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AMD’s Radeon RX 5500 is its new entry-level competitor to Nvidia’s GTX 1650

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But there’s still no sign of a high-end competitor to Nvidia

Image: AMD

AMD has announced its second series of GPUs based on its new 7nm RDNA architecture: the Radeon RX 5500 series. While the company says the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT were aimed at running games at 1440p resolution and high frame rates to compete with Nvidia’s midrange RTX Super cards, its latest GPUs have more modest specs and aim to offer decent performance at a resolution of 1080p.

AMD is producing two versions of the new GPU. The RX 5500 is for desktop machines, while the RX 5500M is for laptops. The company boasts that the cards should offer better performance than Nvidia’s GTX 1650 and GTX 1650 Mobile GPUs respectively, which should tell you roughly where AMD is aiming with this new series. Unfortunately, AMD didn’t offer any pricing or exact release date details for the new cards. (More on that in a little bit.)

Although they won’t have the same raw performance as the RX 5700 series, AMD was keen to stress that the RX 5500 will come with all of the features of its pricier siblings, including Fidelity FX post-processing with Radeon Image Sharpening (which Digital Foundry produced a recent explainer on), Radeon anti-lag, and the new PCIe 4.0 standard. Here’s how the specs AMD was willing to give us on the RX 5500 stack up against AMD’s previous models:

Radeon RX 5500 series vs Radeon RX 5700 series

Specs Radeon RX 5500M Radeon RX 5500 Radeon RX 5700 Radeon RX 5700 XT
Specs Radeon RX 5500M Radeon RX 5500 Radeon RX 5700 Radeon RX 5700 XT
Game clock Up to 1448MHz Up to 1717MHz 1625MHz 1755MHz
Boost clock (up to) 1645MHz 1845MHz 1725MHz 1905MHz
SP compute (up to) 4.6 TFLOPS 5.2 TFLOPS 7.9 TFLOPS 9.7 TFLOPs
Memory 4GB GDDR6 Up to 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6
Compute Units 22 22 36 40
TDP 85W 150W 185W 225W
Memory Interface 128-bit 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Stream Processors 1408 1408 2304 2560
Price TBA TBA $349 $399
The RX 5500 is meant as an entry-level counterpart to the existing RX 5570.

As with the RX 5700 launch, AMD talked about “game clock” speeds with its new GPUs, which its website says are the “expected GPU clock when running typical gaming applications, set to typical TGP (Total Graphics Power).” However, these game clock speeds seem to be higher for the RX 5500 than for the RX 5700, a supposedly higher-end GPU. AMD has since confirmed to us that both numbers are accurate, which suggests that there might be more going on here than meets the eye.

The reason AMD wasn’t willing to provide pricing or availability details for the upcoming graphics cards was because it said it currently has no plans to produce its own reference designs. Instead, all of the cards will be produced by its hardware partners, which will be announcing their own versions of the GPU in due course. AMD did say that it expected its partners to begin releasing versions of the RX 5500 in the next quarter, but it didn’t provide a more specific release date beyond that.

Although AMD didn’t have much to say about the pricing of the RX 5500, its presentation gave us a couple of clues. It compared the performance of the new GPU directly against its previous-generation RX 480 (which launched at $269) as well as Nvidia’s GTX 1650 (which launched at $149). That leaves us with a pretty broad potential price range, but we’re hoping AMD’s latest cards are closer to the lower end of the scale given the performance benchmarks they’re supposed to hit.

AMD was, however, willing to give some details on the first laptop that will come equipped with the Radeon RX 5500M. The MSI Alpha 15 will pair the new GPU with an AMD Ryzen 7 3750H and a 1080p 144Hz FreeSync display, and it’s currently planned for release at the end of October, according to the company. AMD added that HP, Lenovo, and Acer will also be releasingRX 5500M laptops later this year.

If you were waiting for AMD’s second series of 7nm RDNA graphics cards to finally offer some RDNA-powered competition for Nvidia in the high-end, then the announcement of the entry-level Radeon RX 5500 series won’t deliver. With the RX 5700, AMD significantly closed the performance gap with Nvidia in the midrange, but at the time, we said that the company would have to take its new RDNA architecture beyond the sub-$400 price point to make things truly interesting. (Its last high-end card, the Radeon VII, was still using the company’s old GCN architecture.) With the new RX 5500, AMD has yet to take up that challenge.