Should you buy an AMD RX 5500 XT for gaming?

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Best answer: If you’re building a new budget gaming system from scratch, the RX 5500 XT is a good shout for 1080p gaming at medium settings with reasonable frame rates. If you know the games you want to play are heavy on VRAM, though, spend a little more and get the 8GB version.

Solid performance at 1080p

The RX 5500 XT is 100% a 1080p gaming GPU. The good news is that if you’re here because you’re seriously thinking about getting one, you probably won’t be disappointed.

In our experience testing the RX 5500 XT in a range of games, we’ve found that it’s particularly strong at medium graphics settings across a variety of different games. There are outliers, like the exceptionally well optimized F1 2019, but generally speaking, if you’re shooting for a balance of graphics quality and good frame rates, medium is where it’s at.

Here are a few examples of performance you can expect from a 4GB RX 5500 XT paired with AMD’s mid-range, Ryzen 5 3600 6-core CPU and 16GB of RAM

  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Medium settings – 77 FPS average (Low 61 FPS)
  • F1 2019 – Ultra high settings – 122 FPS average (Low 84 FPS)
  • Far Cry 5 – High settings (no HD textures) – 84 FPS average (Low 76 FPS)
  • Borderlands 3 – Medium settings – 80 FPS average

In games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Borderlands 3, upping the graphics to high still retained a playable average frame rate, but at a significant drop in the overall figures. Gaming at over 60 FPS is certainly possible, though. We played Destiny 2, for example, with an 80 FPS frame rate limit for several hours and never saw frequent dips or anything at all below 75 FPS.

Check your VRAM requirements first

Before pulling the trigger, you should do as much research as you can on the VRAM requirements for the games you want to play. The 4GB model is, in most cases, going to be okay, but if you run out of VRAM for whatever reason, the experience will be flawed.

In Far Cry 5, for example, adding the HD textures pushes the total VRAM use beyond the 4GB you get in the lower-priced card, and as such, it will resort to using your system memory where it needs to. There have been reports that if you’re using a PCIe 4.0 enabled X570 motherboard, performance is better, but without that backup, in our experience, it leads to a pretty jarring time.

The 8GB model isn’t that much more expensive in most cases. Even for a budget build, it might be money well spent depending on what you want to play.

Who the RX 5500 XT is not for

Even though it’s a decent card for not a lot of money, there are circumstances you shouldn’t even consider one of these.

  • If you want to game at a higher resolution than 1080p.
  • If you like to play all your games on Ultra graphics settings and or play at 100+ FPS.

It isn’t ridiculous to want to play at super-high frame rates anymore. 144Hz and 165Hz monitors are more common and affordable than ever, and at 1080p, even 240Hz monitors are now hitting the market. But aside from the most basic of titles, an RX 5500 XT probably isn’t the best fit for these.

Likewise, if you have aspirations of going above 1080p, look elsewhere. You can play some lighter games at 1440p, but if that’s the resolution you’re shooting for AMD has the RX 5700 series, which is far better suited.

It also isn’t for you if you’re currently running one of AMD’s previous-generation GPUs like the RX 580 and RX 590 in particular. It’s not really an upgrade to either of those beyond being a little more efficient. But you won’t be making any gains worth spending the money on.

8GB version

MSi RX 5500 XT

A decent 1080p graphics card

If you’re building a budget system targeting 1080p gaming, you can do a lot worse than the RX 5500 XT, and the 8GB version is the one to get if you can stretch to the extra cost.

4GB version

MSi RX 5500 XT

In most cases as good as the 8GB model

Unless you’re going to be playing VRAM heavy games, then the cheaper RX 5500 XT delivers just as excellent performance and saves you a little money in the process.

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