AMD Says It's Time To Ditch Intel Integrated Graphics For This Dirt Cheap Radeon
AMD does not really have a competitive solution to NVIDIA's fastest Pascal parts, namely the GeForce GTX 1070 and up. That will change once AMD launches Vega, its next generation GPU architecture, but in the meantime the Sunnyvale outfit just finished refreshing Polaris with what are essentially faster clocked versions of its Radeon RX 400 series (see our review of the Radeon RX 570 and 580). While AMD isn't yet competing at the top end of the spectrum, over on the other side is a compelling sub-$100 upgrade, the new Radeon RX 550.
The Radeon RX 550 is not going to break any benchmark records, but at a street price of around $90 for a model with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and $98 for 4GB, it is an interesting addition to the Polaris family. As the lowest end model in the Radeon RX 500 series, AMD is really targeting users who want something faster than what integrated graphics provide, but without having to spend a large sum.
The Radeon RX 550 is a compact card with a base GPU frequency of 1,100MHz and can ramp up to 1,287MHz (boost), resulting in 1.7 TFLOPs of performance. And as for the GDDR5 memory, it is clocked at 7GHz (effective). Combined with a 128-bit interface, the maximum memory bandwidth is rated at 112 GB/s.
The net result of those specs is a card that is up to 5X faster than Intel's HD Graphics 530 IGP, and twice as fast as AMD's own Radeon R7 250. AMD bases those metrics (and the above benchmarks) from running tests on a system consisting of an Intel Core i7-6700K processor and a single 8GB DDR4-2667 module.
Even on the low end AMD's Radeon RX 550 supports various goodies, such as DirextX 12 and Vulkan (two competing low-level APIs), FreeSync, Eyefinity, 4K rendering, and so forth. On the connectivity side, outputs include HDMI 2.0a, DisplayPort 1.4, and dual-link DVI.
If you want to purchase one, Amazon has a Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 Gaming OC 2GB in stock for $90. It comes factory overclocked to 1,206MHz (base) in Gaming mode and 1,219MHz in OC mode. The card also features "one-click super overclocking" and is cooled with a custom Windforce 2X cooler.
Amazon does not appear to have any 4GB models in stock, though there is a listing for an Asus Radeon RX 550 4GB that we suspect will show stock available soon.