AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB
As with AMD’s Radeon RX 580 (see Issue 166, p23), the Radeon RX 570 might have a new name, but it isn’t a new GPU. It’s based on the same Polaris architecture found in its immediate predecessor, the Radeon RX 470, but has the benefits of a tweaked FinFET 14nm manufacturing process, which enables AMD to reliably increase its clock speed further.
While the basic underlying chip architecture is basically the same, however, these tweaks were enough to propel the RX 580 into the mid-range GPU winning spot last month. Sometimes all a GPU needs is a little tweaking and some faster clock speeds to push it in front of the competition, but is the same true of the RX 570?
The RX 570 does indeed offer a healthy clock frequency boost over the RX 470, taking the stock GPU base clock from 926MHz to 1168MHz, and the boost clock from 1206MHz to 1244MHz. The 4GB of GDDR5 memory runs at the same 1750MHz (7GHz effective) frequency though. There’s clearly some overclocking headroom too, as the Sapphire Nitro+ card we tested has a massive 1340MHz boost clock.
Otherwise, the specs are the same as those of the Radeon RX 470, with 2,048 stream processors, 128 texture units, 32 ROPs and a 256-bit wide memory interface. Power requirements don’t seem to have increased massively either, with stock speed cards coming with just a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector, although our Sapphire Nitro+ test card adds another 8-pin connector on top to ensure the overclocked GPU gets all the power it needs.
The Sapphire Nitro+ card we tested is also really well built, featuring a solid metal backplate, thick heatpipes and a pair of exceptionally quiet fans (even during gaming), along with neat blue LED lighting. It isn’t cheap at £200 inc VAT, but it’s quiet and well built. If you’re looking for a cheaper card, Sapphire’s own stock-speed Pulse ITX RX 570 card costs just £165 inc VAT, and only needs a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector.
So, on to the big question, are the RX 570’s clock speed tweaks enough to give it the edge in the highly competitive sub-£200 GPU market? The Radeon RX 470 struggled here, because GTX 1060 3GB cards were much quicker and only slightly more expensive, and 4GB RX 480 cards didn’t cost much more money either.
We’ll start with the good news first, which is that the Radeon RX 570 represents an enormous leap in performance over the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. The cheaper Nvidia GPU can just about handle 1080p gaming, but the Radeon RX 570 batters it into submission with its superior performance at 2,560 x 1,440. The RX 570 also successfully beats its predecessor, managing a borderline playable 27fps minimum in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at 2,560 x 1,440, while the RX 470 could only manage an unplayable 23fps. In all our tests, the RX 570 was well in front of the RX 470.
The RX 570 still shares a big problem with the RX 470, though, which is that cards based on Nvidia’s GeForce GTX
1060 3GB cost just £10 more (the Asus Turbo version currently costs £175 inc VAT on www.scan.co.uk), and are significantly faster. The Nvidia card is either the same speed as the RX 570, or quicker, in every test except Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, an AMD Gaming Evolved title. The GTX 1060 3GB’s extra power means it never drops below 32fps in Fallout 4 at Ultra settings at 2,560 x 1,440, while the RX 570 can only manage a borderline playable 28fps.
The GTX 1060 3GB also offers superior power efficiency. For the most part, the Radeon RX 570’s power draw isn’t too bad, but it starts spiking after it’s been running for a while, with our test rig drawing 305W from the mains during the third run of our Unigine Valley – 62W more than with the GTX 1060 3GB installed.
The Radeon RX 570 has one advantage over the GTX 1060 3GB, though, which is an extra 1GB of memory, which undoubtedly also helped it in the 2,560 x 1,440 Deus Ex test, which pushes graphics memory hard. That extra memory will only be useful in a handful of games at higher resolutions though.
We clocked down our Sapphire Nitro+ card to stock RX 570 speeds for our game tests, so we could judge the GPU on its own terms, but we also wanted to see the difference made by Sapphire’s overclock. Sapphire leaves the memory frequency alone, but ups the GPU boost clock to 1340MHz, boosting the Fallout 4 minimum to 29fps at 2,560 x 1,440.
We then tried our own tweaks with the power limit increased by 50 per cent in Radeon WattMan, and found there was enough headroom on our card to push the memory all the way up to 2145MHz (8.58GHz effective), and the GPU core to 1370MHz. These settings brought the Fallout 4 minimum up to a respectable 31fps at 2,560 x 1,440. There’s clearly some decent tweaking headroom available on RX 570 cards, although our Sapphire test card also had the benefit of extra power from the 8-pin socket.
AMD’s Radeon RX 570 improves on its predecessor, and It also provides a substantial performance boost over the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. However, it’s currently in a difficult place at its price of £165 inc VAT, as it only costs an extra tenner to buy yourself a GTX 1060 3GB card. The latter might not have quite as much memory, but the difference is small and it’s a much faster and more power-efficient card. The Radeon RX 580 8GB’s tweaks were enough to put it in front of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 6GB cards, but the GTX 1060 3GB is still the king in the sub-£200 league.
It represents an enormous leap in performance over the GTX 1050 Ti