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 184.108.40.20627) 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|
|System||U.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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