Graphics Cards

RX 5500 XT vs RX 580: Is Navi 14 better than Polaris 20?

5 Mins read

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In a Nutshell

The Radeon RX 5500 XT is a great 1080P graphics card for gaming on high to ultra settings. Despite being much more energy efficient than the previous-generation Radeon RX 580, the new Navi budget gaming card performs roughly the same as the Polaris-based 1080P budget gaming king. Given its performance, buying a new RX 5500 XT seems like a bad purchase, since old Radeon RX 580 offers exactly the same performance for a much cheaper price.


Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB

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  • Good performance at 1080P
  • RDNA architecture
  • Runs very cool
  • Lower power consumption
  • Limited overclocking capabilities
  • PCIe 4.0 x8 bus interface
  • Costs roughly the same as Radeon RX 580

Radeon RX 580 8GB

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  • Solid performance at 1080P
  • Great price for budget PC gaming
  • High power draw
  • Easily overheats
  • Disappointing performance in OpenGL applications

In December 2019, AMD launched its new mid-range graphics card called Radeon RX 5500 XT. Like its older brother RX 5700, this card is also based on the RDNA architecture and features Navi graphics chip. In terms of its price and availability, RX 5500 XT was supposed to replace older mid-range Radeon cards such as RX 480 and RX 580. It was also supposed to become a direct competitor to Nvidia’s budget 1080P graphics card such as GeForce GTX 1650 Super and GeForce GTX 1660.

Must Read: The Best RX 5500 XT Graphics Cards in 2020

RX 5500 XT was advertised as a “next-level 1080P” gaming graphics card, which would be able to deliver up to 60 FPS on average in AAA titles, and up to 90 FPS in eSports gaming titles. There is no doubt that RX 5500 XT delivers in terms of 1080P gaming performance, however, its price tag is somewhat too high compared to used RX 580s which are able to deliver almost the same performance for half of the price. In this article we will explore how good is RX 5500 XT compared to RX 580, and whether is it worth your money.

Graphics Card NameAMD RX 5500 XT 8GBAMD RX 580 8GB
MicroarchitectureRDNA 1.0 (Navi 14)GCN 4.0 (Polaris 20)
Fab Process7 nm14 nm
Transistor count (million)64005700
Cores/TMUs/ROPs1408/88/322304/144/32
Memory Size & Type4/8GB GDDR64/8GB GDDR5
Base/Boost Clock (MHz)1607/18451257/1340
Memory Bus/Interface128 bits/PCIe 4.0 x8256 bits/PCIe 3.0 x16
Memory Bandwidth224 GB/s256 GB/s
Compute5.19 TFLOPs6.17 TFLOPs
TDP130 W185 W
Launch PeriodQ4 2019Q2 2017

If you take a look at our specs sheet above, you will easily notice that new RX 5500 XT is based on 7 nm manufacturing process, and that it features 12% more transistors than the old RX 580. New GPU also has a very small die size of only 158 mm², compared to RX 580’s die of 221 mm². The RX 5500 XT also consumes 30% less than older Polaris cards, as it draws only 130W under full load.

Radeon RX 5500 XT also features 22 compute units, which is 14 less than RX 580. New GPU also comes with 1408 stream processors, and 4 or 8 GB of GDDR6 memory (depending on model), which utilizes 128-bit bus. Although RX 5500 XT has 50% narrower memory bus than RX 580, the new GPU supports PCIe 4.0 serial bus, but with only 8 data-transmission lanes. In theory, this amount of lanes should offer identical performance to PCIe 3.0 x16, however, some critics argue that PCIe 4.0 x8 is in fact bottlenecking the 4 GB variants of RX 5500 XT in terms of their overall performance.

Although in general RX 5500 XT might look weaker than RX 580, this new card features significantly higher GPU base and boost clock speeds which are 1607 MHz and 1845 MHz respectively. This is more than 30% increase in clock speeds compared to now three years old RX 580. Another great thing about this GPU is that it draws only 130W of power, compared to power-hungry RX 580 which requires 185 watts under full load. Also, there are various custom models of this card made by different manufacturers, so there are plenty of variants to choose from, each with their own special features.

With all things said, now is the time to inspect the overall performance of RX 5500 XT GPU vs its predecessor RX 580. Based upon 10 different sources and more than 500 data entries, we have conducted a meta-analysis of various RX 5500 XT and RX 580 benchmarks available online, and calculated total averages in order to compare performance of these two graphics cards. All benchmark data was based on PC systems with Intel Core i7-8700K or i9-9900K processors, which featured at least 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, and a Windows 10 operating system running on an SSD drive. Results are shown below.

Performance at Full HD (1920×1080) Resolution

Click image to zoom

In the above chart, you can see that RX 5500 XT performs almost the same as RX 580 on 1080P resolution and with all graphics settings set to ultra in tested games. In most first-person shooter games such as Battlefield V or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, performance of RX 5500 XT and RX 580 is identical. The older Polaris-based GPU does seem to have an upper hand in titles like DOOM or Grand Theft Auto V, but this performance increase is marginal. In most cases, the RX 5500 XT is couple of frames faster than the RX 580, especially in newer titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Metro Exodus. Overall, the RX 5500 XT does offer solid performance at 1080P resolution, however, it is not capable to deliver stable 60 FPS on ultra settings in rather demanding titles such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Control, or Borderlands 3. Pairing this card with FreeSync capable monitor would be a perfect choice, especially if you want to achieve smooth-free gaming experience.

Performance at Quad HD (2560×1440) Resolution

Click image to zoom

Although RX 5500 XT wasn’t designed to be a 1440P card, this GPU can perform very well in most first-person shooters and racing games on this resolution. Here again we see that RX 5500 XT performs slightly better on average vs the RX 580. Both cards are capable to deliver +60 FPS in games such as Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and DOOM at 1440P resolution and with all graphics settings set to maximum. Same thing is valid for other titles like Grand Theft Auto V, Forza Horizon 4 and Resident Evil 2. The RX 5500 XT performs significantly better in games like Destiny 2 and Project Cars 2 compared to RX 580. However, the old Polaris 20 GPU is able to achieve higher framerates in titles like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 probably due to more compute power. Overall, the RX 5500 XT achieves 3 FPS more on average than RX 580 on 1440P resolution, however, this performance advantage is marginal and is prone to statistical error.

Conclusion

Both RX 5500 XT and RX 580 perform nearly identical, however, RX 5500 XT seems to have an upper hand in newer game titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Metro Exodus, and Borderlands 3.

Click image to zoom

Overall, the RX 5500 XT is a great graphics card for 1080P gaming with high to ultra settings. Just like its predecessor the RX 580, the RX 5500 XT supports latest computer graphics technologies such as Vulkan and DirectX 12 API, OpenGL 4.6, OpenCL 2.0, AMD FreeSync 2, Radeon Image Sharpening, Radeon Anti-Lag and Radeon Boost.

Great thing about this card is that it draws only 130W of power, however, there are some negative aspects of this card which are worth mentioning. First of all, this card retails around $250-$300 which is a lot of money for a card that delivers almost the same performance as its three years old predecessor. This is rather disappointing, since used Radeon RX 580’s can be bought for as low as $136. Another thing which isn’t great is Radeon RX 5500 XT’s dependency on PCIe 4.0 x8 bus, which is too narrow for 4GB models, and it might bottleneck GPU’s performance.

If you already own RX 580 or GTX 1060 graphics card, then upgrade to RX 5500 XT makes no sense. However, if you are looking for a good 1080P card which is very energy efficient and supports newer technologies, then RX 5500 XT might be a good choice. Provided you already have a FreeSync monitor, you can expect great Full HD gaming experience with this graphics card. The RX 5500 XT’s biggest problem vs RX 580 is its retail price, which is in our opinion currently too high. If it was retailing at its official MSRP price, then this card would be the best budget king of 1080P gaming. However, that is not the case. If you want to purchase this card, maybe you should wait for a little while until prices go down, but all in all the RX 5500 XT is one very attractive video card.

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