Another year in tech means another wave of graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD. Yet, AMD’s launch of their RX 500 series has started off on a rather familiar note with the RX 570 and 580. Built off the same Pascal-based architecture and sporting nearly identical specs, these two cards are essentially refreshes of last year’s mainstream aimed GPUs, the RX 470 and 480. While the performance of the RX 570 may be nearly identical to last year’s iteration, the feature set has increased in size and may even give us some clues as to what to expect software-wise from project Vega, AMD’s enthusiast aimed GPUs set to launch later this quarter.
Starting with specs, the RX 570 aims to deliver a satisfying 1080p experience just like its identical older brother, the RX 470. Sporting 4 GB of GDDR5 memory, the only core differences in specs the RX 570 has from its predecessor is clock speed and wattage, which went from below 1000 MHz base to now reaching 1168 MHz. So now consumers reach a dilemma: is this even an upgrade? In short, no. Refreshed or rebranded GPUs like these are not meant for consumers who already upgraded to the RX 400 series. Instead, these cards are meant to throw uninformed consumers off with a new number, as well as offer a slightly tweaked performance gain to get consumers who missed out the first time to still pay full price.
Performance wise, the RX 570 won’t blow anyone away in 2017. Set up with the same test bench of components as the original RX 470 review, this card isn’t seeing any huge performance gains since its predecessor launched back in 2016. With each of the below titles set to high presets at 1080p, the RX 570 only saw an increase of 5-8 FPS on average. Because the RX 470 isn’t on hand anymore we only have comparisons to its performance at launch, but with several optimization patches since then I can only predict that both cards perform identically now. With more patches overtime the 570 may achieve a wider performance gap thanks to its increased clock speeds and power usage, but I don’t expect it to be any higher than another 5-8 FPS by next year.
Moving onto software, the RX 500 series has added in a new feature aimed at e-sports players called Chill. To put it simply, Chill is a new power-saving feature that allows users to underclock their GPU to deliver the exact FPS threshold they desire. Using Counter Strike: Global Offensive as our example, this popular e-sports title only runs on DX9, an engine that doesn’t put any stress on a modern GPU. So what occurs is that any mainstream gaming computer achieves over 200 FPS while playing at base proficiency. Because no one plays at these outrageous framerates, with Chill, the user can specify how much FPS they exactly want to play at and put even less stress on their GPU, creating a near seamless gameplay experience all while running at cooler temperatures. Chill is an interesting feature for sure but it’s still in its infancy, only working with a handful of titles at launch, a majority of which are e-sports games like Overwatch and League of Legends.
The RX 570 is stuck in an unfortunate rut. While $180 for a satisfying 1080p graphics card sounds like a great premise for most mainstream PC builders, this has already been accomplished with AMD’s RX 400 series last year. Even with a boosted clock speed and a broader software suite, the smarter buy for most consumers in this price range is to buy an RX 480 or a GTX 1060. Those cards will begin to be heavily discounted while still offering better performance per dollar as this new RX 500 series hits the shelves.