Date: Tuesday , April 18, 2017
Today marks the introduction of the new AMD Radeon RX 500 series of video cards. The AMD Radeon RX 500 series will succeed the AMD Radeon RX 400 series that was introduced only one year ago in the summer of 2016. The RX 400 series is now going EOL (End of Life) and will not longer be produced once inventories are sold off.
While the Radeon brand is getting a bump in series numbering from "400" to "500," this is in name only. The 500 GPU architecture is based on the same Polaris GCN architecture found in the Radeon RX 400 series lineup. To be clear, this is not the new "Vega" architecture we are all waiting for. You’ll probably hear the word "re-brand" or "re-badge" thrown around a lot today in reviews and discussions. In essence this is what AMD is delivering today, but there have been silicon changes that should improve GPU clock frequencies, and thus performance, and some changes in power draw. The RX 500 series represents a "re-spin" of RX 400 architecture assuredly.
AMD is launching, or re-launching (however you want to look at it) a Radeon RX 580, Radeon RX 570, Radeon RX 560, and a Radeon RX 550. The official pricing is as such: Radeon RX 580 will be $229 with 8GB and $199 with 4GB, Radeon RX 570 will be $169 with 4GB, Radeon RX 560 will be starting at $99 with 2GB, and Radeon RX 550 will be starting at $79 with 2GB.
As we mentioned, the GPU engine is the same Polaris architecture found in the AMD Radeon RX 400 series, so the feature sets are exactly the same as well. AMD has made some transistor level changes to improve switching, to help improve GPU clock frequencies.
This means basically these GPUs are a newer revision of the Polaris chip on a more mature 14nm FinFET process. These factors combine to allow AMD to run the GPU at higher clock frequencies, with more stable voltage, and in turn gives more performance and higher overclocking potential. This is the gist and nature of the changes. AMD has also changed the reference heatsink/fan design and shroud.
In terms of marketing and where AMD is targeting these new video cards, it is clear these are not meant as upgrades from any AMD Radeon RX 400 series GPU. In fact, AMD is pointing its finger all the way back to GPUs of the Radeon R9 380X and GeForce GTX 970 generation of video cards. AMD is positioning the Radeon RX 500 series as a perfect upgrade choice from GPUs of those generations in the 2014-2015 timeframe.
We are only going to discuss the AMD Radeon RX 580 today because that is the video card we will be evaluating. We have a full retail video card from PowerColor lined up with an impressive factory overclock to show you. This was the card that AMD sent to us for review. It is literally named "Golden Sample" on the box and has a higher retail price than RX 580 MSRP, coming in at $270 MSRP. A non-Golden Sample version of the Red Devil RX 580 will carry an MSRP of $230.
The AMD Radeon RX 580 shares the same specifications in terms of Compute Units, Stream Processors, ROPs and TMUs as the AMD Radeon RX 480. That is 36 Compute Units, 2304 Stream Processors, 32 ROPs and 144 Texture Units. It also contains the same 8GB of GDDR5 RAM at 8GHz on a 256-bit bus. What sets it apart is the base and boost clock speeds.
The base/boost clock speed on the AMD Radeon RX 480 is 1120MHz/1266MHz. It’s supposed to run flat out at 1266MHz, but in our testing of pretty much every AMD Radeon RX 480 we have found the GPU clock speed cannot maintain that frequency consistently at default settings in most of our retail card reviews.
The new AMD Radeon RX 580 will now run at a base/boost clock of 1257MHz/1340MHz. That’s a 74MHz increase. We would hope that it runs closer to the 1340MHz mark and stays there, for if it dropped to 1266MHz while gaming then what would be the point of the new clock speed? The TDP of the video card is 185W. This is up from the AMD Radeon RX 480’s 150W. Yes, it does draw more power.
Beyond that, there is really nothing else except new add-in-board partner card designs and factory overclocked clock speeds on retail cards. The GPU and video card is the same in all other ways.