AMD released their new RX 590 graphics card

The RX 590 is AMD’s latest GPU offering for the mid-range category in over a year. The last time AMD released a new GPU line-up was their VEGA cards, the Vega 64 and Vega 56 competing against the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 respectively, and while the Vega 56 managed to outperform the GTX 1070, the Vega 64 could not hold a candle against the mighty GTX 1080Ti and be roughly on par with the GTX 1080. We were not expecting a new AMD GPU in 2018 since AMD is supposed to release their new Navi GPU line up based on the 7nm microarchitecture sometime in 2020.

The RX 590 neither offers anything new or groundbreaking compared to the RX 580 regarding specifications as you can see in the table below nor does it vastly outperform the GTX 1060 or RX 580, but it does still offer a nice performance jump over the pre-mentioned cards. But let us take a look at the specs and then see what makes the RX 590 a go-to choice for gamers:

 

RX 590 vs RX 580 vs GTX 1060 (6 GB)

GPU NameAMD RX 590AMD RX 580GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB Version)
ArchitectureGCN 4.0GCN 4.0Pascal
FoundryGlobalFoundriesGlobalFoundriesTSMC
Process size12nm14nm16nm
GenerationPolarisPolarisGeForce 1000
Release DateNov 15th, 2018Apr 18th, 2017Jul 19th, 2016
Die Size232 mm²232 mm²200 mm²
Memory Size8 GB8 GB6 GB
Memory TypeGDDR5GDDR5GDDR5
Memory Bus256 bit256 bit192 bit
Bandwidth256.0 GB/s256.0 GB/s192.0 GB/s
Transistors5,700 million5,700 million4,400 million
Base Clock1469 MHz1257 MHz1506 MHz
Boost Clock1545 MHz1340 MHz1709 MHz
Memory Clock2000 MHz 2000 MHz 2002 MHz
Launch Price (MSRP)279 USD229 USD299 USD

RX 590 vs. RX 580 vs. GTX 1060 detailed comparison analysis

So, what can we infer from the comparison table? If we take a look at the specs of the RX 590 and RX 580, it is evident that there are no major changes between the two. The most significant difference is the 12nm process size Global Foundries was able to implement in the RX 590. The shrinking of the process size by 2nm (12nm instead of 14nm) for the RX 590 allows for better thermals and better performance through improved clock speeds. We see a significant bump in both base and boost clock speed for the RX 590. From 1257 base for the RX 580 to 1469 for the RX 590 is a +212 MHz boost which is remarkable considering the overall similarities between the two GPUs.

Worth mentioning is also the boost clock. The RX 590 boost clock is 1545 MHz compared to 1340 MHz for the RX 580. Again, we witness a +200ish performance increase. If you compare the base clock of the RX 590 to the boost clock of the RX 580, you see that the former is +129 MHz higher than the latter. This significant performance enhancement is what translates in better gaming performance for the RX 590 compared to its predecessor.

Taking a look at the launch price at the bottom of the table, it is evident that the RX 590 although featuring almost the same specifications, is $50 more expensive. The boosted clock speeds can justify the price increase as well as the smaller die size. Considering the fact that AMD GPUs are known for their great driver optimizations over-time, we can expect the performance of the RX 590 to increase in the future. The RX 580 was trailing behind the GTX 1060 (6GB) at the beginning of its lifespan but managed to go head to head with the Nvidia Pascal GPU as evident in this video by Hardware Unboxed:

 

Keep in mind that this video was filmed in Jun 2018 and showcases that both GPUs are neck to neck performance-wise, with the GTX 1060 being on average 3% faster in an average of 27 games. Fast forward six months later and the performance difference between the two is negligible. With the GTX 1060 and RX 580 trading blows, where does the RX 590 come into play? It is Hardware Unboxed again who have uploaded a stunning 22- game benchmark video comparing the RX 590, RX 580 and GTX 1060 (6GB version). The two main reasons why I keep adding Hardware Unboxed videos is because they put in a ton of work in their videos and are worth subscribing to and the fact that I do not have those GPUs myself to conduct benchmarks. Hardware Unboxed is definitely worth your time and the ultimate go-to Youtube channels for CPU and GPU benchmarks. I highly recommend you subscribe to their channel, here.

 

Check out the 22-benchmark video between the RX 590, RX 580 and GTX 1060 below:

 

The results between the three GPUs are in favor of the RX 590, but not by a huge margin as it is to be expected. Want to see a quick overview of how the newer RX 590 stacks up to its counterparts? Then take a look at the chart below:

  • The RX 590 is 5% faster on average than the RX 580 in 1080p.
  • The RX 590 is 8% faster on average than the GTX 1060 (6 GB) in 1080p.
  • The RX 590 is 24% slower on average than the Vega 56 in 1080p.
  • The RX 590 is 19% slower on average than the GTX 1070 in 1080p.

The results are indicative that AMD GPUs tend to mature over-time due to driver optimization. Further down the line the RX 590 will close the gap to the GTX 1070 even further and part itself performance-wise from the RX 580 and GTX 1060 which both have pretty much reached their maximum potential since they were released in 2017 and 2016 respectively. These numbers justify the $50 price tag on the RX 590, in my opinion, as it is a GPU which will perform better in the future and already outperforms its competition. That does not mean that the RX 590 does not disappoint as some characteristics are way too similar to the RX 580.


 

AMD could do much better with the RX 590

While the RX 590 in itself is not a bad GPU by any means, AMD could have certainly given us more with their latest Polaris GPU. First of all, the RX 590 comes to the market 1,5 years after the RX 580 which was launched as an RX 480 refresh. Ultimately, what we have here is an RX 480 Generation 3 GPU with a smaller die size and a bump in boost clocks. AMD did not even offer us anything new regarding memory type. GDDR5 is being used on both GPUs and  GDDR6, or HBM2 would be a welcome change after 1,5 years of waiting for just another GPU refresh. Even NVIDIA who had no reason whatsoever to release their GeForce RTX 2000 lineup because they have no one to compete against in the high-end GPU market, decided (for gaining profit, of course, but nonetheless) to release their new cards capable of real-time reflections (ray-tracing) and they also come with  a new memory architecture GDDR6. Are these GPUs more expensive than the 1000-series cards? Yes. Are they worth buying? It depends on what you currently have. Are they offering something new? Definitely.

AMD, on the other hand, offers us nothing groundbreaking here and after their disappointing VEGA release, the PC community thought that their next gaming GPU would be something new and exciting. AMD even announced that their next-gen 7nm NAVI GPUs would be made for the support of console graphics as the PlayStation 5 is rumored to launch sometime in 2019 and that their gaming NAVI GPUs would be postponed until 2020 and only compete against the Vega 56. No high-end GPUs on the NAVI side are capable of even remotely competing against the RTX 2080 or the unforgivable RTX 2080Ti. Read more about AMD’s upcoming 7nm architecture, code-named NAVI, at this link.

That leaves us with the RX 590 as the only gaming GPU by AMD worth mentioning until 2020. And the benchmarks in the video above are perfectly in line with the specification differences between the RX 590 and the RX 580. Expect a 5-10% increase in performance in 1080p for the RX 590.


 

Final Verdict- Is the RX 590 worth buying?

If you are searching for the best value GPU for 1080p gaming, there is no denying that the RX 590 outperforms both its competitors. It is, without a doubt, the best value sub $300 GPU on the market right now and you can not go wrong with getting your hands on it since its performance will only improve over-time. Based on this fact, the $50 price increase for the RX 590 in comparison to the RX 580 is entirely justifiable. You get a GPU that is 8% faster out of the box compared to the GTX 1060 and 5% faster to the RX 580 with good overclocking potential for some extra frames and with ongoing driver optimization. It might also be the case that the gap between the RX 590 and GTX 1070 will also close in the upcoming months.

There are many RX 590 variants that are worth your money but these three are definitely the top aftermarket RX 590 you can get your hands on, right now on Amazon:

1. XFX Radeon Rx 590 Fatboy 8GB OC

2. PowerColor AMD Radeon RX 590 Red Devil 8GB

3.  Sapphire Radeon RX 590 8GB NITRO

On the other hand, for PC enthusiasts like myself and many others, the RX 590 is just another GPU release with no big changes to its predecessor. In case you are looking for a high-end GPU, NVIDIA is, unfortunately, your only option at the moment. NAVI will not be able to compete against NVIDIA’s GPUs, so for you who are looking to play at 4K or are into high-refresh rate gaming, NVIDIA is the go-to choice.

The RX 590 is a good GPU appealing to a vast majority of gamers who are on the verge of buying a new bang for the buck GPU for some great 1080p gaming. The only use case where buying an RX 590 makes sense is when combined with a 1080p 60 Hz monitor. The RX 590 made the RX 580 and GTX 1060 obsolete both in pricing and performance. You can check out my Monitor buying guide for 2018, HERE.


 

 

In case you liked my review, feel free to drop a comment in the comment section below. Would you consider buying the RX 590 or do you play on higher resolutions and are looking for something better? What are your thoughts on the RX 590? Tell me in the comments below.