Radeon RX 590 Review: AMD’s First 12nm GPU Hits 225W

Meet the XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy 8GB OC+

XFX uses technology from its Radeon RX 580 GTS Black Edition, saving the company from having to rework the Radeon RX 590 Fatboy 8GB OC+.

The new card weighs in at 1.89lb (856g). From the edge of its slot panel to the end of its fan shroud, we measure 10.6 inches (26.8cm). The heat sink assembly is 1.7 inches (4.3cm) deep. However, you have to add another 0.2in (0.5cm) to account for the backplate. This is a true 2.5-slot card, meaning it takes up three expansion slots on your motherboard. A 4.8-inch (12.2cm) measurement from where the card sits in a PCIe slot to the cooler’s top edge is actually pretty tall, dwarfing our Founders Edition GeForce and reference Radeon RX Vega cards.

From the bottom, it’s easy to see that XFX’s heat sink employs aluminum fins oriented horizontally. We approve, since heated air isn’t pushed down toward your motherboard and out against a case wall. Rather, some is exhausted out the expansion slot cover.

We also catch a glimpse of four heat pipes that sit flat over a copper plate and dissipate thermal energy through the sink’s fins.

Up top, there’s an eight- and six-pin power connector, cluing us in that a shrink to 12nm doesn’t translate to power-savings from Radeon RX 590. Again, AMD’s board power rating is 225W compared to Radeon RX 580’s 185W specification.

XFX loads the slot bracket with five display outputs: three DisplayPort 1.4-ready connectors, HDMI 2.0, and one DVI-D port. Although we appreciate copious connectivity, the DVI output does take up room that could have been freed up for exhaust.

With its heat sink removed, the Radeon RX 590 Fatboy 8GB OC+ looks almost identical to the Radeon RX 580 GTS Black Edition. Again, XFX uses six power phases for the GPU and one phase for memory.

There are hardly any components on the back side, except for two BIOS chips.

The following table lists the most important components on XFX’s PCB:

GPU Power Supply
PWM Controller

IR35217
International Rectifier
6+2-Phase

VRM

6x IR3578
International Rectifier
PowIRstage
(High-side, Low-side, Schottky diode, driver)

Coils

6x XL Ultra Low Noise Coils

Memory Power Supply
Memory Modules

8x MT51J256M32HF-80:B
Micron
8Gb GDDR5 Module (256Mb x32)
8.0 Gb/s at 1.5V

VRM

1x IR3578
International Rectifier
PowIRstage
(High-side, Low-side, Schottky diode, driver)


Coils

6x XL Ultra Low Noise Coils

Other Components
BIOS

2x FM25Q02
EEPROM
Dual BIOS


DIP Switch

Primary/secondary BIOS

Smoothing

1x 470mH coil per 12V supply connection


Cooler and Backplate

The hull-shaped backplate made of dark aluminum makes no contact with the board and doesn’t play a role in cooling. There are ventilation holes throughout, though, so at least the plate doesn’t trap heat underneath. The plate’s only purpose is to look good.

Because the backplate is screwed in from the PCB’s top side, the only way to remove it is disassembling the entire heat sink.

The cooler itself is a simple affair based on two 8mm and two 6mm heat pipes made of copper composite material. The pipes dissipate heat away from AMD’s Polaris chip and into a fin stack that spans both ends of the PCB. Underneath them is a thin copper plate that contacts the GPU die. A small frame surrounds the plate, sandwiching thermal pads between the metal and all eight memory modules.

This small thermal solution is tasked with removing as much as 250W from the board underneath. It’s more capable than AMD’s reference Radeon RX 480, but does reach its limit under load in a closed chassis.

Thermal Solution At A Glance
Type of Cooler

Air

GPU Heat Sink

Copper plate on heat pipes

Cooling Fins

Aluminum, horizontally-oriented, tight fin pattern

Heat Pipes

2x 8mm + 2x 6mm, copper composite

VRM Cooling

Via its own heat sink

RAM Cooling

Via frame on heat sink

Fans

2x 9.5cm fans, 11 rotor blades each, semi-passive mode

Backplate

Aluminum backplate, no cooling function

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

MORE: All Graphics Content

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
36 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • shrapnel_indie
    The further cut-down Vega sounds like it could have been a better option to me, primarily if they could make it work with GDDR5, GDDR5X, or GDDR6 memory.
  • elbert
    Wonder if we will see a RX 590X in a month or 2. Higher bin chips passing this overclock and with say GDDR5x 9GB memory.
  • v71
    A conclusion & a possible editorial mistake:
    1. A used GTX 1070 for slightly over $200 is a better value today for 2k gaming.
    2. It seems that in GTA V & Metro the slides were mislabled - the 1080p were placed under 2k and viceversa. Look at the presented framerates in those two games & you'll see that 1080p results are worse than 2k;)
  • tslot05qsljgo9ed
    I hope you are joking because this RX 590 is the already the higher bin chips.
  • cangelini
    2534096 said:
    A conclusion & a possible editorial mistake: 1. A used GTX 1070 for slightly over $200 is a better value today for 2k gaming. 2. It seems that in GTA V & Metro the slides were mislabled - the 1080p were placed under 2k and viceversa. Look at the presented framerates in those two games & you'll see that 1080p results are worse than 2k;)


    Good eye! :)
    The perf difference is actually from turning off SSAA at 2560x1440 in Metro and disabling 4xAA at 2560x1440 in GTAV as we try to keep QHD a playable resolution. Maintaining the same quality settings would have hit that res too hard.
  • mohit9206
    238W of power while gaming? That is unacceptable. 7nm cards can't come soon enough for AMD.
  • DragonAsta
    580s readily available for price point less then they launched at LMFAO
  • hannibal
    330834 said:
    The further cut-down Vega sounds like it could have been a better option to me, primarily if they could make it work with GDDR5, GDDR5X, or GDDR6 memory.


    Yep, but that would require complete remaking that chip. Well Hopefully good Ryzen selling Numbers give money Also to gpu department so that They can afford to completely rehaul their low end and middle range cards. Even this 12nm with that 7.5 library would offer good gains if paineen with refress in architecture. But that remain to later timeframe. New card will require a couple of years, so if and because the company is in right track, one or two years From now there will be improvements if They start now the developmening it.
  • mohit9206
    Quote from anandtech review
    "Once again though, we've observed that VRAM is never enough. It was only a few years ago that 8GB of VRAM was considered excessive, only useful for 4K. But especially with the popularity of HD texture packs, even 6GB of framebuffer could prove limiting at 1080p with graphically demanding games. In that respect, the RX 590's 8GB keeps it covered but also brings additional horsepower over the 8GB R9 390. For memoryhogging games like Shadow of War, Wolfenstein II, or now Far Cry 5 (with HD textures), the 8GBs go a long way. Even at 1080p, GTX 980/970 performance in Wolfenstein II tanks because of the lack of framebuffer. For those looking to upgrade from 2GB or 4GB cards, both the RX 580 and RX 590 should be of interest."

    So as you can see 480/580 and 590 do benefit from the extra vram even at 1080p. I do feel all those people who asked on various forums on whether to buy 4gb or 8gb and got recommended 4gb since they were playing at 1080p were wronged as just a year or two later games are now benefitting from larger than 4gb framebuffer. Now those people will have to upgrade their cards sooner rather than if they had 8gb model they would have been able to keep the card longer.The forums can sometimes give wrong advice to people and screw them over.
  • AgentLozen
    AMD got some awful diminishing returns from overclocking a 580. I wonder if we would see better returns if they reconfigured the cores and ROPs instead of using a 580 as the foundation.
    I'm disappointed with the 14nm -> 12nm transition. It seems like it did nothing to help with power consumption or heat. I was hopeful because it was helpful in regards to AMD's Ryzen chips.
  • Brian_R170
    Smaller process node but same transistor count and die size? Looks like the only thing 12nm gave them was the ability to boost the clock speeds by 17%, but at the expense of 21% higher power. Ouch.
  • redgarl
    Ah please, power... for a gaming card... we don't care about power as long as they are acceptable, and they are.

    Vega 64 power was simply unacceptable... as was the 9900k.
  • redgarl
    To people saying you can find a 1070 GTX for 200$, good luck.. seriously...
  • need4speeds
    I just thought some people might want to know where the GTX970 places because that is a more common card to find used.

    I ran the test just to see at 1080p same settings.
    1920 x 1080; Quality: Very High; SSAA: On; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Motion Blur: Normal; Tesselation: Very High; VSync: Off; Advanced PhysX: Off;

    Average Framerate: 52.30 Max. Framerate: 83.15 (Frame: 7299)
    Min. Framerate: 15.64 (Frame: 8) (It seems to load something because it's always frame 8 that's the slowest, this is not the same as the 99th percentile.) Looking at the graph it looks like my 99th percentile is about 35fps.

    Llano@3.5ghz, 8gb ddr3-1600 at 2160mhz, GTX970 +100mhz core on top of msi's factory oc. +687 mem, 105% power limit, custom fan profile so it runs a bit cooler.
  • need4speeds
    Oops yeah that's Metro 2033 last light redux. I didn't mention which game it was..
  • t99
    This looks like a good option coming from a rx480 4gb which from falls somewhere around a rx570 4gb / 1060 3gb and this card is up to 50% better fps In some games and 30% in most. It's the difference in a few games I can only run around 45fps ultra and now 60+, but I can also just run this same game on medium or high and I won't die.

    I get why a lot of people won't be excited, its nothing huge from a 580 or 1060 6gb. We were also spoiled a bit with the big jump in performance between nvidia 7xx to 9xx to 10xx and AMD 270x to rx480. Each of those models all had HUGE gains to the point where the current one performed 1 to 3 tiers higher than the previous model. 1060 6gb hitting fps in the range of a 980 in many games.

    Because of those huge gains when the card completely changed vs whatever you want to call this, I am tempted to wait for a 2060 or AMD next card. I'm thinking we should see that HUGE jump on those, but how far away and how much will they cost?

    Would it be worth spending essentially 100-130$ now to upgrade from a 480 4gb and then in a year if I need to, sell it for maybe 200$ and put another 100 to 150$ and buy whatever that next model is with the larger gains?

    Im leaning towards saying it's worth it because if I spent a total of 200 to 300 on 2 different cards, the first lasting 1 year and the second lasting 2 or 3 then I got what I needed. Not much different then when I spent 220$ on the 480 2.5 years ago.

    It's going to be a tough choice on new budgetish mid range builds. Grab a 120$ 580 8gb on eBay, new 580 for under 200$ or buy this. It's an easier choice though for anyone with a gpu worse than a 580 or 1060. Some games coming with reach of vega 56 and gtx1070.

    Only problem is how long until MSI comes out with theirs and how much will a gaming x cost.
  • t99
    What am I missing, why would anyone say the power draw is unnaceptable or why it even really matters. Outside of living in California or a 3rd world country, why does it matter? If you have a large power supply it doesn't matter right?

    Am I wrong to assume that most people in North America have basically unlimited power usage and having your computer use a little more power is not going to make your electric bill cost that much more? Maybe Europe uses some weird system where power is crazy expensive?

    Could it be about possibly needing a new power supply? I don't think so because don't most people buy larger than what is needed? It doesn't make much sense why someone would not buy the 650 or 750w of whatever lower one they were considering since they usually only cost a few bucks more. Paid 7$ more for a 750w corsair cxm vs the 550w
  • TJ Hooker
    45049 said:
    Wonder if we will see a RX 590X in a month or 2. Higher bin chips passing this overclock and with say GDDR5x 9GB memory.

    I think that would require new silicon, with the design modified to have a GGDR5X memory controller with a wider bus width. Seems unlikely.
  • King_V
    I do have to admit that I am disappointed in the power draw. This thing is pulling more power (well, official TDP number) than Vega 56?

    That said, its performance does slot it in what I'd probably describe as a "1080 ultrawide at 60fps max details" card.

    Where 1920x1080@60 max details is the domain of the RX 580/GTX 1060
    Where 2560x1440@60 max details is the domain of the Vega 56/GTX 1070

    It seems that 2560x1080@60 max details is where this car slots in. Noting really quite exactly filled that gap before.

    At the risk of repeating myself, though - the power draw is just... ugh... a LOT.
  • elbert
    1636679 said:
    45049 said:
    Wonder if we will see a RX 590X in a month or 2. Higher bin chips passing this overclock and with say GDDR5x 9GB memory.
    I think that would require new silicon, with the design modified to have a GGDR5X memory controller with a wider bus width. Seems unlikely.

    The Nvidia 1060 went though 5 makeovers include this one. I wouldn't count it out given AMD will probably do a second refinement on 12nm before moving to 7nm. At 7nm the Gddr5 memory bandwidth is sure to hold the chip back.