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AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked

AMD's new Navi-based Radeon RX 5500 XT tested against the older-gen Polaris-based RX 480.

@anthony256
Published Fri, Dec 20 2019 12:29 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:57 PM CST

Introduction

AMD launched its new mid-range 1080p focused Radeon RX 5500 XT graphics card last week, a replacement of sorts with current-gen tech helping it cross the 1080p finish line in glory.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 904 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 36 IMAGES

The new Radeon RX 5500 XT features an upgraded Navi 14 GPU on the newer 7nm node, something that when blended together with the new RDNA architecture delivers great performance over the previous-gen Polaris-based Radeon RX 480 and Radeon RX 580/590 graphics cards.

At the time of reviewing the new Radeon RX 5500 XT, I didn't have the time to get some of the other graphics cards I wanted to test into the benchmark charts. This included the first-gen Polaris card in the Radeon RX 480, as well as NVIDIA's previous-gen and Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

These two cards represented some of the most popular cards of their time, and they also represent cards that millions of gamers would upgrade from -- and to, AMD's new Navi-based Radeon RX 5500 XT. That's where the idea for this article came from, where I'll take a direct look between the Radeon RX 480 and Radeon RX 5500 XT -- all while throwing a bunch of other cards I thought everyone would like to see tested.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 501 | TweakTown.com

In this article I've taken a specific look at the older Radeon RX 480 and newer Radeon RX 5500 XT, which will test AMD's claims of an average 12% performance increase across the board. I'm here to solely test that, with a direct comparison between the RX 480 and RX 5500 XT at 1080p, 1440p, and even 4K.

Graphics Cards Used

Polaris/Vega/Navi

I've used a healthy spread of cards here, but if there's any more that you want added in like the GeForce 770/780, GTX 980 (non-Ti), GTX 10 series, Radeon R9 Fury or R9 Nano... then let me know in the comments below. I couldn't get the GeForce GTX 980/980 Ti in here on time, but I will have a follow-up article that will be a bit smaller that will include that card soon.

The cards used in my testing from the Polaris, Vega and Navi GPU range include:

  • Radeon RX 480 (8GB GDDR5)
  • Radeon RX 570 (8GB GDDR5)
  • Radeon RX 580 (8GB GDDR5)
  • Radeon RX 590 (8GB GDDR5)
  • Radeon RX Vega 56 (8GB HBM2)
  • Radeon RX Vega 64 (8GB HBM2)
  • Radeon RX 5500 XT (4GB GDDR6)

Maxwell/Pascal/Turing

NVIDIA cards used in this article include:

  • GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5)
  • GeForce GTX 1650 (4GB GDDR5)
  • GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER (4GB GDDR6)
  • GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER (6GB GDDR6)
  • GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB GDDR5)

Test System Specs

GPU Test Rig Specs

Welcome to the latest revision of our GPU test bed, with our system being upgraded from the Intel Core i7-7700K to the Core i7-8700K. The CPU is cooled by the Corsair H115i PRO cooler, with the 8700K overclocked to 5GHz. We've stayed with GIGABYTE for our motherboard with their awesome Z370 AORUS Gaming 7.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 1060 | TweakTown.com

We approached our friends at HyperX for a kit of their kick ass HyperX Predator DDR4-2933MHz RAM (HX429C15PB3AK4/32), with 2 x 8GB sticks for a total of 16GB DDR4-2933. The RAM stands out through every minute of our testing as it has beautiful RGB lights giving the system a slick look while benchmarking our lives away, while the Z370 AORUS Gaming 7 motherboard joins in with its own array of RGB lighting.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 1061 | TweakTown.com

Detailed Tech Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8700K @ 5GHz
  • Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H115i PRO
  • MB: Z370 AORUS Gaming 7
  • RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) HyperX Predator DDR4-2933
  • SSD: 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2
  • SSD: 512GB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2
  • PSU: InWin 1065W PSU
  • Chassis: In Win X-Frame
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro x64

Additional Images

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 1063 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 1064 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 1065 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 1066 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks - Synthetic

3DMark Fire Strike - 1080p

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4000 | TweakTown.com

3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 01 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike - 1440p

3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 02 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike - 4K

3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 03 | TweakTown.com

3DMark TimeSpy

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 04 | TweakTown.com

3DMark TimeSpy Extreme

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 05 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 1080p

Heaven is an intensive GPU benchmark that really pushes your silicon to its limits. It's another favorite of ours as it has some great scaling for multi-GPU testing, and it's great for getting your GPU to 100% for power and noise testing.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 07 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 1440p

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 08 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 4K

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 09 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks - 1080p

1080p Benchmarks

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4006 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War at Amazon.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 32 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4013 | TweakTown.com

Metro Exodus is one of the hardest tests that our graphics cards have to go through, with 4A Games' latest creation being one of the best looking games on the market. It is a serious test that pushes GPUs to their limits, and also features RTX technologies like DLSS.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 370 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4015 | TweakTown.com

Far Cry New Dawn was developed by Ubisoft, and is powered the Dunia Engine, an engine that has been modified over the years for Far Cry and last used in Far Cry 5. Dunia Engine itself was a modified version of CRYENGINE, scaling incredibly well on all sorts of hardware.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 47 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4002 | TweakTown.com

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the latest games to join our graphics card benchmark lineup, with the game built using the Foundation engine as a base, the same engine in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Eidos Montreal R&D department made lots of changes to the engine during the development of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to make it one of the best-looking games out right now.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 400 | TweakTown.com

1080p Benchmark Performance Thoughts

1080p is the battle ground of the Radeon RX 480 and new Radeon RX 5500 XT, where both cards reach 60FPS average in Shadow of War -- the older RX 480 with 60FPS on the dot, while the newer Navi-based RX 5500 XT is a great performer in Shadow of War at 1080p with 67FPS average.

Another big change in Metro Exodus performance with 29FPS on the RX 480 versus a much higher 39FPS on the new RX 5500 XT at 1080p, while Far Cry New Dawn sees an even bigger performance gap of 17FPS. The older-gen RX 480 hits 63FPS average in Far Cry New Dawn at 1080p, while the new Navi-based RX 5500 XT pushes 80FPS average.

The performance increase in Shadow of the Tomb Raider between the RX 480 and RX 5500 XT is 10FPS, with the Polaris-based offering hitting 58FPS average, while the Navi-based RX 5500 XT hits 68FPS average.

Benchmarks - 1440p

1440p Benchmarks

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4006 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War at Amazon.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 31 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4013 | TweakTown.com

Metro Exodus is one of the hardest tests that our graphics cards have to go through, with 4A Games' latest creation being one of the best looking games on the market. It is a serious test that pushes GPUs to their limits, and also features RTX technologies like DLSS.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 360 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4015 | TweakTown.com

Far Cry New Dawn was developed by Ubisoft, and is powered the Dunia Engine, an engine that has been modified over the years for Far Cry and last used in Far Cry 5. Dunia Engine itself was a modified version of CRYENGINE, scaling incredibly well on all sorts of hardware.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 46 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4002 | TweakTown.com

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the latest games to join our graphics card benchmark lineup, with the game built using the Foundation engine as a base, the same engine in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Eidos Montreal R&D department made lots of changes to the engine during the development of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to make it one of the best-looking games out right now.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 410 | TweakTown.com

1440p Benchmark Performance Thoughts

There's some good performance to be had at 1440p, but it's not a resolution I feel comfortable recommending either the RX 480 or RX 5500 XT for. Once again, we have some good performance in Shadow of War with 42FPS on the RX 480 versus 46FPS on the RX 5500 XT -- nearly 10% more performance.

Metro Exodus is utterly unforgiving in its GPU torture, with the older Radeon RX 480 losing with just 23FPS versus the higher 31FPS on the Radeon RX 5500 XT. There's just 3FPS between the two cards in Far Cry New Dawn, while just 2FPS separate the RX 480 and RX 5500 XT in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Benchmarks - 4K

4K Benchmarks

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4006 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War at Amazon.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 30 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4013 | TweakTown.com

Metro Exodus is one of the hardest tests that our graphics cards have to go through, with 4A Games' latest creation being one of the best looking games on the market. It is a serious test that pushes GPUs to their limits, and also features RTX technologies like DLSS.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 350 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4015 | TweakTown.com

Far Cry New Dawn was developed by Ubisoft, and is powered the Dunia Engine, an engine that has been modified over the years for Far Cry and last used in Far Cry 5. Dunia Engine itself was a modified version of CRYENGINE, scaling incredibly well on all sorts of hardware.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 45 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 4002 | TweakTown.com

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the latest games to join our graphics card benchmark lineup, with the game built using the Foundation engine as a base, the same engine in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Eidos Montreal R&D department made lots of changes to the engine during the development of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to make it one of the best-looking games out right now.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 400 | TweakTown.com

4K Benchmark Performance Thoughts

I didn't recommend the Radeon RX 5500 XT for 4K gaming in my review of the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC, and I won't recommend it here. I've got 4K gaming results here just to show the performance between the RX 480 and newer RX 5500 XT.

In the VRAM bandwidth starved Middle-earth: Shadow of War, we have near identical performance with the RX 480 hitting 25FPS average while the new Navi-based RX 5500 XT is capable of 27FPS. The same 2FPS increase in performance over the RX 480 happens again with Metro Exodus, this time the FPS drops to 15FPS and 17FPS, respectively.

There's a 3FPS performance increase between the RX 480 and RX 5500 XT in Far Cry New Dawn at 4K, while there's a larger 10FPS gap between the RX 480 and RX 5500 XT in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Overall, the RX 5500 XT is a faster card than the RX 480 at 4K -- even with its 4GB GDDR6 framebuffer, over the 8GB GDDR5 on the RX 480.

Power & Temps

Thermals

This isn't a direct comparison as I'm only using a reference AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics card versus the custom SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC graphics card and its custom Dual-X cooling solution. Still, for reference you can see how hot the Polaris 10-based Radeon RX 480 gets in reference form.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 12 | TweakTown.com

Power Consumption

Power has been tightened on Radeon RX 5500 XT, with the custom overclocked solution using 180W total in my Core i7-8700K, while the reference Radeon RX 480 uses 210W. A custom Radeon RX 480 would use more power, something I think I need to get my hands-on.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 11 | TweakTown.com

Final Thoughts

AMD is replacing the Radeon RX 480 with its new Radeon RX 5500 XT in its current form, offering more performance with less heat and power consumption. AMD's new RDNA architecture flexes its mid-range muscles here in Navi 14 form, beating out the then-flagship Polaris 10 inside of the Radeon RX 480.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 100 | TweakTown.com

The Radeon RX 480 was a good card at the time offering GeForce GTX 980 levels of performance, but it left a lot to be desired. It was followed up with the refresh in the Radeon RX 580, and then thrown down a peg or two with the release of the Radeon RX Vega 56 and Vega 64 graphics cards. I've kept these cards on the charts for reference, and they sitll hold up today -- they're too hot, loud, and old now -- but they're still an impressive leap over the Polaris and even Navi 14 GPU.

AMD is aiming the new Radeon RX 5500 XT at the 1080p gaming market and it nails it beautifully, where in this comparison article you can see there is a good performance gap between the RX 480 and the RX 5500 XT. The RX 580 finds itself right in the middle of this battle, while the RX 590 finds itself ahead of the RX 5500 XT for the most part.

AMD has included enough new stuff here in the Navi 14 GPU, the use of GDDR6 and the new 7nm node over the previous generation Polaris 10 on 14nm and GDDR5 memory. Mix this in with the various feature additions and benefits of the new 2020 series Radeon Adrenalin driver set and you have a decent upgrade over the RX 480 in all senses of the word.

AMD Radeon RX 480 vs. RX 5500 XT Benchmarked 803 | TweakTown.com

The new Radeon RX 5500 XT runs cooler, performance is higher, and there's plenty of new Navi goodies under the hood to keep you happy. Would you buy it over the GeForce GTX 1650 or GTX 1650 SUPER? I don't think so -- but that's for another article. The next one out of the gate will look at the GTX 980 Ti vs GTX 1650 vs GTX 1650 SUPER vs the old and new stack of Radeon cards.

Until then, AMD has enough new here with the Radeon RX 5500 XT that it is a big step up over the RX 480. The higher-end Radeon RX 570, RX 580, and RX 590 decimate the RX 5500 XT for the most part -- but that's not what this article is for. This article is solely looking at the RX 480 vs the new RX 5500 XT where the RX 5500 XT beats it in every test here.

Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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