The AMD RX 590 is going to be the next graphics card to come out of the Radeon GPU skunkworks. It’s long been speculated about, but despite there still being nothing publicly confirmed by AMD, the rumours have been coalescing into something far more concrete over the last few weeks. We’ve now got a fairly solid, though still rumoured, RX 590 release date, some relatively reliable Polaris 30 specs, and even some early performance numbers too.
Don’t get too excited thinking that this is either the AMD Navi architecture or Christmas coming early. The AMD RX 590 is more of a continuation of the existing Polaris GPU design, but with a few tricks up its sleeve to deliver a little more mainstream performance than we’ve come to expect from a numbered Radeon graphics card.
As such, the RX Vega 64 will still remain as the top AMD GPU in its performance stack, but the RX 590 is set to come in at a position in the market where the red team can make a genuine impact. Dropping a fresh GPU into the massive mainstream market, just before the big holiday season, is a smart move by AMD because it’s the only place where Nvidia doesn’t have total dominance.
At the moment the RX 580 and GTX 1060 go toe-to-toe in the sub-$300 graphics card market, with the benchmark gaming performance averaging out to a dead heat. Some games run faster on the Nvidia GPU, and others perform better on the AMD graphics card. But the RX 590 is coming in around the same price, but with performance expected to be comfortably higher than the GTX 1060 across the board.
AMD Radeon RX 590 release date
The RX 590 is reportedly set to launch on November 15, just in time for the big holiday season and Black Friday/Cyber Monday retailgasm. It is still a rumoured release date for now, so it could well change.
AMD Radeon RX 590 specs
We are looking at a very slight refresh of the Polaris architecture, with the designation being Polaris 30, following the RX 480’s Polaris 10 and the RX 580’s Polaris 20 chips. The RX 590 will have an almost identical specs sheet to the RX 580, but the 12nm refresh will allow AMD to give it a clock speed boost, reportedly by around 200MHz.
AMD Radeon RX 590 pricing
The new RX 590 needs to come into the sub-$300 category to make sense. The RX 580 currently sits between $225 and $270 for the 8GB version, so a launch price of $299 is quite likely.
AMD Radeon RX 590 performance
We’ve had some early performance numbers leaked, first via a 3DMark Time Spy entry in the UL database, and then through the ever-unreliable Final Fantasy XV database. The good news, for AMD, is that it’s looking quicker than the GTX 1060.
The RX 590 release date of November 15 has come via a forum post on the Chinese-language Boardchannels.com.cn site. It was then reported by another Chinese site, MyDrivers, and has subsequently been taken by the world’s media as the expected launch date of the new Radeon GPU.
Videocardz presented a source claiming Asus was readying a card with the product code ROG-STRIX-RX590-8G-GAMING, and has also leaked product images of the PowerColor RX 590 Red Devil card too.
With both these manufacturers this far down the line in terms of product design, manufacturing, and packaging it’s not much of a stretch to think that the new RX 590 cards aren’t going to be far away now. The November 15 release date, however, might be a little soon considering we’ve heard nothing from AMD regarding testing and there is less than two weeks until that prospective launch, but that’s all we’ve got to go on now.
At its heart the Polaris GPU being used inside the RX 590 graphics card is supposedly specced almost identically compared with the RX 580 released last year. That would mean the chip still has the same 36 Compute Units (CU) delivering 2,304 Graphics Core Next (GCN) cores.
We’re also looking at the same 8GB GDDR5, as reported by the 3DMark Time Spy database results, but the benchmark does also point to a change in clock speed for the new GPU. The standard RX 580, with its Polaris 20 chip, runs at 1,257MHz base and 1,340MHz under Boost, while the benchmarker’s RX 590 was running at 1,545MHz.
|AMD RX 590||AMD RX 580|
|GPU||Polaris 30||Polaris 20|
|Lithography||12nm FinFET||14nm FinFET|
|Memory||8GB GDDR5||8GB GDDR5|
That’s a hefty 200MHz+ frequency hike, and that looks like it’s made possible by the maturation of the Polaris architecture – it is over two years old now – and by the fact that the Polaris 30 is being manufactured using the 12nm production process rather than the 14nm lithography previously used.
That modest node shrink allowed AMD to boost the performance of its second-gen Ryzen processors, and it looks like the increased efficiency of the 12nm process is letting team Radeon push the RX 590 clocks impressively high. You might even get more out of the die with some judicious waving of the overclock stick too. I’m sure some enterprising board partner will be providing higher end, factory overclocked SKUs too, but they will push out the price, probably topping the $300 mark and pricing themselves out of relevance.
Which neatly segues into how much you can expect to pay for the new AMD GPU. We’re betting on the reference-clocked versions of the RX 590 to come in under $300, for the simple reason that the RX 580 is on sale for between $225 and $270 right now. That, and in order to really stick the boot into Nvidia at the mainstream level it needs to price the new, faster cards accordingly. And that means pricing the RX 590 as close to the GTX 1060 as possible.
As we said, there will likely be overclocked cards from the board partners that needlessly top the $300 mark, but if AMD can get enough GPUs out onto the shelves for comfortably under that price point then the RX 590 could clean up. And that would give the Radeon department some much-needed GPU revenue while it waits to get Navi-based graphics cards out of the door mid-2019.
Though Navi must be a bit of a concern for AMD, given that there is an awareness in the market that a mainstream GPU update is expected next year. The RX 590 will then need to be priced at enough of a tempting level that stops people from wanting to hold off on a purchase this year.
But the mainstream market is huge, it’s the volume segment of the GPU world, and this is the only place where AMD can really compete with Nvidia at the moment. At the high end the new 20-series cards are ruling the roost, with the RTX 2080 Ti sitting at the top, but it looks like there will be a long wait before we see a 20-series GPU anywhere near the $300 mark.
We’ve only had a very limited reveal of the potential performance of the new RX 590, offered via a pair of leaked benchmarks. The Final Fantasy XV benchmark isn’t the most reliable of tests in our experience, mostly because it’s a little inconsistent with rather a lot of variance in its results. That said, the RX 590 pulls ahead of the GTX 1060 in the 1440p benchmark test, but with the High preset (chock full of Nvidia GameWorks settings) it does fall behind.
More reliable is UL’s 3DMark Time Spy benchmark. It’s a DirectX 12 test and the old RX 580 is already ahead of the GTX 1060 on that front, but with the recently leaked Time Spy benchmarks we can see the RX 590 is offering around 15% higher performance than our GTX 1060 card.
That result’s important because for the RX 590 to be a success it needs to comprehensively beat the GTX 1060 in any benchmark you throw its way. If AMD can maintain a 10-15% performance lead over the only mainstream Nvidia offering then it will be impossible to recommend anyone picks up the GTX 1060 instead of the new RX 590. Well, so long as it’s priced sensibly, as we’ve already pointed out…