The latest AMD’s RX 500 GPU’s aren’t, as you probably saw in my recent reviews, actually new architecture-wise, but rather just a refresh, despite that we got ourselves a new entry and a new budget layer not seen up until now, and they’ve called the RX 550 series and today I will be checking out one from Gigabyte – their RX 550 Gaming OC model.
This will be the lowest ladder in the current RX 500 line-up, offering a decent 1080p performance considering the price at which it comes in, this particular Gaming OC 2 GB model from Gigabyte being around 90-100$, but you can actually find them below 80$, those so to speak regular models, aiming to satisfy those users who don’t need a lot of horsepowers, like for example in eSports titles.
Is the cooler on Gigabyte RX 550 Gaming OC over the top for this GPU?
The product box isn’t anything to be excited about, with few features pointed on the back, like their WindForce 2X cooler, while opening it up will also leave you disappointed in terms of the bundle, but then again it’s a model coming from a budget segment, just your quick start guide and optical disc with drivers and software, you’re better of with downloading the latest ones from their website, and of course the graphics card itself.
The cooler design will probably look very familiar to you, as well as the overall design of the shroud and the graphics card itself, and it should be, as we’ve seen this exact design on their other models, in particular, the RX 460 model which I reviewed back in October of 2016. This Gigabyte RX 550 Gaming OC model and it are dead similar, even comparing their PCB component layout and design on the back, which is easy to do since both don’t have a cover plate. Subtle trolling 101. I wouldn’t be surprised that they’ve just slapped an RX 550 GPU onto that, maybe removed a power phase, tweak it up a bit, and called it a day, which is a common practice to be honest, but it’s also actually kind of a good thing since this a less demanding GPU getting a virtually the same treatment as its bigger brother. It’s definitely an overkill for this particular GPU and its TDP, but hey, I don’t mind getting a better performing product, although, you will pay a premium on its price, at least compared to more regular RX 550 models out there.
Below that recognizable black and orange plastic outer shell you’ll discover an aluminum heat-sink block without any heat-pipes, so generally speaking a pretty modest cooling arrangement beside the two 80 mm fans, but it doesn’t have to be any beefier than that since the TDP is on the lower side, you even don’t need a separate PCI-express power cable as there aren’t any connectors on it, just like on the RX 460 model. One more thing that’s similar to it is the layout of video outputs, where we have one DisplayPort, one HDMI, and DVI-D connector.
Can this small Gigabyte RX 550 Gaming actually play games?
Sort of? Taking a closer look, beneath the cooler you’ll find in a way a new GPU sitting in Gigabyte RX 550, since it, as I already said, didn’t exist up until now, codenamed Lexa, holding 512 shaders, 32 textural and 16 ROP units, while being based on the existing and currently ongoing latest AMD’s 4th generation of GCN architecture, that’s why I wouldn’t call it a new new GPU.
When it comes to overclocking, with these settings used in my video above, you can get a frame or two extra out of it, the GPU potential was decent as you can see it here, while the memory wasn’t to keen on being pushed. For stock testing, I’ve used the Gigabyte’s preset OC mode which you can load in their Aorus Graphics Engine application.
Popping it onto my benchmarking rig and taking it for a spin, this time I’ve limited my self with using the 1080p resolution only as this model doesn’t have the horsepower to handle anything above that, plus the video memory size is also a limit here, 2 GB of it is nowadays considered being on the edge, even for this resolution. In terms in-game graphical settings, I’ve kept my usual ones so you can see how it compares to some of the stronger models than it, although it practice this is an overkill for a GPU that sits in this low segment, so lowering down those settings will get you even more FPS. I’ll soon change my testing methodology, probably also introduce the 1% percentile testing results too and possibly redesign of the graphs, together with segmentation of the graphical settings depending on the price bracket of the GPU (EDIT: I started doing this some time back). Getting back to the performance side of things, overall you can see that this GPU will tackle more optimized and less demanding titles without any problem, more or less, but for everything else, to play or benchmark games, you should dial down the settings or even resolution.
Can you really justfiy buying a RX 550 Gaming OC in the end?
Being a low TDP GPU, keeping this model cool wasn’t a problem, especially since Gigabyte put their WindForce 2X cooler design on it. For idle I was seeing temperatures around 35°C on an open rig, and that’s with fans being off since it has 0 dB / 0 RPM automatic feature where they shut off if the card is not under heavy load. Cracking up the FurMark stress test I was seeing temperatures up to 70°C, with fan speed around 1000 RPM, while during gameplay you’ll see that being much lower, anywhere from 50 to 55°C, with fan speed around 900 RPM, and at those speeds they were barely audible even on an open test bench.
This was to be expected since, as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the cooler is for this GPU die sitting underneath it far more capable than it really needs to be. Yeah, that’s all well and good, you’ll get a better performing GPU when it comes to keeping the temperatures on the lower side, but I think that considering the performance context which this GPU has, It’s a bit too much for it. I would rather they’ve just stuck with that one fan version, kept the price low and that’s it, as this way I feel like they’re just fishing customers who are less familiar with this topic.
So, based on everything you saw and what I said here, it begs the question, should you get Gigabyte RX 550 Gaming OC for your PC? Ugh, I don’t think so, at least not this model, but I’m not blaming or avoiding Gigabyte here. It’s not that I wouldn’t buy this model as it stands, but I wouldn’t buy it because of the fact that it’s an RX 550 series card. I just don’t think it’s worth buying it, it’s not a great value for your money. If you can get a second hand for like 40-50$, yeah sure, but brand new – no. Rather save up some money and get something that makes sense in terms of what you get for what you pay for.