The AMD Radeon RX 5500 is the next mainstream graphics card to come out of the red team’s GPU skunkworks. Likely based on the 7nm Navi 12 silicon, the new RX 5500-series cards will represent the first genuinely affordable 7nm GPUs ever built, and the RX 5500 release date shouldn’t be too far off now.
When AMD released the RDNA whitepaper earlier this year it promised the graphics architecture would power “gaming GPUs from low-cost to the highest performance,” and the upcoming AMD RX 5500-series cards ought to fit into that first GPU bracket. Which will come as a blessed relief considering so many of the graphics cards released this year have sat firmly in the wallet-busting tier of GPUs. From the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super to the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, the graphics card makers have been asking us to spend a lot of cash on the new GPUs they’ve been putting out.
But now we are looking at AMD filling out its RDNA architecture-powered lineup, finally replacing the successful Polaris-based 400 and 500-series graphics and going head-to-head again with Nvidia’s GTX Turing cards. Not a lot has been confirmed about the next Navi cards, but information and rumours are starting to filter out. So what do we think AMD is doing?
AMD Radeon RX 5500 release date
Our best guess puts the RX 5500 release date around an October 2019 time frame. Some Mesa 3D Library digging suggests the Navi 12 and 14 GPUs will be releasing sometime before October 15. A new mainstream Nvidia card, the GTX 1650 Ti, is also rumoured to launch October 22, which suggests it’s anticipating some mainstream Radeon competition around then.
AMD Radeon RX 5500 specs
Following the RX 5700-series lead there should be a pair of RX 5500-series cards. The only Navi 14 GPU we’ve seen has 24 compute units, with 1,536 RDNA cores, and a maximum clock speed of 1,900MHz. So far we’ve seen 3GB, 4GB, and 8GB versions in online databases.
AMD Radeon RX 5500 price
Given that AMD really needs to drop a Navi card that can topple the RX 590 GPUs still in the channel it needs to have a price/performance ratio that can make it a more tempting option. As such a $250 price tag, undercutting the GTX 1660 Ti, for the top RX 5500 XT would make sense.
AMD Radeon RX 5500 performance
At the moment the ~$200 RX 590 is still very competitive placed up against the Nvidia GTX 1660 and so the top RX 5500 XT card is going to need to set its sights a little higher and achieve at least GTX 1660 Ti levels of gaming performance.
A recent ‘trivial and urgent’ Navi 12 PCI ID update for the final 19.2 release of the Mesa 3D Library suggests that AMD is going to be launching the mainstream Navi GPUs ahead of the first 19.3 release candidate on October 15.
That also ties in with Nvidia releasing a GTX 1650 Ti card on October 22, and we’re putting our money on a Radeon RX 5500 release date around the same time. Nvidia has recent history of trying to spoil its rival’s graphics card launches, with the Super cards launched specifically to crowd the RX 5700-series cards.
And, given the fact that an October release would come six months after Nvidia released the only other GTX Turing cards, it otherwise seems rather incongruous for the green team to launch another apropos of nothing.
We are also seeing increasing mentions of the mainstream Navi GPUs – the Navi 12 and 14 chips – in online databases and in fresh Linux updates from AMD itself. That surely means we’re really not far off a new Navi GPU launch.
AMD’s big time add-in board (AIB) partners, Sapphire, Gigabyte, and Asus all registered a host of RX 5000-series names, including the RX 5500 and RX 5500 XT cards, back at the end of June, which suggests they’re prepping themselves for a host of new cards along the notion of “gaming GPUs from low-cost to the highest performance.”
And timing itself for the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, January sales consumergasm that ties up the end of a year would be good business for a graphics card range that’s predicated on sales volume.
Like the RX 5700-series there are likely to be multiple versions of the 7nm Navi GPU believed to be at its heart. We’re now thinking that will be the Navi 12 silicon in two distinct flavours. As we said, there have been RX 5500 and RX 5500 XT names registered by the big AMD AIB partners, as well as RX 5550, RX 5550 XT, RX 5600, and RX 5600 XT.
At the moment the only specs we’ve seen refer exclusively to the Navi 14 GPU, which is likely to run the RX 5300-series, though are not currently attributed to any specific card SKU. We’ve seen two different PCI IDs in the CompuBench database entries, one AMD 7341 and the other an AMD 7340, but the only specified difference being their relative levels of video memory.
The AMD 7341 entry is currently listed as sporting 8GB of video memory, though whether that’s GDDR5 or the faster, and pricier, GDDR6 is still unknown. Given the RX 590 and RX 580 both come with 8GB of VRAM for less than $200 that seems like it’s kind of the minimum you’d want from this level of card.
The full Navi 14 is going to be made up of 24 compute units, and therefore 1,536 RDNA cores. It’s also listed as having a maximum clock speed of 1,900MHz, though we have no way of knowing whether that’s a peak engine clock, boost clock, game clock, or something else…
Considering the potential extrapolated performance, based on what you get out of 2,304 and 2,560 RDNA cores, that seems a bit miserly if AMD want to oust the RX 590.
Which is why we expect the RX 5500-series cards to use the Navi 12 GPU, fitting somewhere between the 24 CUs of the RX 5300 XT and the 40 CUs of the RX 5700 XT.
If we were gambling humans we’d put money on the RX 5500 XT being a 32 CU card with 2,048 RDNA cores, with maybe a long-odds side bet on a potential RX 5500 getting released rocking 28 CUs for 1,792 RDNA cores.
There are some very specific price points AMD needs to shore up with its upcoming mainstream GPUs, the first being to make sure the remaining RX 590, RX 580, and RX 570 cards don’t stick around as tempting alternatives for prospective buyers. With the RX 590 sitting around the $200 mark, and delivering performance often close to the GTX 1660, the RX 5500-series needs to be hitting that price point with higher gaming frame rates.
Sticking the RX 5500 XT at $250, with gaming performance which bests the GTX 1660 Ti, would see AMD nailing the mainstream GPU market, but it remains to be seen how well the smaller Navi GPU can perform against the GTX Turing cards.
AMD will also need to ship a card that puts the RX 570 out of commission. That in itself will be a tough ask considering that for less than $150 the Polaris GPU is an absolute price/performance beast right now. And is still in stock pretty much everywhere.
Despite an RX 5500 card hitting the GFXBench database, the performance results from the few engineering samples that have been tested semi-publicly have to be taken with a pinch of salt. There’s also the fact that the only tests that have been run so far are limited OpenGL benchmarks, with the Navi 14 silicon getting put through computational testing at CompuBench.
Considering the RDNA architecture is a specifically gaming-centric design that’s not really going to show its performance chops to their fullest.
I would expect AMD to be targeting the GTX 1660 Ti for the RX 5500 XT with a 2,048-core Navi 12 GPU. If we were just looking at the current rumoured specs of a Navi 14 chip that might be a struggle with just 24 compute units and 1,536 RDNA cores.
With just 10% fewer cores the RX 5700 is 13% slower than the RX 5700 XT in a simple 3DMark test. Extrapolate that alongside the 40% reduction in stream processors a potential Navi 14 GPU could be packing compared with the RX 5700 XT and the prospective benchmark numbers don’t necessarily look so promising.
But this is all speculation so far, with no concrete evidence that the 24 CU Navi 14 GPU doing the rounds is as far as the architecture will go. We’re confident there’s a 32 CU Navi 12 hiding away somewhere ready to have the RX 5500 XT sticker attached to it.
Whatever the truth of it, with the mainstream Radeon cards not expected until at least October there are a wealth of benchmark database leaks ahead for us to delve into and speculate even further about.
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