In a surprise move, AMD has launched a second range of graphics cards based on its Polaris platform. Those waiting for Vega will have to remain patient for a while longer.

The new range, which comprises the RX 580, 570, 560 and the entry-level 550 has come about thanks to improvements in manufacturing which have allowed AMD to get more speed from Polaris and also lower power consumption.

The cards are aimed at the 500 million gamers still using a graphics card that’s two or more years old.

So let’s get to the stuff you really want to know.

AMD RX 580 price and availability

Radeon RX 580 release date price specs

This is the successor to the RX 480. It comes in two versions, one with 4GB of RAM and one with 8GB.

Cards are sale now and will cost from £184.99 for the 4GB and from £219.99 for the 8GB.

In reality, the cheapest 4GB card we could find was a Sapphire from Overclockers UK at £199.99. 

Similarly, the cheapest 8GB RX 580 was another Sapphire at £239.99, with a mild overclock. You can see the full range here.

AMD says this card is for those wanting smooth gaming at resolutions up to 2560x1440 and is 57 percent quicker than the R9 380X. It’s also capable of driving VR headsets, which the R9 380X struggles with.

The main competitor is the Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB, which costs at least £20 more, and usually more than that.

AMD RX 570 price and availability

Radeon RX 570 release date price specs

The RX 570 replaces the 470 and has 4GB of video RAM. It starts at £164.99 and goes on sale 18 April.

It’s aimed at those wanting to replace a Radeon R7 370 or Nvidia GTX 960, and AMD claims it performs 230 percent better.  It’s going up against the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.

AMD RX 560 price and availability

As you can probably work out, the RX 560 is the upgraded RX 460, and it has 2GB of GDDR5. It goes on sale in May and costs from £99.99.

It’s said to perform 57 percent better than the Radeon R7 360, and is aimed at those still using that card or a GeForce GTX 750Ti or similar.

AMD RX 550 price and availability

Radeon RX 550 release date price specs

The 550 is new, and doesn’t replace anything from the RX 400-series. It’s an entry-level graphics card which is available in small form factors to fit in smaller PCs, including home theatre machines.

It goes on sale 20 April and will cost from £79.99.

It’s aimed at those still using integrated graphics, and is around four times faster than Intel’s current chip, and 70 percent quicker than the Radeon R7 250.

It doesn’t require any extra power, so won’t need a power supply upgrade.

AMD RX 580, 570, 560 & 550 specifications

Here’s a table summarising the price and specs of the new cards. Note that these are the standard specs – partners will offer overclocked versions immediately which will have faster core and boost speeds.

 

RX 580

RX 570

RX 560

RX 550

Price from

£184.99 / £219.99

£164.99

£99.99

£79.99

Core clock

1257MHz

1168MHz

1175MHz

Not stated

Boost clock

1340MHz

1244MHz

1275MHz

1183MHz

Compute units

36

32

16

8

RAM

4GB / 8GB

4GB

4GB

2GB

Type

GDDR5

GDDR5

GDDR5

GDDR5

Interface

256-bit

256-bit

128-bit

128-bit

TDP

185W

150W

 TBA

 50W

DX12 / Vulkan

Y / Y

Y / Y

Y / Y

Y / Y

AMD FreeSync

Y

Y

Y

Y

AMD RX 500-series features

Power consumption

Radeon Chill is new for the 500-series cards. It aims to lower power consumption by reducing frame rate in game scenes where there isn’t much on-screen movement.

So if you’ve been running or fighting and you then arrive somewhere and stand still, the algorithm will scale down the framerate to save power. As soon as you start moving again, the frame rate is increased again to maintain a smooth experience.

Chill also prevents games running at very high frame rates which waste power for no benefit to the gamer. The idea is that you never notice Chill doing anything: you should see smooth gameplay no matter what you’re doing, but overall power consumption should be lower, and fans might run more quietly.

Not all games support it, but there are some big titles which do, including Dota 2, WoW, Team Fortress 2, CS:GO, League of Legends, Overwatch and others.

You’ll have to enable Chill in the Radeon Settings app as it’s not enabled by default.

There’s another power-saving feature, too. All 500-series cards have a third power state in addition to idle and maximum. This kicks in when you connect a second display and means cards draw less power at idle with two screens.

Form factors

Unlike with the RX 400 series, AMD isn’t going to manufacture its own RX 500 boards. Instead it has worked with Asus, MSI, Sapphire and other partners to help them build overclocked cards plus different form factors.

So you have a bigger choice of cards, including smaller ones which should fit in smaller PC cases that don’t have room for a traditional 10in long graphics card that also takes up two PCIe slots.

If you're planning to upgrade your graphics card, check out our list of the best graphics cards and buying advice.