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AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB/8GB review: Is the extra memory worth it?

By Koh Wanzi - 17 Jan 2020

Test setup & gaming performance

Test setup

The detailed specifications of our new graphics card testbed system is as follows:-

  • Intel Core i7-8086K (4.0GHz, 12MB L3 cache)
  • ASUS ROG Strix Maximus X Hero (Intel Z370)
  • 4 x 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3000 (Auto timings: CAS 15-15-15-35)
  • Samsung 860 EVO 500GB SSD
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • ASUS PB287Q, 4K monitor

The full line-up of graphics cards tested are listed below:

  • ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 5500 XT O8G Gaming
  • Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB
  • ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Gaming OC
  • Zotac Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super
  • ASUS Phoenix GeForce GTX 1660
  • ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1650 Gaming OC

Test cards compared
  ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 5500 XT O8G Gaming Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4G ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Gaming OC Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Super Triple Fan ASUS Phoenix GeForce GTX 1660 ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1650 Gaming OC
  ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 5500 XT O8G Gaming Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4G ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Gaming OC Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Super Triple Fan ASUS Phoenix GeForce GTX 1660 ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1650 Gaming OC
Launch SRP
  • From S$1099
Core Code
  • Navi 14
  • Navi 14
  • TU116
  • TU104
  • TU116
  • TU117
GPU Transistor Count
  • 6.4 billion
  • 6.4 billion
  • 6.6 billion
  • 13.6 billion
  • 6.6 billion
  • 4.7 billion
Manufacturing Process
  • 7nm FinFET
  • 7nm FinFET
  • 12nm
  • 12nm FinFET
  • 12nm
  • 12nm
Core Clock
  • Game clock: 1,737MHz, Boost clock: 1,865MHz (OC Mode)
  • Game clock: 1,737MHz, Boost clock: 1,845MHz (Gaming Mode)
  • Game clock: 1,737MHz, Boost clock: 1,845MHz
  • 1,500MHz
  • Core: 1,650MHz, Boost: 1,815MHz
  • 1,530MHz
  • 1,485MHz
Stream Processors
  • 1,408
  • 1,408
  • 1,536
  • 3,072
  • 1,408
  • 896
Stream Processor Clock
  • 1,685MHz
  • 1,685MHz
  • 1,500MHz
  • 1,650MHz
  • 1,530MHz
  • 1,485MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
  • 88
  • 88
  • 96
  • 192
  • 88
  • 56
Raster Operator units (ROP)
  • 32
  • 32
  • 48
  • 64
  • 48
  • 32
Memory Clock (DDR)
  • 8GB GDDR6 14,000MHz
  • 4GB GDDR6 14,000MHz
  • 12,000MHz
  • 8GB GDDR6 15,500MHz
  • 8,000MHz
  • 8,000MHz
Memory Bus width
  • 128-bit
  • 128-bit
  • 192-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 192-bit
  • 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth
  • 224GB/s
  • 224GB/s
  • 288.1GB/s
  • 496.1GB/s
  • 192.1GB/s
  • 128GB/s
PCI Express Interface
  • 4.0
  • 4.0
  • PCIe 3.0
  • 3.0
  • PCIe 3.0
  • PCIe 3.0
Power Connectors
  • 1x 8-pin
  • 1x 8-pin
  • 1x 8-pin
  • 1x 8-pin, 1x 6-pin
  • 1x 8-pin
  • 1x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology
  • No
  • No
  • Yes (2-way SLI)
DVI Outputs
  • No
  • No
  • No
HDMI Outputs
  • 1x
  • 1x
  • 2
  • 1x
  • 1
  • 2
DisplayPort Outputs
  • 3x
  • 3x
  • 2
  • 3x
  • 1
  • 2
HDCP Output Support
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes

Next up, here's a list of all the benchmarks used:

  • 3DMark
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Far Cry 5
  • Metro Exodus
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Tom Clancy's The Division 2

 

 

3DMark

The synthetic 3DMark benchmark tests graphics and computational performance at different resolutions, starting at 1080p and going all the way up to 4K. A series of two graphics test, one physics test, and then a combined test stresses your hardware in turn to assess its performance.

The extra 4GB of video memory doesn't do the Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB much good in a synthetic benchmark like 3DMark. In fact, there's hardly any significant difference between the 4GB and 8GB versions of the card. Both cards ended up performing around the level of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660, although the NVIDIA card had the edge in the Time Spy tests. 

 

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

Ashes of the Singularity has long been the poster child for the performance benefits a low-level API like DirectX 12 can bring. It is based on the Nitrous engine and can be extremely punishing thanks to the huge number of onscreen units and the sheer level of detail accorded to each unit. However, the CPU does become the limiting factor at lower resolutions and settings.

Once again, the 8GB model was practically indistinguishable from its 4GB counterpart. The performance difference will only become apparent when a game demands more VRAM resources with more complex textures and higher resolutions, and it seems like Escalation is not that game. That said, we do see the 8GB version inch ahead at Crazy settings and a 4K resolution. When compared to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660, the Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB was around 11 per cent slower at 1080p and High settings.

 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Mankind Divided features just about every trick to make your game look pretty, including things like volumetric and dynamic lighting, screenspace reflections, and cloth physics. Even though it was released in 2016, the game is capable of bringing even the most powerful systems to their knees.

That said, Mankind Divided doesn't do a lot to bring out the benefits of the extra memory either. At 1080p and Ultra settings, both versions of the Radeon RX 5500 XT pull nearly level with the GeForce GTX 1660.

 

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 is actually an AMD launch title, so it'll be interesting to see how the red camp fares here.

The Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB does pull ahead of its 4GB sibling at 4K, but with average frame rates still hovering around 30FPS, it's almost an inconsequential difference since 4K gaming is totally out of this card's league. However, both cards continue to push out very similar numbers as the GeForce GTX 1660. 

 

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus runs better in DirectX 12, so that's the setting we chose to run our benchmarks at. There's just one caveat though – actual in-game performance is generally better than the results you get in the in-game benchmark, so this is best taken as an indicator of relative performance, rather than the absolute numbers you can expect in game.

This is also an NVIDIA game through and through, with options to turn on PhysX and HairWorks. However, these have been disabled to enable a more level playing field with AMD cards, as have options for ray tracing and DLSS. 

This is also a very demanding game to run, but the Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB and 8GB look capable of handling it at 1080p and High settings. That said, that's about as far as the cards can go and it doesn't seem the best idea to push the settings or resolution higher. The 8GB version of the card also isn't any faster than its 4GB counterpart here. 

 

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

By this point, it's apparent that doubling the amount of VRAM doesn't help a lot with performance in most cases. After all, the GeForce GTX 1660 Super has 6GB of GDDR6 memory, but is still around 20 per cent faster than the Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB.

 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Like Metro Exodus, Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs better in DirectX 12 as well. DLSS and ray tracing have been added to the game already, but these numbers are obtained without those features turned on.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the games where the extra 4GB of memory seems to come in handy. At 1080p and the Highest settings, the 8GB model was around 9 per cent faster than the 4GB card. The 4GB model also falls behind the GeForce GTX 1660 here, coming in at roughly 15 per cent slower.

 

Tom Clancy's The Division 2

Division 2 is another new addition to our benchmark suite, and it replaces 2016's The Division. We've also shifted to DirectX 12 here as well because of the performance gains offered by the low-level API.

The additional VRAM comes into play to some extent in The Division 2 as well. At 1080p and High settings, the Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB was around 5 per cent faster. The difference was even more pronounced at 4K and Ultra settings, where the 8GB card was a good 58 per cent faster. However, it's still nowhere close to delivering a playable experience at 4K, so the performance boost doesn't have any tangible impact on real-world usage.

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