AMD's new RX 500 series promises affordable, yet capable gaming performance

AMD is on a roll as-of-late. Not only has the company pulled things back in the CPU market to better compete against Intel but it's also gearing up for the upcoming Vega announcement to hit back at Nvidia. Unfortunately, while we're still holding off for the latter, AMD has in the meantime decided to launch a new batch of GPUs in the RX 500 series to offer affordable and capable 1080p and 1440p gaming experiences.

As noted by Engadget, the RX 480 is more than capable of Virtual Reality and 1080p/1440p gaming, but the RX 500 series of cards will take gaming to 60 frames per second and above. The RX 580, which is the most powerful card in the mid-range series, will be able to achieve this, according to AMD. The company is also releasing the RX 570, 560, and 550.

These cards aren't only more efficient than the RX 400 series of GPUs, thanks to being 2nd-gen Polaris chips built on 3rd-gen 14nm FinFET architecture, they're also clocked at higher speeds. It gets interesting when you look at the RX 560, however. This GPU is rocking Polaris 11 and thus enjoys gains in more areas than mere efficiency and increased clock speeds. The 550 is even more unique thanks to sporting Polaris 12.

AMD RX 500

Starting with the RX 580, prices start from just $199 with 4GB of VRAM ($229 for 8GB), while the 570, 560, and 550 will set you back $169, $99, and $79, respectively. Availability commences from today for the 580 and 570, while the 550 comes out on April 20 and the 560 will reportedly arrive in May. If you're holding out for a GTX 1080 competitor offering, we're afraid you'll have to continue waiting for Vega. Still, AMD is killing it in the mid-range sector by bolstering its affordable collection of GPUs.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Is the 580 supposed to compete with the GTX1070?
  • No, its a little bit faster than 480x.
  • GTX 1060 vs RX 580
  • 480 was better than 1060 is some games and worse in others, overall they were about tied. 580>1060 easily.
  • Benchmarks are most likely identical to the RX 480 with OC. But the RX 580 actually needs more energy. The whole system with 580 is over 300Watt while with the 1060 just over 200Watt. And even the 480 needs less than the 580.
  • You should research such claims before makign them up. Like was already said, reviews disagree with you. The 1060 more than holds its own against the 580, just as it did the the 480. The performance improvements on the 580 (versus the 480) are minimal, and they come with a severe power penalty at igh load (though power is down under light loads and idle). The 580 does nothing to kick the 1060 to the curb, it just lets AMD have something "new" on the shelf while Vega takes its sweet time.
  • LOL, no, just no. The 1060 beat the 480 easily in the majority of games, and the 580 is literally a few frames faster than the 480. So, while it closes the gap slightly, the 1060 is still the clear winner in MOST games.  
  • yeah at release.after driver updates...not so much. read some re-reviews before you LOL
  • No, with the 1060 6 GB 9 Gbps ram.
  • Just ordered my 580 Sapphire Nitro today. This will compliment my 1700X very nicely. I've been running a 290 since around launch and I'm ready for the upgrade. I would love VEGA but I know it will be out of my current price range. Maybe if I win the lotter or something I'll get one.
  • The 580 isn't that big of an upgrade ... apart for twice the VRAM.
  • It's the 4xx serie renamed and a little boosted (~+5%). RX580 should competes with GTX1060.
    Not something someone with recent GPU will need cause of the little boost, but can be an affordable upgrade for old ones.
  • I was waiting for this not because it's a huge improvement to the 4xx series. I was waiting for this because the price for the RX480 and RX470 will drop now.
  • Yeah, these were a letdown. I was going to do a build with one soon. Instead, might as well take a 470 or 480 (which will perform almsot identically) and save probably $30-50.
  • I was in the same boat and feel the same way. I have all of my other parts for my new Ryzen build sitting here and was anxiously awaiting what the 500s would do. Not very excited anymore. I think I'll stick with my 280x for now and then save up for a 1070.
  • Oh, I won't ever go to Nvidia, haha. I got a 460 (to replace my big, clunky 5850) for a short-term card while waiting for Vega. This first build is actually a friend's, and he's doing a fresh Ryzen build. I'm going to check out the 470 and 480 prices and probably pick from those, since you're talking such a small change in performance. For myself, I'll keep holding onto the 460 until Vega drops, then decide.
  • Oh man, I've been debating on a new build. Those prices look so nice!
  • I'm glad to see this. Can only force NVidia to improve even more. What's not to love? Still hoping for a GTX 1070 myself though.
  • These don't force Nvidia into anything. They aren't as efficient as Nvidia's stuff and they aren't able to compete with Nvidia's high-end products. Vega will have to make Nvidia think, if anything. The 5xx cards do nothing the 4xx cards didn't do already, in terms of promoting competition. There's nothing exciting in this release, just a questionable efficiency move (Better at idle, worse under load) and almost identical performance to the preceding iterations.
  • I realise saying this would be over-simplifying a lot, as graphics and computation aren't the same; but when I see a decent GPU and 4GB of GDDR5 RAM for around $100, it really makes me wish it was possible to have a small all-in-one system with similar processing power and graphics for around twice that, $200.
  • The 580 is a 1080p60 card, 1440p with lower settings.