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.
|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|
|Memory Clock||12,000 Mhz||8,000 Mhz||14, 000 Mhz||14, 000 Mhz||14, 000 Mhz|
|Memory Size||4GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR5||4GB / 8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6|
|MSRP||$159||$220||$169 / $199||$349||$399|
AMD Radeon Adrenalin 2020 Software
AMD 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.
Radeon Integer Display Scaling
Radeon 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
Radeon 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.
Ports selection on the Pulse RX 5500 XT 4GB is standard with three Display Ports and one HDMI port.
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.
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.
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 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 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
FarCry 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
Rainbow 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
Call 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Frankly, 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.