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AMD Radeon RX 550 2GB Review

Test System & Methodology

We introduced our new test system and methodology in How We Test Graphics Cards. If you'd like more detail about our general approach, check that piece out. Specifically, for this review, we split testing between our U.S. (performance) and German (power, acoustics, thermal) labs.

Because the Radeon RX 550 is distinctly entry-level, we had to re-think our approach to measuring its performance. Instead of using a high-end platform to alleviate platform-imposed bottlenecks, we pulled Core i3-6320s from our library of processors and yanked half of the DDR4 memory out of our MSI motherboard.

We also wanted to use the Core i3's HD Graphics 530 engine (driver version 15.45.16.4627) as our performance baseline. After all, the folks shopping for $80 graphics cards are typically suffering with integrated solutions. AMD's modern Radeon RX 460 and older Radeon R7 260X (driver version 17.4.3) join the comparison for a bit of context, showing what you can expect after adding a discrete GPU.

The hardware used between our two labs includes:

Test Equipment and Environment
SystemU.S.:- Core i3-6320- MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon- G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ @ 2133 MT/s (16GB installed)- 500GB Crucial MX200- be quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W PSU- Windows 10 ProGermany:- Intel Core i3-6320- MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon- G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ @ 2133 MT/s (16GB installed)- 1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System)- 2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)- be quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W PSU- Windows 10 Pro (Creators Update)
Cooling- Noctua NH-D15- 5x Be Quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM- Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (Used when Switching Coolers)
PC Case- Lian Li PC-T70 with Extension Kit and Mods- Configurations: Open Benchtable, Closed Case
Power Consumption Measurement- Contact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card) - Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable - Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply- 2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function - 4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100kHz, DC) - 4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500MHz) - 1 x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
Thermal Measurement- 1 x Optris PI640 80Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect- Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording
Noise Measurement- NTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File, Low Cut at 50Hz)- Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)- Creative X7, Smaart v.7- Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H)- Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm- Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA) - Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise


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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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • jaber2
    How is this even "Gaming"?
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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 :)
    Reply