Shadow of the Tomb Raider

PCWorld (USA) - - Reviews | Sapphire Radeon Rx 590 Nitro+ -

our test­ing. Be­cause we ex­ten­sively com­pared the RX

590 against ri­val GPUS like the RX 580 and GTX 1060 in our XFX Fat­boy re­view ( go.pcworld. com/xfxr), we’ll let the bench­marks speak for them­selves for the rest of the games test­ing. Shadow of the Tomb Raider ($60 on Hum­ble at shdw) con­cludes the re­boot tril­ogy, and it’s ut­terly gor­geous— even the state-of-the-art Geforce RTX 2080 Ti barely man­ages to av­er­age 60 fps with all the bells and whis­tles turned on at 4K res­o­lu­tion. Square Enix op­ti­mized this game for DX12, and rec­om­mends DX11 only if you’re us­ing older hard­ware or Win­dows 7, so we test with that. Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses an en­hanced ver­sion of the Foun­da­tion en­gine that also pow­ered Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Far Cry 5

Fi­nally, a Directx 11 game! Far Cry 5 ($60 on Hum­ble at go.pcworld. com/fcr5) is pow­ered by Ubisoft’s long-es­tab­lished Du­nia en­gine.

It’s just as gor­geous as its pre­de­ces­sors, and even more fun.

Ghost Re­con Wild­lands

Move over, Cr­y­sis. If you crank all the graph­ics op­tions up to 11, like we do for these tests, Ghost Re­con Wild­lands ($50 on Hum­ble at recn) and its Anvil­next 2.0 en­gine ab­so­lutely melt GPUS.

Mid­dle-earth: Shadow of War

Mid­dle-earth: Shadow of War ($50 on Hum­ble at go.pcworld. com/shwr) adds a strate­gic layer to the se­ries’ sub­lime core game­play loop, adapt­ing the Neme­sis sys­tem to let you cre­ate an army of per­son­al­ized Orc com­man­ders. It plays like a champ on PC, too, thanks to Mono­lith’s cus­tom Lithtech Fire­bird en­gine. We use the Ul­tra graph­ics pre­set but drop the Shadow and Tex­ture Qual­ity set­tings to High to avoid ex­ceed­ing 8GB of VRAM us­age.

F1 2018

The lat­est in a long line of suc­cess­ful games, F1 2018 ($60 on Hum­ble at f118) is a bench­mark­ing gem,

sup­ply­ing a wide ar­ray of both graph­i­cal and bench­mark­ing op­tions—mak­ing it a much more re­li­able op­tion that the Forza se­ries. It’s built on the fourth ver­sion of Codemasters’ but­terys­mooth Ego game en­gine. We test two laps on the Aus­tralia course, with clear skies.

Ashes of the Sin­gu­lar­ity: Es­ca­la­tion

Ashes of the Sin­gu­lar­ity ($40 on Hum­ble at sing) was one of the very first

DX12 games, and it re­mains a flag­bearer for the tech­nol­ogy to this day thanks to the ex­treme scal­a­bil­ity of Ox­ide Games’ next-gen Ni­trous en­gine. With hun­dreds of units on­screen si­mul­ta­ne­ously and some se­ri­ous graph­ics ef­fects in play, the Crazy pre­set can make graph­ics cards sweat. Ashes runs in both DX11 and DX12, but we only test in DX12, as it de­liv­ers the best re­sults for both Nvidia and AMD GPUS.


We’re go­ing to wrap things up with a cou­ple of older games that aren’t re­ally vis­ual barn­burn­ers, but still top the Steam charts

day-in and day-out. These are games that a lot of peo­ple play. First up: Grand Theft Auto V ($30 on Hum­ble at gta5) with all op­tions turned to Very High, all Ad­vanced Graph­ics op­tions ex­cept ex­tended shad­ows en­abled, and FXAA. GTA V runs on the RAGE en­gine and has re­ceived sub­stan­tial up­dates since its ini­tial launch.

Rain­bow Six Siege

Fi­nally, let’s take a peek at

Rain­bow Six Siege ($40 on Hum­ble at rnss), a game whose au­di­ence just keeps on grow­ing, and one that still feels like the only truly next-gen shooter ( go.pcworld. com/rain) af­ter all these years.

Like Ghost Re­con Wild­lands, this game runs on Ubisoft’s Anvil­next 2.0 en­gine, but Rain­bow Six

Siege re­sponds es­pe­cially well to games that lean on async com­pute fea­tures.


We also tested the Sap­phire Radeon RX 590+ us­ing 3Dmark’s highly re­spected Fire Strike

syn­thetic bench­mark. Fire Strike runs at 1080p, Fire Strike Ex­treme runs at 1440p, and Fire Strike Ul­tra runs at 4K res­o­lu­tion. All ren­der the same scene, but with more in­tense graph­i­cal ef­fects as you move up the scale, so that Ex­treme and Ul­tra fla­vors stress GPUS even more. We record the graph­ics score to elim­i­nate vari­ance from the CPU.

Yep, every­thing falls about where you’d ex­pect af­ter ob­serv­ing the gam­ing bench­marks, which is al­ways the case with Fire Strike. The Sap­phire card scores slightly higher than the XFX Fat­boy de­spite its slightly lower clock speeds, which matches the per­for­mance dif­fer­ence we saw in ac­tual games. Ku­dos to Sap­phire’s mem­ory overclock and badass cooler.

We test power draw by loop­ing the F1 2018 bench­mark af­ter we’ve bench­marked every­thing else with a card, and not­ing the high­est read­ing on our Watts Up Pro me­ter. The ini­tial part of the race, where all com­pet­ing cars are on­screen si­mul­ta­ne­ously, tends to be the most de­mand­ing por­tion.

Even a move to the 12nm process and a highly ef­fec­tive cooler can’t help here. The Radeon RX 580 al­ready drew much more en­ergy than the GTX 1060, and to con­sis­tently tri­umph over Nvidia’s main­stream cham­pion, AMD cranked the Radeon RX 590’s power con­sump­tion to 11. The Sap­phire Radeon RX 590 Nitro+ draws 100W more than the over­clocked EVGA GTX 1060 SSC, and sucks down more juice than even the much more po­tent Vega 56 and GTX 1070.

We test ther­mals by leav­ing Hwinfo’s sen­sor mon­i­tor­ing tool open dur­ing the F1 2018 5-lap power draw test, not­ing the high­est max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture at the end.

And here’s where the Sap­phire RX 590 Nitro+ gets more im­pres­sive. While the XFX Fat­boy runs hot even with a much thicker triple-slot cooler, Sap­phire’s stan­dard-sized dual-slot card never ex­ceeds 75 degrees Cel­sius—a very re­spectable tem­per­a­ture for a main­stream graph­ics card. Sap­phire’s card makes slightly less noise than XFX’S us­ing the

stan­dard Per­for­mance BIOS, too, and its Si­lent BIOS is down­right quiet. This graph­ics card doesn’t make its pres­ence known in any ob­nox­ious ways.


Def­i­nitely, if you’re in the mar­ket for a Radeon RX 590. The Sap­phire Radeon RX 590 Nitro+ ($280 on Newegg at is bet­ter than the XFX RX 590 Fat­boy in ev­ery way, from per­for­mance to size to heat dis­si­pa­tion.

The ques­tion is whether you need a Radeon RX 590. It’s the best main­stream (sub-$300) graph­ics card avail­able for 1080p gam­ing. It puts in a fine show­ing at 1440p res­o­lu­tion, too, es­pe­cially if you don’t mind bump­ing some vis­ual set­tings from Ul­tra to High or have a Freesync mon­i­tor to smooth out any slight frame-rate hic­cups. The Radeon RX 590 pounds on the GTX 1060 in ev­ery game but GTA V at roughly the same street price as Nvidia’s cards, and AMD tosses in three free triple-a games from pop­u­lar se­ries, too. There’s no rea­son to buy a GTX 1060 right now un­less you need a mini-itx GPU for a tiny

PC, or have lim­ited power sup­ply ca­pa­bil­ity. The Radeon RX 590 blows it out of the wa­ter.

But AMD’S other main­stream cards de­liver out­stand­ing value too. A huge num­ber of gamers rock 1080p, 60Hz mon­i­tors. The Radeon RX 570 ex­cels at high-fidelity gam­ing at those set­tings, and it can of­ten be found for un­der $160 on sale. The Radeon RX 580 is a lot faster than the RX 570, but the cus­tom

Asus Strix model we tested is only 7 or 8 per­cent be­hind the Sap­phire RX 590 Nitro+’s per­for­mance. You can usu­ally find some 8GB Radeon RX 580s sell­ing for around $200 on sale ( these days, and you get your choice of two of the three free games that come bun­dled with the RX 590 with the lesser-pow­ered cards. That’s an ab­so­lutely stun­ning value that tar­nishes the RX 590’s al­lure, es­pe­cially with per­for­mance be­ing so close.

Highly over­clocked RX 580 mod­els with beefy cus­tom cool­ers (a.k.a. some­thing sim­i­lar in qual­ity to the Sap­phire RX 590 Nitro+) still tend to cost $250 or more, though. If you want some­thing swanky, or sim­ply want as much fu­ture-proof­ing as pos­si­ble un­der $300, opt­ing for the Radeon RX 590’s ex­tra oomph makes a lot of sense. Sap­phire’s Nitro+ is eas­ily the best Radeon RX 590 we’ve tested. The card de­liv­ers im­pres­sive all-around per­for­mance while stay­ing quiet un­der load, and Sap­phire loaded the card with lux­u­ri­ous fea­tures like fans that idle un­der light loads and a dual BIOS. It looks and feels lux­u­ri­ous, too.

Highly rec­om­mended. Just make sure it makes sense for you to snag a Radeon RX 590 rather than a dis­counted Radeon RX 580 be­fore you pull the trig­ger.

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