It’s been almost a year since the original launch of AMD’s Polaris architecture with the Radeon RX 480, but now we have a new range to look forward to, Veg…. no, the RX 500 series! Not just three new cards, but a mysterious forth that has been long missing, an X50 SKU.
If you were expecting a supercharged, architectural overhaul, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. The Radeon 500 series is basically a refresh with a clock bump of the RX 400 series; no Vega here. The only real new card would be the RX 550, which to be fair, won’t get many enthusiasts’ hearts racing. The last retail launch of an X50 card was the Radeon R7 250, since the 350 was largely an OEM product.
As with the case of a card refresh, the only thing to really pay attention to is clock speeds, which you can see in the table below. Both core clocks and boost clocks have each gained approximately 100MHz each, with all other specs being equal – except for the RX 560.
|AMD Radeon Series||Cores||Core MHz||Core Boost||Memory||Mem MHz||Mem Bus||TDP|
|Radeon RX 580||2304||1257||1340||8192MB||8000||256-bit||150W|
|Radeon RX 570||2048||1168||1244||4096MB||7000||256-bit||12W|
|Radeon RX 560||1024||1175||1275||4096MB||7000||128-bit||75W|
|Radeon RX 550||512||1082||1183||2048MB||7000||128-bit||TBC|
|Radeon RX 480||2304||1120||1266||8192MB||8000||256-bit||150W|
|Radeon RX 470||2048||926||1206||4096MB||6600||256-bit||120W|
|Radeon RX 460||896||1090||1200||4096MB||7000||128-bit||75W|
|Radeon Pro Duo||4096*2||1000||4096MB*2||1000||4096-bit*2||350W|
|Radeon R9 Fury X||4096||1050||4096MB||1000||4096-bit||275W|
|Radeon R9 Fury||3584||1000||4096MB||1000||4096-bit||275W|
|Radeon R9 Nano||4096||1000||4096MB||1000||4096-bit||175W|
|Radeon R9 390X||2816||1050||8192MB||6000||512-bit||275W|
|Radeon R9 390||2560||1000||8192MB||6000||512-bit||275W|
|Radeon R9 380X||2048||970||4096MB||5700||256-bit||190W|
|Radeon R9 380||1792||970||4096MB||5700||256-bit||190W|
If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the RX 560 has extra shader units (cores) over the RX 460, 128 to be precise. The updated RX 560 makes use of the full chip with 16 Compute Units (CUs) enabled unlike the RX 460 which only had 14. A few months after the launch of the original RX 460, Sapphire released a special edition which had the two extra CUs enabled, putting it more closely tied to the refreshed RX 560.
In addition to the extra cores of the RX 560, is the new RX 550, an ultra low-end GPU that AMD is targeting more at Home Theatre PCs than for gaming. No pricing has been mentioned just yet, but considering the MSRP of the RX 460 was $100, we expect to see the RX 550 going for somewhere in the $50-$70 range. The RX 550 is a 4K, HDR enabled card supporting HDMI 2.0b, that’ll be available as both a compact, single fan card, and a low-profile half-height card as well.
Another subtle change to the 500-series line-up is a new reference cooler… or lack thereof. AMD has done away with the reference design and has left it up to AIB partners to cool the cards. As such, review samples will vary as it’ll be up to manufacturers to provide the cooling. In general, this is a good thing, since reference coolers by both AMD and NVIDIA have been rather lack-luster, although are typically geared toward system integrators with exhaust fans.
Part of the RX 500-series launch is AMD’s big push to get gamers interested in new technologies unlocked with Polaris (and modern GPUs in general), including variable refresh, such as FreeSync, hardware video encode and decode including h.265, and HDR displays. AMD has also been working hard to get its Radeon Chill feature into more user’s hands.
Radeon Chill is something that’s been briefly covered with the launch of Radeon ReLive, the DVR function that was introduced with the updated Crimson driver software. Chill is a render-on-demand system that’s meant to target a specific frame-rate, and only render frames at those intervals. The benefits from this are two-fold: Lower power from the reduced workload, and faster response time to user input (when compared to V-sync). Chill is more beneficial to mobile systems than desktop, but if you don’t have a fast display and want to avoid tearing without input-lag from V-sync, then Chill is a good option. It’ll also keep the card running cooler and quieter too.
Availability for the RX 580 and 570 should be immediate at launch time, but will take a bit for etailers to get their product listings sorted. The RX 560 and 550 will be released in the following links. Our review of the RX 580 and 570 will come before the end of the week, and the RX 550 will be taken a look at next week, so stay tuned.
I guess we’ll need to wait for Computex for any more news on the Vega launch!