AMD recently introduced a new series of Radeon RX 500 graphics accelerators. The presented models are accelerated versions of previously released models based on Polaris chips. So, the Radeon RX 570/580 are analogues of the Radeon RX 470/480, but with higher frequencies and some changes in performance profiles. More details about the changes and characteristics of new products are described in the previous review, where the younger Radeon RX 570 card was tested. Now it’s time to get to know the Radeon RX 580 closely. In this test, we will find out what this video card is capable of at the recommended frequencies and overclocking. Let’s compare it with the Radeon RX 480, which will allow us to better evaluate the increase in frequency potential and its impact on the final performance. The key will be the confrontation with the GeForce GTX 1060. NVIDIA responded to the release of new AMD solutions by accelerating memory in some of its models. The 6 GB GeForce GTX 1060 video adapter has also been updated, with memory modules accelerated to 9 GHz (GeForce GTX 1060 9Gbps). Therefore, we added two versions of the GeForce GTX 1060 with different GDDR5 frequencies to our comparison, plus overclocking results. This will give a complete picture of the confrontation between current middle-class video adapters.
First, consider the Radeon RX 580 by Sapphire.
This model belongs to the Pulse product line, is equipped with a cooler with a pair of fans and operates at higher frequencies. More on everything below.
Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GD5
The video card comes in a small box. The scope of delivery is limited to a software disk.
Sapphire Pulse looks like the well-known Sapphire Nitro graphics card series. A two-slot cooler with a pair of fans is used, it is covered with a plastic casing with dotted pseudo-perforation on top. Visually, it seems that the blades are of an unusual design, but this is due to the different texture of their surface. In fact, the blades are even, without bends, almost of a classical shape.
The total length of Sapphire is about 23 cm, which is not much. The video card does not have explicit identifiers with the name of the Radeon series. There are stickers with the name of the company on the fans.
A large Sapphire logo is located on the side. The back side of the video card is covered with a metal plate with a geometric pattern. The cooler is wider than the board, so the case has a deep cutout near the power connector.
There are five connectors on the back panel: two DisplayPort, two HDMI and one DVI.
Let’s take a closer look at the cooling system. Let’s start with the back plate. This is not just a «backplate» that protects the board and stiffens the entire structure. The plate is included in the overall heat exchange thanks to three large thermal pads that are in contact with the board in the area of the power node. That is, it is a large heatsink for the board itself. The contact zone is indicated on the PCB with a white frame.
The casing with fans is removed independently from the radiator, which simplifies the disassembly of the entire structure. And this is very convenient for the user who decides to clean the video card from dust after a long service life.
Removing the fans is even easier. Thanks to the Quick Connect system, they do without wires. There is a pad and one fixing bolt. Therefore, the removal of fans for prevention is possible without dismantling the plastic housing. Fan marking CF1015H12D, double ball bearing used, impeller diameter 95 mm
The radiator is assembled from an array of thin plates, four heat pipes are involved in the design.
Contact with the surface of the graphics chip is made through a copper plate. Around a large base that is in contact with the memory chips. There is no separate heatsink for the power unit, a special contact pad for power elements is present directly on the main heatsink.
The printed circuit board is made on black textolite.
High quality electronic components are used, such as special ribbed chokes and black polymer capacitors.
The GPU power system has four phases.
The heart of the graphics card is the Polaris 20 chip with 2304 stream processors, just like the Radeon RX 480. But in this case, it runs at higher frequencies.
The 8 GB memory is equipped with the same number of SKHynix H5GQ8H24MJR chips.
The standard version of the Radeon RX 580 runs at a base core clock of 1257 MHz with Boost up to 1340 MHz. Effective memory frequency 8 GHz. The Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GD5 runs at Boost 1366 MHz and this value is maintained under any gaming load. Stable Boost may indicate an increased power limit. And here it should be noted that on the official website the power of this model is less than 225 watts.
In the game mode on an open bench at 21-22 ° C indoors, the Sapphire video card warmed up to 68-70 ° C. At the same time, the fans spin up to about 1600 rpm, the noise is small. This is illustrated below with a screenshot of monitoring parameters when passing the Tom Clancy’s The Division benchmark seven times with maximum graphics settings of 1920×1080.
In the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 O4G Gaming review, we noted that there is a certain inertia in terms of heating, and some games warm up the video card more than others, putting it into a noisy mode. In the case of the Sapphire Radeon RX 580, everything turned out to be more or less stable, except for one exception. The For Honor benchmark ran the fans at 2000 rpm and above, which is already associated with noticeable noise. At the same time, the temperature did not exceed 70 ° C and constantly decreased as the fan speed increased.
It turns out that in 95% of cases the Sapphire video card works in a comfortable mode, but sometimes a sharp acceleration of the fans and an increase in noise are possible. This strange behavior was also noted on another version of the Radeon RX 580. It is possible that the problem is at the driver level, and as the software is updated, AMD new products will show more stable temperature and noise characteristics.
The demonstrated core frequency of 1366 MHz is the maximum that you can count on when overclocking the Radeon RX 480. And if we talk about the reference cards of the old series, they can be worse. Sapphire Pulse RX 580 initially works at this level, and the video card can still be overclocked. In the course of our experiments, it turned out that overclocking up to 1400-1410 MHz is as easy as possible, but higher values begin to lead to failures. We ended up settling at 1430MHz with a slight 24mV boost and the fans speeding up to 2200rpm. Higher core frequencies, as well as a strong increase in voltage, led to freezes and crashes. In comparison with the Radeon RX 480, the overclocking potential of the memory has also grown, we stopped at 2270 MHz (9080 MHz).
If we talk about stability during overclocking, then it manifested itself in different ways in different applications. For example, 3DMark tests could be passed at higher frequencies. But even at 1430 MHz, difficulties began at a certain stage, the last gaming tests were performed with the maximum acceleration of the fans.
Based on the experience of using three video cards based on Polaris 20, overclocking to 1450 MHz seems unlikely so far. It is not excluded on successful specimens. Sapphire has a special model of the NITRO+ Radeon RX 580 8GD5 Limited Edition, but the name itself hints at the limited edition of this special edition. If we consider the option of using CBO, then there may also be better results. In any case, compared to older AMD solutions, there is a good gain in frequencies, which will also provide a gain in performance.
In addition to performance at higher frequencies, we are interested in the potential of the simplest video cards in this series. Based on reviews online, the simple Radeon RX 580s show floating Boost just like previous models. As a result, the core frequency can not only sink below 1340 MHz, but also below 1300 MHz. To get something similar in terms of the average frequency level, we “slowed down” Sapphire to 1310 MHz.
Let’s compare the Radeon RX 580 at different frequencies with the Radeon RX 480 and GeForce GTX 1060.