Yes, all those rumors were true, today AMD released a refreshed line-up of GPU’s called the RX 500 series, which are basically completely the same architecture wise compared to the now previous generation which we all loved – the RX 400 series.
As you can see, here in front of me stands MSI’s most famous Gaming X aftermarket series of graphics cards based on the RX 580 GPU – MSI RX 580 Gaming X. There’s not a lot of difference packaging wise between it and that same model from the previous generation, just a little bit of differently arranged in terms of the pointed out features on the front and back, while you can also notice that we have this “R”, Radeon logo sitting at the corner of the box.
Taking a closer look at the MSI RX 580 Gaming X
Removing everything out of it, for the bundle you’ll get your standard disappointing one, just some user manuals, an optical disc with driver and software and a thank you note, and of course the graphics card itself.
MSI again used their famous Twin Frozr cooler design which is in its 6th generation now, so compared to the exact same series based on the previous RX 480 AMD graphics card nothing was significantly changed, be it design or function wise. Try to guess which one is the MSI RX 580 Gaming X out of these two, there’s a poll card in the right top corner of the video listed down below, give it a go, I’ll wait for you to answers it. Let me guess, this one is an RX 480? Noap, I was wrong, it was an RX 580.
Bottom line, you’ll get this good looking and very capable cooler design with the red and black color combination which is widely adopted among users. The custom PCB is sandwiched between two back-plates, your standard one on the back with MSI’s dragon and some cool details, and the other one which sits between the PCB and the aluminum heat-sink itself, onto the video memory and power design, improving their cooling capabilities. Together with that aluminum heat-sink, its 5 heat-pipes and two 100 mm MSI’s Torx 2.0 fans, you won’t have any worries in terms of properly cooling the card, but we never did in the first place when it comes to MSI and their solution.
Is there actually any noticeable difference between MSI’s RX 580 and RX 480?
On the side we have your RGB LED MSI’s dragon logo, coupled with the RED LED’s only on the top part of that plastic shroud, surrounding the second back fan. You can control both of them with MSI Gaming App utility, I’ve covered that topic a few times already in my previous videos, last one being with MSI’s GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X model. On that same back end, you’ll find one 8-pin PCI-express power connector for the additional power delivery, while opposite of that on the front we have an array of two DisplayPorts, one HDMI and one DVI-D. That’s pretty much it for this generation, didn’t want to go to much into details as nothing actually changed, they’ve basically just transferred the existing design from the RX 480 to RX 580 series and besides that they didn’t need to do anything else if you ask me as bottom line those are the same GPU’s.
And that begs the question, what’s actually different with the RX 500 series or to be more precise for my case here, how this new on generation stands in a RX 480 vs RX 580 comparison. Generally speaking, the main thing that AMD points out for this generation is that now we have a more refined die, coming in as their 3rd generation of 14nm FinFET, thus delivering a more capable GPU when it comes achieving higher clocks, enhanced power efficiency, and general optimization. AMD is again putting emphasis on their Radeon Chill technology which in theory bumps up the response time and lowers down the GPU power consumption and temperature for the games which support that feature. Essentially it limits down the performance in games that aren’t representing a more serious GPU workload, so you don’t waste additional power on getting those really high frame-rates which you don’t actually need. Like for example, you have a 60 Hz display and you’re getting over 200 FPS in DOTA 2. They also pointed out that they improved single and dual monitor power consumption in idle when in Windows desktop, for around 5-20 W if you do a GPU to GPU comparison with the RX 400 series in terms of power draw.
AMD once again stretches its architecture once again with RX 580
Since this is obviously far from being a new product when it comes to architecture, marketing wise AMD put a “Polaris Evolved” sticker on their promotion strategy, and they are not comparing the RX 500 series directly to the previous RX 400 generation of AMD’s GPU’s or current generation of Nvidia’s Pascal GPU’s. They are aiming at users who have older generation’s of graphics cards, like for example the R7 370, R9 380, GTX 960 or GTX 970, suggesting the RX 500 series as a most appropriate upgrade choice for them value wise at this point in time, being it the RX 580 or RX 570 models. That’s all well and good, but let’s check out the actual graphics card in hand and its performance.
Before all, I was eager to check out its overclocking potential as this GPU die should, in theory, be more overclocking capable as we have a more refined and improved manufacturing process. That turned out to be correct as I managed to get 1440 MHz fully stable, which is almost 80 MHz more compared to my RX 480 Gaming X review. The memory clocks more or less the same, just a bit above the 2200 MHz mark.
At stock settings, in MSI’s OC Mode the card goes up to 1392 MHz for the GPU clock speed, as opposed for the so to speak AMD’s default clock of 1340 MHz for the reference RX 580, or MSI’s 1380 MHz of default factory overclocked GPU clock and their Gaming Mode Profile in the case of the MSI RX 580 Gaming X series. I doubt that we will often see that AMD’s default 1340 MHz as board partners are coming out with aftermarket version right from the start.
The battle we want to see – RX 580 vs RX 480
Putting all of that to a test, doing my usual run of games and benchmarks, as expected, there were no surprises. Bottom line, you’ll be getting a very capable 1080p graphics card for high frame-rate gaming or at least a decent performing one in 16:9 1440p resolution, or even at this mine 21:9 3440×1440 resolution.
Thankfully, as I have two GPU’s coming from the same manufacturer within those two generations, MSI RX 580 Gaming X and RX 480, performance wise I can basically compare them directly and see what’s the difference, which I of course did.
Obviously on a count of a higher GPU core clock, with both cards being in MSI’s “OC Mode” profile, the RX 580 took the victory, but by a really small margin, so it’s not a deal breaker compare to the RX 480, especially since you can catch up on that difference with a simple manual overclock. The thing is that it can’t be a deal breaker, as the current RX 400 series is almost impossible to find on stock, and that was probably the AMD’s overall plan, to completely deplete the stock of the ongoing RX 400 generation and promptly replace it with RX 500 so the ball can continue to roll as it was. I have nothing against it all, don’t get me wrong, in the end you will get a slightly better product for the same or lower price, but on the other I’m a bit sad that we’ll miss out for the most part that opportunity to get a cheap but equally capable graphics card, like back with R9 290X and R9 390X generation change, with the difference being even smaller now, unless you, of course, find a used one.
Taking a look at the GPU temperature, in idle I saw it holding just under 40°C, while under load, in Furmark it roams around 68 – 72°C, with fans spinning at around 1300 RPM and in games that’s usually just a bit below that, around 1100 RPM, with temperatures anywhere from 65 to 70°C. The noise difference between those two fans speeds is almost indistinguishable, bottom line the card is very quiet during load operation and here’s an audio sample of the noise under Furmark load, so worst case scenario.
Bottom line, as I’ve already mentioned, It’s not that I’m not happy getting a little bit more refined and slightly better performing product for the same price, as seen in the RX 480 vs RX 580 comparison, but I’m not too glad seeing AMD sorta of struggling to push the boundaries a little further. I’m pretty much aware of the fact that that’s is not due to lack of ingenuity or engineering knowledge, as it’s more of a finance-related issue for, as already discussed by some colleagues in the industry.