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Navi Goes Mainstream, Mobile: AMD’s Radeon RX 5500 Aims for Smooth 1080p Gaming

Last week, reported AMD was set to release a new Navi-based GPU, the Radeon RX 5500 series, sometime in the fourth quarter. And despite the fact that we’re only a couple of days in to Q4, the company is making its new Navi part official. Announced today, the Radeon RX 5500 is intended for 1080p gameplay at a price that’s much easier on the wallet than the higher-end Radeon 5700 and 5700XT, the former of which currently starts at about $330. AMD says the RX 5500 series aims for 60 fps (frames per second) in AAA games and 90-plus fps in eSports titles at 1080p, which is still a dominant resolution for most PC gamers.

The new GPU will come in both desktop cards and a mobile/laptop variant, the latter dubbed 5500M. On the desktop side, there will only be partner cards available. In other words, we won’t see a reference model from AMD, although the company did provide references to what looks like a reference card in the press materials, which you can see below. A company rep told us cards with third-party cooling designs will be available from day one.

The desktop card will reportedly arrive with up to a 1,717 MHz Game Clock and 1,845 MHz boost clock, some models almost certainly raising those values (and thus performance) slightly. AMD says the actual clocks speeds will be somewhere between the game and boost clocks listed.

The new Navi 14-based GPU uses a PCIe 4.0 x8 bus and will sport up to 8GB of GDDR6 across a 128-bit bus. 8GB of memory is achieved over the 128-bit bus by using higher-density 16Gb chips. A 4GB version is also expected. Other specifications include 22 compute units (CUs), 1,408 stream processors (SPs) and 32 render output units (ROPs) under the hood.

Radeon RX 5500Radeon RX 5500MRadeon RX 5700Radeon RX 5700XT
Architecture (GPU)RDNA (Navi 14)RDNA (Navi 14)RDNA (Navi 10)RDNA (Navi 10)
(Based on Typical Boost)
Tensor CoresN/AN/AN/AN/A
Texture Units??144160
Base Clock Rate??1465 MHz1605 MHz
Nvidia Boost / AMD1717 MHz1448 MHz1625 MHz1755 MHz
Game Rate
AMD Boost Rate1845 MHz1645 MHz1725 MHz1905 MHz
Memory Capacity4/8 GB GDDR64 GB GDDR68GB GDDR68GB GDDR6
Memory Bus128-bit128-bit256-bit256-bit
Memory Bandwidth??448 GB/s448 GB/s
TDP150W?177W (Measured)218W (Measured)
Transistor Count6.4 billion6.4 billion10.3 billion10.3 billion
Die Size158mm²158mm²251 mm²251 mm²

Performance-wise, AMD puts this card up against a GTX 1650 in order to compare it to “similarly positioned products.” In AMD’s internal testing, the RX 5500 beats the GTX 1650 (both mobile and desktop cards) by a fair amount, but does so with notably higher power consumption -- which we’ll touch on shortly. According to AMD’s press materials, we can expect 90 fps in Gears 5, 82 fps in Borderlands 3, and 60 fps in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, while eSports titles such as Fortnite, Apex Legends, PUBG, WoW, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six: Seige are all 90 fps or above.

When asked about power use, an AMD rep stated the desktop version will have a total board power of 150W. If we compare this to the 75W rated TDP of the GTX 1650 or the 120W GTX 1660 things don’t exactly look great for AMD in terms of efficiency. Of course, we’ll have to see what actual measured power consumption and performance is when we get our hands on an RX 5500. But it seems likely the GTX 1660 will deliver similar performance while consuming roughly 20% less power.

Though power consumption looks high compared to Nvidia, AMD claims a 1.6x performance per watt and 1.7x performance per area (die size) compared with Polaris-based RX 480 GPUs. Of course, comparing brand-new silicon to something that debuted well over three years ago usually results in favorable comparisons.

Cooling solutions from the board partners are said to consume two slots, as is generally the case with competing Nvidia cards. Outputs for the desktop RX 5500 will come in the form of two DisplayPorts and a single HDMI as standard. Card partners will have some freedom to change or add to this base configuration.

The mobile version will carry similar specs under the hood, but use notably lower clock speeds in order to bring power consumption and thermals to laptop-friendly levels. MSI will be first out of the gate with a mobile variant of the RX 5500M, in the form of the Alpha 15, but AMD says other companies will soon follow.

Pricing and availability still hasn’t been announced for the desktop cards. That said, given AMD’s comparison to the 1650, we expect the RX 5500 to land below $200. Additionally, AMD is offering either Borderlands 3 or Ghost Recon Breakpoint with a purchase of 5500 or 5700 series cards as part of its ongoing Raise the Game bundle.

While we’re always skeptical about day-one availability of a new graphics card, an AMD rep told us the company doesn’t expect that to be a problem here. We’ll update this post when we hear more about pricing and launch date for AMD’s new mainstream Navi parts.And of course, stay tuned for a full review.

Image Credits: AMD