Review | SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4G GDDR6

AMD released the Radeon RX 5500 XT back in December of 2019, when the world is still spinning normally as usual. Now the card is slotted between the RX 5500 and the RX 5600, all of which featuring the RDNA 1.0 architecture which is built upon TSMC’s 7 nm FinFET process. This card is AMD’s 1080P champ – directly competing with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660.

Now what we have is the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 500 XT. More specifically, the 4GB OC variant, featuring an MSRP of $169. GPU boost clock goes all the way up to 1845 MHz which is paired with dual zero dB fans.

Technical Specifications

GPU
Model AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT
Cores 1408
Core Clock 1718 MHz
Boost Clock 1845 MHz
Architecture RDNA 1.0
Manufacturing Process 7 nm
TDP 130 W
Memory
Memory Clock 3500 MHz
Memory Bus Width 128-bit
Memory Capacity 4 GB
Memory Type GDDR6
Connectivity
Display 3x DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0b
Power PCIe, 8-Pin
Dimensions
Length 233 mm
Width 129 mm
Height 40 mm
Weight NA

Packaging and Accessories

SAPPHIRE used a typical packaging for the Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT. The product should come with the following items inside:

  • Quick installation guide
  • Warranty card

Design, Layout and Build Quality

SAPPHIRE went all black with the Pulse RX 5500 XT, yet a little less subtle compared to the outgoing Pulse models in gray. Main design element is still based on simplicity though so it will fit nicely with the majority of builds. Clearance is about 9 inches though, so keep that in mind.

The back plate is a nice touch for a budget oriented card. It also has perforations for the extended cooling solution to dissipate heat faster. The PCB is actually just around 6 inches.

According to AMD, the RX 5500 XT has a TDP of 130W. A PCIe and a 6-pin power connector should be enough for this setup, but SAPPHIRE insisted to go with an 8-pin power connector. This setup is theoretically able to provide 225W of peak power.

Now active cooling is provided by dual 90 mm fans on top of the triple heat-pipe passive cooling design. Combined, they are dubbed as the Dual-X Cooling. Even the VRM and VRAM of the card is cooled properly so overclocking should be possible without frying them.

Connectivity wise, we have three DisplayPort 1.4 and a single HDMI 2.0b port. We also have a stylized perforation at the I/O panel that is a little larger than what I expected. This should help the fans blow heat away without much restriction.

Test Setup and Methodology

System performance for the review shall be evaluated by various benchmarking tools and applications. We are testing this system with the high-performance settings enabled at the OS, with the default UEFI configuration. Background processes such as anti-viruses and third-party applications are disabled as well. Outlined below are the applications and benchmark tools for reference:

Test System Specifications
CPU Intel Core-i5 6600K
Motherboard ASUS Z170-A
Cooler Noctua NH-L9i
Memory ADATA Premier DDR4
GPU ASUS ROG Strix GTX 1060 OC
Storage Crucial BX200 480GB
Case Thermaltake Core P3
PSU CORSAIR RM850X
Display DELL U2715H
OS Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

TEMPERATURE, POWER AND NOISE:

  • Aida64 Extreme Edition – Stability Test

SYNTHETIC PERFORMANCE:

  • 3DMARK 2013 – Firestrike Presets.
  • Luxmark – OpenCL benchmark.
  • Aida64 Extreme Edition – GPGPU Benchmark

GAMING PERFORMANCE:

  • Overwatch – Ultra Settings, Render Scale 100%, V-SYNC off
  • Battlefield 4 – Ultra Settings, V-SYNC off
  • DIRT: Rally – Ultra Settings, V-SYNC off
  • Project CARS – Maximum Settings, V-SYNC off
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Ultra Settings, FXAA off, V-SYNC off
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Ultra Settings, HairWorks off, V-SYNC off
Average FPS values are recorded via FRAPS in-game. If the game doesn’t support FRAPS, we will use the in-game benchmark tool available for this review.

Temperature, Power and Noise

Graphics card thermal figures are taken during a 15 minute idle and a 15 minute load via the AIDA64 Extreme Edition Stability Test. The ambient temperature is checked at 27 °C (±1 °C), with values extracted via HWiNFO and GPU-Z.

Total system power consumption are taken during a 15 minute idle and a 15 minute load via the AIDA64 Extreme Edition Stability Test. The measurements are taken by a watt-meter.

Graphics card noise levels are taken during a 15 minute idle and a 15 minute load via the AIDA64 Extreme Edition Stability Test. The ambient sound level is 34 dBA (±1 dBA), with measurements taken by a sound level meter situated exactly 12 inches away from the card.

SAPPHIRE’s RX 5500 XT is off from a great start. We have an all time low noise level output which is below 34 dB for both idle and load. Idle and load temperatures on the other hand are also pretty good at 38 °C and 69 °C respectively. Power figures are higher than my expectations though with an average idle and load consumption at 51 W and 167 W.

Synthetic Performance

3DMark 2013 is a suite of benchmarks catered for the gamers and enthusiasts. The total system scores from each presets will be used.

LuxMark is an OpenCL cross-platform benchmark tool. The software has become one of the most popular OpenCL benchmarks over the past years.

Aida64 Extreme Edition GPGPU Benchmark is designed to measure GPGPU computing performance via different workloads.

Synthetic benchmark performance is generally good. The RX 5500 XT is definitely faster than the GTX 1060 6GB at AIDA64’s GPGPU benchmark and 3DMark Firestrike but is among the slowest when it comes to Luxmark’s OpenCL benchmark – something that AMD Radeon cards are used to win at. Over all, the Pulse model is just trailing behind the GTX 1660 models on the charts.

Gaming Performance

Overwatch is Blizzard Entertainment’s critically acclaimed First Person Shooter, running on a custom game engine utilizing the DirectX 11 API. Settings are set to Ultra with a Render Scale set to 100%.

Battlefield 4 is Electronic Art’s popular First Person Shooter, running on the Frostbite 3 game engine developed by DICE utilizing the DirectX 11 and the Mantle API. Settings are set to Ultra.

DIRT: Rally is CODEMASTER’s take on the rally racing game genre. It utilizes the EGO game engine with support for the DirectX 11 API. Settings are set to Ultra.

Project CARS is Slightly Mad Studios’ latest simulation racing game, running on the Madness game engine utilizing DirectX 11 support. Settings are set to maximum.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda’s critically acclaimed Action Adventure RPG. Skyrim utilizes the Creation Engine with DirectX 10 support. Settings are set to Ultra with V-SYNC turned off.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is CDProjekt RED’s award winning Action Adventure RPG. The Witcher 3 utilizes the REDengine 3 with DirectX 11 support. Settings are set to Ultra.

Gaming wise, we have an average of 119.8 FPS, 86.5 FPS and 47.7 FPS across all six titles tested at 1080P, 1440P and 2160P. The card beats the GTX 1660 on 3 titles on average but that’s partly due to a better higher resolution performance particularly at 2160P.

Software, Lighting and Special Features

With the super extensive AMD Radeon Adrenaline Software, SAPPHIRE still managed to bundle their own card with an in-house application. Dubbed as the SAPPHIRE TriXX 7.3, this is the latest iteration of the said software, allowing you to check out the card’s specifications and metrics such as clock speeds, voltages and temperature.

The hardware monitor is where most of these metrics could be found. Sadly, the software can’t detect the temperature properly – nor the actual model of our card. Fan speed and other sensors within the app are not functioning properly too which is a shame since the AMD Radeon Adrenaline Edition does it so wonderfully. The TriXX Boost is where you could fine tune the resolution scale, enable extra resolutions and apply the Radeon Image Sharpening. These are features of the Adrenaline software too so I don’t see the use of this software unless you’re adamant to use the Microsoft Store’s AMD Radeon Lite software.

In true SAPPHIRE fashion, the Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT also comes with a Bios Switch. Default position allows the card to run at 1737-1845 MHz while the second allows the card to run at a more frugal 1717-1845 MHz. I guess this is to allow the fan to run at a much slower speed but according to our benchmarks, it isn’t necessary. It is however, a necessary feature though should the main BIOS gets bricked.

Final Thoughts

SAPPHIRE really got a gem here in the form of the Pulse RX 5500 XT. It is a certified 1080P champ with enough juice to even run games at 1440P above 60 FPS as far as our benchmarks are concerned. It is a GTX 1660 equivalent yet with a slightly lower MSRP.

With a dead silent cooling solution, the Pulse RX 5500 XT is also appropriate for silent gaming PC builds. That should also mean that confined systems such as an ITX build will benefit from the card’s noise levels – or lack thereof.

The SAPPHIRE Pulse RX 5500 XT is an appropriate upgrade for those who want a butter smooth 1080P gaming experience. With an MSRP of $169 (11,995 locally), this iteration of the RX 5500 XT is more than enough to warrant a switch to the red team.

TechPorn Awards 2018 (6)

SAPPHIRE Pulse Radeon RX 5500 XT 4G GDDR6

  • Performance - 9/10

    9/10

  • Build quality - 8/10

    8/10

  • Features - 8/10

    8/10

  • Design - 8/10

    8/10

  • Value - 9/10

    9/10

8.4/10

Summary

The SAPPHIRE Pulse RX 5500 XT is an appropriate upgrade for those who want a butter smooth 1080P gaming experience. With an MSRP of $169 (11,995 locally), this iteration of the RX 5500 XT is more than enough to warrant a switch to the red team.

Pros

  • 1080P gaming performance
  • 1440P gaming capable
  • Excellent noise levels
  • Dual BIOS feature
  • Good value for the money

Cons

  • SAPPHIRE TriXX could be better
  • Power output a bit higher than expected

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2 Comments

  1. Kindly check your very first graph. Bakit mas mababa yung bars ng 1080 na umaabot ng 80 plus degrees kesa doon sa ibang GPUs?

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Leo Bien Durana is the Owner and Chief Editor of TechPorn. A competitive PC gamer with a robust technical background. He usually breaks a lot of stuff though.