AMD unveils Radeon RX 5500, a graphics card for 1080p players

AMD Radeon RX 5500
(Image credit: AMD)

There have been all kinds of rumors over the last few weeks about a new AMD Radeon graphics card aimed at the budget segment. And, well, it's finally here: the AMD Radeon RX 5500. 

This new AMD graphics card slots in beneath the Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT that earned top marks in our reviews, and is aimed squarely at the 1080p segment of the market. AMD hasn't unveiled pricing or specific release date information, but we do know that we'll see the new graphics card sometime within the next couple of months. 

As for what the AMD Radeon RX 5500 can do, it's packed with 22 compute units and 1,408 stream processors and up to 8GB of GDDR6 video memory (VRAM), compared to the 2,304 stream processors included in the RX 5700. This means it will likely be significantly slower than the 5700, but as that card is targeted at 1440p gamers, that shouldn't be too surprising. Instead, the most interesting comparison is going to be with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650.

Nvidia's budget superstar is packing 896 CUDA cores – which are somewhat comparable with AMD's "Stream Processors" – but is limited to 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM. That second spec might end up holding Nvidia's 1080p graphics card back here. But, we obviously don't know how things will shake out until we get the AMD Radeon RX 5500 in our labs for testing. 

The AMD Radeon RX 5500 is, of course, based on the same 7nm RDNA graphics architecture as other AMD Navi graphics cards, so there are some obvious benefits to power efficiency and performance. AMD claims that users that upgrade from the Radeon RX 480 will see a 16% jump in Borderlands 3 performance, for example (and a 26% boost over the GTX 1650). 

Graphics on the move

AMD has also announced that Radeon RX 5500 graphics will also be coming to a gaming laptop near you. Now, because this is a 1080p graphics processor (GPU), you shouldn't expect those gorgeous flagships like the MSI GS65 Stealth to be rocking AMD graphics quite yet, but AMD is apparently more interested in gaming laptops everyone can afford. 

The mobile version of the Radeon RX 5500 will come strapped with the same 22 compute units and 1,408 stream processors as the desktop version, but will only be able to utilize 4GB of VRAM. Clock speed sees a reduction, too, only reaching a Game Clock (the average clock speed when actually gaming) of 1,448MHz, instead of the 1,717MHz of the desktop-class GPU.

AMD still claims that this will be more than enough for budget gaming laptops, and will be packed inside gaming laptops like the upcoming MSI Alpha 15, along with a 1080p, 144Hz IPS panel. And, apparently this little GPU will be able to do some high refresh gaming, too, hitting up to 96 frames per second in Apex Legends on medium settings. This is, of course, based on AMD's internal testing, so we would take that with a grain of salt.

Either way, it's nice to see AMD graphics making a headway into gaming laptops, and we hope to see the Radeon RX 5700 or that rumored high-end Navi GPU give Nvidia some competition there. We'll just have to wait and see on that front, though. 

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Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.