Friday, May 20, 2022

RX 550 How a bad value gpu might just be my all time favourite

Quick recap about my cunning plan to overcome the GPU apocalypse last year: We bought a prebuilt Dell with an RTX 3060ti for my wife who is not a gamer. I Took the 3060ti for my gaming machine and put a GTX 1050ti into the Dell. The 1050ti is plenty powerful enough to drive the three monitors my wife uses for work and content creation.  This plan hit a roadblock when it turned out that 1050ti caused intermittent crashes in my wife's machine often during important conference calls. 

Trying to diagnose a problem that randomly occurs once in about 24 hours is incredibly frustrating. I wasn't even sure that the 1050ti was the problem because it worked fine in my PC. The 3060ti itself was not completely immune to crashes but they were much less frequent,  less than one per week. Google threw up a few posts from other users who had similar frustrating crashes with that model of Dell when a graphics card is fitted. The only reliable solution suggested was to remove the GPU and use integrated Intel graphics. Unfortunately that solution won't work for my wife because the integrated graphics are not able to drive the three displays she works with (two monitors and a drawing tablet). [Aside: Intel UHD graphics can drive three displays with display port daisy chaining but our displays don't support that]. 

So I was left in a quandary. I was reluctant to throw money at it and buy another GPU because there was no guarantee that would solve the issue and prices are still inflated. However one thing niggled at me. The internet posters who experienced similar problems were all using Nvidia graphics cards. Some even had success using different Nvidia drivers (I tried that but it didn't work for me). Could it be that there is a specific incompatibility with Nvidia and that an AMD card would solve the problem? I still didn't feel like spending hundreds of euro to test this hypothesis but then I spotted the AMD RX550 on sale in CEX for €80. This is a ridiculous price to pay for a second hand entry level card that cost less than that new four years ago. However after several weeks of frustration I was willing to risk that amount in the hope of a solution and importantly the RX 550 is capable of driving three monitors unlike the similarly priced Nvidia GTX 1030. 

To cut a long story short I bought one and fitted it. I actually spent €10 more for the 4Gb model with some idea that it would have better longevity. It has been running without crashes for about two weeks now. It is too early to say the problem is completely fixed but I can say that the RX 550 is at least as stable as the 3060ti and things are looking promising. 

Intermittent problems are the worst because they are hard to track down and fix. Having an annoying intermittent problem in my own machine would be bad enough. Having one in my wife's machine when she needs it every day and relies on me to keep it running for her was very frustrating. As long as this overpriced, underpowered RX 550 keeps running stably for her I am happy to call it my favourite graphics card ever. 

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