Should I buy an AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT GPU?

Sapphire Radeon RX 5500 XT Pulse
(Image credit: Future)

The RX 5500 XT was somewhat maligned on launch due to driver issues, but thankfully the kinks have now been ironed out and we’re left with a competent 1080p graphics card for the PC gamer who favours plucky underdog (sort of) AMD over the industry giant Nvidia.

The cheapest option of the Radeon RX 5000-series of graphics cards, the 5500 XT comes in two variants: 4GB or 8GB of VRAM. While the expanded video memory isn’t quite so necessary at 1080p medium and below, raising the graphical settings or the resolution is going to result in better performance from the 8GB version, typically a framerate increase ranging from ten to fifteen percent.

Unfortunately, both editions of the 5500 XT lag behind the likes of the GTX 1660 from Nvidia, which sits in the same price bracket but performs slightly better in most games.

What is the RX 5500 XT? 

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT specs

GPU Cores: 1408
ROPs: 32
Game Clock: 1717MHz
Boost Clock: 1845MHz
Memory Clock: 14Gbps GDDR6
Memory Bus: 128-bit
TDP: 130W
Release Date: 12/12/2019
Release MSRP: $169/$199

Following on the heels of the powerful and successful RX 5700 XT, the 5500 XT is a more conservative GPU that offers 1080p gaming with some potential for 1440p too (provided you don’t mind dropping your graphical settings a bit, or living with an fps of 40+ instead of a stable 60+). It uses the same RDNA (‘Navi’) microarchitecture as the 5700 XT, albeit scaled back from Navi 10 to Navi 14, which has fewer compute units. 

Unlike the RX 5700, there’s no cheaper ‘non-XT’ variant of the RX 5500 XT available for purchase. 

 What are the alternatives to the RX 5500 XT? 

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 is similarly priced to the 8GB RX 5500 XT, and offers mildly better performance. Meanwhile, the GTX 1660 Super is a little more expensive, but comfortably beats the Radeon card. 

The older Radeon RX 590 delivers performance between the 4GB and 8GB models, making it a viable alternative for a 1080p gaming PC, but it also draws significantly more power (a hefty 225W) and dwindling stock makes it unlikely to be found for cheaper than the newer 5500 XT GPU. 

Should I buy the RX 5500 XT and at what price? 

While RX 5500 XT 8GB models from third-party manufacturers like MSI and XFX are currently cheaper than Nvidia’s GTX 1660 and 1660 Super cards, upcoming sales might see this change. MSI currently has their 8GB MECH model of the card available for $190, which is a decent deal, but if you see those Nvidia GPUs drop to around this price then they’ll be the better choice. 

The RX 5500 XT isn’t a bad graphics card by any means, but the competition is fierce and ultimately it isn’t likely to measure up in the value stakes. A $180 or cheaper RX 5500 XT could be something to watch out for around Black Friday, but only if the 1660 cards don’t see similar price drops.