AMD's Next Big Graphics Card Sure Sounds Like It Will Be Cheap And Powerful

Image: AMD

While there’s no pricing available right now, AMD’s new Radeon RX 5500 graphics card certainly sounds like it will be both cheap and powerful. Which isn’t a shock — AMD’s modus operandi at this point is releasing products just a little more powerful than the competition but a whole lot less expensive. But if we believe AMD’s benchmarks, the RX 5500 is going to present an even more compelling value proposition.

The RX 5500 is based on the same Navi (also known as RDNA) architecture used in the Radeon RX 5700 and 5700XT released this year. Where the 5700 series could handle 1440p and even 4K gaming, the 5500 is explicitly targeted at the 1080p crowd and people who might be interested in Nvidia’s GTX 1650. AMD hasn’t announced the price of the 5500 yet, but the GTX 1650 sells for as low as $250, so expect similar pricing.

Like the GTX 1650, the RX 5500 will be available in both desktops and mobile computers. And in what feels like a first for AMD, the mobile version, the RX 5500M, will be available first. MSI has already announced it will appear in the MSI Alpha 15, which will also include a Ryzen 7 3750H processor and 1080p 144Hz Freesync display.

For the most part, the 5500 and 5500M are expected to behave similarly. Both have PCIe 4.0 support, both use GDDR6 RAM, both are based on the same 7nm RDNA process, and both use 22 compute units to keep things humming along.

The 5500M is clocked at a lower speed than the desktop version, though (1.65GHz max boost clock vs. 1.85GHz). AMD says it can do about 4.6TFLOPS, while the 5500 does 5.2TFLOPS, and it will max out at 4GB of RAM, while the desktop version can max out at 8GB of RAM.

While the two GPUs have some clear differences, AMD’s benchmarks suggest they both pull off far better performance than the comparable versions of the GTX 1650.

On the mobile side, AMD claims it will get 96 frames per second on 1080p with Medium settings on Apex Legends. It claims a GTX 1650 in a similar setup gets 77fps. In Battlefield 5 on Ultra, it pulls off 79fps, while AMD claims the competing Nvidia GTX 1650 manages just 55fps. It even appears to do well on newer games like Borderlands 3. There, when tested on Medium settings, AMD claims the 5500M gets 61fps, versus the Nvidia GTX 1650's 47fps.

On the desktop side, AMD provided fewer results but claimed that Apex Legends on Ultra High settings manages 93fps versus the desktop GTX 1650's 68fps. In Borderlands 3, on Medium, it got 82fps versus the GTX 1650's 61fps.

Now again, AMD cherry-picked these results, and we won’t have a sense of actual performance until we test the 5500 out. Still, those numbers certainly look impressive. The cards ship with all of AMD’s newer graphics goodies for gamers, including FidelityFX, which sharpens and better renders details in games, and Anti-Lag, which cuts milliseconds off lag between a player’s keypress and what happens on screen.

For years AMD’s cards were the choice when you wanted to save money, and not much else, but as the company rolls out new features and improves Day 0 support for new games, AMD’s starting to hone its competitive edge.

Computers with the Radeon RX 5500 and 5500M will start appearing on the market towards the end of the year. AMD plans to put them in systems from manufacturers before sending them to at-home builders like you and me. Unfortunately, that means there is no word on pricing or availability if you want one to upgrade your system.

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