As many of you no doubt know, the recently launched Radeon RX 500 series from AMD is essentially a renaming of the RX 400 series that uses the same 4th generation (14 nm) GCN architecture, but with a few minor changes.
However, AMD took the opportunity to release an even smaller (101mm2) Polaris 10 GPU, located in the heart of the Radeon RX 550, an extremely affordable entry-level card for under $ 100 for the eSports and HTPC markets.
With only 512 SPUs, it has the same amount as the old Radeon R7 350 (although this chip uses first generation GCN cores). We wondered how powerful the RX 550 is. With 43% fewer SPUs than the last generation RX 460, it seems questionable whether the RX 550 can handle even the most basic eSport titles with modest quality settings at 1080p.
It's obviously not a hard blow, but the RX 550 has some advantages over previous featherweight graphics cards. The cores operate at 1183 MHz or higher, depending on the factory overclocking, while the card's GDDR5-7 Gbps memory offers an impressive bandwidth of 112 GB / s.
The Asus RX 550 model that we have on hand is quite compact and, like the GTX 1050, does not require an external power connection. It also includes 4 GB of VRAM, although I strongly recommend gamers to opt for the 2 GB version – the RX 550 definitely doesn't have enough power to do more than that.
Currently, the RX 550 is pretty bad at $ 80 in value. It costs 20% less than the RX 560, although it has half as many SPUs. So you can expect about half the performance, which hopefully is enough for playable performance in esports titles.
Then why the interest in this card at all? I hope the RX 550 will soon be sold for just $ 60. This price makes sense, especially considering the potential of a $ 120 combination with the G4560, that's what we're doing here today.
Would the RX 550 be a combination with the G4560 for an affordable eSport build if it were available for around $ 60?
To answer that, I queued up seven popular eSports titles to see how this budget combination works. In this case, I'm not going to include any of the graphics that you often find in our reviews, although we can look into a beginner GPU comparison in the near future and bet that this part will have a lot of diagrams.
Now let's see how the RX 550 and G4560 get along …
CS: GO was maximized with the highest possible quality settings at 1080p and played at over 100 fps at all times, mostly at 120 fps.
Dota 2 was also tested with a maximum of 1080p quality settings, and here the combination of Pentium G4560 and Radeon RX 550 allowed around 60-70 fps, although it dropped off temporarily into the 1950s.
Rocket League has also been tested with maximum settings at 1080p and this budget hardware combination held above 60 fps at all times, often between 70 and 90 fps.
To test StarCraft 2, we saw a Pro 2v2 match at normal speed and this simulates real performance quite well. We tested at 1080p with ultra quality (one step down from the extreme) and saw frame rates of around 80 fps, but occasionally dropped to 60 fps when things got hot.
Team Fortress 2 has been tested with the highest possible quality settings at 1080p. The frame rates dropped to 100 fps and rose to 200 fps. For the most part, however, the frame rates were somewhere in the middle.
World of Tanks peaked at 1080p and played between 40 and 50 fps, which resulted in smooth performance.
For Overwatch we used the medium quality settings at 1080p and carried out a bot match for 12 players. Bot matches are generally a little more challenging than online multiplayer with human players. The gameplay was mostly smooth at around 60 fps during the heavy fights.
What is not to like
It shouldn't be long before the RX 550 is available for around $ 60. From this point on, it seems to be a bargain for both casual and eSport players.
Many of the titles have been tested at (or not far from) their maximum game quality settings, and the RX 550 has no hesitation in supporting them at 1080p. Of course, if frame rates ever become a problem, there is plenty of room to reduce quality settings.
With its two cores and four threads, the Pentium G4560 offers a powerful eSport platform, especially in conjunction with an RX 550, and especially if you can find this card for around $ 60, which may be possible early enough given the currently overpriced price should and should soon see more competition with the upcoming arrival of Nvidia's GT 1030.
The G4560 + RX 550 combination is a simple recommendation for anyone looking for the best value from a budget gaming build without looking for used hardware or risking money.