Trust me on this one – AMD is aware that launching the RX 500-series of graphics cards, including the RX 580 we are reviewing today, is an uphill battle. Besides battling the sounds on the hills that whisper “reeebbrraannndd” AMD needs to work with its own board partners to offer up total solutions that compete well with NVIDIA’s stronghold on the majority of the market. Just putting out the Radeon RX 580 and RX 570 cards with same coolers and specs as the RX 400-series would be a recipe for ridicule. AMD is aware and is being surprisingly proactive in its story telling the consumer and the media.
- If you already own a Radeon RX 400-series card, the RX 500-series is not expected to be an upgrade path for you.
- The Radeon RX 500-series is NOT based on Vega. Polaris here everyone.
- Target users are those with Radeon R9 380 class cards and older – Polaris is still meant as an upgrade for that very large user base.
AMD’s affordable new Radeon RX 550 is designed for folks who want more e-sports eye candy without breaking the bank, at $80 on Newegg.
Higher frame rates and resolutions mean you can see more, faster, and that extra performance can spell the difference between winning and losing in the world of competitive gaming. AMD’s latest Radeon lets you crank those graphics settings, and it includes all the helpful ecosystem conveniences found in the rest of the Radeon RX 500-series, such as native broadcasting support with Radeon Crimson ReLive, FreeSync monitor compatibility, and modern media technologies that could make the Radeon RX 550 a hit with home theater PC enthusiasts.
We haven’t seen a graphics card serve the ultra-budget market in years. But is a graphics card this cut-down worthwhile? Yes…and no.
Let’s dig in.
- Meet the Radeon RX 550
- Our test system
- Radeon RX 550 benchmarks
- Bottom line
Meet the Radeon RX 550
You’ll find all the hardcore technical specs for the Radeon RX 550 in the chart below, but in sum they’re half that of the already modest $100 RX 560, which is launching in early May as the final release in AMD’s new Radeon RX 500 series. It’s one-quarter the GPU inside the $170 Radeon RX 570.
The Radeon RX 550’s Polaris GPU packs a mere 8 compute units and 512 stream processors, but you don’t need much horsepower to drive e-sports or home theater PCs. It hums along at a 1,100MHz base/1,183MHz boost clock, married to 2GB of GDDR5 memory with a 128-bit bus. (4GB models will also be available in limited numbers.) Those modest internals demand only modest amounts of power, however. The Radeon RX 550 is powered completely via your motherboard’s PCIe slot, with no extra power cables required. That’s a big deal for folks wanting more oomph from an existing PCs—likely a sizable portion of this card’s target audience.