AMD has updated the entire range of budget and mid-range graphics cards. Earlier, we managed to get acquainted with the Radeon RX 580 and Radeon RX 570, which, amid the mining fever, moved into the category of scarce goods. It’s time to talk about more accessible and inexpensive solutions. The main novelty in the 100-dollar segment was the Radeon RX 560 graphics accelerator. In this review, we will get acquainted with the simplest representative of this series from PowerColor, compare it with the GeForce GTX 1050 and older generation video cards.
The Radeon RX 560 is based on the Polaris 11 processor, familiar from the Radeon RX 460. And the new product itself is an improved version of the Radeon RX 460. But if the new Radeon RX 580/570 were obtained by banal overclocking, then the Radeon RX 560 got even more the number of computing blocks. The potential of the Polaris 11 GPU in the Radeon RX 460 was partially limited. The old video card worked with 14 active Compute Units, and the new one already operates 16 Compute Units. The total number of stream processors has increased from 896 to 1024, which is a very good upgrade.
Not without increasing the frequencies, too. The Radeon RX 560 is set to a base value of 1175 MHz with a maximum core frequency of 1275 MHz. The memory interface is 128-bit, the cards are equipped with GDDR5 modules with an effective frequency of 7 GHz. Video cards can be produced in 4 or 2 GB versions. The Polaris 11 processor is manufactured using the 14nm process technology. An increase in the number of active blocks and an increase in frequencies should lead to an increase in power consumption. But the engineers managed to keep the TDP at 75W, just like the predecessor card. The Radeon RX 560 is equipped with one auxiliary power connector.
For a visual comparison of the Radeon RX 560 and Radeon RX 460, we have summarized their characteristics in one table.
|Video adapter||Radeon RX 560||Radeon RX 460|
|Core||Polaris 11||Polaris 11|
|Architecture||GCN 1.3||GCN 1.3|
|Number of transistors, million pieces||3000||3000|
|Process technology, nm||14||14|
|Core area, sq. mm||123||123|
|Number of stream processors||1024||896|
|Number of texture blocks||64||56|
|Number of render units||16||16|
|Core frequency, MHz||1175–1275||1090–1200|
|Memory bus, bit||128||128|
|Memory frequency, MHz||7000||7000|
|Memory size, MB||4096/2048||4096/2048|
|Supported version of DirectX||12||12|
|Interface||PCI-E 3.0||PCI-E 3.0|
Radeon RX 560 supports all the technological innovations inherent in the older models of the Polaris line. This solution is based on AMD’s most advanced architecture, providing the best balance of performance and power consumption, plus high efficiency in DirectX 12 and the Vulkan API. Given the increased potential, the video card should not only be the best option for eSports games, but an acceptable solution for an undemanding gamer who does not expect maximum graphics quality.
AMD partners have introduced many different versions of the Radeon RX 560. We are used to a variety of overclocked versions, but it turns out that there are models in this series that can be called economical. They do without additional power, and the GPU frequencies are close to the base level. It is with such a video card that we will get acquainted in this review.
PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 560 2GB GDDR5 OC
The PowerColor video card in question (AXRX 560 2GBD5-DHV2/OC) is equipped with 2 GB of VRAM and is also the only Radeon RX 560 variant from PowerColor that is equipped with a dual-fan cooler. The adapter comes in a small box.
The video card occupies two expansion slots, its total length is 21 cm.
The card is covered with a plastic casing with an original design and an unusual shape of the fan blades.
In the corner there is a seat for the power connector, which is not available in this version.
There are three output connectors on the rear panel: DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI.
The design of the cooling system is simple. This is a one-piece finned heatsink without heat pipes and copper inserts. But the radiator is quite large and takes up almost all the free space under the plastic case.
You can better estimate the dimensions of the heatsink from the bottom photo, where it is shown against the background of the board. There are slots in the area above the VRM to provide airflow to the electronic components.
Two fans Apistek GA81B2U with a diameter of 80 mm are responsible for blowing.
The shape of the blades is very unusual. They are «through» and resemble double petals.
The printed circuit board looks very decent, as for a budget product. The GPU power system has three phases.
The Polaris 11 processor does not have a bezel. Two gigabytes of memory are provided by four SKhynix H5GC4H24AJR R0C chips.
The last combination of letters in the name of the Red Dragon Radeon RX 560 2GB GDDR5 OC hints at some kind of factory overclocking. In fact, the GPU is set to 1180 MHz, which is only 5 MHz more than the standard base value. And, of course, this is less than Boost frequencies up to 1275 MHz. At the same time, among the four Radeon RX 560 models from PowerColor, three work with just such a frequency formula. The memory operates in standard mode at an effective data rate of 7000 MHz.
It’s also worth noting that the Radeon RX 560 runs in PCI-E 8x mode, just like previous Radeon RX 560 cards.
When tested on an open bench with temperatures of 25-26 ° C, the core temperature in the most severe gaming applications reached 75 ° C. At the same time, the actual frequency turned out to be lower than the declared one, i.e. the card worked in Boost mode without hard fixing the frequencies at the same level. In Tom Clancy’s The Division, which we use for heavy gaming workloads, frequencies could drop from 1180MHz to almost 1090MHz, with averages slightly above 1100MHz.
For a budget graphics card with a low TDP, operating temperatures are not particularly low, although they do not cause any concern. It seems that due to the small area of the crystal, a high-quality implementation of the heat removal system is needed. A cooler with a copper base and heat pipes would have been more efficient, but for an inexpensive model, the manufacturer considered this to be overkill. It’s also worth noting that in our next review, we’ll be looking at the more advanced heatpipe version of the Radeon RX 560, where temperatures aren’t much different than what we see on the PowerColor. So this card works in the usual mode for representatives of this series.
It is pleasant to note the complete acoustic comfort and the absence of noise during gaming load. Which is not surprising, because the fans operate at low speeds in the range of 1000-1300 rpm. Such a low speed also indicates the presence of additional potential for reducing heating. We tested this by fixing the fan speed at 1400 RPM, and this allowed the temperature to stabilize at 69-70°C.
This is the first graphics card of the RX 560 series, which fell into our hands. Therefore, it is not entirely clear how normal the frequencies demonstrated are. Experience with some budget video cards shows that they can really show serious drawdowns in Boost mode. Also, we could not rule out a problem with adequate monitoring of the parameters of the new model. In any case, you need a frequency configuration that is closer to the declared level with Boost 1275 MHz. For this, a corresponding overclocking operation was carried out with a slight increase in the power limit by 5%. According to monitoring by MSI Afterburner, the average frequencies increased to about 1140-1150 MHz.
With these settings, the video card will replace the average version of the Radeon RX 560.
The overclocking potential has been tested. As a result of the selection of frequencies, it was possible to achieve 1330 MHz for the core and 1965 (7860) MHz for memory. Such overclocking of the GPU is within the power of the Radeon RX 460 with additional power, and the overclocking of the memory against the background of its predecessors is outstanding.
It was possible to achieve stability in this mode with a noticeable increase in the speed of the fans. Heat increased sharply, and this required a serious improvement in cooling. In the screenshot above, you can see temperatures up to 75°C in Tom Clancy’s The Division with fans running at 2600-2700 rpm. The noise in this mode is already quite serious. In reality, after a failure in a couple of applications, the speed had to be raised even higher. The PowerColor video adapter was clearly working to the limit of its capabilities. However, video cards with additional power will be able to show better results.
The direct price competitor for the Radeon RX 560 is the GeForce GTX 1050 cards. In our testing, they are represented by the Palit GeForce GTX 1050 StormX. Previously, this model did not appear on the pages of the site, so first we will study its features.