AMD releases their RX 590 – A Polaris Evolution

AMD releases their RX 590 - A Polaris Evolution

AMD releases their RX 590 – A Polaris Evolution

With the release of AMD’s Ryzen 2nd Generation processors earlier this year, we got to see first hand what AMD could achieve with Globalfoundries’ refined 12nm lithography technology, delivering a significant generational leap over their 1st Generation Ryzen hardware without changing the product’s die size or transistor counts in any meaningful way. This left us wondering, could the rest of AMD’s product stack be improved with a transition to 12nm? 

With AMD’s new RX 590 we can see what 12nm can deliver on the GPU front, optimising AMD’s Polaris architecture to deliver increased clock speeds and performance levels over all of their previous Polaris designs, providing a staggering performance boost considering the relatively low development effort that went into the design. 

In AMD’s own marketing materials, the RX 590 will offer a performance boost of around 12% when compared to a stock RX 580, and up to a 15% clock speed advantage, a change that will give AMD an edge in the mid-range GPU battle between Radeon and Geforce. So far Nvidia has not spoken about a Turing-based replacement for the GTX 1060, making now the perfect time for AMD to utilise the power to 12nm to gain some momentum in the mid-range GPU market. 

When compared to their stock RX 480, AMD has delivered a tremendous increase to Polaris’ performance over time, with boost GPU clock speeds increasing from 1266MHz on stock RX 480 designs to 1545MHz on basic RX 590 designs. When looking at both GPU’s base clock speeds, AMD has achieved a boost of 349MHz, which is a 31% increase in base clock speed since the release of Polaris. With the RX 590, AMD has also decided to drop their 4GB 7Gbps models from the lineup, seeing a greater need for faster memory and larger frame buffers in modern games. 

Below are the reference clock speeds of AMD’s 2304-core Polaris lineup over time. 

  AMD RX 480 AMD RX 580 AMD RX 590
Architecture Polaris Polaris Polaris
Lithography 14nm 14nm 12nm
Die Size 232mm^2 232mm^2 232mm^2
Transistors 5.7 Billion 5.7 Billion 5.7 Billion
Stream Processors 2304 2304 2304
ROPs 32 32 32
Base Clock 1120MHz 1257MHz 1469MHz
Boost Clock 1266MHz 1340MHz 1545MHz
TFLOPS Up to 5.8 Up to 6.2 Up to 7.1
Memory 4/8GB GDDR5 4/8GB GDDR5 8GB GDDR5
Memory Speed 7/8Gbps 7/8Gbps 8Gbps
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 224/256GB/s 224/256GB/s 256GB/s


While some will dismiss the RX 590 as an overclocked RX 480, it’s worth mentioning that overclocking an RX 480 to these speeds is no easy tasks, with even the highest factory overclocks on RX 580s extending to little over 1450MHz. AMD’s efforts with the RX 590 have delivered impressive results, though they are not exactly revolutionary.    

AMD’s RX 590 is available starting today, and our reviews for PowerColor’s RX 590 Red Devil and XFX’s RX 590 Fatboy are now online and ready to read. You may be surprised by how well these graphics cards perform when compared to a GTX 1060. 

You can join the discussion on AMD’s RX 590 graphics cards on the OC3D Forums.