AMD Radeon RX 590 Review: Benchmarks And Overclocking 12nm Polaris

AMD's Radeon RX 590 - 12nm Polaris Refresh, Cards From XFX And PowerColor

AMD has had a fairly sizable hole in its graphics card line-up for quite some time now. Disregarding the craziness crypto-miners caused for a while there, pricing on the Radeon RX 580 has hovered around the $200 mark, whereas most of the Radeon RX Vega 56 cards currently available sell for over $400 – give or take a few bucks. In addition, there have been no current-gen offerings released in between the two. Fortunately, AMD hopes to address this situation today, however, with the launch of a semi-new GPU, the not-so-secret Radeon RX 590.

Over the last few weeks, news of the Radeon RX 590 has steadily leaked out to the web. We’ve covered a number of the stories on the news page, but today we can give you the full scoop. We got a couple of Radeon RX 590 cards in for testing, namely the PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 and XFX Radeon RX 590 FATBOY, and dropped them into a freshly updated test-bed, alongside a handful of other GPUs for the sake of comparison. Before we get to the numbers though, let’s get some particulars out of the way...
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AMD Radeon RX 590
Specifications & Features

The underlying architecture and design of the Radeon RX 590 is similar to the RX 580. The fundamental blocks inside the GPUs are the same – they are both based on AMD’s Polaris graphics architecture, have 2304 stream processors, 144 texture units, 32 ROP, and similar cache configurations and memory interfaces. The only real difference is that the Radeon RX 590 is being manufactured using a newer 12nm FinFET process, which has allowed AMD to crank up the GPU clock, while remaining within a similar power envelope.

AMD’s reference design called for a max boost frequency of 1340MHz for the Radeon RX 580, while the new Radeon RX 590’s recommended max boost frequency is 1545MHz. There aren’t likely to be many reference Radeon RX 590s that hit the scene, however. Virtually all of AMD’s board partners are at the ready with custom designs that also happen to be factory overclocked. Case in point: The PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 and XFX Radeon RX 590 FATBOY we'll be showing you here.

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The XFX Radeon RX 590 FATBOY is stout graphics card, with dual fans and a triple-slot cooler. There’s no fancy lighting or badges on this card, save for a faux carbon-fiber looking texture on the shroud and a couple of basic stickers, but it’s got all of the basics covered and the oversized heatsink does its job well. A pair of 100mm fans blows air across a thick heatsink array, linked by copper heat-pipes, that covers most of the front fact of the card.
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The FATBOY’s backside is out fitted with a stylized reinforcement plate, adorned with ventilation holes and a large XFX logo. The card’s features and most of its specifications mirror AMD’s reference specs, save for the peak GPU clock. The XFX Radeon RX 590 FATBOY has the same core count and memory configuration, etc., but the boost clock will go all the way up to 1600MHz.

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Power comes by way of a pair of PCIe feeds – one 8-pin and one 6-pin, which is way more than enough to accommodate the 185w TDP, and the card has a two-slot mounting bracket with some ventilation, but as mentioned, the cooler will extend past two slots, so for all intents and purposes the card is three slots wide.

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Outputs on the XFX Radeon RX 590 FATBOY consist of a trio of full-sized DisplayPorts, an HDMI port, and a DVI port, all of which can be utilized simultaneously with AMD’s Eyefinity multi-display technology.

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The PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 is also three-slots wide, but has a more elaborate design than XFX’s offering. It too features a pair of 100mm fans that sit atop a large heatsink assembly, but the shroud on the Red Devil RX 590 features a dual-layer, crimson and black design along the same lines as other Red Devil cards, that we think looks great. Similarly, the heatsink covers almost the entire front of the PCB, and makes contact with the GPU, RAM, and VRM. Three thick heat-pipes run from the baseplate, up through the array of heatsink fins.

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There is also a perforated reinforcement / heat-plate on the backside of the PowerColor Red Devil RX 590, with a couple of labels along the top edge that reflect the positions of a pair of tiny switches. The PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 has dual BIOSes on the card, one for the standard overclocked mode and another for silent mode. In the overclocked mode, the card’s GPU will boost up to 1576MHz, use an increased power target, and spin up the fans when the GPU hits 70’C. In silent mode, the card reverts to reference specs (1545MHz boost), but the fans don’t start ramping until the GPU hits 80’C, which means the card is essentially silent until it’s been under load for a while. The overclocked profile is anything but silent, but we’ll chat about that a little later.

The second switch, simply labeled LED switch, can be used to disable the card’s built-in lighting.

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The PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 features a 6+1 power phase setup and requires two PCIe power feeds as well, one 8-pin and one 6-pin. Outputs are similar to the XFX Radeon RX 590 FATBOY too, and consist of three full-sized DisplayPorts, an HDMI port, and DVI port.

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