AMD Radeon Pro W5500 Review & Benchmarks – An Excellent Entry to Workstation Graphics

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CG Director Author Jerry Jamesby Jerry James   /  Updated 

The Radeon Pro W5500 is one of the latest additions to AMD’s workstation graphics lineup. It seeks to offer a competitive option at a much lower price compared to Nvidia’s Quadro offerings. Does it manage to accomplish the task?

Let’s find out!

We got a chance to play around with the Radeon Pro W5500 for the past couple of weeks and wanted to share our first impressions. If you’re looking for benchmarks, you can skip down to the benchmarks section as well!

Priced at $400, the Radeon Pro W5500 workstation graphics card seems to offer a decent point of entry for those who are bound by budget. If you need workstation graphics but don’t have the means to reach for more powerful models yet, the W5500 might be the way to go.

Radeon Pro W5500 Technical Specifications

Before we get into benchmarks, we should probably go over its technical specifications (pretty similar to the Radeon 5500XT):

  • GPU Architecture – RDNA
  • Lithography – TSMC 7nm FinFET
  • Number of Compute Units – 22
  • GPU Memory – 8GB (No ECC Support)
  • Memory Type – GDDR6
  • Memory Bandwidth – 224 GB/s
  • Video Outputs – 4x DisplayPort 1.4; 0x HDMI; 0x DVI
  • Board Width – Single Slot

GPU-Z AMD Radeon Pro W5500 Specs

Benchmark Overview

Since the Radeon Pro W5500 is a workstation graphics card, it made sense to keep the focus on productivity and CG-focused benchmarks. However, we’ve included a Unigine Superposition benchmark for those curious about gaming performance.

We put AMD’s newest budget workstation graphics card through the paces and compared it against competitors in a variety of price brackets.

Since we don’t have access to an Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 at the moment, we couldn’t include too many of its scores. Nonetheless, the benchmarks we COULD find, show that the Nvidia workstation card would handily beat the Radeon Pro W5500 by a substantial margin. Now, this should hardly come as a surprise when the Quadro RTX 4000 commands double the cost.

At the lower end of the product stack, Nvidia options are not very competitive (as you’ll see from the benchmarks below). If you’re just getting into workstation graphics (and maybe even into this field) – the W5500 offers excellent value in many professional applications.

Radeon Pro W5500 Benchmarks

Blender

Blender isn’t just free, it’s also one of the most widely-used, open-source computer graphics software in the world. We went over two popular render scenes with the Radeon Pro W5500 to see how it stacks up against the competition. While the Nvidia Quadro cards used CUDA rendering for these scenes, the Radeon card used OpenCL.

Blender Benchmark GPU Classroom 2.81 (CUDA _ OpenCL)

The W5500 did very well rendering the Blender Classroom scene, taking just 341 seconds. The only price-comparable workstation graphics card from Nvidia, the Quadro P2000, gets obliterated in this bench with a much longer render time.

Blender Benchmark GPU BMW 2.81 (CUDA _ OpenCL)

The BMW scene saw the Radeon Pro again edging out the P2000 by a healthy margin. These results just cement the fact that Nvidia needs workstation options at the $400 price point because the performance offered by the P2000 is not even close to competitive.

AMD ProRender for Cinema4D

Based on the OpenCL standard, AMD ProRender is a GPU path-tracing renderer for Cinema 4D and a few other popular professional applications.

AMD ProRender in Cinema 4D R20 (Save the Princess Scene by Yan Ge) (1)

AMD’s ProRender has come a long way as AMD continues to make iterative improvements to it over time. The Radeon Pro W5500 offers respectable performance here when compared with other workstation graphics cards.

However, when gaming graphics come into the picture, it’s not that pretty. Nonetheless, if you’re on the lookout for workstation graphics with official support from software vendors, the W5500 is the best option available at the moment.

We did some real-world testing in Cinema 4D and AMD ProRender, and while the W5500 isn’t among the fastest, most scenes of low-to-mid complexity were fairly responsive when working with viewport real-time rendering:

SPECViewPerf 13

SPECviewperf is considered a worldwide standard to measure graphics performance across a comprehensive suite of professional applications. We ran the Radeon Pro W5500 through Maya, 3dsMax, and Solidworks viewsets to see how it fares compared to the competition.

When it comes to Maya, the Radeon Pro GPU has the competition beat at this price range. If you’re looking for a budget workstation card that performs quite well, the Radeon Pro W5500 is an excellent choice for those working with Autodesk Maya.

Nvidia’s new Quadro RTX 4000 looks like a much better deal compared to other Quadro offerings, and performance does seem to warrant its price.

The Solidworks viewset on SPECviewperf presents a very different picture to what we saw with Maya. Although the Radeon Pro W5500 manages to beat cheaper offerings from Nvidia’s Quadro lineup, it struggles to keep up with other workstation GPUs in its price range.

If you’re working primarily with Solidworks, I’d recommend looking at the P2200 or jumping up to the Quadro RTX 4000 (if budget permits).

The Radeon Pro W5500 doesn’t seem to offer anything spectacular when using Autodesk’s 3dsMax software. It gets edged out by a similarly-priced Quadro P2200, and as expected, gets demolished by the much pricier Quadro RTX 4000.

Geekbench

Although performance in real-world applications might not directly correlate to scores in benchmark applications like Geekbench, it’s great to have an idea about how a graphics card stacks up compared to the competition.

The Geekbench OpenCL and Vulkan benchmarks see the Radeon Pro W5500 outpacing Nvidia’s budget workstation graphics offerings easily. The $950 Quadro RTX 4000 is miles ahead in both these benchmarks.

Unigine Superposition

Unigine Superposition Benchmark 1.1 1080p Medium (1)

The Radeon Pro W5500 can hardly keep up with even the much cheaper gaming graphics cards from Nvidia like the GTX 1660 Super. So, while this graphics card will be ‘okay’ for gaming, you should be buying this ONLY if you need vendor support for Radeon Pro hardware.

Workstation Graphics vs. Gaming Graphics Cards

When compared to gaming graphic card products, the workstation cards seem like they offer dubious value. For example, the Radeon RX 5700 XT (a $400 gaming graphics card) manages to keep up with the much pricier Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000. Does this mean workstation graphics aren’t worth it?

Not entirely true.

Where these two types of products differ is – official support or official ‘certification.’

Several professional software vendors will only offer support for workstation graphics cards. Here is an example from Solidworks below (link here):

Autodesk Hardware Certification Supported GPUs

Image-Source: Autodesk Website

You can see that the complete Nvidia GeForce, as well as the AMD Radeon lineup, is missing from the list of supported graphics cards. So, does this mean Solidworks won’t run on GeForce and Radeon products?

No.

It just means that Solidworks updates are planned around driver updates for workstation graphics cards in the Quadro and Radeon Pro lineup. Vendors won’t account for gaming graphics cards or their drivers.

Suppose you’re using Solidworks with a gaming graphics card and find that a specific feature broke after an update or is not working as intended, there’s no recourse. Solidworks will offer support for that issue only as long as you are running certified hardware.

Vendors like Autodesk HAVE started to list even gaming graphics cards as “Tested Graphics Cards” along with the driver version tested – making it easier for users to jump into professional apps. But even then, they do come attached with disclaimers like this:

autodesk workstation gpu support

Image-Source: Autodesk Website

At the higher end of the stack, in addition to official support, workstation graphics cards also offer error-correcting memory and/or higher memory bandwidth, more VRAM, and so on. However, this isn’t the case for products at the budget price point.

Only you can decide whether official vendor support for your favorite software is something worth having for your work.

Wrap-up

While Nvidia’s Quadro lineup looks menacing with the Quadro RTX 4000 offering excellent performance and proving its worth, the budget end of Quadro cards is simply not worth it.

If your graphics card budget simply cannot stretch to $1000 or if you’re just getting started in this field, the Radeon Pro W5500 outmatches anything priced near it in the world of workstation graphics cards.

What is your impression of the AMD Radeon Pro W5500? Let us know in the comments!

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Jerry James - post author

Hi, I’m Jerry – a Freelance Technical Content Writer and Strategist.
I’ve been building PCs for the past 15 years, and I’m not stopping anytime soon.
Feel free to comment and ask for my inputs on your PC builds; I’ll do my best to help out!

9 Comments

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  • ExKlusivGamer

    I bought two w5500’s and i also have a WX 7100, radeon pro wx 5100, I have been gaming with workstation gpus for years and years, i prefer to game with them over non workstation gpus. The W5500 is an amazing card, can run any game at 1920×1080 max settings with out any problems. The only problem i notice with workstation gpus, they tend to have opengl related issues, the only gpu that doesn’t have opengl problems are the firepro workstation gpus, firepro 7000, which is odd, considering the radeon pro cards are newer. So certain open gls i can’t run with radeon pro cards.

    So just my opinion but i just love using amd workstation gpus over anything else. I do have a non workstation a RX 570 8GB which is great as well.

  • Lilith

    Solid article overall and I found the info I was looking for (performance) but it seems to be missing a price comparison.

    If it was written this year, that should definitely be a consideration, shouldn’t it?

    I think it should be. I now find it easier to just pay a couple hundred AUD for workstation graphics that are easily available rather than hunting for inflated AF gaming GPUs. A pretty important point of comparison is missing here if someone’s comparing these cards against each other today.

    • Jerry James

      Hey Lilith,

      Yep, the hardware shortages have made this a valid issue. At the time of writing last year, this wasn’t really an issue. Will be updating the article this week with a section that factors in gaming hardware shortages, prices, and workstation hardware availability.

      Cheers!
      Jerry

  • Charles Hunt

    Excellent evaluation. The only thing you didn’t seem to factor in is availability of Gaming hardware. I have always been a Hybrid user: 50% Gen Desktop, 20-25% Gaming, 20-25% Specialty (DAW, Video, Photo). So, my typical build would consist of Workstation Class mobo, memory, storage, with Gaming graphics. It’s been my experience that the extra stability was worth a few extra bucks for a WS Mobo and ECC ram. Mid-level Gaming graphics was a good fit for my mixed use scenarios. But what was once Mid-Level now command Cartel prices. I’m not paying $2K for a Gaming card. The W5500 has been a bargain and still runs my Old School DX games on Steam.

    • Alex Glawion

      Very true, at current Prices, pro-level GPUs are gaining popularity beyond their intended use case.

      We can also see this with the current gen Quadro A4000 and RTX 3060Ti/RTX3070 Cards, that go for similar prices at similar performance.

      Cheers,
      Alex

  • Casey Bryant Goodwin

    In your opinion would I be better off building separate gaming PC and workstation? I imagine with a Xeon E5-2697 and a W5500 I’d be able to run Fusion360, Blender, and digital audio workstation programs significantly better than the Ryzen 5 3400G gaming pc’s I’m building for my wife and I. Am I correct in that?

    • Jerry James

      Hey Casey,

      What kind of games are you planning to play and at what resolution?

      With Ryzen, it IS possible to build an all-rounder system but it depends on your use-case and what kind of budget you’re looking at. Do you already have some of this hardware on hand?

      A Ryzen 9 3900X or Ryzen 9 5900X, for example, will outperform that Xeon E5 system and the 3400G system for both your use-cases (gaming and Fusion+Blender+DAW).

      Cheers!
      Jerry

  • Adrian

    Hi, I’m Adrian. Right now I am building a station, that should be able to handle both the games and the engineering software, like Ansys, paraview, cad etc. Main theme of calculations focus around the CFD calculations with generations of models and grids. The configuration is asrock x570 pro4 with ryzen 7 3700x and right now my dilemma is the choice of proper gpu. Should I choose the consumer card like rx 5700 or the w5500? Thanks in advanced for any advice!

    • Jerry from CGDirector

      Hey Adrian,

      It really depends if official support is something important to your workload (enough to warrant a premium).

      If you aren’t sure which one you need, odds are, you’ll be fine with consumer graphics. Either an RX5700 or an RTX 2060 Super should work fine 🙂

      If you do need workstation graphics then you’ll probably need to shop closer to the $1000 range to get performance similar to the RX 5700/RTX 2060 Super.

      Cheers!
      Jerry