AMD Radeon RX 590 AIB Review Roundup

AMD didn’t pick the best possible time to launch its upper mid-range Radeon RX 590 GPU. Right away, it had to compete with Nvidia’s more efficient GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (and now the 1660 Super) in the same price range, on top of the discounted Radeon RX 580 cards, which aren’t that much slower.

On the plus side, this segment is really the buyer’s market right now (late 2019). The strong competition has driven down prices across the board. It’s already possible to find this card at prices that sometimes dip well below the important $200 mark.

And even in 2020, the RX 590 is an attractive GPU when the price is right. Although it’s based on the same Polaris architecture as the RX 580, the 590 is more than just a simple rebadge with a slight clock increase. It is manufactured with a smaller (12 nm) production process, which has allowed AMD to increase the default boost clock by more than 200 MHz.

Theoretical performance (FP32 float.) is up from 6,175 GFLOPS (RX 580) to 7,119 GFLOPS (RX 590). In comparison, the reference GTX 1660 Ti churns out 5,437 GFLOPS. The bad news is that this usually isn’t reflected in actual games. Also, power efficiency in the Radeon lineup is still far behind the latest Nvidia cards. However, it’s a relatively close competitor as measured in frames per second – and if the price is right it’s still a great choice for both 1080p and 1440p gaming. It gets better when combined with a FreeSync monitor.

The 5 Best-Rated RX 590 Graphics Cards

So let’s move on to the top cards in the category. Actually, this is about half of the total number of cards with this GPU available at the time of writing. We’ve sorted them based on opinions from both professional and user reviews, as well as our own experiences with Polaris cards. Click through to our database entries of the different models to find links to reviews and other information.


Sapphire Radeon Nitro+ RX 590 Special Edition

RX 590 Nitro+Sapphire’s Nitro+ series is the manufacturer’s premium graphics card lineup, with the most advanced cooling solution and often a liberal amount of factory overclocking. The Nitro+ is no exception – even the card’s 8 GB of memory (VRAM) is boosted out of the box, making this card a rarity in the segment (possibly unique).

Compared to the reference model, the Nitro+ GPU boost clock is up from 1545 MHz to 1560 MHz. The VRAM clock is increased from 2000 MHz to 2100 MHz, resulting in an effective 8400 MHz instead of 8000 MHz.

Like other Nitro+ cards, this one also an efficient cooling solution with replaceable fans. It also takes up no more than two PCI slots, whereas most competitors use triple-slot options.

Reviews of the Nitro+ are mostly in agreement that it’s one of the best cards, if not the best. Here are some of them:

KitGuru: The cooler used by Sapphire works well, the fans are very quiet and the control software reduces noise to an absolute minimum..

Wccftech: For under $300 you simply can’t get more performance and pair that with a high refresh rate 1080p Freesync display and you’ve got a killer combination.

PCWorld: The Sapphire Radeon RX 590 Nitro+ … is better than the XFX RX 590 Fatboy in every way, from performance to size to heat dissipation.

Editors Liked:
  • Efficient cooling solution
  • Compact, dual-slot design
  • Factory-overclocked GPU and VRAM

Editors didn't like:
  • Power-hungry
  • Only available in blue


XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy OC+

XFX’s Fatboy is one of the best-selling variants of the card, and not without reason.

Like the aforementioned Sapphire card, the Fatboy is factory overclocked. While the memory clock is untouched, the GPU boost clock is actually a bit higher still, at 1580 MHz. This gives you an extra 2% worth of GPU core performance out of the box.

The Fatboy’s dual-fan cooling solution takes up three PCI slots internally. XFX has equipped the card with a Unibody VRM Heatsink, which increases the heat sink surface considerably, according to the manufacturer. The card also has an aluminum backplate to improve rigidity and help with heat dissipation.

XFX has picked up generally favorable reviews of the RX 590 Fatboy:

Notebookcheck: Overall, the power consumption has dropped by around 10 watts compared to the AMD Radeon RX 580. While this is a step in the right direction, the Pascal GPUs from AMD’s biggest rival Nvidia are a lot more efficient.

TechPowerUp: XFX has installed a large triple-slot cooler on their RX 590 Fatboy, which does a good job of keeping the card at reasonable temperature levels without too much noise.

Bit-tech: … across all tests this RX 590 is on average 14 percent faster than a GTX 1060 6GB (with 8Gbps memory) and 10 percent ahead of the Sapphire RX 580 8GB. Meanwhile, reference RX Vega 56 and overclocked GTX 1070 figures are both about 30 percent above what we see here.

Editors Liked:
  • Relatively quiet
  • A clear improvement on the predecessor
  • Factory-overclocked GPU boost clock

Editors didn't like:
  • Triple-slot cooler
  • Only available in blue


PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 OC

PowerColor RX 590PowerColor’s take on the latest AMD Polaris chip is also overclocked out of the box. The reference model’s 1545 MHz maximum GPU boost clock has been increased to 1576 MHz – higher than the Sapphire Nitro+ but marginally lower than the XFX Fatboy.

Like the XFX model, the PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 OC is equipped with a dual-fan cooling solution that is rather large and occupies three slots. Anyone who enjoys tinkering with their GPUs will be happy to learn that the Red Devil has a dual BIOS setup. A switch on the card lets you toggle between the two presets ‘Ultra Overclocking’ and ‘Silent Overclocking’.

Opinions on the Red Devil are mostly positive, although there are some questions raised regarding how it handles temperatures and power consumption.

Bit-tech: PowerColor’s Red Devil implementation, specifically how it balances power consumption, clock speeds, temperatures, and fan speed/noise, leaves a lot to be desired …

Overclock3D: What the Red Devil does have is the endlessly consistent PowerColor build quality. They are always producing good quality cards and this is no different …

Editors Liked:
  • Dual BIOS
  • Factory overclocked GPU boost clock

Editors didn't like:
  • High power draw


ASRock Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX 590

asrock 590If you don’t want to tinker with the GPU yourself and want the highest possible factory overclocking instead, the ASRock Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX 590 is an attractive option. ASRock has been very generous with the GPU boost clock, and as an added bonus it’s a dual-slot card.

Compared to the reference model, ASRock has pushed the GPU boost clock from 1545 MHz to 1591 MHz in the Phantom Gaming X, in ‘OC Mode’. This also increases the card’s VRAM very slightly, from 8000 MHz (effective clock) to 8032 MHz.

Cooling is handled by two fans in a compact dual-slot solution that doesn’t take up unnecessary space. On the downside, this has also made the card quite loud according to some testers. … with this excellent overall result, the ASRock Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX 590 8G OC graphics card receives our Purchase Tip Award 02/2019.

Funkykit: Performance wise it’s what I expected, with performance hovering just above the GeForce GTX 1060, but in most cases, it did outperform the GTX 1060.

Editors Liked:
  • Dual-slot design
  • High factory overclock

Editors didn't like:
  • Loud fans


Gigabyte Radeon RX 590 Gaming 8G

Gigabyte has used this exact same Windforce cooling solution on several GPUs in the past – and why change a winning formula? The 590 Gaming 8G was late to the party and we’ve found no professional reviews of the card yet. But since it’s practically identical to the RX 580 Gaming that sits in one of my own rigs, I will vouch for it anyway.

In OC mode, the GPU boost clock is increased to 1560 MHz, or 1% compared to the reference design.

Like the card’s predecessors and the ASRock and Sapphire alternatives mentioned above, it’s a comparatively compact, dual-slot card suitable for similarly compact gaming PC builds.

I Liked (in the RX 580 model):
  • Dual-slot card
  • Very competent cooler for its size
  • RGB LED on top

I didn't like (in the RX 580):
  • Not an overly exciting design

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AMD Radeon RX 590 Overview

Compared to previous iterations of AMD’s Polaris chip (Polaris 10/RX 480 and Polaris 20/RX 580), not nearly as many RX 590s (Polaris 30 XTX) reached the market. Many have been factory overclocked though, featuring premium designs and somewhat more advanced cooling solutions than the reference model.

The Polaris 30 XT chip uses the same architecture and has the same feature set as its predecessor, the Polaris 20 XTX (RX 580). As a result, the GPU has 2,304 shaders, 144 TMUs (texture mapping units), and 32 ROPs (render output units). However, Polaris 30 is manufactured at a 12 nm production process at GlobalFoundries instead of the predecessor’s 14 nm. This has allowed AMD and third-party manufacturers such as ASUS to increase the clock speeds, leading to improved performance at an equivalent power draw.

Reference Design Versus AIBs

AMD Radeon RX 590 Reference DesignSapphire Nitro+ RX 590 Special EditionXFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy OC+PowerColor Red Devil RX 590 OC
GPU ChipPolaris 30 XTPolaris 30 XTPolaris 30 XTPolaris 30 XT
Stream Processors2304230423042304
GPU Clock /
Max. Boost
1469 MHz /
1545 MHz
1469 MHz /
1560 MHz
1469 MHz /
1580 MHz
1469 MHz /
1576 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance7,119 GFLOPS7,188 GFLOPS7,281 GFLOPS7,262 GFLOPS
Memory Clock (Effective)2000 MHz (8000 MHz)2100 MHz (8400 MHz)2000 MHz (8000 MHz)2000 MHz (8000 MHz)
Memory Bandwidth (Bus)256 GB/s (256 bit)268.8 GB/s (256 bit)256 GB/s (256 bit)256 GB/s (256 bit)
Outputs1x HDMI, 3x DisplayPort1x DVI, 2x HDMI, 2x DisplayPort1x DVI, 1x HDMI, 3x DisplayPort1x DVI, 1x HDMI, 3x DisplayPort
Recommended Power Supply500 Watt500 Watt500 Watt500 Watt
PCIe Power Connectors1x 8-pin1x 6-pin + 1x 8-pin1x 6-pin + 1x 8-pin1x 6-pin + 1x 8-pin
TDP175 Watt175 Watt175 Watt175 Watt

Although the recommended 500-watt power supply remains the same with all RX 590 cards, it is worth noting that the actual power draw varies a great deal when overclocking is involved. Most AIBs require one 8-pin and one 6-pin power connector, so the TDP (175W) can theoretically be exceeded by a sizable margin.

Relative Performance

3dmark timespy

Compared to the preceding Polaris-based cards, the average (reference) RX 590 is about 10% faster than the 8 GB RX 580. This is mainly due to the higher clocks and improved efficiency with the newer production process. Since the XFX Fatboy RX 590 is factory overclocked, it will be about 2% faster still. Although the RX 590 is more efficient than its predecessor, power consumption is still high compared to comparable Nvidia cards (performance-wise). The GPU’s chief competitor is now Nvidia’s Turing-based GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, which is far more efficient, but not necessarily faster in actual games.


Ever since the RX 480, which used the first and less efficient version of the same Polaris chip, undervolting has been a topic of much discussion. A problem with Polaris – especially when compared to Nvidia’s competitors – is poor power efficiency. Although this is the best version so far, it is still less efficient than the GTX 1060 and even more so than the GTX 1660 (Ti).

Therefore, reducing the voltage to improve the efficiency of the chip used to be a popular tactic among crypto miners. But it’s also useful for gamers. It will keep the temps to a minimum and reduce power draw, often without reducing performance. If you’re interested, take a look at this walkthrough from Wccftech that explains the process.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ RX 590 Undervolting Explored


The RX 590 may have been launched at a bad time, but it may still be a great choice for a mid-range build. Prices are already down significantly since launch, so it’s still competitive with the Nvidia alternatives. However, the price tag should determine whether it’s the best choice at any given time.

Factory-overclocked cards are generally not worth a premium based on the higher clocks alone but may have other advantages such as better cooling. If this card is not in your price range at the moment, also have a look at our roundup of the best AMD and Nvidia cards below $200. If you want something more powerful, on the other hand, have a look at our roundup of the top GPUs under $300 or under $500.

Jesper Berg
Jesper Berg

I got started with PC building in the 3dfx Voodoo era somewhere back in the 1990s, and have been writing for tech publications for a bit more than a decade. In other words old enough to have lost count of the times PC gaming has been pronounced dead.

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