XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy review: Pedal to the heavy metal

Smaller process, bigger cooler, faster speeds—with tradeoffs

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Far Cry 5

Finally, a DirectX 11 game! Far Cry 5 ($60 on Humble) is powered by Ubisoft’s long-established Dunia engine. It’s just as gorgeous as its predecessors, and even more fun.

fc5 Brad Chacos/IDG

The GTX 1060 closes the performance gap in Far Cry, pulling within roughly 7 percent of the XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy at 1080p, and 12 percent at 1440p resolution. The Radeon RX 580 matches the GTX 1060’s performance at 1080p and beats it slightly at 1440p. The Radeon RX 590 beats all comers, though.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Move over, Crysis. If you crank all the graphics options up to 11, like we do for these tests, Ghost Recon Wildlands ($50 on Humble) and its AnvilNext 2.0 engine absolutely melt GPUs.

ghost recon Brad Chacos/IDG

Ghost Recon Wildlands also prefers Nvidia’s GPU architecture, and the overclocked GTX 1060 draws even with the XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy here. All three mainstream GPUs deliver similar results at the demanding Ultra graphics settings, and even the pricier $400 graphics cards can’t surpass the hallowed 60-fps barrier. Dropping the options down to High greatly increases performance.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Middle-earth: Shadow of War ($50 on Humble) adds a strategic layer to the series’ sublime core gameplay loop, adapting the Nemesis system to let you create an army of personalized Orc commanders. It plays like a champ on PC, too, thanks to Monolith’s custom LithTech Firebird engine. We use the Ultra graphics preset but drop the Shadow and Texture Quality settings to High to avoid exceeding 8GB of VRAM usage.

shadow of war Brad Chacos/IDG

The Fatboy keeps its lead, triumphing over the EVGA GTX 1060 SSC by 9.5 percent at 1080p resolution. It continues to outpace the RX 580 by about 8 percent at 1080p, though the performance gaps effectively close at 1440p.

F1 2018

The latest in a long line of successful games, F1 2018 ($60 on Humble) is a benchmarking gem, supplying a wide array of both graphical and benchmarking options—making it a much more reliable option that the Forza series. It’s built on the fourth version of Codemasters’ buttery-smooth Ego game engine. We test two laps on the Australia course, with clear skies.

f1 2018 Brad Chacos/IDG

The trends we’ve been seeing continue here. The XFX Fatboy is noticeably faster than the overclocked EVGA GTX 1060 SSC, slightly faster than the Asus Strix RX 580, and much slower than the much more expensive Vega 56 and GTX 1070.

Next page: Gaming benchmarks conclusion

At a Glance
  • The XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy uses brute force and an improved 12nm process to muscle past Nvidia's GTX 1060, but it doesn't displace the RX 580 completely.

    Pros

    • No-compromises 1080p and good 1440p performance
    • Lots of ports
    • FreeSync and free games offer great ecosystem value
    • Dual-BIOS lets you choose: speed or quiet
    • Out-performs the 6GB GTX 1060

    Cons

    • Hot and power hungry
    • Very large, fat card may not fit in all cases
    • Not much faster than RX 580 for the price
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