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

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AMD Radeon RX 590 - Overclocking, Power, And Noise

We also spent a little time overclocking the new Radeon RX 590, to see what kind of additional performance we could squeeze out of it. Like previous-gen Polaris-based Radeon cards, when the GPU boosts, frequencies and voltages scale upwards (power and temperature permitting) based on the workload at the time. With the WattMan tool built into AMD's drivers though, users have the ability to manually alter frequencies and voltages on a per-voltage step (or state) basis and the power and acoustic targets can be changed as well. There is also a real-time graph available at the top of the interface that maps out GPU activity, clocks, and temperatures, along with the memory clock and fan speed over time.

To overclock the Radeon RX 590, we took the simplest route and began by upping the power and temperature targets to their maximum values and then increased the GPU and memory clocks by a few percentage points at each voltage step.


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Wattman Running On The PowerColor Red Devil RX 590

Ultimately, we ended up with a peak GPU boost clock of 1,650MHz without tuning voltages and an effective 8.1Gbps memory data rate. We should also note that the GPU temperature remained very low on the PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 while overclocked (around 63'C), though we had the fan speed cranked up quite a bit. Dropping the fan speed lower, and as a result making them quieter, would have resulted in higher GPU temps. At a higher speed, however, the fans on the PowerColor Red Devil can be very loud, so we'd definitely suggest finding the sweet spot you're comfortable with should you buy one of these cards and overclock it.

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While we had the card overclocked, we re-ran a couple of tests to see what kind of additional performance it offered up. In the end, the card showed some nice improvements, and was able to break the 60 FPS barrier at 1440p in Rise Of the Tomb Raider.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet
Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a couple of final data points -- power consumption and noise. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored acoustics and tracked how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea of how much power each configuration used while idling and also while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone.

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Although they were measurably faster across the board in every game and application we tested, and run at higher GPU clocks, the PowerColor and XFX Radeon RX 590 cards consumed only slightly more power than the Radeon RX 580 and less than the Vega 56. They used much more power under load than the GeForce GTX 1060, however.

In terms of their noise output, in the XFX Radeon RX 590 FATBOY is much quieter than the PowerColor Red Devil RX 590, when the Red Devil is running in Overclocked Mode. And both cards are louder than the GTX 1060. We couldn't consider either card noisy, but they will definitely be audible in typical chassis, even if it's situated under a desk. When running in Silent Mode, the PowerColor card is definitely more tame the vast majority of the time, but under sustained load, when the GPU heats up, the fans will still make a bit of a racket.


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