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XFX RX 590 Fatboy 8GB Review

By Christopher Coke on December 20, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

XFX RX 590 Fatboy 8GB Review

The world of video cards is advancing but as tech marches on, prices march up. Not all of us can afford $1200 on a video card and AMD is here with the answer. Today, we’re looking at the XFX RX 590 Fatboy, the latest in AMD’s line of Polaris GPUs. It’s made with AMD’s new 12nm process and features a fast boost clock, but is it enough to warrant an upgrade? Let’s find out in our official review.

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Specifications

  • Current Pricing: $279.99
  • Bus Type: PCI-E 3.0
  • GPU Clock: OC+:1600MHz  BIOS:1580MHz
  • Stream Processors: 2304
  • Memory Bus: 256 bit
  • Memory Clock: OC+:8.0GHz  BIOS:8.0GHz
  • Memory Size: 8 GB
  • Memory Type: DDR5
  • Card Profile: Dual
  • Thermal Solution: 2.5 Slot DD fansink
  • Outputs: x3 DisplayPort, x1 HDMI, x1 DL-DVI-D
  • Dual link Support
  • Max Supported Resolution (DIGITAL): 4096 x 2160
  • Features: DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0b
  • Requirements: x1 External Power - 8-pins, x1 External Power - 6-pins; Minimum Power Supply Requirement: 500 watt
  • Technologies: AMD FreeSync 2 technology, Radeon Chill, ReLive Capture, DirectX 12, Vulkan, AMD Virtual Super Resolution (VSR), Radeon Software, AMD CrossFire Technology, AMD XConnect Ready, AMD Eyefinity Technology, OpenCL Support, Polaris Architecture, AMD LiquidVR technology
  • Package Contents: x1 8-pin to 6-pin power cable, x1 6-pin to 4-pin power cable, x1 Driver Disk Installation Guide, Installation DVD
  • Dimension (in): 10.63 x 4.88 x 2.09
  • Warranty: 3-year

Polaris has been with us for a while now, but that hasn’t stopped AMD from continuing to tweak and refine its reliable GPU. As NVIDIA continues to release new GPUs, the RX 590 a necessary update to keep AMD competitive and, as we’ll see in the benchmarking results, allows them to win out in sheer FPS per dollar.

The RX 590, reviewed here in the Fatboy Edition from XFX, is the latest revision to this architecture, this time created on AMD’s new 12nm FiNFET process. This has allowed them to push frequencies slightly higher and eek that little bit of extra performance out of the card. It’s hard to shake the feeling that the 590 is making its way to market because AMD feels they need an answer to NVIDIA’s cadence of releases. Be that as it may, AMD is taking aim at the middle-ground of the GPU market and seems to be making critical headway.

Spec-wise, the XFX Fatboy has a 1600MHz boost clock, up nearly 200MHz from last generation. Supporting that are 2304 stream processors and 8GB of DDR5 VRAM clocked to 8GHz. Around the back we have three DisplayPort 1.4 connections and a single HDMI 2.0b. XFX has also included a dual-link DVI-D connector, which is nice for those of us with older displays. If you’re running multiple displays, just bear in mind that maximum resolution tops out at 4096x2160.

As the name gives away, this is a meaty card. There’s a thick aluminum heatsink with plentiful copper piping for heat dissipation. The Fatboy uses a dual fan solution that produces a good amount of noise when fully maxed out. With the higher TDP of 225-watts, the RX 590 demands an effective cooling solution to ward off thermal throttling and the Fatboy does it but at the expense of some noise

Benchmark Testing

Test System: i7-8700K at 5GHz, ASUS Maximus X Hero Z470 Motherboard, 32GB ADATA XPG D41 DDR4-3200 DRAM, 1TB Samsung 970 PRO NVME SSD, 1TB WD Black NVME SSD, 1TB WD Blue 2.5” SATA SSD, 1TB Crucial MX500 2.5” SATA SSD, 10TB WD Gold HDD, Corsair HX-1050 1050-watt PSU, Fractal Define R6 Case (open top panel).

Since the RX 590 is an iterative release rather than a generational leap, we’ve opted to focus on real world results rather than synthetics in this review. We think it’s likely that anyone considering buying this GPU will be most interested in real world performance rather than synthetic leaderboards. All of the games tested, with the exception of Grand Theft Auto V were tested at Ultra settings (anti-aliasing disabled at 4K). GTA V, with its multitude of settings, was slightly lowered, reducing reflection quality and anti-aliasing.

Performance Discussion, Thermals, and Conclusions

Looking at the results above, we can see that the die shrink and increased overhead have allowed AMD to wring another 10-15% of performance from the card, placing it between above the GTX 1060 and settling somewhere between an RX 580 and GTX 1080 (so, GTX 1070 territory). As a site, we’ve tested both the GTX 1070 and 1070 Ti but didn’t have them on hand to test in this run. Yet, looking at the data collected by Robert in his comparative review we can see that this is about right. That said, these results are close enough to the RX 580 that a decent overclock has the potential to close that gap to negligible levels.

To pull this off, AMD has significantly raised the power ceiling on this card with a TDP of 225W. That’s a large bump from the RX 580’s 185W. As a result, the thermals we’re seeing are also higher. In our Fractal Define R6 closed case, our temperatures peaked at 81C. The ASUS RX 580 we tested topped out at 77C. It’s worth noting that our system also has exceptionally good airflow with a total of 10 fans (6 sandwiching a radiator), so users with less optimal situations could easily find themselves climbing higher.  As I mentioned in the overview, this kind of heat also means the fans spend a lot of time in their upper levels which can be fairly noisy.

That said, the XFX RX 590 Fatboy is a real value earner. The performance per dollar is perhaps the best available at the moment. It’s biggest competitors, the 1070 and 1070 Ti come in at $334.99 and $359.99 respectively. While they might eek out a few extra FPS, the Fatboy is much cheaper, coming in at only $279.99. For gamers on a budget, this is a make or break kind of difference and, in our opinion, makes this card a smart buy for users finally making their way up from prior generations and don’t want to be mussed with manual overclocking. If you are comfortable with overclocking, the RX 580 is easily the best value card on the market, selling now for only $189.99.

Between the 580 and 590, AMD has a solid advance on the mid-range market. With NVIDIA eyeing the upper end of the market, this is solid ground ripe for the taking and XFX’s RX 590 Fatboy is good entry point for users who want to “plug in and go.”

Pros

  • Good performance at 1080p and 1440p
  • Lots of connectivity, including DVI-D
  • HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.4 support
  • Stealthy looks will fit in any case

Cons

  • Runs warm
  • More Polaris

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.

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