Where our review sample came to ‘gently used’ we cannot comment on this specific model’s shipping container or accessories. Instead all we will say is that XFX knows how to make shipping boxes that are pretty, attention getting, full of useful information, and robust. XFX has been doing this for many years so we highly doubt that the XFX GTS Radeon RX 580 Black is an exception to this rule.
The XFX GTS Radeon RX 580 Black uses a very, very common form-factor for mainstream video-cards. This means two fans – not one or three, it means a dual slot thickness (not 2.5 or 3), and is slightly taller than the PCIe ‘full height’ standard. It is not MSI tall, but neither it is standard height. Instead it will be a touch taller than some and may cause issue in the occasional installation department, but mainly only if you have an odd-ball PC case. With that being said the XFX GTS Radeon RX 580 Black is bigger than the typical NVIDIA GTX 1660 and bigger than all but the most unusually proportioned NVIDIA GTX 1650. This is because it needs more surface area for its custom heatsink. After all, this is a 185 watt TDP video card, not some piddly 120 or 75 watt’er that can be cooled by a ball of tinfoil and mouse farts.
Yes, the AMD Radeon RX 580 series did get a reputation for running hot. A well-earned reputation as the RX 580 ‘Polaris 20’ core is a refined, but most overclocked Polaris 10. Just as with manual overclocking when you push the voltages and frequencies higher than what a given design was originally intended for… heat and noise is going to be the byproduct. By modern standards, stating that 1400Mhz is ‘blazing fast’ for a core is ironic… but back when this core was first being designed it was blazingly fast.
This increase in frequencies did necessitate a higher TDP. The TDP went from 150 (Polar 10 aka RX 480) to 185’ish (Polaris 20 aka RX 580) and also is why this card requires an 8-pin PCIe power connector… and not the typical 6-pin found on most 200 dollar cards. Needless to say, it will be drawing all 150 watts from this cable and then sucking down more via the PCIe x16 port itself. This is a lot of power for a $200 card to demand and is one of the largest weaknesses with this older design. So if power and heat output are of concern to you, a Radeon RX 580… any Radeon RX 580 is probably not right for your needs. Also of note, is the 8-pin power connector is recessed. This is less than optimal but was pretty common for its generation. As such a little bit more care is required to ensure that the PCIe power cable does not touch the heat pipe directly above it.
With that said, the XFX “Double Dissipation” custom heatsink design does a rather good job at keeping temperatures and noise in check. The secret to its ability is the fact that it uses four copper heatpipes (that were rather cutting edge for its day in that they are ‘hybrid’ heatpipes which rely upon both liquid phase change and capillary action to increase efficiencies), a large nickel platted copper base plate, two aluminum cooling fin arrays, and two large 100mm fans (that actually stop spinning when thermal loads are low). By splitting the fin array into two smaller ‘zones’ a good portion of the two fan’s fresh air will not first go through the fin array, and rather will hit the secondary heat spreader located underneath it, and thus keep the various components like the RAM cool and happy. Equally important is XFX took the time to build the heatsink in such a manner that it also actively cools the VRM via the main heatsink itself. A lot of models did not take this step in the RX 500 series days… and the end results were seeming ‘cool cores’ with VRMs that were ready to pop from the heat (and did in some cases). This combination of cooling is why XFX were able to claim – and prove – that the VRMs would be 30-degrees Celsius cooler and the GDDR5 would be 20-degrees cooler than in typical (for its class) designs.
For those interested in such things, this particular version of the XFX RX 580 series does not come with the easily replaceable fans. Instead it uses an ‘old school’ mounting setup that is not really meant to be swapped out by the owner. This is a good and a bad thing. On the negative side, when a fan goes you have to RMA the whole card. On the positive, there is lot less vibration noise from the fans. The removable fans were basically only held in place via plastic locking tabs… and as time went by did garner a bit of reputation for becoming ‘loose’ in their sockets. Which in turned increased noise. If you think this a feature you must have, if you look around the higher end XFX RX 580’s with this replaceable fan option they will only cost a few dollars more (about the same as a good NVIDIA GTX 1660).
XFX were one of the first to take ‘VRM buzz’ seriously so it should come as no surprise that the power delivery subsystem is full of rather advanced components. Parts like ‘ultra low noise’ XL inductors. Solid sate power delivery controller. 6+1 phase design to spread the load out nicely and keep everything cooler than usual. All these features have trickled down… but even today finding them all on 200 priced cards is not typical to say the least.
Also extremely rare, for a 200 dollar class card, is the included dual BIOS option. Few include this potential (card) lifesaving feature. A feature that has gotten us out of more than one jam from a failed overclocking experiment over the years. As a side bonus, with dual BIOS you can not only ‘experiment’ more on overclocking, you can ‘find’ and install BIOS mods that would otherwise be insane to try out… as if it does go sideways you have the backup BIOS to get you out of a jam. Many a miner did just that when these cards were the new shiny of the marketplace.
While we did skip over the overall aesthetics of this card, this is not because it is ugly, utilitarian… or even just ‘practical’. Instead it is a key part of what makes an XFX card instantly recognizable. In this instanced the XFX GTS Radeon RX 580 Black is not rectangular in shape. Instead it has an almost ‘wedge’ design to the PCB, heatsink, and top fascia, which combine to make one striking looking card.
Mix in a nicely designed backplate (which while it does somewhat wrap up the top side of the PCB is mainly just here for protection and overall looks… not to act as a secondary heatspreader) and the end results are classic XFX. Classis elegance. Classic attention getting design. Classic unforgettable looks that beg to be used in a case with a large window. The only downside is the front of the card is encased in a shroud. A shroud that is not connected to the actual backplate. While there are long slits in this shroud. This inclusion is a bit ‘old school’ and while increases the aesthetics nicely, it also increases static pressure – as waste air cannot escape out the front of the card.
Of course, some modern buyers will be a bit put out by the lack of LEDs. No, this card will not light up like a Christmas tree. No there is no ‘advanced sync’ features. This card comes from the pre-LED on everything era… and we do miss it.
As this is an older generation card one would expect an… ‘old school’ approach to monitor header options. The reality is it is more than what most ‘modern’ $200 cards come with. In grand total you will find one HDMI (2.0b), one DVI-D and three DisplayPort headers (DP 1.4). Equally impressive is there are no ‘mini’ versions here. So this is not an outdated options list to say the least.
Overall, this card may soon to be two generations out of date but you would never know it from its build design or build quality. XFX really did overbuild these bad boys and it is a big reason why the Radeon RX 580 has become a cult classic in certain circles.