After the successful launch of RYZEN processors for the high-end segment and the mass market, AMD entered the second phase of the reboot. But today the company presents not the long-awaited Vega architecture, but Polaris update in the form of a new line of Radeon RX 500. With new video cards AMD switched to an optimized technical process and made other improvements.However, if you have already purchased a model in the RX 400 line, then the new line is unlikely to interest. AMD itself is aimed at the owners of video cards of earlier generations. Two test cards Radeon RX 580 and one Radeon RX 570 were delivered to our test lab, which we will consider.
AMD sees the gamer market as follows: about 80% of all gaming systems are equipped with a video card class Radeon RX 380X or lower. And for similar models, the upgrade on the Radeon RX 580 justifies itself. Virtual reality is also an advantage, although VR can hardly be considered the main incentive for sales. But, nevertheless, AMD does not forget about the topic of virtual reality.
The AMD Radeon RX 500 line still relies on the Polaris generation, but AMD calls it “Polaris Refined”. The chips are manufactured using a 14-nm process technology, with AMD already using the third generation of the 14-nm process technology. The production technology was certified by Samsung, but the GPU itself is manufactured at the GlobalFoundries plant. The process can be called 14LPP + (LPP stands for Low power performance).
AMD expects from the new technology process small improvements in power consumption, or higher clock speeds with the same power consumption. As can be seen from the clock frequencies. We will return to this issue when considering individual video cards.
Today, AMD presents the Radeon RX 580, RX 570, RX 560 and RX 550 video cards. All four models rely on the Polaris architecture, and some GPUs seem familiar. And the others in the RX 400 line were not produced. All video cards support FreeSync, Radeon Chill, encoding and decoding of HEVC H.265 video in 4K resolution.
Radeon RX 580 is based on the GPU Polaris 20, which in architecture does not differ from the GPU Polaris 10. But still the process technology was optimized, hence the new name. The base frequency and Boost AMD is set at 1.257 and 1.340 MHz. For video partners, the clock speeds will be even higher, they can exceed 1.400 MHz.
The Radeon RX 580 is equipped with 4 or 8 GB of video memory. But we recommend taking a version with 8 GB, so that performance does not rest on the amount of memory. The video memory is connected via a 256-bit interface. The clock speed is 2.000 MHz, so the bandwidth reaches 256 GB / s. We note 36 computational units CU, 2.304 stream processors, 144 texture units and 32 raster pipeline (ROP) pipelines.
The video card Radeon RX 570 is also based on the GPU Polaris 20, but in a different version. We get a significant difference from Radeon RX 470, because instead of 1.792 stream processors Radeon RX 570 now has 2.048 stream processors in 32 CU units. Of course, the market was a variant of Radeon RX 470 with the same number of stream processors, but it was not present in all markets. With the increase in CUs, the number of texture blocks also increased – from 112 to 128. AMD also equips the Radeon RX 570 with a 256-bit memory interface, so here we also get 32 pipelines of raster operations.
The Radeon RX 570 is equipped with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory. It operates at a frequency of 1.650 MHz, which leads to a throughput of 211.2 GB / s. With the video card Radeon RX 570 AMD also increased the base frequency and Boost due to the transition to a new process technology. In the reference model, the frequencies are 1.168 and 1.244 MHz. Again, AMD partners will offer more efficient graphics cards.
The Radeon RX 560 and RX 550 are equipped with two new GPUs. In the case of Radeon RX 560 we get Polaris 21 with 16 CU blocks and 1.024 stream processors. In addition, 64 texture blocks and 16 raster pipeline (ROP) pipelines are available. The base frequency is 1.175 MHz, Boost – 1.275 MHz. The amount of memory has doubled compared to its predecessor to 4 GB. The clock frequency of GDDR5 is 1.750 MHz. 128-bit memory interface works with a bandwidth of 112 GB / s.
Finally, let’s move on to the “younger” Radeon RX 550 video card. With eight CU blocks and just 512 stream processors, it’s only suitable for casual gamers. So far only the Boost frequency of 1.183 MHz is known, AMD did not specify the base frequency and memory frequency. The memory capacity is 2 Gbytes GDDR5, it is connected on a 64-bit interface. That’s why there are a lot of questions about Radeon RX 550, but we expect to receive answers in the near future.
Let’s start with the video card ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 T8G Gaming. This line belongs to the family of ROG Strix, so it has the appropriate functions – a semi-passive cooling system and RGB-backlighting.
ASUS ROF Strix Radeon RX 580 T8G Gaming works with the frequency of Boost 1.431 MHz in OC mode. In the Gaming mode, the frequency is 1.411 MHz. So ASUS added a noticeable factory overclocking. The GDDR5 memory operates at a nominal frequency of 2.000 MHz. Under load, the graphics card showed a rather low GPU temperature of 57 ° C. The voltage was 1.140 V, the power consumption of the GPU according to PowerTune information is 223 W.
Under load, the GPU temperature reached 57 ° C, three fans worked at 1.740 rpm, which corresponds to 50% of the maximum speed. Fans turn on when the GPU is heated to 54 ° C. When the temperature drops to 50 ° C, the fans reset the speed to 1,200 rpm, and then stop. The starting speed of the fans is the same.
The second video card in our review also refers to the flagship Radeon RX 580 line, namely Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro + 8 GB. In Boost mode, the Limited Edition graphics card runs at 1.450 MHz, that is, even faster than ASUS. But we only got a standard version of Nitro +, whose frequency is 1.411 MHz.
In Boost mode with a frequency of 1.411 MHz, the Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro + 8GB graphics card exposes a voltage of 1,150 V, the power consumption of the GPU is 219.3 watts. The maximum temperature of the GPU reaches 68 ° C, while fans are spinning to 2.050 rpm, which corresponds to 30% of the maximum speed. Fans start to work when the GPU heats up to 56 ° C, they stop when cooled to 40 ° C. The initial fan speed is only 750 rpm, so their start is almost not noticeable by ear.
Sapphire has developed its own PCB, which can provide power up to 300 watts. Additional power is supplied to the video card via 8-pin and 6-pin connectors. In Silent mode, the graphics card can only work from one 6-pin power connector. To improve the cooling, Sapphire has switched to a new thermal paste, which provides 30% better thermal conductivity than before.
In the proprietary utility you can choose the mode of operation of Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro +. In Power mode, the clock speed is increased to 1.411 MHz, and the power consumption bar is increased by 5%. In Stealth mode, the main role is assigned to the noise level, Radeon Chill technology is always active, the power consumption bar is reduced by 5%.
The MSI Radeon RX 570 Gaming X 4G was the only representative of the Radeon RX 570 in our test lab. MSI used the company’s Twin Frozr cooler for the video card, which we are familiar with (both in new and in previous versions).
The level of the Radeon RX 580 clock speeds does not reach the graphics card. In Boost mode, the MSI Radeon RX 570 Gaming X 4G frequency was 1.281 MHz. Under load, the GPU reaches a temperature of 60 ° C, the fans rotate at a speed of 1.570 rpm, which corresponds to 41% of the maximum. The GPU voltage is 1.05 V, the power consumption is 131.7 W.
Two video card fans start to work when the GPU is heated to 60 ° C, and they turn off when the GPU is cooled to 48 ° C. MSI could adjust the fan more finely, since the starting speed is 1,200 rpm (as well as the final one before shutdown).
Let’s pass to an estimation of noise level, power consumption and temperature.
Almost all video cards on the AMD GPU and NVIDIA with alternative cooler manufacturers turn off their fans in idle mode. Which is true for the three tested video cards in the Radeon RX 500 line. But the video cards have different temperature thresholds for switching on and stopping the fans, as we mentioned in the review of the models.
The situation under the load is very interesting. As you can see, the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 T8G Gaming noise level of 37.8 dB (A) is much lower than most competitors. In the Radeon RX 580 performance class, the ASUS graphics card is one of the quietest models. It is followed by MSI Radeon RX 570 Gaming X 4G with a noise level of 38 dB (A). The video card Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro + 8GB has a slightly higher noise level – 38.7 dB (A), but it can not be called high.
Despite stopping the fans, we got fairly low temperatures in idle mode. Namely, between 37 ° C and 40 ° C, there are no grounds for criticism here.
Under load, the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 T8G Gaming card surprised 57 ° C. We did not expect such a low temperature from the GPU Polaris 20. The GPU of the MSI Radeon RX 570 Gaming X 4G graphics card warmed by three degrees. However, the temperature was still well below the throttling threshold. The hottest video card Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro + 8GB showed a temperature of 68 ° C, but it does not cause any concern.
In the idle mode, video cards do not significantly affect the power consumption of the entire system. The difference can be measured, but it is not fundamental.
More interesting is the power consumption under load. It is clear that the video cards Polaris did not become a miracle for saving energy. Nevertheless, AMD and video card manufacturers used new opportunities for increasing clock speeds. In comparison with competitors, AMD can not boast of low power consumption.
Problems with the connection of two monitors, we did not find. Power consumption is slightly increased, but does not lead to any problems.
The 3Dmark test from Futuremark is one of the most popular synthetic tests, it allows you to conveniently compare different systems or individual components. Individual modes (Preset) allow you to evaluate various aspects of the system – up to the resolution of UltraHD / 4K. The test was originally developed under DirectX 11, but today 3DMark also allows you to evaluate the optimization for DirectX 12, analyzing the number of Draw calls.
Luxmark 3.0 is a rendering test that relies on the OpenCL interface and a wide hardware base of video cards. Luxmark was developed as a test for determining the performance of LuxRender. LuxRender 2.x API is used to calculate the scene. The result is given in samples per second.
On overclocking GPU AMD Polaris miracles do not work. Unlike GPU Pascal from NVIDIA, which with extreme cooling overclocked above 3.000 MHz, AMD GPUs “surrender” much earlier. We tried to overclock our Radeon RX 580 and RX 570 video cards, having received the following results.
ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 T8G Gaming: 1.475 / 2.250 MHz
Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro + 8GB: 1.465 / 2.250 MHz
MSI Radeon RX 570 Gaming X 4G: 1.350 / 2.000 MHz
Developers of GPU often resort to updating their own lines, so a similar step AMD is not surprising. The reason lies in the fact that contract manufacturers of chips for several months sometimes it turns out to significantly improve the process technology. The result of these improvements and depends on whether the developer of the GPU to release a new line or not. AMD decided to introduce a new line based on the generation of Polaris, based on the improvement of the technical process. A similar step NVIDIA can do with the architecture of Pascal, although there is no reliable information about it. Intel also improves its 14-nm process technology, so the market will be released line Core i7-8000 in the form of Kaby Lake Refresh .
There is a question of comparison with the ruler Radeon RX 400. Here it is worth taking a closer look at the differences. In the case of the Radeon RX 580, there is nothing revolutionary, since the previous GPU is used. The performance increase compared to the Radeon RX 480 models from AMD partners is 3-5%. In the case of Radeon RX 570, the increase is greater, since the number of stream processors has increased. But completely new GPUs with Radeon RX 560 and RX 550 video cards came to the market. Unfortunately, we did not have time to test them yet.
Compared with the Radeon RX 400 series, the performance gain is small, so if you have already purchased the corresponding video card, it hardly makes sense to switch to the Radeon RX 500. But if you have a video card of the Radeon R9 200 generation or older, you should think about upgrading. However, in this case, it is worth comparing the performance with competitors NVIDIA. Many manufacturers offer interesting variants of the GeForce GTX 1060, which with factory overclocking will be faster than the Radeon RX 580 models. As for the Radeon RX 570, it’s difficult to single out the opponent from NVIDIA, except for the GeForce GTX 1060 with 3 GB of video memory. Therefore, we recommend comparing prices.
Despite the good price / performance ratio, there is a drawback with new video cards: too high power consumption of models with factory overclocking. The architecture of Polaris can be effective, but with increasing clock speeds this advantage is lost. In any case, AMD managed to improve the Polaris video card, but whether it was worthwhile to present a new series is an open question. Vega graphics cards will be released in its Radeon RX Vega lineup, so it was unlikely to start a new series of Radeon RX 500. But AMD’s marketing department does not waste its money.
Video cards Radeon RX 580 will be sold at a very attractive price 259 euros. Thus, the price is at the level of GeForce GTX 1060 with 6 GB of video memory. Video cards GeForce GTX 1060 with 3 GB of video memory can already be purchased 180 euros. And to compete with them, the Radeon RX 570 is targeted at a price of 199 euros. Both AMD video cards will be sold in retail from today.
While we can not perform tests of performance Radeon RX 560 and RX 550, because the video cards have not yet entered the test lab. But AMD indicates for Radeon RX 560 the recommended price of 99 euros, availability since May. Radeon RX 550 video card will cost a little cheaper – 79 euros, availability is expected from April 20.