Skip to main content

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

How We Tested the Radeon RX 590 and Ashes of the Singularity

Although we’re in the process of building up an Intel Core i7-8086K-based platform for high-end graphics card testing, the Radeon RX 590’s mainstream gaming status convinced us to let the old Intel Core i7-7700K at 4.2 GHz on the MSI Z170A Gaming M7 motherboard ride once more. The processor is complemented by G.Skill’s F4-3000C15Q-16GRR memory kit. Crucial’s MX200 SSD remains, joined by a 1.4TB Intel DC P3700 loaded down with games.

As far as competition goes, the Radeon RX 590 is preceded by AMD’s Radeon RX 580 (8GB) and AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB, so we test both of those models. Radeon RX Vega 56 is the next-fastest card from AMD, so we logically include it as well. The Radeon RX 580 already traded blows with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, so that board, along with GeForce GTX 1070 8GB make it into the test pool, too.

AMD didn’t create its own reference version of the Radeon RX 580 or 570, and it doesn’t have a reference Radeon RX 590 either. In their place, we’re forced to use Asus’ ROG Strix RX570 04G Gaming, Sapphire’s Nitro+ Radeon RX 580 8G and XFX’s Radeon RX 590 Fatboy 8GB OC+. The Radeon RX Vega 56 is AMD’s own design with a centrifugal fan, and the GeForce GTX 1060/1070 are both Founders Edition cards. Whenever possible, we use reference designs to avoid the varying shades of overclocking applied to partner cards. In this case, however, we have to fold in a few samples we wouldn’t normally include.

Our benchmark selection now includes Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, Battlefield 1, Destiny 2, Far Cry 5, Grand Theft Auto V, Metro: Last Light Redux, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, The Witcher 3, Wolfenstein II, and World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.

The testing methodology we're using comes from PresentMon: Performance In DirectX, OpenGL, And Vulkan. In short, these games are evaluated using a combination of OCAT and our own in-house GUI for PresentMon, with logging via GPU-Z.

All of the numbers you see in today’s piece are fresh, using updated drivers. For Nvidia, we’re using build 416.81 for GeForce GTX 1060 6GB and 1070 8GB. AMD’s Radeon RX 570 4GB and 580 8GB utilize Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.11.1, while the 590 8GB requires a special press build.

Ashes of the Singularity (DX12): 1920x1080 Results

Image 1 of 7

Image 2 of 7

Image 3 of 7

Image 4 of 7

Image 5 of 7

Image 6 of 7

Image 7 of 7

Ashes of the Singularity (DX12): 2560x1440 Results

Image 1 of 7

Image 2 of 7

Image 3 of 7

Image 4 of 7

Image 5 of 7

Image 6 of 7

Image 7 of 7


MORE: Best Graphics Cards


MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table


MORE: All Graphics Content

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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;)
    Reply
  • tslot05qsljgo9ed
    I hope you are joking because this RX 590 is the already the higher bin chips.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    21488265 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.
    Reply
  • mohit9206
    238W of power while gaming? That is unacceptable. 7nm cards can't come soon enough for AMD.
    Reply
  • DragonAsta
    580s readily available for price point less then they launched at LMFAO
    Reply
  • hannibal
    21488220 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply