Graphics cards are the heart and soul of every PC that is meant for gaming, AMD and Nvidia are the top companies that produce graphics hardware for every part of the market. These range from the high-end hardware to the low-end thus everyone who wants to update their PC can opt from the vast ranges of the available products present in the market. Both have their high-end devices that have proved their potential, but our focus for today is their low-end devices. We already reviewed the $73 card GT 1030 from Nvidia, its time to review its direct rival from AMD. AMD has provided us with many graphics cards that are always lesser in price compared to Nvidia’s products for the same price, showing company’s determination for its products.
AMD RX 550 is the lowest end device from the company’s GCN 4 hardware architecture, and it’s the only device that uses the newer Polaris 12 technology, all other devices including the flagship VEGA GPUs use the Polaris 11 architecture or its better version that is VEGA architecture. AMD is boosting this device saying that it will play any esports title at 1080p at the highest possible settings with ease. Let’s dig into the deeper details and find out how much credence is there in AMD’s claim.
AMD debuted the GCN 4 hardware with the reveal of the low-end device RX 460 that too was meant for low-end gaming with 896 stream processors and then got the processor count to 1024 in RX 560, it could have gone with the same GPU as used in these cards and disable more compute units in order to save cost.
But they went for a completely new GPU based on the new Polaris 12 architecture, the new GPU is not that small compared to the size of the Polaris 11 GPUs, as it is based on the same 14nm FinFET process. The new 101mm2 houses a total of 2.2 billion transistors that is greater than 1.8 billion transistors on the GT 1030 which indicates it can perform well. Another advantage that RX 550 has over the GT 1030 regarding architecture is the 128-bit memory bus that is two times the memory bus present in Nvidia’s low-end device.
As this Graphics card is for those users who do not want to spend $100 on the Graphics card, we can expect that this device might not have out of the world specifications, nonetheless its good for the price. The GPU has a total of 512 stream processors on the 101mm2 die; these cores are spread over eight compute units with clock speeds ranging from 1100Mhz base speed to 1183Mhz boost speed. These cores are complemented by 16 rendering output units which will make the texture filtering rate up to 37.9 GT/s.
The memory provided to the Graphics card is where it shines against the rivals, as the memory bandwidth is 128-bit that will help the compute units to render the high definition textures used in modern games. The other memory specifications include GDDR5 memory type the size of which can be 2GB or 4GB with 1750Mhz clock speed making the total memory bandwidth 112GB/s compared to the 48GB/s bandwidth in GT 1030.
Performance is the department where things get interesting in case of RX 550, starting our test with the synthetic benchmarks that will provide the gist of the performance that it can provide on the table. In our benchmarks, it scored slightly above than its rival, the score it got 3,478 points showing its ability to outperform GT 1030 at everything possible thrown at its way. But the actual gaming benchmarks show mixed results altogether.
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Starting with an easier game, Counter-Strike Global offense is a game that does not tax the hardware much, but due to the fast-paced multiplayer gameplay, the framerates recommended for good tactical gameplay are 100 at minimum, at high preset 1080p it easily got an average of 166FPS that is equal to the 167FPS got by GT 1030 in terms of experience. It is not designed for AAA titles, but a heavily optimized game such as GTA V, the overall experience at 1080p medium settings was slightly better than the GT 1030 as the framerates were greater than 60FPS at all times.
This card was meant to be for those who want super budget gaming, but since the graphics card was released, it was difficult to find it at its MSRP, it retailed at $90 due to shortages, and then the price got up to $100, and nowadays it is retailing at $101 to $105. The price is too high considering the fact the similar performance can be attained by GT 1030 which is retailing at a price close to its MSRP. However, if the VRAM bottlenecking is the issue you face while playing your favorite game its 4GB version is a better choice if you find it at a reasonable price.