GB Gaming OC
OS: Windows 10 Pro Build 1903
Drivers: GeForce 441.20 | Adrenalin 2020 Editon 19.12.2

3DMARK

3DMark is the go-to benchmark for gamers because of the ability to share and compare results online. We used Time Spy DX 12 benchmark and Fire Strike DX 11 benchmark and opted out of Port Royal since all the GPUs used in this review do not support Ray Tracing.

3DMark benchmarks show the RX5500XT 4GB does not have a good start. We usually see AMD GPUs outperforming Nvidia counterparts in synthetic benchmarks. But this isn’t the case for the RX 5500 XT. That said, synthetic benchmarks don’t tell the whole story in terms of performance.

DOTA 2

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Review Dota 2 BenchmarkDota 2 is one of the most popular games globally; that said, chances are you’ll be playing one of the popular F2P titles. Our benchmark sequence is based on a replay of OG vs. Liquid in the TI9 grand finals from the team fight that happened on 28:30 to 29:30.

The Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB manages to pull across the rest of the stack except for the RX 580 and GTX 1650 Super. However, despite pulling out better numbers versus the GTX 1660 series, the RX 5500 XT 4GB also had the worst frame drops with .1% FPS at 21.

Far Cry 5

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Review Far Cry 5 BenchmarkFarCry 5 is an FPS game published by Ubisoft and uses the Dunia engine. It heavily relies on and takes advantage of DirectX 11 to render a realistic environment that makes it taxing to both the CPU and GPU.

The GTX 1660 series cards show their strength by topping our Far Cry 5 benchmarks. The RX 5500 XT 4GB manages to beat both the GTX 1650 Super and RX 580 across all FPS marks, albeit in a small margin.

Rainbow Six Siege

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Review Rainbow Six Siege BenchmarkRainbow Six Seige is one of the few popular AAA games that’s still popular in 2019 due to its competitive gameplay mechanics. R6S uses the AnvilNext game engine, which is developed by the game’s publisher, Ubisoft. As of writing, Rainbow Six Siege is currently the most popular Tom Clancy title beating out Wildlands, Breakpoint and even, Division 2.

The RX 5500 XT 4GB manages to beat the GTX 1650 Super by over 28 percent in terms of average framerate. Yet chokes with the worst fps drop across the GPU stack. It’s still a win over the GTX 1650 thanks to a more stable 1% FPS of 91.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Review Call of Duty Modern Warfare BenchmarkCall of Duty: Modern Warfare is arguably the most anticipated game of the year. It’s the first cross-play compatible game title of the franchise. COD: MW is developed by Infinity ward using a new IW engine and is published by Activision. The game uses DirectX 12 by default, which makes it an excellent choice to include in our benchmark suite.

Call of Duty MW DX12 API doesn’t seem to go well with our RX 5500 XT 4GB. While it’s indeed an Nvidia title, even the RX 580 manages to crush its 7nanometer Navi replacement.

Apex Legends

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Review Apex Legends BenchmarkApex Legends is a character-based Free-to-play battle royale game developed by Respawn Entertainment, the makers of Titanfall and Titanfall 2. It utilizes a modified version of Valve’s Source Engine.

The RX 5500 XT 4GB loss in the COD: MW benchmark shares the same fate in Apex Legends as it is once again the lowest performance in our GPU stack. The loss is not as significant compared to COD: MW as the GPU managed to output only 2FPS less than the RX 580.

TEMPERATURES

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Review TempsThe Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB sits at a comfy 62 degrees maximum load temperature during our benchmarks. While the GTX 1650 Super is hotter than its Nvidia counterpart, It’s also worth noting the Pulse variant from Sapphire is not a flagship cooler, unlike the ROG Strix of the GTX 1650 Super.

POWER CONSUMPTION

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Review Power Consumption

The power efficiency of the Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB isn’t impressive compared to Nvidia’s GTX 1650 Super. On the other hand, the RX 5500 XT draws much less power versus Strix RX 580 – 35% more power-efficient.

CONCLUSION

Sapphire Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB Review 042Frankly, I was expecting the RX 5500 XT to go head-on against the 1660 series, which led to my disappointment when AMD showed their benchmarks pitted against the GTX 1650. The initial disappointment was replaced with worry when the RX 5500 XT 4GB had an SRP of $169, which is $10 cheaper than the super. Despite having a slightly higher price, the RX 5500 XT’s performance is what you would expect from a sub $200 graphics card.

The RX 5500 XT is undoubtedly replacing the previous RX 500 series cards with a bonus in power efficiency and new features thanks to the 7-nanometer process. As to which is better between AMD and Nvidia, it will boil down to user preference. It’s also worth noting that AMD can squeeze more performance out of the RX 5500 XT through driver updates and optimizations, as we’ve seen with the 2-year old RX 580, which made it a relevant option until the more power-efficient RX 5500 XT replaces it.

The RX 5500 XT 4GB doesn’t share the same level of victory that the Ryzen 3rd gen CPUs and RX 5700 series had. But the GTX 1650 super wouldn’t see the light of day without the RX 5500 XT. When it comes to raw performance against the green team, then the GTX 1650 Super pulls ever so slightly. Price-wise, the GTX 1650 holds better value. AMD’s goal clearly isn’t beating Nvidia’s offering because AMD can go far lower when it comes to pricing. Instead, AMD aims to replace and fill each market with its new 7-nanometer Navi GPUs.

Read our review of the Gigabyte RX 5500 XT 8GB to know our thoughts of the 8GB variant.

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Sapphire RX 5500 XT 4GB Pulse Graphics Card Review
Our Verdict
The RX 5500 XT 4GB doesn't share the same level of victory that the Ryzen 3rd gen CPUs and RX 5700 series had. But the GTX 1650 super wouldn't see the light of day without the RX 5500 XT. When it comes to raw performance against the green team, then the GTX 1650 Super pulls ever so slightly. Price-wise the GTX 1650 holds better value. AMD's goal clearly isn't beating Nvidia's offering because AMD can go far lower when it comes to pricing. Rather, AMD aims to replace and fill each market with its new 7-nanometer Navi GPUs.
What's Good
Power efficient
Aesthetics
Metal Backplate
Capable in DX-11 Games
Adrenalin 2020 Software
What's Not
$10 more expensive than the competition
No DVI port for an entry level card
9
PC Reviews Lead at Gadget Pilipinas | grantsor@gadgetpilipinas.net | Website

Grant is a Financial Management graduate from UST. His passion for gadgets and tech crossed him over in the industry where he could apply his knowledge as an enthusiast and in-depth analytic skills as a Finance Major. His passion allows him to earn at the same time help Gadget Pilipinas' readers in making smart, value-based decisions and purchases with his reviews and guides.