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AMD Launches Polaris Refresh, Wants to Make World VR Ready

AMD Polaris Refresh - RX 500 Series

After a series of leaks, AMD finally launched a refresh – or a rebrand – or their Polaris GPU product family. Some minor tweaks enabled Polaris 10 became Polaris 20, and so on, and so forth. The products launching today are Radeon RX 550, 560, 570 and 580. As AMD states, the new line-up is designed to further reduce the barrier of entry to VR capable i.e. “VR Ready” hardware, enable performance at higher resolutions such as 2560×1440 or 3440×1440 etc. Gamers should be able to stream their titles, and achieve great frame rate in the most played titles of today and hopefully tomorrow. According to AMD, the focus for the Radeon RX 500 Series was as follows:

  • More than 500 million PC gamers use 2 year old graphics cards
  • 10% of all PC gamers upgraded their graphics cards in 2016
  • Optimized DirectX® 12 and Vulkan® gaming
  • More efficient and cooler operation with Radeon™ Chill
  • Awesome streaming, sharing, and gameplay capture with Radeon ReLive

The Line-Up

AMD Polaris Refresh - RX 500 Family

Here are the product highlights, as commented by AMD:

  • Radeon RX 580: For smooth 1440p gaming – The Radeon RX 580 delivers up to an average of 57% better performance compared to the Radeon™ R9 380X in testing, delivering smooth gaming in leading AAA games and stunning immersive VR experiences starting at US$229 for the Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR 5 graphics card, or starting at US$199 for the Radeon RX 580 4GB GDDR5 graphics card. On shelf on April 18th.
  • Radeon RX 570: For maximum 1080p gaming – With 4GB of GDDR5 memory, the RX 570 boasts up to an average of 2.3X better performance compared to the Radeon R7 370 for an SEP starting at US$169. On shelf on April 18th.
  • Radeon RX 560: For efficient 1080p gaming – With 2GB of GDDR5 memory, the RX 560 delivers up to an average 57% higher performance of the Radeon R7 360 for a fluid and smooth gaming experience in the world’s most popular games with an SEP starting at US$99. On shelf date will be early May.
  • Radeon RX 550: The doorway to PC gaming – Featuring 2GB GDDR5 memory, the RX 550 delivers up to an average 4X higher performance vs. competing integrated graphics, and up to an average of 1.7X the performance of the Radeon R7 250 with an SEP starting at US$79. On shelf on April 20th.

As you can see here, AMD is comparing the RX 500 series with the R9 and R7 300-series, which makes sense as one would only expect single-digit to low double-digit percentage increase over the 400 Series generation.

Here are some of the AIB models we expect to be available at etailers tomorrow:

ASUS

ASUS Radeon RX550 4GB

$189 for RX 570 STRIX OC 4GB
$179 for RX 570 STRIX 4GB

The company plans to offer complete line-up, with RX 550, RX 560, RX 570 and RX 580 in multiple flavors, including ROG STRIX custom boards.

Gigabyte

Gigabyte RX580 AORUS
$259 for RX 580 Aorus OC 8GB
$229 for RX 580 Aorus 8GB
$219 for RX 580 Gaming 8GB
$199 for RX 580 Aorus 4GB
$189 for RX 580 Gaming 4GB
$179 for RX 570 Aorus 4GB
$169 for RX 570 Gaming 4GB

Gigabyte plans on bringing RX 500 family as both Gaming and Aorus product families, featuring custom designs on almost every product.

MSI

MSI Radeon RX580 GAMING X 8GB
$245 for RX 580 Gaming 8G
$229 for RX 580 ARMOR 8G
$199 for RX 580 ARMOR 4G
$175 for RX 570 ARMOR 4G

MSI plans to bring Gaming X and Gaming X Plus cards, with the second card (pictured above) offering highest clocks on the market, and also being the only 2.5, practically a triple-slot card for a mainstream product.

Sapphire

Sapphire Radeon RX580 NITRO+ Limited Edition 8GB GDDR5
$275 for RX 580 Nitro+ Limited edition 8GB
$249 for RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB
$229 for RX 580 Pulse 8GB
$209 for RX 580 Pulse 4GB
$199 for RX 570 Nitro+ 4GB
$169 for RX 570 Pulse 4GB

For their RX 580 design, Sapphire is bringing an 8+6-pin power configuration (300W TDP) and offering removable fans (with two RGB LED spares).

TUL i.e. PowerColor

TUL PowerColor Red Devil RX570 4GB TUL PowerColor Red Devil RX580 8GB GDD5
$269 for RX 580 8GB Red Devil Golden Sample
$249 for RX 580 8GB Red Devil
$229 for RX 580 8GB Red Dragon
$199 for RX 580 4GB Red Dragon
$175 for RX 570 4GB Red Dragon

If there’s a vendor that “went to town” with custom designs, that’s TUL i.e. their PowerColor brand. Triple fan, 8-pin RX 570 and triple slot, 8+6-pin RX 580 set themselves apart from the more conventional competitors.

Time will tell can RX 500 series put a dent in sales of NVIDIA Pascal-based graphics cards such as GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060. Price-wise, not a single RX 580 board hits the $300 price tag, meaning this product should not be compared to for example, GTX 1070 ($399). AMD’s main competitor will be the GTX 1060, and more importantly, crushing pressure of expectations for the Radeon RX VEGA, which suffered delays due to practically unavailable HBM2 memory (all the stock is eaten up by NVIDIA and their Pascal and Volta cards).

Still, RX 580 can probably “fly the flag” for AMD and maybe some day in the future, the company will become a true competitor to market leaders.