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AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT vs GTX 1650 Super: performance analysis

Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3.

Our tests on the RX 5500 XT series and the (relatively) new GTX 1650 Super conclude with three more demanding titles: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and The Witcher 3. Our test system for all benches across this entire review consists of a Core i7 8700K running at an all-core turbo speed of 4.7GHz. This is paired with two 8GB sticks of 3400MHz DDR4 supplied by GSkill, with all titles running from solid state storage to avoid streaming issues. A Gamer Storm Castle 240mm AiO liquid cooler is used to keep the power-hungry 8700K in check.

Depending on how you view this page, our performance metrics are presented in one of two ways. If you're reading this on a mobile device, you'll get a table with average frame-rate and lowest one per cent measurements. However, if you're on a desktop or laptop, you get the full-blooded Digital Foundry experience. Play the YouTube videos to see frame-rate and frame-time metrics running in parallel to the video (you can even navigate around the video with the graphs adjusting to match). Beneath that you'll see our barcharts, dynamically generated from the frame-time metrics - mouse over for various stats and press the mouse button to swap over to the more useful percentage differentials.

We use FCAT for analysing GPU performance. This program adds a coloured border to each rendered frame, so that when the video feed from the GPU is captured and fed into our own bespoke software, each distinct frame is able to be distinguished and frame-times can be calculated. The high-definition captures are distilled down into much lighter text files with all the critical information, which are then used to dynamically generate the data presented on this page.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

From the extremes of Xbox 360 at the lower end to Google Stadia - apparently - at the upper reaches, Rise of the Tomb Raider has always been a title as important for its benchmarking prowess as it is as a game in its own right. So how does it stack up when looking at the new wave of 1080p mainstream GPU contenders? Suffice to say that the data is hardly revelatory compared to what we've seen before and on the face of it, it's slightly disappointing in that there's no appreciable win for the RX 5500 XT over the older, cheaper Polaris offerings.

Yes, the GTX 1650 Super is beaten by the four gig iteration of the RX 5500 XT, a state of affairs that persists across our benchmarks. Comparisons with the GTX 1660 show a small lead for Nvidia over the new Navi cards - but again, given AMD's slightly lower price and higher memory allocation, the RX 5500 XT in its 8GB iteration still looks compelling. Once again though, while the numbers are tight and AMD still possesses a VRAM advantage, users are getting appreciably higher frame-rates from the GTX 1660 Super. Do you trade the RAM advantage and pay a little more for a better performing GPU? It's a tough one.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: Very High, SMAA

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The more modern Shadow of the Tomb Raider sees Crystal Dynamics' Foundation engine evolved to its zenith for this generation, delivering quantifiably better performance on more modern GPU architectures. However, the key disappointment from the Rise benchmark remains in place with Shadow - RX 580 and RX 590 may be older, but they have the same amount of memory and can be purchased for very low prices - and crucially, they perform pretty much on par with the new 5500 XT line.

The patterns established in the majority of our benchmarks up until this point remain in place: the GTX 1650 Super is beaten by the lower-end RX 5500 XT in its 4GB configuration, and while the GTX 1660 is a touch faster, the extra memory of the RX 5500 XT 8GB is difficult to factor out of the purchasing decision when the product itself has a lower MSRP.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Highest, TAA

The Witcher 3

Our run through Novigrad City at fully enabled ultra settings (with HairWorks disabled) throws up some problems for the new RX 5500 XT in that our results appear to show the new cards lagging significantly behind the older RX 580 and its overclocked equivalent, the RX 590 at the preferred 1080p resolution. With the latter card delivering higher performance by a factor of almost 13 per cent, this is pretty significant and somewhat disappointing.

What this means is that the GTX 1650 Super - which has lagged behind RX 5500 XT across the board - is pretty competitive at 1080p. The knock-on effect, however, is that GTX 1660 inches ahead of the AMD offerings while the GTX 1660 Super has a chunky 24 per cent lead. The RX 5500 XT also seems to be off the pace in comparison to the higher-end RX 5700 too, where the more expensive card delivers a higher level of extra performance compared to other results.

It's a curious result overall and one we had to double and triple-check. However, it's interesting to note that the relative differentials between cards looks a lot more typical at higher resolutions.

Witcher 3: Ultra, Post-AA, No Hairworks

AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT vs GTX 16-Series Analysis

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About the Author

Will Judd avatar

Will Judd

Deputy Editor, Digital Foundry

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2. Will also tweets the latest tech deals at @DigitalFoundry.


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