AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB Review

That's right: the Radeon RX 580 8GB isn't new by any meaningful measure. It's an updated version of last year's Radeon RX 480, based on the same Ellesmere GPU under AMD's Polaris umbrella. If your memory of last June's launch is a little hazy, our AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Review covers the architecture in detail. It predates Nvidia's response, though, so let's get caught up with the state of mainstream gaming in 2017.

A couple of weeks after AMD debuted its RX 480, Nvidia followed up with GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, which outperformed Polaris in most of our benchmark suite. But it was also more expensive. And as time went on, a wider selection of DirectX 12 games showed that Nvidia's advantage really only applied to DirectX 11. These days, Radeon RX 480 8GB and GeForce GTX 1060 6GB are priced fairly competitively to reflect the fact that they trade blows, depending on what you play.

AMD wants something a little more decisive, though. So it's turning up the core clock on Ellesmere, dialing its starting price to $230, and slapping a new name on the tweaked configuration: Radeon RX 580. This is a familiar move from AMD's playbook. Old favorites like the 2012-era Pitcairn GPU span as many as four generations of Radeon products, after all.


Nvidia GeForce GTX 970Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Founder's EditionAMD Radeon RX 480 (Reference)Sapphire Nitro+ RX 580 LESapphire Nitro+ RX 580
GPU (Codename)GM204 (Maxwell)GP106 (Pascal)Ellesmere XT (Polaris 10)Ellesmere XT (Polaris 10)Ellesmere XT (Polaris 10)
Shader Units16641280230423042304
Base & Boost Clocks1050 MHz / 1178 MHz1506 MHz / 1709 MHz1120 MHz / 1266 MHz1450 MHz/1411 MHz1411 MHz/1340 MHz
Memory Size & Type4GB GDDR56GB GDDR58GB GDDR58GB GDDR58GB GDDR5
Memory Clock1750 MHz2027 MHz2000 MHz2000 MHz2000 MHz
Memory Bandwidth224 GB/s192.2 GB/s256 GB/s256 GB/s256 GB/s
FansRadialRadialRadial(2) 95mm Axial(2) 95mm Axial
Ports(3) DP, (1) DVI-I, (1) HDMI 2.0(3) DP, (1) DVI-D, (1) HDMI 2.0(3) DP, (1) HDMI 2.0(2) DP, (1) DVI-D, (2) HDMI 2.0(2) DP, (1) DVI-D, (2) HDMI 2.0
Power Connectors(2) 6-pin(1) 6-pin(1) 6-pin(1) 8-pin, (1) 6-pin(1) 8-pin, (1) 6-pin
Dimensions (LxHxD)26.7 x 11.1 x 3.5cm25.4 x 10.7 x 3.5cm24.2 x 10.5 x 3.5cm26.2 x 13.2 x 3.5cm26.2 x 13.2 x 3.5cm
Weight??845g685g974g974g
Warranty3 Years3 YearsN/A2 Years2 Years

The question now is whether Radeon RX 580 changes the narrative in any way. Does the performance, pricing, and power of "Polaris, Enhanced" strike hard at Nvidia's GP106 processor, or does it only serve to obfuscate the mainstream market with a new name on something old?

AMD didn't bother with a new reference design this time around, and the old one wasn't suitable for RX 580 due to issues we exposed in our Radeon RX 480 launch story and follow-up coverage. Instead, AMD's partners were tasked with designing their own Radeon RX 580s and sending out overclocked versions for sampling ahead of launch. In response, we set aside our reference boards and sought out factory-overclocked models of competing products to compare.

Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 580 Limited Edition

The Tom's Hardware U.S. and German labs received Sapphire's Nitro+ Radeon RX 580 Limited Edition card. It boasts two BIOSes with different clock rates: one sets an ambitious 1450 MHz boost clock and 1411 MHz silent mode, while the other employs a 1411 MHz boost frequency and 1340 MHz silent mode. All of our performance, power, temperature, and acoustic measurements are taken at the 1450 MHz setting, though that latter configuration is in line with what you'll see from most other partner boards. 

Consequently, our launch coverage of Radeon RX 580 is more a review of Sapphire's specific implementation than an evaluation of Ellesmere, revamped. But it should still address what AMD's "new" cards are capable of. Don't expect to find this board anywhere near AMD's $230 starting price. Rather, we're told the aggressively-overclocked model will sell for $275, making it the priciest RX 580 at launch time.

The diagram below illustrates Sapphire's design. It's quite a bit different than the Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 that precedes it.

From the outside, this card's understated appearance is neither gaudy nor cheap-looking. It's classy, but not plain. The plastic fan shroud resembles polished metal. Once you touch it, though, the cover's composition is immediately apparent.

On the other hand, Sapphire's sturdy backplate is made of metal. It's also quite a bit flashier with a clean mix of black, grey, and aluminum.

The Nitro+'s length, from the outer edge of its slot bracket to the end of the cooler, is 26.2cm. Its height, from the motherboard slot's top edge to the cooler's protruding heat pipes, is 13.2cm. A depth of 3.5cm makes this a medium-size dual-slot card. Roughly 0.5cm of the depth measurement is attributable to that backplate though, which could affect compatibility with large CPU coolers or mini-ITX-based form factors.

Two 8mm heat pipes made of nickel-plated composite material, an illuminated Sapphire logo, and two power connectors (one eight- and one six-pin) are visible from above the card.

Underneath, you get a good look at Sapphire's heat sink and the thermal solution's two 6mm heat pipes. We also catch a glimpse of the sink responsible for drawing heat away from the MOSFETs.

The cooler’s fins are arranged horizontally, and the end of the card is open to promote air flow. There should be some ventilation possible through the slot bracket as well. Unfortunately, only one small area allows air to escape. The rest of the bracket is monopolized by display outputs, including a big DVI-D port that's slowly going out of vogue.

Interestingly, Sapphire deploys two HDMI 2.0 connectors, likely a nod to enthusiasts with VR headsets, and a pair of DisplayPort 1.4-ready outputs.

Specifications

Test System and Methodology

We introduced our new test system and methodology in How We Test Graphics Cards. If you'd like more detail about our general approach, check that piece out.

Specifically, for this review, we split testing between our U.S. (performance) and German (power, acoustics, thermal) labs. As mentioned, we set aside our reference-class boards in favor of factory-overclocked models that better represent today's selection of available products. After experimenting with the Windows 10 Creators Update, we were forced to uninstall it after discovering compatibility issues between several games and our measurement software. We're working to address this. However, all results are generated using the latest drivers, including AMD's Crimson ReLive Edition 17.4.2 package, the 500-series press driver, and Nvidia's 381.65 Game-Ready driver.

Special thanks goes to AMD for ensuring our two labs received the same hardware for evaluation, Gigabyte for replacing our Founders Edition card with its GeForce GTX 1060 G1 Gaming 6G, and MSI for replacing our AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB with its own Radeon RX 480 Armor 8G OC. The full list of contenders includes:

Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 4GB





The hardware used in our German lab includes:

Test Equipment and Environment
System
- Intel Core i7-7700K
- MSI Z270 Gaming M7
- Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3200 @ 2400 MT/s
- 1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System SSD)
- 2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)
- Be Quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W PSU
- Windows 10 Pro (All Updates)
Cooling
- Alphacool Eispumpe VPP755
- Alphacool NexXxoS UT60 Full Copper 360mm
- Alphacool Cape Corp Coolplex Pro 10 LT
- 5x Be Quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM
- Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (Used when Switching Coolers)
PC Case
- Lian Li PC-T70 with Extension Kit and Mods
- Configurations: Open Benchtable, Closed Case
Power Consumption Measurement
- Contact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card)
- Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable
- Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply
- 2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function
- 4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100kHz, DC)
- 4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500MHz)
- 1 x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
Thermal Measurement

- 1 x Optris PI640 80Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect
- Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording

Noise Measurement
- NTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File, Low Cut at 50Hz)
- Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)
- Creative X7, Smaart v.7
- Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H)
- Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm
- Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA)
- Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise

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101 comments
    Your comment
  • max0x7ba
    Battlefield 1 2560x1440, Ultra benchmark Radeon RX 580 minimum fps does not look right.
    0
  • lasik124
    Unless I am really missing something, can't you just slightly overclock the 480 to match the slight performance boost the 580 has?
    1
  • FormatC
    Anonymous said:
    Battlefield 1 2560x1440, Ultra benchmark Radeon RX 580 minimum fps does not look right.
    Take a look at the frametimes at start. I think, it's a driver issue, because it was reproducible ;)

    Anonymous said:
    Unless I am really missing something, can't you just slightly overclock the 480 to match the slight performance boost the 580 has?
    No, it were in each case less than 1375 MHz. Slower as the Silent Mode of this 580 and simply too hot for my taste. The problem is not the pre-defined clock rate itself but the reduced real clocks from power tune due temps and voltage/power limtations;)
    3
  • lasik124
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Battlefield 1 2560x1440, Ultra benchmark Radeon RX 580 minimum fps does not look right.
    Take a look at the frametimes at start. I think, it's a driver issue, because it was reproducible ;)

    Anonymous said:
    Unless I am really missing something, can't you just slightly overclock the 480 to match the slight performance boost the 580 has?
    No, it were in each case less than 1375 MHz. Slower as the Silent Mode of this 580 and simply too hot for my taste. The problem is not the pre-defined clock rate itself but the reduced real clocks from power tune due temps and voltage/power limtations;)



    So i guess what Im trying to ask is it worth buying at 580 (Currently at a 7870) or save a couple bucks pick up a 480 non reference cooler and be able to slightly overclock it to get in game benchmarks similar if closely identical to the current 580?
    0
  • Math Geek
    no, you'll get the 480 numbers with a 480. the tested card was already oc'ed and you won't get any better manually. the changes made to the 580 can't be done to the 480.

    want the extra few fps, then you'll want to get a 580.
    -2
  • turkey3_scratch
    I like the design of the Nitro card.
    4
  • Tech_TTT
    I dont get it , for sure AMD could release this card as the original RX 480 long ago , why did they allow Nvidia GTX 1060 to steal the RX 480 share ?

    Very Stupid Strategy ... I now alot of people who bought GTX 1060 and wished AMD were better Just to take advantage of the cheaper Freesync Monitors.

    AMD you lost millions of buyers !!! for nothing !!!
    -6
  • turkey3_scratch
    Anonymous said:
    I dont get it , for sure AMD could release this card as the original RX 480 long ago , why did they allow Nvidia GTX 1060 to steal the RX 480 share ?

    Very Stupid Strategy ... I now alot of people who bought GTX 1060 and wished AMD were better Just to take advantage of the cheaper Freesync Monitors.

    AMD you lost millions of buyers !!! for nothing !!!


    Don't think it's as simple as you make it out to be. They're a huge company with a ton of professionals, they know what they're doing.
    2
  • madmatt30
    Anonymous said:
    I dont get it , for sure AMD could release this card as the original RX 480 long ago , why did they allow Nvidia GTX 1060 to steal the RX 480 share ?

    Very Stupid Strategy ... I now alot of people who bought GTX 1060 and wished AMD were better Just to take advantage of the cheaper Freesync Monitors.

    AMD you lost millions of buyers !!! for nothing !!!

    .
    Better binning ,refinements on the power circuitry - something thats come with time after the initial production runs of the rx470/480.
    Fairly normal process for how amd work in all honesty.
    Has it lost them some custom to prospective buyers in the last 6 months since the rx series was released ?? Maybe a few - not even 1% of the buyers they'd have lost if theyd actually held the rx series release back until now though!!
    9
  • Tech_TTT
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I dont get it , for sure AMD could release this card as the original RX 480 long ago , why did they allow Nvidia GTX 1060 to steal the RX 480 share ?

    Very Stupid Strategy ... I now alot of people who bought GTX 1060 and wished AMD were better Just to take advantage of the cheaper Freesync Monitors.

    AMD you lost millions of buyers !!! for nothing !!!

    .
    Better binning ,refinements on the power circuitry - something thats come with time after the initial production runs of the rx470/480.
    Fairly normal process for how amd work in all honesty.
    Has it lost them some custom to prospective buyers in the last 6 months since the rx series was released ?? Maybe a few - not even 1% of the buyers they'd have lost if theyd actually held the rx series release back until now though!!


    Thats the Job of the R&D in the beta testing interval .. not after release, I am not buying this explanation at all.
    -5
  • Tech_TTT
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I dont get it , for sure AMD could release this card as the original RX 480 long ago , why did they allow Nvidia GTX 1060 to steal the RX 480 share ?

    Very Stupid Strategy ... I now alot of people who bought GTX 1060 and wished AMD were better Just to take advantage of the cheaper Freesync Monitors.

    AMD you lost millions of buyers !!! for nothing !!!


    Don't think it's as simple as you make it out to be. They're a huge company with a ton of professionals, they know what they're doing.


    Blind faith ?

    sorry does not work .

    well Apple were huge once and they knew what they were doing and still lost the market when they kicked Steve Jobs out ...

    Digital Equipment were huge once ... they knew what they were doing

    SGI were huge once they knew what they were doing ...

    Comaq once were better than Dell they knew what they were doing .. where is Compaq now ?

    sorry does not work this way .
    -6
  • Isokolon
    Pretty sure they've released the rx480 ASAP
    And the Rx580 now wasn't ready back then

    It was important to release the 480 before the 1060 would come out to get early buyers.
    The fact that it took almost a year to release the 580 shows a lot.

    If they'd had waited with the 480 a few month they'd probably lost a huge amount of money
    2
  • madmatt30
    Not seeing any reason to be disappinted at all personally.
    The 480 is still a good card for anyone who bought one on release - for anyone who hasnt it means a big price drop to the same pricepoint as the 1060 3gb for the 8gb models.

    The rx cards were a totally new fabrication process for amd after using pretty much the same stuff for the last 3 generations.
    Better binning refinements come with time on a new process!

    Where do you think the intel kaby lake chips appeared from 12-18 months after skylake ?? Theyre quite simply from a refined process & better binning of the same production line.
    Its a normal process , amd actually just managed it a bit quicker than is normal for them.
    8
  • Sakkura
    Anonymous said:

    Blind faith ?

    sorry does not work .

    well Apple were huge once and they knew what they were doing and still lost the market when they kicked Steve Jobs out ...

    Digital Equipment were huge once ... they knew what they were doing

    SGI were huge once they knew what they were doing ...

    Comaq once were better than Dell they knew what they were doing .. where is Compaq now ?

    sorry does not work this way .


    Apple lost the market and were huge once? Excuse me, they just set a quarterly revenue record with 78 billion dollars earned in Q4 2016 (fiscal Q1 2017).

    The RX 480 was held to low clocks because the process node wasn't mature, and it was one of the first gaming GPUs in a long time not built by TSMC. It's only natural that they would eventually be able to reach higher clocks, which were not feasible at the 480 launch.

    Funny thing is it bears at least a passing resemblance to Nvidia's troubles with the GTX 480 back in the day. The GTX 580 polished that up.
    3
  • elbert
    Anonymous said:
    Unless I am really missing something, can't you just slightly overclock the 480 to match the slight performance boost the 580 has?

    The 480 has a voltage limit of 1.15v so you had to mode the bios on the 480 to break beyond 1.4Ghz. Yes it could be done but only those that know how. Last OC I remember for the 480 was 1.65Ghz using LN2. I think the best Air OC was mid-ish 1.5Ghz but most on air wouldn't break 1.5Ghz due to the silicon lottery. The 580 seems to have a best performance around 1.48Ghz anyways with the memory OC'ed 50Mhz.
    2
  • Martell1977
    I think you can attribute this to process maturity and design refinement. Have to remember that the 14nm process was brand new and as we always see, when the process matures, we get some enhancements. ALL companies do this.

    I have to admit I was surprised to see a 8 and 6 pin power connector on the 580, especially since the 480 took 1 - 8pin to be properly powered. But since this isn't a arch tweak, I understand it.

    So what it comes down to now is:
    Better efficiency and preference for older DX11 games = 1060
    Better DX12 and Vulcan + equal current DX11 games = 580

    I think this is a win for AMD overall. Guess we will have to wait for the 680 for architecture refinements or maybe by then we will be getting a look at Navi.
    3
  • Tech_TTT
    a win for AMD ? it is TOOO LAATE .. ALL are waiting for the VEGA now... TOO LAATE ...
    -9
  • Tech_TTT
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:

    Blind faith ?

    sorry does not work .

    well Apple were huge once and they knew what they were doing and still lost the market when they kicked Steve Jobs out ...

    Digital Equipment were huge once ... they knew what they were doing

    SGI were huge once they knew what they were doing ...

    Comaq once were better than Dell they knew what they were doing .. where is Compaq now ?

    sorry does not work this way .


    Apple lost the market and were huge once? Excuse me, they just set a quarterly revenue record with 78 billion dollars earned in Q4 2016 (fiscal Q1 2017).

    The RX 480 was held to low clocks because the process node wasn't mature, and it was one of the first gaming GPUs in a long time not built by TSMC. It's only natural that they would eventually be able to reach higher clocks, which were not feasible at the 480 launch.

    Funny thing is it bears at least a passing resemblance to Nvidia's troubles with the GTX 480 back in the day. The GTX 580 polished that up.


    I was talking about Apple old times when they struggled after kicking out Steve Jobs ... READ
    1
  • Martell1977
    Anonymous said:
    Apple lost the market and were huge once? Excuse me, they just set a quarterly revenue record with 78 billion dollars earned in Q4 2016 (fiscal Q1 2017).


    I think they were referring to how they dominated the PC market back in the 70's, then Jobs made some really bad business decisions, got removed from the company and Apple spent several decades as a footnote. Today, their computer business isn't exactly booming, just the phones and tablets.
    2
  • Martell1977
    Anonymous said:
    a win for AMD ? it is TOOO LAATE .. ALL are waiting for the VEGA now... TOO LAATE ...


    Vega is top end, this is a mainstream market refresh. Not too late for anything, they tuned and corrected some design flaws while the maturity of the process let them boost the clocks.

    nVidia could potentially do a similar thing, but they are probably just moving on.
    3