Another Solid Performing, Affordable GPU from AMD
If all you had to go on was Nvidia’s line of graphics cards for gaming, you could be forgiven for thinking that a decent GPU has to cost you hundreds of dollars. But AMD has made a name for themselves for their ability to offer high-quality GPUs at affordable prices. The XFX RX 580 has ambitions to serve as the standard bearer for the GPU market. Let’s see how it stands up to scrutiny. We’ll start by looking at the standard specs for AMD’s card and then move to the specific advantages afforded by XFX’s build.
Off Shelf Performance
The fortunate thing about gaming cards is that they can be subjected to standard quality comparisons, and the RX 580 has a decent number of competitors to contend against. The most comparable competitor is Nvidia’s GTX 1060, a card designed to expand their presence in the budget and mid-tier market. And while the GTX 1060 shows some impressive improvements on Nvidia’s part, the RX 580 wins out in practically every notable metric. And interestingly enough, while Nvidia has a reputation for being ahead of the curve where newer tech is concerned, that’s really where the RX 580 excels.
Frame rates lag somewhat behind the GTX 1060 when running DirectX 11 games, but the GTX 1060 outperforms on newer games using the DirectX 12 protocol. That’s a promising lead if you’re looking to play the latest and coolest games on the market. In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, easily one of the most graphically impressive and vast games available today, the RX 580 offers a minimum frame rate of about 15 and a max of roughly 40. That’s a single digit difference over the GTX 1060’s 37 fps max, but it’s enough to make a difference at this performance point. And the fact that the RX 580 is available for significantly cheaper should clench things for almost any consumer.
Frame Rate Management
A gaming graphics card can’t be evaluated on its max fps alone. Spending all your time in-game running things at max capacity is a quick way to overheat your machine and wear down your battery, and that’s where the wide bar for minimum and maximum frame rates on the RX 580 is so valuable. Just as important is the inclusion of Radeon Chill technology. Radeon Chill utilizes some basic artificial intelligence algorithms to evaluate the slower moments in game and throttle the frame rates appropriately. And in that task, it works exceptionally. Radeon Chill does a fantastic job of moderating frame rates without having an impact on tense moments where a smooth experience is a necessity.
Radeon Chill works by evaluating the input on your mouse and keyboard as well as the rendering demands of the game itself to determine when high frame rates are crucial and when they can be throttled back. If that gives you a little pause, rest easy knowing that Radeon Chill can be manually turned off and even adjusted through AMD’s software interface. You can set target frame rate levels on a game by game basis. AMD boasts that Radeon Chill can reduce power consumption by as much as a third and frame rates by as much as a half.
While AMD may release the core edition of a GPU, the real difference comes from the tweaks that individual manufacturers make, and one of the biggest factors to look at is overclocking potential. XFX does a great job of making the most of what the RX 580 has to offer. It’s been signed an OC+ rating by XFX, and that means that it can push beyond the potential of even the XFX True Clock rating. The True Clock rating boosts past the RX 580’s base clock speed of 1340MHz to 1366MHz, while the OC+ extends that to a respectable 1386MHz. It may seem like a fairly marginal difference, but it’s noticeable.
For users who are worried about burning out their GPU, there’s little to be concerned about. True Clock settings are automated by the hardware to ensure that you’re always receiving optimal safe performance for the situation. And while OC+ gives you a lot more versatility for manual controls, you don’t have to take any risks for the sake of performance. A number of factory tested speeds can be enabled using the free Wattman utility (which is also used to configure the Radeon Chill settings).
XFX is known for their cooling solutions, and they haven’t pulled any punches with their take on the RX 580. The XXX edition is a chunkier card, but much of that extra space is dedicated to the strong and sensible cooling system. The dual slot cooler consists of two separate fans that cover the length of the card, and it does a workmanlike job of keeping things running smoothly even when running high power modern games.
But XFX’s commitment to preventing overheating goes beyond the GPU itself. Their proprietary tech offers cooling solutions for both the memory and the VRM components. It can reduce VRM temperatures by as much as 86 degrees Fahrenheit and GDDR temperatures by as much as 68 degrees. That’s a big deal considering that one of the major selling points of this card is the 8GB of RAM. All told, you can expect the XXX to expect a relatively modest minimum power requirement of 500 watts.
AMD’s card may not be able to boast the A.I. integration or ray tracing of Nvidia’s latest and greatest, but this budget card offers two major advantages that can have a significant effect on your gameplay experience. The first is the inclusion of FreeSync technology, while the latter is the new LiquidVR tech.
FreeSync stands to compete with Nvidia’s G-Sync. Both technologies are designed to reduce tearing and stuttering during gameplay, but they follow different philosophies to achieve that. G-Sync is arguably better at the task, but it accomplishes that with a premium charge. Not only are you paying more for the privilege of G-Sync built into your GPU, but you also need to find a quality monitor capable of supporting G-Sync. FreeSync, by comparison, offers extensive compatibility. Practically any decent monitor offers native support for FreeSync tech.
LiquidVR is proof that while the RX 580 may sit in the budget price range, it’s still equipped to handle the newest revolutions in gaming. LiquidVR offers compatibility with all of the major virtual reality headsets in production, and it’s designed to deliver smooth and stutter-free VR experiences with virtually non-existent levels of latency.
AMD’s Radeon RX 580 is almost undoubtedly the best GPU in its price range, and XFX’s spin on the core model makes it even more tantalizing. The combination of great overclocking features and cooling compensation that’s more than enough to accommodate the higher power usage ensures that you’ll get the most out of what this gaming graphics card can offer.