XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy 8 GB 98

XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy 8 GB

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Value and Conclusion

  • The XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy is expected to retail for $279.
  • Faster than the GTX 1060 6 GB
  • Plays everything at 1080p
  • Quiet in gaming
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Fans stop in idle
  • Dual BIOS
  • Devil May Cry 5, Resident Evil 2, and The Division 2 included ($100+ value)
  • Backplate included
  • Very high power consumption
  • High multi-monitor power consumption
  • Limited overclocking potential
  • Memory overclocking limited by Wattman limits
AMD's Radeon RX 590 comes at the right time to make a splash for X-mas business. The new card is based on a refreshed Polaris silicon fabricated on a 12 nanometer process at GlobalFoundries. Besides the manufacturing process, no changes have been made. The number of shaders, ROPs, texture units, etc., is identical to what we saw two years ago with the Radeon RX 480. Software features are also unchanged, but at this time, there is no pressing need to address these. It seems AMD simply leveraged the new 12 nanometer process to reach higher clock speeds on their RX 590 with the minimum in time and money invested, which actually makes sense. The switch to the new 12 nm node lowers power-draw, which conversely increases GPU-clock headroom. AMD cashed this headroom in to increase clock speeds by 15% over the RX 580.

When first rumors of the RX 590 started to leak, the consensus among forum readers was that the SKU would be a waste of time because it couldn't compete with the GTX 1060 anyway. Looks like AMD managed to pull it off—the RX 590 is significantly faster than the GTX 1060, by 10% when averaged over all our testing at 1080p. The performance improvement over RX 580 is 11%, which is better than expected indeed. This means that NVIDIA's next-fastest SKU, the GTX 1070, is only 20% ahead, and RX Vega 56 (AMD's next-fastest card) is 27% faster. The additional 10% in extra performance will come in handy when it comes to driving the latest titles at 1080p. Compared to what was needed two years ago, games do have (a bit) higher hardware requirements these days.

Power consumption of the XFX RX 590 is a good deal higher than previous Polaris products, also higher than the Sapphire RX 590 we tested today. It seems that all the improvements from the 12 nanometer process went into reaching higher clocks instead of reducing power consumption. XFX also made some changes to the VRM and operating voltage (to ensure OC stability), which both resulted in increased power draw. This is a reasonable approach since in this segment, performance is very important, and beating the GTX 1060 is a must to make the RX 590 a success. When looking at performance per watt, the RX 590 ends up as one of the worst cards in our test group. NVIDIA's GTX 1060 is 60%-80% more power efficient, and their RTX cards have more than twice the performance per watt. What's also a bit sad to see is that AMD still hasn't worked on reducing multi-monitor power consumption, an issue that has been around for many years.

XFX has installed a large triple-slot cooler on their RX 590 Fatboy, which does a good job of keeping the card at reasonable temperature levels without too much noise. We saw temperatures of 81°C and noise levels of 33 dBA. These noise levels are pretty good and competitive with many GTX 1060 designs even though the quietest GTX 1060 variants are still much quieter. In my opinion, XFX targeted exactly the right fan settings to reach a good balance between temperatures and noise levels given the high heat output of the RX 590. It's great to see that idle-fan-stop is included, too, so you can enjoy a noise-free graphics card when you're not gaming.

With a price of $279, the XFX RX 590 Fatboy follows AMD MSRP and doesn't come with a price premium. I have to say that's very reasonable pricing, but rival NVIDIA has reacted preemptively, and their prices for all cards below the GTX 1080 Ti have been reduced by $10-$25. For example, the GTX 1060 6 GB was $260 and is now $230, and the GTX 1070 was $390 and is now down to $360. This puts a lot of pressure on AMD. Additional pressure comes from AMD's own RX 570 and RX 580, which are now priced at $150 and $200 respectively, while the RX Vega 56 can be had for $360. It looks like we're finally back to normal GPU prices from the horrors of the crypto-mining boom. At $280, the RX 590 is a good buy, but it could be priced cheaper—something like $250 would lure in a lot of potential buyers from the green camp because at that price point, the extra performance and lower price would make it easy to overlook the RX 590's higher power draw. With the RX 590, AMD is including three AAA games, including DMC 5 and Resident Evil 2, which is a straight $100+ value. Personally, I'd keep those games because they haven't been released yet and I'd like to check them out. If you're not all that interested, you could resell them and offset some of this card's cost.
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