AMD Radeon RX 580 review: Our top pick for 1440p gaming

AMD RX 580

Now that the RX 580, AMD’s patriarch of the Polaris architecture family, is finally back in stock and at reasonable prices, it’s time to reconsider its viability as the centrepiece of a mid-range build. For those unaware, the RX 580 comes in both 4GB and 8GB VRAM flavours. I’m covering the latter here, and it’s hard to make an argument as to why you’d consider the former: it’s not that much cheaper, but does essentially cut you off from the flashiest graphical stuff (like Ultra-high quality textures) in games which support them. Having less memory can also generally scupper you when running with higher resolutions, and considering that the RX 580 appears to have been made with 1440p firmly in AMD’s collective mind, 8GB just makes more sense.

Once again, it’s an Asus ROG Strix OC Edition I’m testing, though since the overclock in question has such a tiny boost speed upgrade from 1340MHz to a maximum of 1380MHz, it should be representative of most partner-made RX 580s. This costs £330, which is a lot considering MSI, Gigabyte and XFX all have alternative models for around £280 or less. Here, however, you do get three fans, a sturdy backplate and an extra HDMI port for VR kit for your trouble.

First up on benchmarking duties is Doom. Unsurprisingly, the RX 580 makes this look very pretty (in a filthy way) indeed – it’s not massively better than the RX 570 at this res, but does seem less prone to micro-stutter, to the extent that it never happens at all. 1440p is also suitably fast, with the benfit of added sharpness. It’s only at 4K that the card struggles, just about getting by in quiet corridors, but losing its grip completely during running battles. On Ultra settings, anyway; turn them down a level or two and decent performance is within reach.

Hitman was also looking suitably sharp, at both 1080p and 1440p. Its less powerful sibling the RX 570 didn’t particularly struggle with this game, as you can see in our RX 570 review, but the RX 580 really kicks it up a notch. 1440p could perhaps be smoothed out a bit with reduced settings, but to my eyes it runs fine with everything cranked up. As for 4K, the RX 580 largely keeps it together – to its credit – but when the screen gets truly filled with shuffling NPCs, you’ll need to knock down those settings again.

AMD RX 580 rear

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is probably the best demonstration of why it can be worth investing in some extra memory; on 1080p, we could have everything maxed out and still get smooth running throughout. It’s playable at 1440p as well, though 4K poses a trickier situation. Still using Ultra settings, the RX 580 manages to avoid succumbing to the pressure, but only just – and for pacey sword stabbery, we’d rather have extra frames than the finest-quality orc hairs on show.

At least this was better than in 4K Tomb Raider, which was simply too much for AMD’s card to take with Very High settings. That said, dropping to High speeds things up to the point where it’s just about playable, and to be fair the RX 580 takes 1080p and 1440p relatively easily. There’s no problem whatsoever with Very High on Full HD, and on 1440p – much like Shadow of War – it could be made to run smoother, but it’s a nice enough balance of swanky visuals and pragmatic performance.

Total War: Warhammer II, always a toughie, also did quite well on the RX 580. The RX 570 crumbled in this game, so it’s good to see its bigger brother holding firm even with hundreds of units filling the screen. Upon starting our 1440p test, however, it…err, crashed. A more successful second run showed the RX 580 isn’t terrible at this res, but groans a tad on the battle map, and occasionally has trouble on the campaign map, too. You’ll definitely want to disable some settings. 4K is pretty much a lost cause, to be honest, unless you’re willing to accept the most basic fidelity.

Wolfenstein II, on the other hand, performs impeccably. The RX 580 helps it tick along smoothly and stably, without even the slightest jitter at either 1080p or 1440p. All the way up at 4K, it only really suffers in more chaotic moments, and even then it holds it together an awful lot better than Doom did.

AMD RX 580 ports

The Witcher III also looks rather handsome at both of the lower resolutions. At first I thought I’d left some of the lower settings enabled from testing the RX 570, but nope – it was the RX 580 juggling everything on full. 4K doesn’t run as well as the visuals perhaps deserve, but I could still play it fine. The bigger concern was that this res seems to make the fan speed go nuts.

Lastly, in Assassin’s Creed Origins, the RX 580 once again beat the RX 570 quite handily. On Ultra High quality, however, it slows noticeably in populated villages. Very High, the next option down, produces okay results, but High looks to be the best fit – at 1440p as well as 1080p, interestingly enough. 4K play is, shock horror, enough slower. You’ll have to slink all the way down to Medium quality to even get things playable, and at that point, is it even worth it?

Maybe not, but for capable 1440p gaming and below, the RX 580 acquits itself well. I’ve kept mentioning the RX 570, which is a lot fresher in my head, but let’s be real: it comes down to either this, or Nvidia’s GTX 1060. Both are strong at 1080p, mostly great at 1440p and might be able to do a bit of 4K (in certain older or generally more easygoing games, anyway).

This has an extra 2GB of memory on the 6GB GTX 1060 as well, which in theory should help with higher resolutions and tip-top texture quality in games like Shadow of War. In practice, though, these two cards perform more or less as well as each other (except in VR, for which the GTX 1060’s Pascal architecture is a little better optimised than Polaris). Both cost about the same as well, so unless you’ve already bought into the whole Vive/Oculus thing, it’s probably wiser to go with the RX 580.

20 Comments

  1. dangermouse76 says:

    Nice, so is this a 30/60fps 1440p card ? Smooth is a little on the subjective side for me. Love the write up but I have a RX 580 and if I was considering a 1440p monitor this would be crucial information.

    Average frames for the games tested would be helpful even with these type of stat-lite pieces.

    • Sakkura says:

      Depends a lot on graphics settings and the games played. But the 580 falls a bit short of maxing out all the newest games at 1440p 60FPS. If you’re okay with adjusting settings a little, it’s still a capable 1440p card though.

      • dangermouse76 says:

        I’m a Skyrim SE, Fallout 4, Withcher 3, GTA, XCOM 2, Minecraft, and Indie games kinda guy. Generally happy around high settings, but I dont mind dropping settings to get up to 60fps though.

        I’ve finished my upgrading days for a while ( baby due in a week ) but the 1080p monitor I have has started to lose it’s colour a little. An affordable 60Hz 1440p monitor maybe my last hurah.

    • Beefsurgeon says:

      Agree, it would be nice to see some numbers here. Especially comparisons to the 570 that is also being reviewed.

      • Nihilexistentialist says:

        They don’t mention the CPU while testing CPU heavy games. Don’t expect technical here as this is more like your mate talking about the card

  2. phenom_x8 says:

    In my country, the price of RX 580 are way even more than GTX 1060.
    My first target to optimise my freesync monitor (and upgrade from my 4 yrs old GTX 660 ) was this RX580, but after check the power it needs to run, my humble 430W Seasonic Eco wont fit it well. So, I lowered my target to RX 570, sadly its price is the same as GTX 1060, so, as a reasonable person, I choose the former…

  3. mukuste says:

    I don’t get these recommendations.

    I recently played Shadow of Mordor (the old one!) on my brand new GTX 1060 (on 1080p/Ultra), and was a bit disappointed to find that the second (more taxing) area was already not perfectly smooth anymore (still very playable, mind, but noticeable).

    And here the RX 580, which has essentially the same performance, is praised as the top pick for 1440p (!) gaming? Something is wrong either with my PC or my expectations.

    • Sakkura says:

      Which 1060? The 3GB version is slower (and VRAM-crippled), and generally the RX 580 is still a tiny bit faster than the 1060 6GB.

      • mukuste says:

        Nah, I don’t think anyone should be crazy enough to buy the 3GB version, so I always forget it exists.

        Was talking about the 6GB.

    • Ched says:

      They don’t make any sense. GPU benchmark puts the 6GB 1060 as fractionally better performing for substantially lower cost.

      link to gpu.userbenchmark.com

      If we’re looking at £330 then we are not far from 1070 costs which out performs this card by over 40%.

      Not sure in what world this makes the 580 the “top pick for 1440p”

      Is James Archer one of the new additions that followed the RPS takeover as I’m not familiar with his name?

      • f1ank says:

        Biggest problem with this review is how vague everything is. Without actual fps figures, you can’t really tell what the difference is between “ok results” and “best fit”.

        • Ched says:

          Spot on.

          The writing is subjective for something that can be objectively measured.

          Which is why I don’t get the conclusion of 580 as a top pick. On peformance/cost measures I can’t see a rationale for the decision.

          Don’t get me wrong, it seems like a good card at a reasonable price. But the maths don’t support it being better than a 1060.

      • Carr0t says:

        I thought the new hardware writer was a woman? It was announced yesterday. Maybe this guy is a freelancer who wrote some hardware articles to fill in the gap between the last person leaving and the new one starting?

        Gotta admit I agree with you, I certainly wouldn’t recommend a 580 over a 1060 6GB with the prices that both are currently going for. Maybe crypto mining is to blame (I seem to recall AMD is much better for that for some reason?), but if you can’t *get* the card for MSRP, then comparing those prices is largely pointless.

        This as some in the UK, which is also where I believe most of the RPS staff are.

        • Sakkura says:

          Katharine Byrne is the new hardware *editor*, and she’s been submitting hardware articles for a month or so, about laptops and monitors etc. James Archer seems to have taken care of GPUs during roughly the same period.

      • Sakkura says:

        The RX 580 isn’t supposed to be £330. It’s supposed to cost about the same as the GTX 1060 6GB, which it is slightly faster than.

        Crypto mining is just putting a big caveat on GPU recommendations these days.

        As for James Archer, he seems to be freelancing all their recent GPU articles.

  4. RabidLime says:

    this makes me happy. as i just nabbed two of these for wicked cheap. huzzah.

  5. fray_bentos says:

    Top pick for 1440p? Runs many games at 1440p at sub-standard 50-60fps. I would say the 1070 is the top pick for 1440p gaming. Another crap hardware “review” with no numbers. I’ve got a 1070 and paid £295 from Amazon Warehouse.

  6. Banks says:

    I wouldn’t buy this card for 1440p. If you plan on playing at 60fps on high settings, I’m afraid this won’t do it for long.
    At 1080 it’s great and should stay strong for years, you can even get 144frames at plenty of games. However, a 8bg 580 is currently a bit more expensive than a GTX 1060, so it does not make much sense to get one right now. It was 100€ cheaper a year ago.

    Unless you have a Freesync monitor, Freesync is super nice.

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