Polaris Refined, Evolved and Enhanced
I thought I would use this article as a better explanation of the refreshed Polaris GPU architecture and the new Radeon RX 500 series of graphics cards, so that I didn't need to add this into the review of the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ that has just gone live.
I've only tested the Radeon RX 580 so far, but the RX 570 is the one I'm most excited for. It will drive the price of the custom RX 470 graphics cards, which will represent unbelievable value for money. The refreshed/refined/evolved/enhanced RX 570 only continues that, except these cards use more power than high-end GeForce graphics cards. Hmm.
Looking at the specs of the Radeon RX 570, I can expect good things from the RX 570 - more so than the RX 580. AMD has got the pricing on the Radeon RX 570 nearly perfect, as it really is a force to be reckoned with at that price point. When you consider that Radeon FreeSync monitors are also cheaper than competing NVIDIA G-Sync displays, AMD has a great price/performance bracket that it owns with cheaper graphics cards and FreeSync displays.
I can't wait to see how much market disruption happens with the Radeon RX 560 and RX 550, as they should do many more sales, but we won't hear about that as much. The news headline cycle only cares about high-end products, but the sell through numbers on RX 560/550 are going to be huge in overseas markets like China, where there are tens of millions of gamers that would jump at a new $99 graphics card.
AMD is now beating NVIDIA with mid-range graphics cards, but the efficiency of the Polaris GPU architecture is pushed into a big spotlight, especially when compared to the Pascal GPU architecture and the various GTX 10 series cards. The GeForce GTX 1080 for example, a card twice as fast and twice as expensive as the RX 580, uses less power. WHAT. THE. HELL. AMD needs to get it under control with power consumption, because if Vega is twice the speed of an RX 580 (and it really needs to be)... then, we're looking at 300W of power consumption.
That is, unless the Vega GPU architecture with HBM2 is using witchcraft to push the power consumption numbers down. If Vega launches and requires anything less than 8+8-pin PCIe power connectors and a 250-300W TDP, I'll be surprised. The problem is, I'll question the power consumption of the Polaris GPU architecture even more if Vega is super power efficient in comparison, yet oodles faster than the mid-range cards AMD have just refined.
Should you buy one?
Well, if you're an owner of - or looking to save money on a new FreeSync gaming display... yes, definitely. The refined Radeon RX 580 is a great buy for 1080p and 1440p gamers, and even the hardcore/all-day gamers that spend time in CS:GO, Overwatch, League of Legends, and others - you're pushing 1080p 100FPS+ without a problem on an RX 580.
The mix of a cheaper RX 580 (versus a GTX 1070 for example) and the $100-$150 savings on a FreeSync-capable display over a G-Sync gaming display, is a big deal. AMD has a huge deal of win right there, with $200 savings being a big deal - it affords you that new Ryzen 7 1800X processor, eh?
PRICING: You can find the product discussed for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
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- Page 1 [Introduction & RX 500 Series Line Up]
- Page 2 [Radeon RX 500 Series Tech Specs]
- Page 3 [4K Ready & The Year Ahead For AMD]
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