Japanese AIBs Revive AMD's Radeon RX 550 for $155

Expert-Oriented Radeon RX 550
(Image credit: Expert-Oriented)

AMD either has started to provide Japan-based add-in board (AIB) partners with quantities of Polaris 12 GPUs, or a company has unearthed piles of old stocks, allowing them to release new Radeon RX 550 graphics cards. Hermitage Akihabara (opens in new tab) reports that AMD's 2017 vintage low-end GPUs have recently become available in Japan at least four major retailers/etailers.

At the time of writing, the AMD Radeon RX 550 re-release might be widespread in Japan, but it is limited to an AIB whose brand name translates to "Expert-Oriented." The RX 550 initially launched in 2GB and 4GB varieties, and the Expert-Oriented model is just the 4GB version, which is one small blessing in 2022.

Another essential quality of the Expert-Oriented Radeon RX 550 is its size. The "RD-RX550-E4GB / LP" measures just 167mm in length, 68mm tall, and 16mm thick, so it is a single-slot, low-profile design. While the photos only show the card with a full-height bracket attached, if you squint at the Japanese text on the packaging label, you can see that extra LP bracket in the box. Key specs of this Expert-Oriented AMD Radeon RX550, which runs at stock clocks, are tabulated below, alongside its Polaris brethren.

Other details about the Japanese released card that you might like to know are that it features just two outputs, an HDMI 2.1 x1, and a DVD-D x1. No DP ports here.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Radeon RX 580Radeon RX 570Radeon RX 560Radeon RX 550

Code-name

Ellesmere XT

Ellesmere

Baffin

Lexa

Shader Units

2304

2048

1024

512

Texture Units

144

128

64

32

ROPs

32

32

16

16

Transistor Count

5.7 Billion

5.7 Billion

3 Billion

2.2 Billion

Base Clock / Boost Clock

1257 MHz / 1340 MHz

1168 MHz / 1244 MHz

1175 MHz / 1275 MHz

1100 MHz / 1183 MHz

Memory

Up To 8GB GDDR5 @ 8 Gb/s 256-bit

Up To 8GB GDDR5 @ 7 Gb/s 256-bit

Up To 4GB GDDR5 @ 7 Gb/s 128-bit

Up To 4GB GDDR5 @ 7 Gb/s 128-bit

TDP

185W

150W

80W

50W

You might well be wondering about the performance of the RX 550. Luckily, Tom's Hardware has an extensive 13-page review of this GPU from released in April 2017. If you click through that link, you can check out how well this 50W card performed in Battlefield 1, Doom, Dota 2, and more against its contemporary rivals.

AMD proudly claimed (opens in new tab) that the RX 550 was three or four times faster in gaming than Intel integrated graphics (HD 530) at the time of its launch. However, iGPUs have moved on, even if desktop GPUs are moving back in time. A quick dig through Geekbench Vulkan scores reveals that the RX 550 achieves about 15,900 points, but an iGPU like the RX Vega 11 graphics can reach ~14,900, and the Intel Iris Xe Max ~14,737. It still seems quite a good choice against the Nvidia GeForce GT 1030, though, which only gets ~10,200 points in the same Vulkan tests.

Pricing

Before signing off on this story about the reanimated Polaris 12 GPU, we must look at the price. Perhaps this is the saddest part of this tale – as we can see from the sticker on the Japan retail box, these old low-power graphics cards are selling for 17,600 Japanese Yen, which is about $155. 

A few months after the April 2017 launch, Tom's Hardware looked at the best prices you could find a Radeon RX 550 graphics card for, and it was widely available between $80 and $100, depending on memory quota, brand, and cooler.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • spongiemaster
    A few months after the April 2017 launch, Tom's Hardware looked at the best prices you could find a Radeon RX 550 graphics card for, and it was widely available between $80 and $100, depending on memory quota, brand, and cooler.

    I don't understand why this site continually compares the prices from other countries to prices in the US and then proceeds to provide some worthless commentary pretending an apples to apples comparison. The US pretty much always has the lowest prices for electronics. Here is a very telling comparison of PS5 MSRP's around the globe.
    https://www.globalproductprices.com/Japan/playstation_prices/
    Besides the suspect Lebanon price, the US has the lowest MSRP on the planet for the PS5. It costs 40% more in Japan. An RX 550 was likely never available in Japan for $100. So the current price of $155 is probably pretty close to what it originally sold for.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Oh, yay. 4GB VRAM, but coupled to the version with 512 shader units rather than 640.

    The suckage continues...
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    King_V said:
    Oh, yay. 4GB VRAM, but coupled to the version with 512 shader units rather than 640.

    The suckage continues...

    It's marginally faster than a Vega 11. You could buy it as a hold over GPU. Pair it with a real CPU, till you can get a real graphics card (6600 and above). Certainly better than the landfill quality 6500XT at $250+. I mean BOTH are garbage products, but at least the 550 is $100 less garbage. That's about as good as we can hope for these days.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Though, slower than the Vega in the 5600G and 5700G.

    Yeah, I'd agree... it's a hold-out-for-now card, but way overpriced for what it is.

    Given the $85-$100+ price it had back before the crypto-craze, when an RX 570 4GB could be had for $99 new on occasion, it was overpriced even back then.

    I know there's the whole translating-from-another-country-to-the-US issue, but if that $155 is any indication of what such a card would sell for in the US, it's . . well I guess pick your poison.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    King_V said:
    Given the $85-$100+ price it had back before the crypto-craze, when an RX 570 4GB could be had for $99 new on occasion, it was overpriced even back then.
    Can't really price stuff lower than the manufacturing, packaging and distribution costs with some profit margin on top, otherwise it doesn't make sense to bother making it in the first place. Profit margins at the low end tend to be thin.
    Reply
  • King_V
    That's fair, though, given the small board, older RAM and older chip, at the price given, is the margin really that thin at this price?

    Not meant to be a rhetorical question... I don't really know how much of the cost is due to manufacturing/packaging/distribution on this card, given that (at least officially) the 6500XT is $199.

    (also kind of an unknown, to me, at least, adjust from $155 to any hypothetical "if it were in the US" price)
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    King_V said:
    That's fair, though, given the small board, older RAM and older chip, at the price given, is the margin really that thin at this price?
    GDDR5 isn't necessarily cheaper since most DRAM manufacturers discontinued it years ago. Nvidia even had to switch the GTX1650 to GDDR6 starting from April 2020 due to GDDR5 shortages. When a memory type is turning into unobtainium, you usually end up paying a premium for surviving inventory just like most other stuff.

    The bulk of costs are likely shockingly similar to the RX6500 since things like VRM, PCB, heatsink, etc. have a practical minimum size and associated costs, similar to how all HDDs under 2TB cost about the same due to manufacturing costs not having any meaningful scaling below all of the prerequisites for a single working platter.

    I'd imagine the main reason the RX560 can be this cheap relative to the current market is because some suppliers are dumping inventory while they are still able to earn decent money from it to reduce the amount of stale inventory they may have to write off later.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    InvalidError said:
    GDDR5 isn't necessarily cheaper since most DRAM manufacturers discontinued it years ago. Nvidia even had to switch the GTX1650 to GDDR6 starting from April 2020 due to GDDR5 shortages. When a memory type is turning into unobtainium, you usually end up paying a premium for surviving inventory just like most other stuff.

    The bulk of costs are likely shockingly similar to the RX6500 since things like VRM, PCB, heatsink, etc. have a practical minimum size and associated costs, similar to how all HDDs under 2TB cost about the same due to manufacturing costs not having any meaningful scaling below all of the prerequisites for a single working platter.

    I'd imagine the main reason the RX560 can be this cheap relative to the current market is because some suppliers are dumping inventory while they are still able to earn decent money from it to reduce the amount of stale inventory they may have to write off later.

    NOS. (new old stock) They likely had it sitting in a back room. As AMD and NVIDIA sell GPU with memory, they likely had GDDR5 sitting in the back room with the GPUs. As they paid for the most expensive components YEARS ago, the majority of price is already baked. They are still making a healthy profit. I refuse to believe VRMs and board cost have gone up over 200%.
    Reply