Asus Strix RX 580 Gaming Top OC review: Proof that size matters

Watch what happens when you put an enthusiast-class cooler on a mainstream graphics card.

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Bottom line

Asus strix rx 580 top OC Brad Chacos/IDG

The Strix 580 Top OC’s ferocious full-sized cooler would no doubt help in overclocking endeavors as well, and enthusiasts have been able to push high-end RX 580s between 1,450MHz and 1,500MHz depending on the silicon lottery. Asus also offers its GPU Tweak II software, which once installed, offers a one-click “OC mode” profile that painlessly increases clock speeds to 1,431MHz, or a 20MHz increase.

This exercise in comparing custom RX 580 designs has been illuminating, hasn’t it? Both the Sapphire RX 580 Nitro+ and the Strix 580 Gaming Top OC edition deliver similar overall gaming performance, but they take wildly different paths to get there.

Unfortunately for Asus, I don’t think the Strix holds up well in the light, which feels crazy to say out loud.

The Strix 580 Gaming Top OC is an impeccably designed graphics card that would look glorious in any case (that could fit it). It delivers top-notch performance for a Radeon RX 580 and stays remarkably cool and quiet while doing so. Size matters, it seems. This is one hell of a graphics card… but it feels over-engineered for the midrange price point.

Asus strix rx 580 top OC Brad Chacos/IDG

All of the Strix optimizations drive the cost of the card up to $300—a sizeable premium over the $230 baseline for 8GB Radeon RX 580s, and only $40 less than the cheapest GTX 1070 currently on Newegg, the $340 Zotac GTX 1070 Mini. The GTX 1070 stomps the RX 580 in pure performance. Meanwhile, Sapphire’s 8GB RX 580 Nitro+ punches just as strong and just as quiet for $50 less, albeit with warmer—though still plenty cool—temperatures.

The pricing puts the Strix 580 Top OC in a weird sort of limbo. It’s undeniably a great graphics card, and maybe even the best Radeon RX 580 in a vacuum. But we don’t live in a vacuum, and here in the real world, we simply can’t recommend the $300 Strix 580 Top OC over the $250 Sapphire 580 Nitro+, no matter how impressive the Asus card's cooling, performance, and design is. 

And that’s if you opt for an 8GB RX 580 over a 6GB GTX 1060. AMD and Nvidia’s dueling GPUs are very evenly matched at this price point, and the GeForce cards use much less power. All of these cards deliver uncompromising 1080p gaming performance, stellar 1440p performance at High graphics settings, and even enough oomph for virtual reality experiences—and none are worth upgrading to if you already own an RX 480. Check out PCWorld’s guide to the best graphics cards for PC gaming if you want to go deep down that rabbit hole.

Finally, this isn’t the end of our dive into graphics card designs. Sapphire’s “Pulse” RX 570 and 8GB RX 580 will be crossing our test bench next week, with budget-friendly designs that still offer custom coolers and factory overclocks. Stay tuned. 

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At a Glance
  • The Strix RX 580 Gaming Top OC delivers great performance in a gorgeous, cool, and quiet package. Unfortunately, it's also giant and expensive.

    Pros

    • Great 1080p, good 1440p, and solid VR gameplay
    • Very cool and quiet
    • Gorgeous design
    • Premium features

    Cons

    • Very expensive compared to other midrange graphics cards
    • Gigantic in both length and thickness
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