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AMD RX 590 extends Polaris to high-end of midrange and celebrates with three games

Polaris tick-tock plus a game library

Posted: By Robert Dow and Jon Peddie 11.20.18

To celebrate how great the Polaris GPU has been for AMD they are offering a new shrink version with a fantastic deal — a collection of new games.

Since it was first announced in 2015, the 14nm “tick” of the Polaris GPU was built in GlobalFoundries’ fab. AMD launched the 14nm RX580 in April 2017 for $229 (8 GB GDDR5).

AMD has been able to stretch the life of the Polaris by doing a shrink to 12 nm. With that, the company introduced the RX 590 at $279 (8GB GDDR5). However, the price, which is $50 higher than the introductory price for the RX 580 includes three new games (Resident Evil 2 ($59.99), Devil May Cry 5 ($59.99) and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 ($59.99), worth $180 total making the cost of the AIB only $100. And since they are all new games not out yet there’s no risk of getting a game one already has.

Three first-class games come with the RX 590

The RX 590 is a “tock,” a shrink and a mid-life kicker. It has the same core count as the 580, but it has a higher base clock (1.47GHz) and much higher over-clockingto1.55GHz and maybe even more. The price for that higher clock is power consumption, the 580 uses 185w, whereas the 590 uses 225w.

Performance-wise the RX 590 is a solid, high-performance midrange AIB that is priced beyond the traditional midrange price boundary of $100 to $250. So price-wise it should be categorized as a high-end AIB, but it doesn’t have the performance to justify that categorization. AMD positions it as a 1080p class AIB. It could be argued that the bundled three games is a special case and that it is still (through some magic formula) really priced in the classic midrange band. That becomes a How many angels on the head of a pin discussion and not very interesting or important.

Nvidia has a midrange AIB in a similar price range, the 16 nm GTX 1060 which has 6GB of GDDR5 and sell for $259.

We ran a series of test, some in-game benchmarks and some synthetic benchmarks to get an idea of the average performance differences of the two AIBs. We measured test scores and fps. 

For test scores, we took the average of the results from 3DMark TimeSpy, 3DMark FireStrike Extreme, Unigine Superposition 1080P Extreme, and Final Fantasy XV. We also took the average fps from 3DMark TimeSpy, 3DMark FireStrike Extreme, Unigine Superposition 1080P Extreme, Hitman (2560x1440 High), Tomb Raider - (2560x1440 Highest PreSet), Shadow of the Tomb Raider - (2560x1440 High PreSet), and Dues EX MD (2560x1440 High PreSet).

 

 

We then calculated the Pmark for each AIB. We calculated the Pmark for both average test score and for average fps and got the results shown in the following two charts.

 

The AMD RX 590 outperformed Nvidia GTX 1060 by 6.3% in the Pmark using average test scores.

 

XFX RX 590 outperformed Nvidia GTX 1060 by 8.5% in the Pmark using average fps scores.

 

The data for the above results are shown in the following table.

  XFX RX 590   EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 Difference (Rx/GFX) Difference (Rx/GFX)
Price $279.99 $259.99 7.7%
TDP 225 120 87.5%
Performance 4678.3 4084.5 14.5%
Pmark (score) 167.1 157.2 6.3%
Price $279.99 $259.99 7.7%
TDP 225 120 87.5%
FPS 42 34.9 20.5%
Pmark (fps) 154.4 142.4 8.5%
Comparison of XFX RX 590 to EVGA GTX 1060

 

It’s difficult to make an exact comparison between the two AIBs. The 16 nm Pascal-based GTX 1060 was released in August 2016. The Pascal GPU was introduced in April 2016. So, it’s a newer design than the AMD Polaris which was introduced in late 2015. The RX 590 has a process advantage over the GTX 1060 (12 nm vs. 16 nm). Their prices are close, but the AMD AIB includes $180 worth of games — should we have discounted that in the Pmark calculation? So the comparison is a relative comparison, not an absolute.

The RX 590 comes with AMD’s FreeSync technology, and the company says there are now over 500 monitors available that support the feature. FreeSync monitors can be found for as low as $280 (Acer 24.5-inch 1080p). For $499 you can get a Samsung 32-inch 1440p, with Freesync 2 HDR technology.

AMD positions the RX 590 as a 1080p AIB citing Stream’s hardware survey which indicates 64% of Steam gamers who share their system data are using a 1080p monitor. At 1080p AMD and claims 60+ fps in FarCry 5, 90+ fps in Doom, and over 120 fps in Overwatch and Wolfenstein 2. We ran all our tests at 2560 ×1440 and found the performance to be quite acceptable, as shown in the following chart.

Comparative frame rates at 2560 × 1440

 

Compared to the RX580, the RX 590 GPU clock is 16.9% faster, and including the game bundle 16.7% more expensive, so as an upgrade from a 580 (although we’re not sure why anyone would do that) it’s a very good deal.

AMD looked at the market and concluded there was a performance gap in the middle and positioned the RX 590 to fit in it.

 

And although crypto-mining using an AIB is on its way out, if someone wanted to mine when not gaming the RX 590 would do a very good job at it, although it would draw significant power in the process.

What do we think?

AMD has made the RX 590 about as competitive as an AIB could be. It meets and beats the competition, has a rich feature set including FreeSync, performs above its specifications (1440p res), and comes with a great bundle of games. We think this will be a terrific holiday gift to give one’s self or to get.

MSI, ASUS, Sapphire, XFX, and PowerCooler will be offering the RX 590 so it should be easy to find. You can find them on Amazon and NewEgg already.

People who buy the RX 590 will receive codes to be used to download the games when they become available.