AMD RX 580 GPU..............

“Why oh why AMD!” wails Zak Storey as he tests the lat­est GPU evo­lu­tion.

Linux Format - - CONTENTS -

Dis­cover how the lat­est GPU re­lease from AMD puts more oomph into your gam­ing PC, but not quite as much as we’d hoped for. It’s a tale of new pro­cesses and model num­bers.

Let’s cut straight to the chase. This isn’t a brand new ar­chi­tec­ture. In fact, there’s very lit­tle new about the Radeon RX 580 at all. The launch of this new GPU came with lit­tle fan­fare and frankly, with good rea­son: it’s not AMD’s new Vega tech.

In short, mov­ing from the RX 480 to the 580 pro­vides noth­ing more than a slight over­clock to the base card. In­deed, you could achieve the same re­sults by bump­ing up the power tar­get to 110 per cent, and mov­ing that clock fre­quency slightly higher. So why do it?

Good ques­tion. In short, we can only guess it’s down to im­prove­ments in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process. It’s pos­si­ble that with the RX 500 se­ries, GloFo is us­ing Sam­sung’s 14nm LPU tech, im­prov­ing power ef­fi­ciency and clock speeds in the process. This may ex­plain the ad­di­tional 30W TDP in­cluded on this card, and the slightly higher clocks.

That aside, it’s the nomen­cla­ture that gets us. Tra­di­tion­ally, with every new se­ries of cards, you get one or two re­badges. For in­stance, a 380 be­comes a 470, a 370 be­comes a 460, and so on. Drop­ping the price point, and im­prov­ing power ef­fi­ciency in the process, is great for the con­sumer. This is be­cause cards with sub­stan­tial per­for­mance, com­ing in at an in­cred­i­ble cost, sud­denly be­come more af­ford­able.

The 580, on the other hand, has missed that beat. The RX 480 has mi­grated across to the 580. This would make sense if AMD were about to em­bark upon a new nam­ing scheme, or even if it were to launch two new flag­ships with th­ese re­badges, but that’s sim­ply not the case. So what’s going on? If any­thing, th­ese two cards should have been re­named the 485 and the 475. Es­pe­cially when you in­clude the lack of any ref­er­ence vari­ants.

Enough grum­bling. How does it look from a per­for­mance per­spec­tive? Well, our RX 580 sam­ple was the Sap­phire Nitro+ pre-over­clocked ver­sion, com­pared to our stock RX 480. Gen­er­ally, in games we saw an in­crease of around 10 per­cent across our ti­tles at 1080p. At times we saw jumps of, for in­stance, 34fps to 40fps. Im­pres­sive for a GPU that’s es­sen­tially just a re­hash.

Sweet spot

Who is this card aimed at? In short, any­one who still hasn’t up­graded from AMD’s R9 300 se­ries, or the lower end of Nvidia’s GTX 900 se­ries. It’s a re­hash of an al­ready well-priced graph­ics ar­chi­tec­ture, bring­ing that price-top­er­for­mance her­itage for­ward into 2017. In fact, price-to-per­for­mance-wise, it’s in a bit of a sweet spot. It doesn’t quite wipe Nvidia’s GTX 1060 3GB off the top of the 1080p hill just yet, but it’s close. And with that ex­tra per­for­mance? It’s tempt­ing to say the least. Cou­ple it with a de­cent FreeSync 1080p mon­i­tor, and you’ll be on to a win­ner. Be warned that the all-singing next-gen Vega GPU will ap­pear dur­ing 2017, at some point.

If you’re plan­ning a com­plete sys­tem up­date, AMD wins our vote.

Fancy a 10 per­cent rise in per­for­mance at 1080p? Then this is the card for you.

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