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AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT review: Bleeding-edge on a budget


When it comes to graphics cards, AMD’s owned the sub-$200 price point for years. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 and 1660 series graphics cards couldn’t hold a candle to the value proposition of the Radeon RX 570 and 580, nor its predecessors, especially once AMD started bundling them with games galore. Those Polaris-powered GPUs are downright ancient, however, and suck down obscene amounts of power compared to modern graphics cards.

Enter the new $169 Radeon RX 5500 XT, launching today after being teased in October.

The Radeon RX 5500 XT brings AMD’s “Navi” GPU, built using the company’s next-gen RDNA graphics architecture, to the masses. Navi debuted in the Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT, which immediately became our go-to recommendations for 1440p gaming. Navi’s loaded with cutting-edge tech: The Radeon RX 5500 XT is one of the first consumer GPUs built using 7nm process technology, and to support the bleeding-edge PCIe 4.0 interface. It’s upgraded to ultra-fast GDDR6 memory. The card packs AMD’s latest and greatest media encoders, and fresh display technologies that enable 4K, 144Hz monitors without the need for messy chroma subsampling (though you won’t game at anywhere near those levels with this humble graphics card). It’s tremendously more power-efficient, too.

Yet despite all those advances, and all AMD’s previous wins with Polaris and Navi, the Radeon RX 5500 XT can’t lay claim to the mainstream crown. Nvidia’s just-launched $160 GeForce GTX 1650 Super puts up a tough fight for the budget graphics card market. While AMD’s card is only $169, it’s still priced too high for the performance it delivers.

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT specs, features, and price

As mentioned above, the Radeon RX 5500 XT uses a cut-down version of AMD’s “Navi” GPU.

radeon rx 5500 xt specs AMD

Radeon RX 5500 XT specs.

Where the Radeon RX 5700 series packed 2,304 stream processors into the $350 Radeon RX 5700, and 2,560 SPs in the faster $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT, AMD’s mainstream-focused Radeon RX 5500 XT reduces that to 1,408 stream processors. The Radeon RX 5500 XT’s effective clock speed during play splits the difference between the two RX 5700 cards, with a rated 1,717MHz Game Clock. A bug in AMD’s new Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition prevented us from verifying that speed under load, but should be fixed shortly after this card’s launch, the company says.

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