AMD graphics cards are like Lords of the Sith: always two there are, a master and an apprentice. In partnership with the Radeon RX 580 there is the Radeon RX 570, the apprentice GPU coveting its dark master’s power.
Wanna know what the top GPU is? ‘Course you do, so here’s our pick of the best graphics cards around today.
The RX 570 is built of the same silicon which lies at the heart of the RX 580, though both are created from the same star stuff which coalesced to form the previous generation’s RX 470 and RX 480. This is the $492 (£410) Sapphire RX 570 Nitro+, but thanks to the GPU mining crisis you'll struggle to pick one up for less than twice its initial launch price right now.
The RX 570 was most definitely born in the half-light of a GPU rebrand, with the genuinely brand new high-end AMD RX Vega cards trying to offer some competition with Nvidia's best. But with a new Polaris 20 GPU name and a fresh lick of paint there must be something to separate this latest card from the last one, right? Right?
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AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB specs
Once more we’re talking about Polaris Enhanced. It’s not really AMD bringing us a new generation of Polaris GPUs, but more them taking the last year’s worth of learnings from twelve months of manufacturing both the graphics cards and the Polaris silicon itself. That means we’ve got a more mature GPU even if it is still essentially the exact same overall design as we saw with the initial 400-series cards.
But what does that really matter to us? A more mature production process will mean there should be greater yields from the actual wafers and therefore more fully functional GPUs being born from them. That gives AMD the opportunity to push them a bit harder than they did with the 400-series cards, which is why both the RX 580 and this RX 570 have launched with reference clocks far higher than their progenitors.
Sure, the 400-series may well have mostly been able to run at the same speeds, but if more GPUs are coming out of the wafers capable of running at higher clockspeeds then AMD is able to guarantee that boosted frequency without having to bin a bunch of chips that can’t measure up.
That reduced wastage also ought to mean the prices drop. While manufacturing costs may well have come down because of that more mature process, it doesn’t look like AMD are passing those savings on to the consumer. Though, that said, I expect there are a lot of R&D costs the company would like to recoup post Zen and Vega…
As with the RX 580 nothing has really changed in the core configuration of the RX 570. It’s still rocking the same 2,048 4th Gen Graphics Core Next (GCN) cores, 128 texture units and 32 ROPs. Which also means this apprentice is mighty, mighty close to the configuration of its Sith Lord master card.
In terms of the power AMD are allowing a little more juice through the Polaris 20 GPU inside the RX 570. Because of the higher clockspeeds it now draws more power and is rated with a 150W thermal design point (TDP) as opposed to the RX 470's 120W TDP. The only other real change is in the memory system. The RX 570 still comes in both 4GB and 8GB trims, but the reference clocks for the GDDR5 memory now start at 7GHz, giving the new card a higher peak memory bandwidth score than the RX 470. The 500-series card runs at 224GB/s while the 400-series variant is rated at 211GB/s.
We’re testing the Sapphire RX 570 Nitro+ card this time around. AMD aren’t creating the same reference card model they did with the inaugural Polaris launch so it’s up to their add-in board (AIB) partners to create all the different versions themselves. That means the AIBs have really gone to town with the 500-series cards - where AMD’s suggested reference clockspeeds for the RX 570 peak at 1,244MHz this Sapphire variant boosts all the way up to a rock-solid 1,340MHz.
This is where things look decidedly more interesting for AMD’s Radeon rebranding exercise. While the RX 580’s extra performance over its predecessor doesn’t really add up to a hell of a lot in the grand scheme of frame rate things, especially for that extra outlay, the RX 570’s speed bump puts it incredibly close to the performance of an overclocked RX 480.
In fact, because of the work Sapphire have done overclocking the RX 570 Nitro+ edition we’ve been testing, sometimes this card actually posts higher average frame rates than the Asus RX 480 STRIX. There is surprisingly little between an overclocked RX 480, with its 8GB frame buffer, and this 4GB RX 570.
And where there is a big price difference between the price of an RX 480 and the mass of heavily overclocked RX 580s there is nowhere near that great a delta between a stock RX 570 and even this beefed-up Sapphire version.
Even at 1440p and 4K, where you’d expect to start to see the 4GB memory capacity of the RX 570 start to flag compared with the 8GB RX 480, you could barely drive a slice of silicon between their relative gaming performance. It’s only really in Hitman’s DX12 mode that the RX 570 falls off the pace, and then, bizarrely, it drops behind the RX 470 too. Ol’ Agent 47 really can be an awkward bugger in benchmarking terms…
At the 1080p level where so many of us are still gaming, the RX 570 represents a graphics card capable of easily beating 60fps at top settings in all but the most graphically demanding of games. We're looking at you, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, how did you get so difficult to please?
If you are sporting a 1440p screen 4GB is probably going to seem quite tight in a year or so, and if you plan on shifting your sights towards a 4K future or VR investment then you will definitely need a higher-spec card.
Once the RX 570 was pretty close to being the go-to budget gaming card. When it was under $170 it was a bit of a bargain, especially looking at the current state of the GPU pricing market. The real difficulty is when you start to see RX 570s north of the $400 mark; they're then bumping straight into the 'cheaper' end of the 8GB RX 580 range.
Realistically you can't afford to start spending this sort of money on what was essentially a budget graphics card. And that means that AMD have all but ceded the current GPU market to Nvidia, they're the only cards you can actually buy without having to take out a new mortgage. And even then they're still ridiculously over-priced.