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The AMD RX 580 8GB Performance Review

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Acoustical Testing

What you see below are the baseline idle dB(A) results attained for a relatively quiet open-case system (specs are in the Methodology section) sans GPU along with the attained results for each individual card in idle and load scenarios. The meter we use has been calibrated and is placed at seated ear-level exactly 12” away from the GPU’s fan. For the load scenarios, Tomb Raider is used in order to generate a constant load on the GPU(s) over the course of 15 minutes.

There’s no denying the benefits of going towards a custom cooled GPU if you are looking for low noise and both of these cards prove that. Not only do they benefit from fan start / stop technology which idles their fans when there’s a low-load situation but XFX and Sapphire seem to have mastered the art of cooling the Polaris 10 core.

But let’s be honest here for a moment. This version of Polaris 10 may be higher clocked than its predecessor but its still just a 185W core which doesn’t need all that much cooling capacity. As such, the massive heatsinks on these two cards could be considered overkill as well.

System Power Consumption

For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we used 15 minutes of Unigine Valley running on a loop while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 15 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption.

Over the last twenty or so pages, the benefits of AMD’s new RX 580 should have been abundantly evident. Its higher clock speeds bring about instantaneous benefits in every performance per dollar metric. But as they say “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and those frequency increases go hand in hand with a significant power consumption increase. The numbers are actually quite shocking.

Whereas the reference RX 480 was power hungry in its own right, the two RX 580 samples I have in-house ended up putting that card to shame. The XFX GTS XXX -which is the lower clocked of the pair- ended up matching a GTX 1070 Founders Edition card’s input needs while the Nitro+ actually needed more juice than NVIDIA’s much higher performing $350 GPU.

Not only do numbers like these point towards a significant performance per watt shortfall against NVIDIA’s latest architecture (something which has always plagued Polaris) but they could also hamper these cards’ adoption into notebooks.

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