PowerColor Radeon Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample Reviewccokeman -
Category: Video Cards
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PowerColor Radeon Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample Introduction:
Just eight months ago, AMD delivered the RX 480 based on the Polaris 10 GCN architecture. It proved to deliver pretty decent performance at its targeted resolution of 1920 x 1080, while still delivering playable frame rates in many of the AAA titles. All for a price that was fairly easy on the wallet. Now that AMD has had some time to get the yields up on the silicon, it's time for a refresh of Polaris. Realistically, what we can expect from this launch is not Vega first off, but a look at some cards with new features and improved core and boost clock speeds, all to generate higher gaming performance levels. Core clock speeds of the factory overclocked cards like this card from PowerColor are up and above the maximum clock speeds I could reach on the RX 480, cards including PowerColor's Red Devil RX 480.
PowerColor's RX 580 series product stack includes both the Red Devil RX 580 8GB and the Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample. The card I am looking at today is the Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample. This card features an impressive 1425MHz core clock on the 4th Generation GCN core and the 8GB of high speed GDDR5 runs at 2000MHz right out of the box. It comes with a large 2.5 slot cooling solution to manage the thermals and has all the DNA of previous generations of Red Devil cards from PowerColor.
AMD will most certainly take a lashing at the hands of the masses over a refresh, but it brings forward improvements to process that allow it to add performance at the 1080p targeted resolution for Polaris 10 and then push the performance envelope a bit further. The big call out for this launch is the adoption of a power management tool called Chill that reduces power when user defined parameters are set to reduce both power consumption and GPU temperatures while in game without impacting gaming performance. Seems like a pretty interesting tool to add to AMD's tool box, but one that is long overdue to help mitigate the power consumption issue that AMD has struggled with over the past few generations. Let's dig in and see what the PowerColor Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample has to offer when compared to the RX 480!
PowerColor Radeon Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample Closer Look:
The black background sets the tone for the graphic on the package. Typically we see the Red Devil logo in a brilliant blood red, but this particular card is the "Golden Sample" version. Essentially the "Golden Ticket" per se if you remember the premise behind the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The model number is listed at the bottom right of the front against a red background. Specific AMD Radeon features are listed so you know just how to best utilize the card. The back of the package shows a blow apart view of the PowerColor RX 580 Red Devil Golden Sample with a breakdown of the feature set. You get information on the dual ball bearing fans, Platinum Power Kit VRM, and the massive heat pipe-based cooling solution. Inside the box you get a plain cardboard box with the card and accessory bundle that includes a driver disc and installation guide.
The Red Devil cards from PowerColor always come with a fairly robust air cooling solution. By doing so, the cards are usually on the larger end of the scale. The Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample does not quite fit that mold. At 9.5 inches long, it is smaller than many cards in its class. At five inches tall and just over two inches thick, PowerColor uses the space under the Red Devil RX 580 Golden Sample fan shroud for a massive cooling solution. The front view shows off the pair of 100mm "Mute Fan Technology" equipped dual ball bearing fans operating in the red and black metal shroud. The back of the card has a 1.5mm aluminum stiffening back plate with a new star logo that highlights the six tenents of the Red Devil Series video cards. Fire for the robust VRM circuitry, Dark Soul for the 1.5mm backplate and energy efficiency, MIrage for the immersive graphics, Red Magic for the BIOS Switch to go between wild and mild, and last but not least Wind for the powerful cooling system.
From the side view you can see how much space is occupied by the large, five heat pipe cooler. The Red Devil logo is prominently displayed and lights up when in operation so you know that you are "Running with the Devil." Much like most recent video cards, PowerColor's Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample is built to be run in a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot.
Display connectivity on the PowerColor Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample consists of a single DL-DVI-D port, a single HDMI 2.0b port, and a trio of HDR-ready DisplayPort 1.4 ports that support up to four displays. The openings in the I/O panel allows for airflow to come out of the card; the bulk of the thermal load though will be dumped into the chassis. This is not a new problem as we see it on most cards with this cooling design. Modern chassis are well equipped to turn over the case air volume fairly regularly with large 120mm and 140mm fans to manage the airflow. The back end of the card is open to discharge plenty of airflow to keep the card cool.
CrossFireX configurations are supported on the RX 580 series by way of way of AMD's XDMA technology. No longer using a CrossFire bridge connection, the inter-GPU communication is routed through the PCIe bus. In place of the traditional bridge connections is a two-way switch. This switch is used to toggle between the low noise "Silent" BIOS profile or the "OC" BIOS profile, which keeps the fan speeds at normal levels while running the factory overclocked settings on the core and memory.
The power supply to this card comes through an 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe power connection that fully addresses the initial concerns about over drawing the 6-pin power connections on the first Polaris cards. With both an 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe connection, we can see a draw of up to 275W under load without fear of over drawing the PCIe slot or PEG power connection. PowerColor recommends a 600 watt power supply for use with its Red Devil RX 580 8GB Golden Sample, a 100W increase over the 500W recommendation on the Red Devil RX 480. Just in front of the LED lighting connection is the switch that toggles the Red Devil LED lit logo on the card on or off.
Pulling the shroud and massive cooling solution off the Red Devil RX 580 Golden Sample shows the working components that allow this card to perform at a high level. The PCB is packed with components as parts of the Platinum Power Kit-DrMOS all-digital power circuit. This 6-phase solution is more efficient, runs cooler, and offers better voltage stability for extreme overclocking.
If you are scrounging around in the bowels of hell, you are going to need a cooling solution that will allow your hardware to stand up to the test. PowerColor has really stepped up the cooling this time on the Red Devil Golden Sample. A total of five heat pipes (four 8mm + one 6mm) make their way over the nickel plated contact plate up and through the aluminum fin array. This fin array features a dense fin pack that fills the whole void under the shroud from top to bottom. Across the top where the 100mm fans mount the surface is flat. On the bottom of the fin array, it is a different story. There are knockouts for the Platinum Power Kit VRM components to ensure the cooling solution can use as much space under the heat sink shroud as possible without increasing the depth of the card's cooling solution.
A pair of 100mm x 15mm nine blade dual ball bearing fans are used to provide the airflow through the dense fin array. These fans are made by Power Logic using part number PLD10015B12H. These fans are said to be 20% more efficient and offer 4x the longevity of your standard blower-style fan. PowerColor uses Mute Fan technology to keep the fan turn off in 0dB mode until the silicon crosses the 60 °C threshold. In my testing that is exactly when the fans started spinning. Looking on the Web for more information on these fans will send you down a few rabbit holes, but this fan has been used for quite a while on high end graphics cards.
As a refresh, we are going to see the same 4th Generation 14nm FinFET GCN core, renamed Polaris 20, based on the Ellesmere architecture powering this generation of RX 500 series products. Packed into the 232mm² sized die are 36 compute units, 2304 Stream processors, 144 texture units, and 32 ROPS. The baseline core clock speed on this card is a sky high 1425MHz right out of the box. As a Golden Sample Edition, this is at the top end of the stack. The 8GB of Samsung GDDR5 memory is running at an effective data rate of 8000Gbps or 2000MHz through a 256-bit bus to ensure you have plenty of memory bandwidth available.
PowerColor has several Red Devil versions available to the public, but this one is going to carry the workload as the standard bearer for the lineup. High clock speeds and a massive, for the size of the card, cooling solution should provide some robust performance results. Let's see what this golden ticket can do for us when it comes to gaming!