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


Aug 20, 2017
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;)


Contributing Editor
Jul 4, 2008

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.


Apr 1, 2004

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.


Aug 8, 2012
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.


May 2, 2011
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.


Jun 24, 2014
Smaller process node but same transistor count and die size? Looks like the only thing 12nm gave them was the ability to boost the clock speeds by 17%, but at the expense of 21% higher power. Ouch.


Ah please, power... for a gaming card... we don't care about power as long as they are acceptable, and they are.

Vega 64 power was simply unacceptable... as was the 9900k.


Jan 6, 2009
I just thought some people might want to know where the GTX970 places because that is a more common card to find used.

I ran the test just to see at 1080p same settings.
1920 x 1080; Quality: Very High; SSAA: On; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Motion Blur: Normal; Tesselation: Very High; VSync: Off; Advanced PhysX: Off;

Average Framerate: 52.30 Max. Framerate: 83.15 (Frame: 7299)
Min. Framerate: 15.64 (Frame: 8) (It seems to load something because it's always frame 8 that's the slowest, this is not the same as the 99th percentile.) Looking at the graph it looks like my 99th percentile is about 35fps.

Llano@3.5ghz, 8gb ddr3-1600 at 2160mhz, GTX970 +100mhz core on top of msi's factory oc. +687 mem, 105% power limit, custom fan profile so it runs a bit cooler.


Jul 16, 2014
This looks like a good option coming from a rx480 4gb which from falls somewhere around a rx570 4gb / 1060 3gb and this card is up to 50% better fps In some games and 30% in most. It's the difference in a few games I can only run around 45fps ultra and now 60+, but I can also just run this same game on medium or high and I won't die.

I get why a lot of people won't be excited, its nothing huge from a 580 or 1060 6gb. We were also spoiled a bit with the big jump in performance between nvidia 7xx to 9xx to 10xx and AMD 270x to rx480. Each of those models all had HUGE gains to the point where the current one performed 1 to 3 tiers higher than the previous model. 1060 6gb hitting fps in the range of a 980 in many games.

Because of those huge gains when the card completely changed vs whatever you want to call this, I am tempted to wait for a 2060 or AMD next card. I'm thinking we should see that HUGE jump on those, but how far away and how much will they cost?

Would it be worth spending essentially 100-130$ now to upgrade from a 480 4gb and then in a year if I need to, sell it for maybe 200$ and put another 100 to 150$ and buy whatever that next model is with the larger gains?

Im leaning towards saying it's worth it because if I spent a total of 200 to 300 on 2 different cards, the first lasting 1 year and the second lasting 2 or 3 then I got what I needed. Not much different then when I spent 220$ on the 480 2.5 years ago.

It's going to be a tough choice on new budgetish mid range builds. Grab a 120$ 580 8gb on eBay, new 580 for under 200$ or buy this. It's an easier choice though for anyone with a gpu worse than a 580 or 1060. Some games coming with reach of vega 56 and gtx1070.

Only problem is how long until MSI comes out with theirs and how much will a gaming x cost.


Jul 16, 2014
What am I missing, why would anyone say the power draw is unnaceptable or why it even really matters. Outside of living in California or a 3rd world country, why does it matter? If you have a large power supply it doesn't matter right?

Am I wrong to assume that most people in North America have basically unlimited power usage and having your computer use a little more power is not going to make your electric bill cost that much more? Maybe Europe uses some weird system where power is crazy expensive?

Could it be about possibly needing a new power supply? I don't think so because don't most people buy larger than what is needed? It doesn't make much sense why someone would not buy the 650 or 750w of whatever lower one they were considering since they usually only cost a few bucks more. Paid 7$ more for a 750w corsair cxm vs the 550w

I think that would require new silicon, with the design modified to have a GGDR5X memory controller with a wider bus width. Seems unlikely.
I do have to admit that I am disappointed in the power draw. This thing is pulling more power (well, official TDP number) than Vega 56?

That said, its performance does slot it in what I'd probably describe as a "1080 ultrawide at 60fps max details" card.

Where 1920x1080@60 max details is the domain of the RX 580/GTX 1060
Where 2560x1440@60 max details is the domain of the Vega 56/GTX 1070

It seems that 2560x1080@60 max details is where this car slots in. Noting really quite exactly filled that gap before.

At the risk of repeating myself, though - the power draw is just... ugh... a LOT.

The Nvidia 1060 went though 5 makeovers include this one. I wouldn't count it out given AMD will probably do a second refinement on 12nm before moving to 7nm. At 7nm the Gddr5 memory bandwidth is sure to hold the chip back.
@elbert all versions of GTX 1060 other than the original 6GB use cut down versions of existing GPUs. AMD has no existing GPU that uses GDDR that they could cut down.

I might be wrong about needing to rework the silicon to accommodate GDDR5X though, forgot that the GTX 1070 and 1080 both use the same GPU but one has regular GDDR5 and the other doesn't.

I kind of doubt it, as this seems like more of a temporary stop-gap card to hold off Nvidia's GDDR5X-equipped 1060 until AMD starts releasing their 7nm cards sometime next year, which should bring significant performance and efficiency gains over their current offerings.

More heat and more noise that one has to deal with in their system. Anyone wanting a quiet or cool-running system will probably opt for something more efficient. And it's not like this is some high-end card offering impressive performance to justify the high power use. It's a slightly faster RX 580, which itself was a slightly faster RX 480, which was a mid-range card even 2 1/2 years ago. And if one is alright with that kind of performance, why not just go with an RX 570, which offers almost the same level of performance as the original RX 480, and can be had for around $150 new after rebate? That's just a little over half the price this card is launching for. With the RX 590, you're only getting around 25% more performance at almost double the price, and significantly higher power consumption, heat output and noise. Or go with the RX 580 8GB, which can be found for $200 while coming within about 10% of this card's performance.

At the very least, these are mediocre performance gains over those mid-range cards introduced in the first half 2016, despite launching at a higher price than what those cards sold for then. Used 1070s are now plentiful on eBay for around $250, and are significantly more powerful, with significantly less power draw, so if one cares about getting more performance than an RX 570/580 or GTX 1060, taking a risk with one of those might be a reasonable way to go. At this point, 1070-level performance should be the bare minimum expected from any new card getting released around this price level. I guess that's why AMD opted for a quiet launch of this card though, as they themselves knew that it wasn't particularly competitive. This just adds to the mediocre cards that Nvidia released this fall to make for a rather underwhelming year for new graphics card launches.



May 4, 2010
Thanks Chris for taking the time to write this review. It's very disappointing to see you guys still dusting-off those Polaris slides. I can only assume how hard (or easy!) it is to conjure up enthusiasm to write the same article thrice! Let's hope this is the last stretch of what was a genuinely interesting GPU.

Next up, they get to review the GDDR5X version of the GTX 1060. : P