AMD Radeon RX 550 2GB Review

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Final Analysis

AMD doubles down on its presence in a segment that the competition seemingly abandoned, refusing to leave money on the table. This is good news to the system builders, entry-level gamers, and HTPC enthusiasts who are loath to lean on integrated graphics, whether for their lackluster performance or often-dicey drivers.

The Radeon RX 550 employs a new Polaris 12 GPU with eight of its 10 compute units enabled, offering 512 Stream processors, 32 texture units, and 16 ROPs. Its 128-bit aggregate memory bus pushes up to 112 GB/s of bandwidth using 7 Gb/s GDDR5. Although Radeon RX 460’s back-end is fairly similar, the bigger Polaris 11 chip benefits from 75% more Stream processors and texture units. Further, their clock rates aren’t all that much different.

As a result, when you hit both Radeons with distinctly graphics-bound workloads like Doom at 1920x1080, the Radeon RX 460 offers nearly 60% more performance. That’s where it excels, even in a Core i3-powered PC. On the other hand, you can play a more platform-limited game like Dota 2, crank its detail settings all the way up, and only see the Radeon RX 460 deliver 11%-higher frame rates.

Of course, Radeon RX 550 is greatly advantaged by its 50W TDP. Less power means less heat, and less heat means lower-profile cooling solutions. If you’re building an HTPC with gaming chops for a 1080p display, the RX 550 can do its job quietly and without an auxiliary power connector.

Then there’s the issue of price. The Radeon RX 550s currently available on Newegg range from $80 to $90, all of them equipped with 2GB of GDDR5. Two-gigabyte Radeon RX 460s sell between $90 and $110. Eventually those will go away. But for now, it’s hard to pass up on an extra 384 Stream processors for $10 or so dollars. Starting at $100, the Radeon RX 560 will cost a little more, putting more of a cushion between itself and the RX 550.

For now, Radeon RX 460 2GB looks like a solid choice for reduced-quality 1080p gaming under $100, particularly if Radeon RX 570 4GB lands outside of your budget. It’s great for traditionally graphics-bound workloads that benefit from the extra front-end resources. The Radeon RX 550 2GB we’re reviewing today looks better if you’re space/power/heat-constrained. Otherwise, it’s quite a bit slower in those same titles. If you’re only playing games like Civilization, StarCraft, Dota 2, and WoW, though, the cheaper RX 550 is plenty-fast, particularly matched up to a similarly mainstream host processor.

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  • dstarr3
    Wow, can't even hit 60fps in Doom. Talk about a sheep in wolf's clothing. This is barely a step above those $30 GPUs that you buy strictly because you don't have onboard graphics.
  • TechyInAZ
    19617624 said:
    Wow, can't even hit 60fps in Doom. Talk about a sheep in wolf's clothing. This is barely a step above those $30 GPUs that you buy strictly because you don't have onboard graphics.

    This is an 85$ GPU, competing with more the likes of a GT 740. So don't expect good details at such a low price point. $30 GPUs are worse than IGPUs BTW.

    However, you can still find GTX 750s and 750 tis used for the price of a 550 and it performs much better.
  • LucoTF
    I think if it comes down $10-$20 it will be a contender, it does solidly outperform AMD APUs and hopefully will help to keep our more budget orientated gamers away from the A8s and A10s...
  • jaber2
    How is this even "Gaming"?
  • MCMunroe
    I don't understand why these are all full height double width cards. Wouldn't the only purpose be to install in a small form factor case?
  • TallestJon96
    They should be selling the old 460 as the 550, for $80, and then sold this gpu as the 540 for $50-$60.

    Its hard to buy a card that you know can't keep up with the consoles. What happens when a big game comes out and you don't have the horse power to actually play it? The 460 and 560 can keep up, but the 550 might he left behind.

    Save your pennies for another couple weeks and buy something better, its worth the wait
  • Glock24
    Very dissapointing for the price. At $50 might make more sense. Then again, I would only use this for a system without IGP for video acceleration.

    On a side note, images finally load correctly using Firefox on Android.
  • Joe Black
    Face it... Its a 720p card. Just like something like the a10-7890K using integrated graphics is good for 720p gaming too.

    That's the value proposition that should be explored. the A10 w. integrated, or the 550 discreet.
  • InvalidError
    19617777 said:
    They should be selling the old 460 as the 550, for $80, and then sold this gpu as the 540 for $50-$60.
    There is a very simple reason nobody makes new GPUs for under $80: there is next to no profit to be made from them.

    Keep in mind that out of that $80 MSRP, there is a ~60% distributor and retailer markup on the manufacturer's own price, so the manufacturer itself only sees ~$50 of it to cover DRAM, GPU chip, PCB, support components, HSF, assembly, testing, packaging, R&D, marketing, gross profit margin, etc. In other words, manufacturers barely break even on those and don't want you to buy them unless your choice boils down to either that or nothing. They'd much prefer that you buy the RX560 for $20-30 more which translates to $10-20 more gross profit for the manufacturer.

    Who are you going to get an alternative sub-$100 GPU from? Nvidia has bailed out of that market altogether to focus on $150+ (launch-time MSRP) GPUs.
  • ohim
    The card is for E-Sports gaming and instead of starting with CS/DOTA etc you start with Doom and BF1.. games for which the card is not intended :)