SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming

AMD's new Radeon RX 5500 XT is here, battles directly against NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER.

| Dec 12, 2019 at 8:37 pm CST
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: SAPPHIREModel: B07XVMXBQW

Introduction

AMD has another important feather being placed into the Navi cap today with the release of the new Radeon RX 5500 XT, a new mainstream graphics card that AMD has released just as the holidays are about to kick off.

VIEW GALLERY - 41 IMAGES

The new Radeon RX 5500 XT graphics card comes with the same Navi GPU, but changes things up in terms of what makes it tick inside, and the clock speeds -- but we have a much lower 130W TDP, too. AMD is continuing the use of the higher-end GDDR6 memory standard, offering two different models: a Radeon RX 5500 XT with 4GB, or an RX 5500 XT with 8GB of VRAM.

AMD's new Radeon RX 5500 XT is still made on the efficient 7nm process, and offers some great 1080p gaming performance in what feels like a perfect replacement of the Polaris-based Radeon RX 480. The new Radeon RX 5500 XT on the other hand offers up a bunch of new tricks under its belt that get added or enhanced through the just-released AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition.

  • AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB: $169
  • AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB: $199

Navi >>> Polaris

AMD has pulled off a rather large 1.6x performance per watt over the Radeon RX 480 with its new Radeon RX 5500 XT, thanks to a bunch of changes in the new (and much smaller) Navi 7nm GPU versus the Polaris 14nm GPU. We have 12% more performance on average, while using 30% less power.

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The Navi GPU on the new Radeon RX 5500 XT comes in at 158mm2 compared to the larger 221mm2 on the Polaris GPU inside of the Radeon RX 480. This means AMD has crammed in 1.7x performance per area with its new Radeon RX 5500 XT over the previous-gen Polaris-based Radeon RX 480.

AMD is using a fresh new 7nm GPU on its mid-range 1080p focused Radeon RX 5500 XT graphics card, leaving NVIDIA in its dust as they are 'still' on the 12nm node with even the latest GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER and slightly-older RTX 2080 Ti.

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The new Radeon RX 5500 XT and its Navi GPU has 22 compute units, with 1408 stream processors offering up to 5.2 TFLOPs of compute performance. The Navi GPU itself is clocked at up to 1717MHz with Game Clock, and up to 1845MHz with its Boost clock. The SAPPHIRE RX 5500 XT PULSE OC that I have here today is clocked higher, too.

AMD has just a 130W TDP on the Radeon RX 5500 XT in reference form, with 4GB and 8GB models on offer with GDDR6 memory clocked at 14Gbps offering up to 448GB/sec of performance.

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This leads to a great mix of GPU and memory technology that will unlock quite a few performance doors for the Radeon RX 5500 XT, especially at 1080p -- and even more so with esports games like PUBG, Overwatch, Fortnite, and Apex Legends.

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The option of getting a mid-range card with 8GB of RAM is an interesting choice, especially when it comes to price -- but moving into 2020 you are not going to want to buy a new graphics card with just 4GB of RAM. Even the previous-gen Radeon RX 480 shipped with 8GB of RAM, so AMD can't be caught with its pants down launching a new card that AMD itself directly compares to the RX 480 if it shipped with less VRAM.

Detailed Look

SAPPHIRE has a smaller box for its mid-range Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC graphics card, but it has the same bragging points to push across: 7nm Navi GPU, GDDR6 memory, FreeSync 2 HDR support, and PCIe 4.0 support.

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On the front of the box we have all of that -- the flashy specs and bullet points, with a clear white/purple/black/red style that stands out from the crowd. There aren't any models or guns on this box.

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The back is straight up boring, but it does tell you SAPPHIRE is using its Dual-X cooling tech, with dual ball bearing fans and quick connect fans.

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From the front of the card you can see there are no RGB LEDs lighting it up, that's just the LEDs from the motherboard making it green.

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SAPPHIRE uses a backplate on its custom Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC graphics card, and I love the style of it.

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Up a little closer we also have the BIOS switch to the right.

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SAPPHIRE's new custom Radeon RX 5500 XT is a dual-slot card.

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We have 3 x DP 1.4 and 1 x HDMI 2.0 connector on the card.

Test System 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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 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.

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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

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SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 1066 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks - Synthetic

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 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.

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3DMark TimeSpy

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3DMark TimeSpy Extreme

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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.

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Heaven - 1440p

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Heaven - 4K

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Benchmarks - 1080p

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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1080p Benchmark Performance Thoughts

This is where AMD is aiming with its new Radeon RX 5500 XT: 1080p gaming. It does well here, hitting the same performance levels of the Polaris-based Radeon RX 580/590 in games like Shadow of Mordor, where that faster GDDR6 memory can stretch its legs.

You can still enjoy gorgeous games like Far Cry New Dawn at 1080p and a more-than-playable 80FPS average on the SAPPHIRE RX 5500 XT PULSE OC graphics card, beating out NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER. Another great looking game that performs well at over 60FPS average is Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

We have 68FPS average on the SAPPHIRE RX 5500 XT PULSE OC, which beats the GTX 1650 and is just 4FPS off of the faster GTX 1650 SUPER graphics card.

Benchmarks - 1440p

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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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 31 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 36 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 46 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC Review: Navi Nails 1080p Gaming 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.

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1440p Benchmark Performance Thoughts

I wouldn't buy the new Radeon RX 5500 XT for 1440p gaming, but that doesn't mean it can't get in some QHD gaming in... especially with 46FPS average in Shadow of War -- beating out the RX 580, and GTX 1650 but ultimately losing to the RX 590 and GTX 1650 SUPER.

Metro Exodus manages over 30FPS (just, at 31FPS average) beating out the GTX 1060 which really dies here at 1440p but interestingly you'll see it loses to the much older GeForce GTX 980 Ti which I've kept in the charts for some of the games I've benchmarked. I will go through and continue adding cards (and have an Radeon RX 480 vs RX 5500 XT battle coming soon).

Far Cry New Dawn performance at 2560 x 1440 isn't bad either, with 50FPS average on the Radeon RX 5500 XT -- while Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a little worse with 45FPS average. A few tweaks to the in-game visuals settings in these games and you'll easily hit that magic 60FPS average.

Thermals & Power

SAPPHIRE's custom Radeon RX 5500 XT PULSE OC isn't the coolest-operating graphics card I've tested, but it's also no reference RX 5700 XT or Vega 64 either. SAPPHIRE's in-house Dual-X cooling solution keeps it at 69-71C (the maximum I saw in my testing) but sat at 69FPS for the most part.

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Power Consumption

It's nice to see AMD on the lower-end of the scale here when it comes to power consumption, with its new Radeon RX 5500 XT sipping power compared to the Polaris and 14nm-based Radoen RX 580. The RX 580 in my Core i7-8700K test bed consumes a total of 280W, while the SAPPHIRE RX 5500 XT PULSE OC and my entire system uses just 180W in comparison. 100W power savings, for the same -- and in some cases, more performance. Nice.

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Final Thoughts

With unquestionably great 1080p performance, AMD's new Radeon RX 5500 XT shows that Navi is still a star... even when it has chopped down into something smaller from its flagship Radeon RX 5700/5700 XT form. We have stellar 1080p performance, and in esports games you're going to have quite the potent card in your hands for sub $200.

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AMD offers some interesting tweaks through features like Radeon Boost, which will offer additional performance where it counts -- where in games like Overwatch you're boosting from already playable 68FPS average to virtually 100FPS. Better yet, this is at 2560 x 1440 on Epic graphics settings, which is an insane leap in performance.

Radeon Boost if you didn't already know, dynamically scales the rendering resolution to boost frame rates. It works as soon as it detects motion, by reducing the rendering resolution and then when it detects that the on-screen camera rotation has stopped or slows down, the rendering resolution boosts back up again. It is a subtle, but important thing to have running in the right games.

Is The Radeon RX 5500 XT Better Than The GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER?

In short, yes it is -- AMD has done an great job by offering a new card for less than $200 that beats the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER, but the price is something we need to talk about.

At the time of writing I could find the Radeon RX 580 with 8GB for $169, while the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER with 4GB of RAM was $159. The new Radeon RX 5500 XT can be had for $169 (4GB) and $199 (8GB) which makes the decision a little harder. Do you already have a monitor? Is it FreeSync? Grab the RX 5500 XT.

Don't have a monitor yet? Get a new FreeSync display anyway, and you should be happy with the Radeon RX 5500 XT. If you're wanting to jump into PC gaming right now and haven't even purchased a PC before, the new Radeon RX 5500 XT offers all the feels we had with Polaris when it first launched with the RX 480 -- except AMD has a much better ecosystem on offer.

AMD releasing its new Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition right at the same time as the new Navi-based Radeon RX 5500 XT is actually such a kick ass move. While NVIDIA is still stuck in the UI dark ages with its GeForce drivers (GeForce Experience is fine, but the NVIDIA Control Panel is old AF now).

Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition is actually so good I need to deep dive into it, and haven't had the time since I was in Maui, Hawaii for Qualcomm's annual Snapdragon Summit and only received my Radeon RX 5500 XT sample 36 hours before this review was due. My time was limited, and for that I apologize -- I will follow up with my review on the GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER as well, on top of a detailed look at the new Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition driver set, too.

Final, Final Thoughts

AMD loses with the new Radeon RX 5500 XT solely on price... the cryptocurrency explosion saw countless Radeon RX 500 series cards sold, and then flood the second hand markets. This means you can grab a super-discounted RX 500 series card that is $50-$80 or even cheaper than the RX 5500 XT (in 8GB form which starts from $200).

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This is an issue for AMD with the Radeon RX 5500 XT, but is out of AMD's control -- they can't just sell these new cards for $100 and make anything on it, it would just bleed money. AMD now has to play the waiting game and let the Radeon RX 500 series cards disappear naturally -- while providing feature-packed cards like the Radeon RX 5500 XT that will slowly replace them.

Another nice bonus for the Radeon RX 5500 XT is that AMD is offering Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Master Edition as well as 3 months of Xbox Game Pass -- valued at $80. This isn't too bad, but I don't see anyone purchasing the RX 5500 XT for these games alone, but it's a nice bonus you can't complain about.

All in all, I think AMD has really provided a kick ass 1080p gaming card -- reducing power conusmption massively with the Navi 14 GPU and 7nm node over the Polaris 10 GPU and 14nm node on the Radeon RX 500 series cards. Huge improvements across the board with optimizations, kick ass (for the most part) 1080p performance and a newly-tweaked Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition software package that really whips the Llama's ass (and the Llama in this case being NVIDIA's Control Panel).

Last updated: Jul 1, 2020 at 11:52 am CDT

Performance (overclocking, power)

90%

Quality (build, design, cooling)

90%

General Features (display outputs, etc)

90%

Bundle, Packaging & Software

95%

Overall Rating

91%

The Bottom Line

AMD's new Radeon RX 5500 XT launches, powered by the Navi 14 GPU and packed with GDDR6. It uses 100W+ less power than the RX 580, offering similar performance, and a STACK of new features and tech!

TweakTown award
91%

XFX Rx 5700 8GB GDDR6

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

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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