At the moment, there is a situation with the total dominance of NVIDIA in the segment of top graphic solutions. AMD will not present its progressive Vega accelerators in any way. But a series of mid-level video cards based on the Polaris GPU has been developed. Their second generation is presented, and we begin to study new products.

AMD Radeon RX 500

The updated line of video cards includes four models: Radeon RX 580, Radeon RX 570, Radeon RX 560 and Radeon RX 550. They are direct successors to similar models of the RX400 series, in particular, the Radeon RX 580/570 become a replacement for the Radeon RX 480/470. We will talk about changes in new video cards in this review. Consider the Radeon RX 570 by ASUS, compare its potential with the Radeon RX 480 and GeForce GTX 1060.

AMD Radeon RX 500

The Radeon RX 580 and Radeon RX 570 are based on the Polaris 20 GPU, which does not have any major changes from the Polaris 10. This is the development of the AMD GCN architecture and its fourth implementation. The GPU has 36 Compute Units (CUs), which are organized into four Shader Engine arrays with their own geometry processing unit and rasterization units. Each CU operates 64 stream processors and four texture units. The total GPU capabilities are as follows: 2304 stream processors, 144 texture units and 32 ROP units.

AMD Radeon RX 500

Not the largest number of computing units, if we recall the GPU Grenada (Hawaii). However, Polaris has a number of advantages: the processing speed of some shaders has been increased, the speed of asynchronous calculations, the geometry and tessellation processing units have been improved, the processor cache size has been increased. Color data compression has been added, which improves the efficiency of data exchange with memory over a 256-bit bus. Thanks to the transition to the 14nm process technology, power consumption has been reduced and operating frequencies have been significantly increased.

The second generation of Polaris took a step forward in frequencies. At the same time, the 14-nm process technology was preserved, but perhaps improvements within the technology itself and an increase in the yield of suitable crystals provided such an acceleration. Also, for new video cards, power limits have been increased. Roughly speaking, the Radeon RX 580 and Radeon RX 570 are obtained through conventional overclocking.

The Polaris 20 delivers maximum performance with the Radeon RX 580 with a full compute unit configuration. The base frequency of the GPU is set at 1257 MHz with the highest frequency up to 1340 MHz. And this is a good acceleration against the background of 1120-1266 MHz for the Radeon RX 480. But the GDDR5 memory still works at an effective data rate of 8 GHz, the standard amount of memory is 8 GB.

The Radeon RX 570 operates on a GPU with 2048 active stream processors. Core frequencies 1168-1244 MHz instead of 926-1206 MHz for the predecessor Radeon RX 470. Can be equipped with 4 or 8 GB GDDR5 memory modules with an increased frequency of 7 GHz. The predecessor worked with memory at a frequency of 6.6 GHz.

Video adapter Radeon RX 580 Radeon RX 570 Radeon RX 480 Radeon RX 470
Core Polaris 20 Polaris 20 Polaris 10 Polaris 10
Number of transistors, million pieces 5700 5700 5700 5700
Process technology, nm 14 14 14 14
Core area, sq. mm 232 232 232 232
Number of stream processors 2304 2048 2304 2048
Number of texture blocks 144 128 144 128
Number of render units 32 32 32 32
Core frequency, MHz 1257–1340 1168–1244 1120–1266 926–1206
Memory bus, bit 256 256 256 256
Memory type GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5
Memory frequency, MHz 8000 7000 8000 6600
Memory size, MB 8192 4096 8192/4096 4096
Supported version of DirectX 12 12 12 12
Interface PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0 PCI-E 3.0
TDP level, W 185 up to 185 150 120

An increase in frequencies led to an increase in heat release. The Radeon RX 580 has a TDP of 185W. For the Radeon RX 570, official sources do not indicate specific values, but most likely the TDP is close to the level of the older card. At the same time, power consumption is reduced in modes that do not require maximum efficiency. This is due to the third state of memory, which previously worked only in the minimum or maximum value. When watching hardware-accelerated video on the GPU, or when a second monitor was connected, the memory switched to performance mode, increasing overall power consumption. Now it will work in the third intermediate mode. For example, when streaming video from Youtube in 1080p quality, the new Radeon RX 580 will consume 14W, while the old Radeon RX 480 will consume 38.8W. When connecting two 4K monitors, the consumption of video cards increases by only 1.5 W compared to a single 4K monitor.

These optimizations will keep extremely low operating temperatures and noise levels in simple applications. It should also be noted that AMD partners this time got more engineering freedom. And instead of reference versions with a frail “turbine” on store shelves, we will immediately see a wide range of various video cards with powerful coolers. Therefore, the temperature and noise characteristics will depend on each specific model.

Video cards are equipped with DisplayPort 1.3 HBR and DisplayPort 1.4 connectors, support HDR image output. A dedicated encoder/decoder provides support for H.264 and HEVC video up to 4K resolution. Thanks to this block, you can record the gameplay on the fly or stream without loss in gaming performance. The corresponding video capture and recording functions are built into the AMD ReLive software.

The AMD ReLive package includes the WattMan application, which gives you all the possibilities for fine control over the performance of the video card and its overclocking. So users have access to all the features without having to resort to additional utilities.

AMD Radeon RX 500

Among the new software features, it should be noted Radeon Chill — a special intelligent energy-saving technology for AMD Radeon graphics cards. Radeon Chill can control frequencies by slightly lowering them during low player activity and GPU load, and raising them to the maximum at peak moments. This will reduce overall power consumption and heat, allowing the graphics card to operate in a more comfortable environment. Radeon Chill also reduces frame output delays.

AMD Radeon RX 500

Radeon Chill technology is relevant for eSports games. For example, in Dota 2 you will get not 200 fps, but a lower value, but with lower latency and increased response time.

If we talk about the quality of the displayed image, then AMD FreeSync 2 should also be mentioned. This new technology will ensure the synchronization of the displayed frames when working with HDR monitors. Improved HDR image pipeline reduces input lag and improves on-screen image smoothness without tearing.

AMD Radeon RX 500

The Radeon RX 580 is positioned as an option for smooth HD gameplay with the ability to use higher resolutions. The Radeon RX 570 is positioned as a productive solution for the mass Full HD format.

AMD Radeon RX 500

Our introduction to the new series will begin with the Radeon RX 570. Let’s see what these graphics cards can do by examining the capabilities of the ASUS ROG Strix model.