AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT Review: Navi Targets 1080P Gamers

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT - FC 5, Final Fantasy, Overclocking And Power

Next up, we’ve got some benchmark scores from FarCry 5, the latest installment in the storied franchise. Like its predecessors, FarCry 5 is a fast-action shooter set in an open world environment with lush visuals and high graphics fidelity. The game takes place in a fictional county in Montana, where a cult has taken over control of the area. We tested all of the graphics cards here at multiple resolutions using Ultra Quality settings to see how they handled this recently-released AAA title.

Far Cry 5 
The Dunia Engine Lives On

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FarCry 5 

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At 1080P, the Radeon RX 5500 XT cards are able to break the 80 FPS mark and outrun the GeForce GTX 1660 and Radeon RX 590 in FarCry 5. With the resolution cranked up to 1440P, the 8GB Radeon RX 5500 XT keeps pace with the RX 590, while the 4GB model drops in just behind by the smallest of margins.

Final Fantasy XV
Freshly Updated With DLSS Support
final fantasy xv
Final Fantasy XV

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We are presenting these FF XV benchmark scores to clearly illustrate the potential pitfalls of having only 4GB of memory on a graphics card as we head into 2020. This game clearly favor's NVIDIA's architecture, and we're running at a very high resolution. Even still, this is what could happen more often as games get more graphically complex and consume more than 4GB of video memory moving forward. As you can see, the 4GB Radeon RX 5500 XT trails its 8GB counterpart by about 40%.

Overclocking The Radeon RX 5500 XT

We also spent some time overclocking the 8GB Radeon RX 5500 XT using the performance and tuning tools built into AMD's Adrenaline Edition 2020 drivers, which were just recently released.

Like previous-gen Radeons, when the Navi-based GPU at the heart of this card is boosting, frequencies and voltages scale upwards (power and temperature permitting) based on the GPU's workload at the time. With the tuning options built into AMD's driver suite though, users have the ability to manually alter frequencies, voltages, fan speeds and the power target, to fine tune performance, power, and acoustics.

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Radeon RX 5500 XT Default Setting Hardware Health Data

In previous-generation Radeons, though the GPUs had multiple sensors built-in, a single sensor had been used to determine the GPU temperature and data from that lone sensor was used to control the card's thermal profile. With newer GPUs, AMD has incorporated a network of multiple thermal sensors at strategic locations across the die. Data gathered from this array of sensors is used to determine what AMD is calling the "Junction Temperature", and it's the Junction Temperature data that is used to tune the cards' power and thermal profiles (the Junction Temperature is effectively the hottest part of the GPU die at any given time). AMD claims the increased resolution and accuracy from the additional thermal sensors allows it to increase overall sustained performance, because thermal throttling based on the Junction Temperature is more reliable and effective.

The tuning options built into AMD's Radeon Software suite offer manual tuning, along with automatic under-volting and automatic GPU and Memory overclocking. Due to time constraints, we took the path of least resistance with the Radeon RX 5500 XT, and used AMD's Auto Overclocking tool too see how much additional performance was offered by the card.

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Radeon RX 5500 XT Auto-Overclocked

At its stock settings, we saw the GPU clock typically hovering around the 1,800MHz mark with the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT we used for testing. With Auto Overclocking enabled, however, AMD's software recommended a GPU clock of 1980MHz, but while gaming the GPU frequency stayed closer to the 1900MHz mark, and mostly fluctuated between 1880MHz - 1890MHz.

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When all was said and done, the Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB ended up catching the Radeon RX 590 in the Tomb Raider benchmark and overtaking it by 80 points in 3D Mark Time Spy. With some additional time and manual tuning, however, we're sure there's some more performance to be gained, but not enough to push it into the same territory as the upper echelon of more expensive GPUs.

As we're writing this, we are experimenting with some manual settings (tweaked frequency / voltage curve, +20% power limit, and higher memory clock and fan speeds) and the GPU clock is still hovering in the high 1800MHz range. The 3DMark Time Spy score has only increased to 5458...

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet
Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a couple of final data points regarding power consumption and acoustics. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored noise output and tracked how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter.

Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idle and also while under a heavy gaming workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone. It's a relative measurement that gives you a decent view of how much additional power draw a graphics card is placing on a system while gaming.

power consumption

The new Radeon RX 5500 XT cards show a massive improvement in peak power consumption versus the previous-gen, Polaris-based Radeon RX 590. Although the Radeon RX 590 was faster more often than not, the cards are in the same class. The Radeon RX 590, however, consumed about a 100 more watts under load than the Radeon RX 5500 XTs. Idle power was somewhat higher on the Radeon RX 5500 XT cards, but is nothing to be concerned about. Versus NVIDIA's latest offerings, the Radeon RX 5500 XTs consumed slightly more power as well, but remain in the same ballpark.

Radeon RX 5500 XT Thermals And Acoustics

We should also mention that GPU temperatures are a non-issue with the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT. At idle, the GPU temps hovered in the high 40ºC / low 50ºC range. And under sustained load, even while overclocked, GPU temperatures only jumped up into the mid-60s. Note, however, the "Metrics" screen in AMD's latest Adrenalin software suite is reporting a generic GPU temperature and not the higher junction temperature (mentioned above). The junction temperature is always higher than the generic GPU temperature under load, but it still remains relatively low. For example, after hours of benchmarking, while looping Tomb Raider, the junction temperature rarely broke the 77ºC mark. Typically, with the Sapphire Pulse at least, the junction temperature under sustained load tracked roughly 10 - 15 degrees higher than the generic GPU temperature. While idling, the GPU and junction temps were similar.

Noise output wasn't an issue with the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT either. The card was quiet throughout our testing, regardless of the workload. The fans on the card do spin up to barely audible levels when the GPU is warmed-up and under sustained load for a while, but they are very quiet overall and while the card is idling, the fans stop spinning altogether.

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