AMD Radeon RX 500 launches today and reviews hit the web

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 18 2017 @ 16:02 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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Without much fanfare, AMD just rolled out its Radeon RX 500 series. The reason for this is because this is more of an incremental update and is perhaps what the Radeon RX 400 lineup should have been. The lineup includes a $99 Radeon RX 560 2GB, a $169 Radeon RX 570 4GB, a $199 Radeon RX 580 4GB and a $229 Radeon RX 580 8GB. There should also be a Radeon RX 550, not sure about the pricing of that one.

Quite a number of Radeon RX 580 and Radeon RX 570 reviews hit the web so lets take a look at how the new cards stack up. The Tech Report took a look at both models and concludes the RX 500 series closes the gaps that existed between the RX 400 series and NVIDIA's lineup, but the AMD cards consume a lot more power and generate more noise:
A fuller set of tests might swing the pendulum more decisively in favor of AMD or Nvidia at this price point, but we think we've gathered enough data to say that the RX 500 series successfully closes the small gaps that existed between RX 400-series cards and the Nvidia competition. Depending on how prices work out at e-tail for this highly competitive segment, we think the conclusion is simple: buy an RX 570 or RX 580 if you were planning to buy an RX 470 or RX 480. If heat or power consumption are a concern for you, get the GTX 1060 6GB instead. You really can't go wrong either way.
PC Perspective writes this Polaris Refresh doesn't change a whole lot for the high-end gaming card market, AMD still doesn't have anything interesting over the $250 mark. Basically, the RX 500 offers more performance than the RX 400 series at the same price points but the RX 580 doesn't put a lot of pressure on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060. The performance of the RX 580 is about 1-7 percent better than the RX 480 but this comes at a disproportionally larger power consumption.

As the site notes, AMD tried to pass off the Radeon RX 480 as a 150W TDP card which resulted in all the RX 480 power problems that hit the web last year. This time AMD gave up that goal, the company provides an 8-pin PCIe power connector on the reference card and updated the card's TDP to 185W.
Starting with how the new Radeon RX 580 compares to the RX 480, there isn’t much to write home about. In our testing, the slightly higher clock speeds of the RX 580 give us anywhere from 1-7% better average frame rate without affecting the clock speed stability in any negative way. As we stated up front in this story, the RX 500-series cards are NOT meant to be part of any upgrade from the RX 400-series as the performance they provide is nearly equivalent. Compared to older generation cards though, the RX 580 still becomes the best option from AMD to move into higher quality 1080p and 1440p gaming. If you are reading this on a Radeon R9 380 or older, and AMD runs in your blood, the RX 500 cards are now the best mainstream card to move to.
If you aren't tired of reading yet, you can get a third opinion at AnandTech. They also conclude that AMD sacrificed power efficiency in effort to get closer to the performance offered by NVIDIA's mainstream cards. AMD's competitive situation has improved, but not by a lot, and both cards feature heavy competition from the GeForce GTX 1060 3GB/6GB. Lower pricing is needed to shift the balance in AMD's favor:
As for the competitive landscape then, AMD’s situation has improved, though I fear by not enough. Across the full spread of games in our benchmark suite, the RX 580 and GTX 1060 6GB change lead a few different times, so the RX 580 is able to best NVIDIA’s best in absolute performance in the right games. The problem for AMD is that those games appear to be too few; as a result the RX 580 trails the GTX 1060 by an average of 7% at both 1080p and 1440p. AMD has narrowed the gap somewhat – this was an 11% deficit with the RX 480 – but not by enough. And coupled with AMD’s worse power efficiency, this puts AMD in a tough spot. The biggest challenge right now is that GTX 1060 prices have come down to the same $229 spot just in time for the RX 500 series launch, so AMD doesn’t have a consistent price advantage. That’s the one thing AMD can change, and it’s likely to be where they need to look next.
The next big thing from AMD will be the Vega architecture, the first desktop GPUs based on Vega are expected later this quarter.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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