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AMD Radeon RX 5500: A Comprehensive Review

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 graphics card offers an interesting value proposition for budget-conscious gamers. Based on AMD‘s RDNA architecture and 7nm manufacturing process, the RX 5500 aims to deliver smooth 1080p gaming performance at an affordable price point.

In this comprehensive review, we‘ll take a close look at the RX 5500 to see where it excels and where it falls short compared to competitors. We‘ll examine the card‘s specs, benchmarks, pricing, and overall value to help you determine if it‘s the right choice for your next PC build or upgrade.

Overview of the AMD Radeon RX 5500

The Radeon RX 5500 is a mid-range graphics card launched by AMD in December 2019. Here are some key facts about the card:

  • Architecture: AMD RDNA 1st gen
  • Manufacturing Process: 7nm FinFET
  • Stream Processors: 1408
  • Game Clock Speed: 1670 MHz
  • Memory: 4GB GDDR6
  • Memory Interface: 128-bit
  • API Support: DirectX 12, Vulkan
  • Power Connectors: 1x 8-pin
  • Launch Price: $169 USD

The RX 5500 replaced AMD‘s previous entry-level card, the Radeon RX 460, which was based on the older 14nm Polaris architecture. With the 7nm process, AMD was able to pack significantly more transistors into a smaller space, allowing for better power efficiency and performance per watt compared to Polaris.

The RX 5500 is designed to deliver high frame rates in popular esports titles like Fortnite, CS:GO, DOTA 2, and more. It can also run AAA games at 1080p resolution reasonably well. Overall, it hits a nice sweet spot between price and performance.

RX 5500 Specs and Architecture

Here‘s a more detailed look at the key specs of the RX 5500:

Navi 14 GPU

  • 1408 Stream Processors
  • 22 Compute Units
  • Base Clock: 1607 MHz
  • Game Clock: 1670 MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1845 MHz
  • 128-bit memory bus
  • 4GB GDDR6 memory

The RX 5500 utilizes AMD‘s Navi 14 GPU, which is produced on the cutting-edge 7nm manufacturing process. This allows AMD to pack an impressive 6.4 billion transistors into a small 158 mm2 die area.

Compared to the previous Polaris-based RX 460, the Navi 14 GPU brings higher clock speeds, more stream processors, and faster GDDR6 memory. All of this translates into a big jump in performance over the aging RX 460.

RDNA Architecture

A key innovation in the Navi GPUs is AMD‘s new RDNA (Radeon DNA) architecture. RDNA delivers 1.25x higher performance per clock versus the older GCN architecture used in Polaris GPUs. It does this through optimizations such as:

  • Redesigned compute units
  • Faster cache hierarchy
  • Streamlined graphics pipeline
  • Improved power efficiency

Thanks to RDNA enhancements, the RX 5500 punches above its weight class in terms of both raw specs and real-world gaming performance.

7nm Process Node

The cutting-edge 7nm process node is a game-changer for AMD, allowing them to create smaller, more power-efficient chips. The RX 5500 packs an impressive 6.4 billion transistors into a tiny 158 mm2 die, whereas the RX 460 was 232 mm2 despite having only 3 billion transistors.

The 7nm process results in a GPU that draws less power and runs cooler than previous AMD cards, while providing substantially better performance. AMD achieved a big leap forward in efficiency with this manufacturing process.

Memory and Bandwidth

The RX 5500 comes equipped with 4GB of GDDR6 memory clocked at 14 Gbps, communicating over a 128-bit bus.

Total memory bandwidth is 224 GB/s, a nice improvement over the 112 GB/s provided by the last-gen RX 460‘s GDDR5 memory. The increased bandwidth allows the RX 5500 to handle higher resolutions and texture quality in games.

4GB is sufficient for smooth 1080p gaming, but it may be a limiting factor when running more demanding games with high resolution textures. Some rival cards like the GTX 1650 Super come with 8GB of VRAM.

Overall, while more memory would be better, the 4GB GDDR6 configuration is reasonable for an entry-level gaming card meant for 1080p gaming.

Performance Benchmarks

Now let‘s examine how the RX 5500 actually performs in games compared to some close competitors from Nvidia. Here are benchmark results at 1920 x 1080 resolution with graphics settings maximized.

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RX 5500 XT 4GB GTX 1650 Super 4GB GTX 1650 4GB
Assassin‘s Creed Odyssey 48 fps 50 fps 38 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 56 fps 59 fps 44 fps
Metro Exodus 51 fps 53 fps 39 fps
Battlefield V 75 fps 77 fps 59 fps
Far Cry New Dawn 73 fps 75 fps 56 fps
World of Tanks enCore 102 fps 99 fps 75 fps

As we can see, the RX 5500 delivers very playable framerates in graphically demanding AAA titles at 1080p resolution with max settings. It‘s able to surpass the 60 fps mark in most games, ensuring smooth, tear-free gameplay.

Compared to Nvidia‘s GTX 1650, the RX 5500 provides around 25% better performance on average across these game benchmarks. The 1650 Super has a slight edge over the 5500 in some games thanks to its higher core count, but overall performance is very close.

For esports and competitive multiplayer titles, the RX 5500 absolutely crushes it, delivering 100+ fps in games like Fortnite, CS:GO, DOTA 2, and more. Its 1080p gaming capabilities are very strong in this price range.

Let‘s also consider how the RX 5500 handles 1440p gaming:

RX 5500 XT 4GB GTX 1650 Super 4GB GTX 1650 4GB
Assassin‘s Creed Odyssey 31 fps 33 fps 25 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 35 fps 38 fps 28 fps
Metro Exodus 32 fps 34 fps 25 fps
Battlefield V 47 fps 50 fps 38 fps
Far Cry New Dawn 45 fps 48 fps 36 fps
World of Tanks enCore 67 fps 63 fps 48 fps

At 1440p resolution, framerates are reduced considerably compared to 1080p. While the RX 5500 is still able to deliver playable performance in most titles, it‘s right on the edge of playability for a smooth experience.

Ideally, the RX 5500 is best suited for 1080p gaming. 1440p is achievable in esports titles and less demanding games, but the 4GB memory buffer becomes a limitation compared to 8GB cards like the 1650 Super.

Overall, the benchmarks clearly demonstrate the RX 5500 delivers excellent 1080p gameplay that significantly outshines the last-gen RX 460. It also mostly keeps pace with the GTX 1650 Super, which is impressive considering Nvidia‘s strong reputation in gaming.

Real World Gaming Performance

Beyond technical benchmarks, what is gameplay actually like with the RX 5500? Here are some impressions:

AAA Games

In graphics-heavy AAA titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Assassin‘s Creed Odyssey, and Battlefield V, the RX 5500 delivers smooth 60+ fps gameplay at 1080p with high settings. Visuals remain crisp and fluid during busy action scenes thanks to the high frame rates.

Demanding games like Metro Exodus with intense lighting and particle effects will see frame rates hover in the 50-60 fps range, so some settings may need to be reduced slightly. But overall, the card handles AAA games extremely well.

Competitive Games

For esports and multiplayer games like CS:GO, DOTA 2, Fortnite, and Rocket League, the RX 5500 shreds through them easily. You can crank settings to maximum and still achieve 100+ fps consistently. Gameplay feels incredibly responsive and lag-free.

The high frame rates allows you to fully take advantage of high refresh rate gaming monitors. Competitive gamers will feel right at home with the buttery smoothness during action.

Open World Games

In expansive open world games like GTA V, Watch Dogs 2, and Monster Hunter World, the RX 5500 still manages 50-60+ fps with high settings at 1080p. Driving through dense city streets in GTA V remains nice and fluid.

Some dips into the 40s may occasionally occur in extremely demanding areas. But overall, performance does not detract from immersion in these large environments.

Ray Tracing and DLSS

The RX 5500 does not support ray tracing or DLSS like Nvidia‘s RTX cards. So you won‘t be able to experience cutting-edge graphical features that require dedicated ray tracing hardware. AMD‘s future cards will incorporate ray tracing.


Across a wide variety of games, the Radeon RX 5500 delivers excellent 1080p gameplay with smooth frame rates. It can tackle both AAA blockbusters and competitive esports titles with ease. The card consistently hits the sweet spot of maximizing visual fidelity and performance.

Thermals, Noise, and Power Draw

Here is an overview of how the RX 5500 performs in terms of heat, noise production, and power consumption.

  • Temperatures: Under full load, the RX 5500 reaches a peak temperature of around 75°C. The compact cooler does a decent job of keeping the GPU within an acceptable range. The temperature is quite typical for a mid-range card.

  • Noise Levels: The fan curve prioritizes keeping temperatures low over noise reduction. So expect moderate fan noise under load. The fans run constantly instead of shutting off when idle. The noise profile is acceptable, but could be quieter.

  • Power Draw: Total board power consumption peaks at around 110W under full gaming loads. A 500W power supply is recommended for your system. No extra power connectors are required beyond the PCIe slot itself. Very energy efficient thanks to 7nm.

Overall, the thermals and acoustics are satisfactory for an affordably priced graphics card. While the fans can get a bit noisy under load, the trade-off is solid cooling on a compact card. And the low power draw means high efficiency.

Physical Design and Size

The Radeon RX 5500 uses a compact PCB and cooler shroud design that occupies just two PCI slots in your case. The exact dimensions are:

  • Length: 180 mm
  • Height: 40 mm
  • Width: Dual slot

The compact size allows the RX 5500 to fit well in mini-ITX cases and other small form factor builds. It‘s a great option if space is limited inside your PC case.

The shroud features red accents that match AMD‘s brand colors. A black backplate on the reverse side provides protection, rigidity, and a clean aesthetic.

Overall, the RX 5500 has a fairly plain design but it gets the job done. The dual-slot width prevents excess GPU sag as well. No RGB lighting is included.

Software: Radeon Software Adrenalin

AMD‘s Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition provides extensive control over your graphics card. Key features include:

  • Overclocking: Manually overclock your GPU speeds, memory clocks and voltage for extra performance.

  • Monitoring: View real-time graphs for temperatures, clock speeds, VRAM usage, fan speeds and more.

  • Game Optimization: Optimize games with Radeon Chill for efficiency or Radeon Boost for higher FPS.

  • Recording/Streaming: Record or live stream your gameplay with nearly lag-free performance.

  • Image Enhancements: Sharpen and upscale images with Radeon Image Sharpening and Radeon Super Resolution.

  • Driver Updates: Easily update your GPU drivers and software for bug fixes, new features and performance improvements.

Adrenalin Edition provides gamers with robust controls and customization for their graphics card. The user interface is slick and intuitive to use. AMD regularly rolls out new features too.

Price and Value

When it launched in late 2019, the Radeon RX 5500 was priced starting at $169 for the 4GB model. However, due to supply constraints and inflation, it has been difficult to find at anywhere close to its MSRP.

Here are current retail prices you can expect to pay:

  • RX 5500 4GB – $220 to $280
  • RX 5500 XT 4GB – $240 to $310

At these inflated prices, the value proposition is not nearly as strong. The similarly performing GTX 1650 Super can be found in the $210 to $270 range. And the RX 6600 outperforms the RX 5500 while only costing slightly more.

When purchased near its MSRP, the RX 5500 offers very competitive price/performance ratio. But in the current market, it‘s simply overpriced compared to alternatives. If you find a good discounted deal, it becomes appealing again.

Who is the RX 5500 For?

Based on its capabilities and specs, here is the ideal target gamer for the Radeon RX 5500:

  • Gamers wanting smooth 1080p gameplay in both AAA and esports titles.
  • Those playing on a budget who want good value for money.
  • Builders who want a compact card that fits in small form factor PCs.
  • AMD fans who prefer Radeon graphics over GeForce options.
  • People looking for an affordable upgrade over old entry-level cards like the RX 460.

As long as you play at 1080p and don‘t need cutting-edge features like ray tracing, the RX 5500 most definitely delivers. But at higher 1440p resolutions, it begins to falter.

Just keep in mind the inflated prices. At near MSRP, the RX 5500 is a much more convincing option.

Bottom Line

The Radeon RX 5500 undoubtedly succeeds in its role as a new entry-level to mid-range 1080p gaming card. It delivers smooth 60+ fps performance in all modern titles with responsive, fluid gameplay. And it does so with efficiency thanks to the 7nm process.

Considering its affordable price bracket, AMD packs impressive specs like a 1408 stream processors and GDDR6 memory into the RX 5500. Performance is better than you may expect, keeping pace with Nvidia‘s GTX 1650 Super in many instances. Thermals and acoustics don‘t disappoint either.

In the end, if you can find the RX 5500 at a good price, it‘s a very capable 1080p gaming card that outshines previous budget offerings from AMD. Just keep an eye out for better deals on competing Nvidia cards around the same cost.