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ASRock RX 590 Phantom Gaming U - Review

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    Posted: 30 Sep 2019 at 4:26pm
I have gotten my hands on ASRock's RX 590 Phantom Gaming U and have
been putting it through it's paces for a few weeks now. This is ASRock's
second RX 590 iteration with the only real difference over the RX 590 Phantom
Gaming X being the addition of an RGB Phantom Gaming logo and an internal
mini Display Port output.

There are already plenty of reviews on the RX 590 out there for those of you
looking for every detail, component and technical stat on the GPU itself so for
this review I will focus on my experience with this GPU, my impressions and
ultimately, verdict.

Product page can be found here:
https://www.asrock.com/Graphics-Card/AMD/Phantom%20Gaming%20U%20Radeon%20RX%20590%208G%20OC/index.asp



In the box was the GPU, a driver disk and a quick installation guide. No frills,
no nonsense, just the goods. Every extra item that you don't need just adds
cost that you have to pay for so I am all for keeping it simple.



The GPU itself is fairly basic in appearance, ASRock did not go over the top
at all here. A simple plastic shroud housing 2 double ball bearing fans.



A nice clean looking backplate adorned with ASRock's Phantom Gaming
livery. The design is subtle and unobtrusive and should fit well with most
system's color schemes and aesthetics.



Edited by Xaltar - 30 Sep 2019 at 4:47pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Sep 2019 at 4:48pm


The Phantom Gaming U edition also adds an addressable RGB logo so you
can get your RGBling on.



Taking a look around the GPU one of the first things I noticed was the
internal mini Display Port output. At first I thought it was a bit odd, what
could you possibly need an internal output for? After a bit of research however
I discovered it is most likely included as a pass-through. There is a matching port
present on several of ASRock's newer high end boards so I suspect you will be
able to hook up a mini DP cable between the GPU and board and utilize the
board's display output. I think you may also be able to use it for Thunderbolt
pass-through. It would also be awesome for mounting a small internal display
for modding purposes, or even one of those side panels with a translucent display
instead of a window.



The rear IO sports 2 display port 1.4 outputs, 2 HDMI 2.0 outputs and a
single DVI-D output. This brings the display outputs to a total of 6 if you
include the internal mini display port but the specs claim 5 simultaneous outputs.
Still, no shortage of outputs here.

Technical specs from the product page:



Installation was simple as you would expect and everything worked out of the box.
I downloaded and installed the latest AMD drivers and was ready to benchmark.


Software

There are only really 2 things to install with the RX 590 Phantom Gaming U
should you be so inclined. Phantom Gaming Tweak and ASRock Polychrome RGB.



Phantom Gaming Tweak:

The tweak tool looks pretty streamlined and sports a Phantom Gaming theme.
You are able to select between "OC mode" "Default" "Silent mode" and
"User Mode"

OC Mode:
It works but ramps fans up way too loud and temps still climb high
enough to throttle the GPU in intensive scenes. Avoid using it, better to set your own
OC in the User Mode or just use the built in Wattman overclocking tool with your
display driver.

Default:
Do I need to say more? This is the factory default setting. The RX 590
Phantom Gaming U has a small factory overclock on the core of 1560 (vs 1545)

Silent Mode:
Not silent and you take a performance hit. A pointless setting for this
particular GPU. Given the same tool is used for other GPUs in the Phantom Gaming
line it is likely that this setting is more useful on less power hungry models. Don't
bother with this setting on this GPU.

User Mode:
This is where you can dial in your own custom clocks, power target, voltage etc.
It does work but often causes crashing and freezing if you have any graphical task
running in the background. A lot of tools do this but I prefer to use the tools I am
more familiar with.

The Tweak tool lacks any kind of data logging ability. Not a bad tool overall, like
ASRock's GPU lineup it could benefit from a bit more refinement A solid bit of
software for their first time out. I will stick to the tools I am more familiar with
however.

The one thing I would recommend is setting a custom fan curve, be it in the ASRock
tweak tool or another app. The "0db silent cooling" where the fans stop under a
low load/heat is just annoying as the fans constantly turn off then come back on again
a few seconds later and rev up audibly louder than they need to resulting in a constant
pulsing coming from your case. Setting your fans to stay on at a low speed in this
state is much quieter and less annoying.

Edited by Xaltar - 30 Sep 2019 at 4:56pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Sep 2019 at 4:57pm
ASRock Polychrome RGB

If you don't have a motherboard with addressable RGB headers you will not be able
to install and use the RGB tool. Even on my X399 Phantom Gaming 6 which does
have an ARGB header I was unable to change the RGB on the GPU with the tool from
my motherboard's download page and the one that is on the GPU's download page
does not work with the X399 motherboard (no compatible product found).

I was however able to get it working on my X570 Taichi. Both the motherboard's
version and the GPU's version worked without fault.

ASRock is not alone in issues with RGB. It seems there are far too many different ways
to implement RGB and no proper standards set. I suspect we won't see universally stable
and compatible RGB software until that changes.

If you are looking at picking up an ASRock RX 590, don't have an ASRock motherboard
with ARGB and don't like the idea of being stuck with the default rainbow puke RGB
setting on your GPU then get the RX 590 Phantom Gaming X version that has no RGB.
It sounds a bit harsh but what is the point of RGB if there is no way to control it?

You should be fine with 400 series Steel Legend, Taichi and Phantom Gaming boards and any
X570 boards with RGB. On intel you should be OK with newer boards too. Just have a look
at the product page and if it has a rainbow lighting effect on the board's chipset heatsink it
will probably work with the RX 590 Phantom Gaming U's RGB.

This is an area ASRock really need to work on. If I were them I would adopt and open
source platform for RGB control and make their RGB data available to 3rd party developers.
Better to have a 3rd party tool that works than a proprietary one that doesn't.



Benchmarks

Test system:

CPU:            Ryzen 5 3600 (stock)
Motherboard:    ASRock X570 Taichi
RAM:            16gb DDR4 3600 Corsair Vengeance LPX @3600
GPU:            ASRock RX 590 Phantom Gaming U
GPU1:           RX 470 8gb
GPU2:           GTX 960 2gb

AMD Driver: AMD Adrenalin 19.9.2
Nvidia Driver: 436.30

Please note that the RX 570 performance is simulated by overclocking the RX 470
to RX 570/higher clocks. For those that are not aware, that is the only difference between
the two models. The "RX 570" score is achieved with a 1400mhz core and 2000mhz
vRAM overclock on the RX 470. It's a fair bit higher than stock RX 570 clocks but the
clocks are easily attainable on almost any RX 470/570.

I tailored the test system to fit the price/performance of the RX 590.

Synthetics:

3D Mark has been a mainstay in my benchmarking for decades now. I have only included
the GPU score of the benchmarks to keep the graphs tidy and easy to follow.

Firestrike:



If you have been wondering if something like an RX 590 is worth upgrading
to from GTX 960 class performance, this should be all the proof you need.
The RX 590 more than doubles the GTX 960's score.

Both the RX 470 and RX 570 put up a good showing here too.


Time Spy:



The RX 590 completely slaughters the GTX 960 here in the DX12 Time Spy
benchmark. IMO, the RX 590 is the sweet spot for price to performance in the
mid range right now.


Games:

Games benchmarked:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Battlefield V
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Gears of War 5

I am not a huge gamer but these are some of the newer titles I own and I feel
that between them they should put these GPUs through the ringer. All games
were benchmarked at both 1080p and 1440p.

Edited by Xaltar - 30 Sep 2019 at 5:40pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Sep 2019 at 5:08pm
Shadow of the Tomb Raider:



For this game I used the included benchmark under Graphics settings for consistency.
Each GPU was benchmarked 3 times at each resolution/preset used and an average
was taken.

At 1080p the RX 590 is able to manage a solid 60+fps average on the highest graphics
preset. Settings can be manually tweaked higher but I am testing the default presets.
There is something to be said for maxing out the quality preset and still getting a 60+fps
in a new(ish) title like this and SotR really does look amazing at this quality level.

Cranking things up to 1440p requires the preset to be lowered to High for a mid to high
50's average but the difference between high and highest is only noticeable if you really
look closely at a side by side comparison. With custom settings you can achieve the best
possible quality and 60+ fps if you make a few trade-offs. That said, even though we are
not quite hitting a 60 fps average here, gameplay is very smooth and there is no stutter on
the RX 470 and up.

The GTX 960 was not able to deliver even 30fps on average here so if you are using
something in this performance class and are looking to upgrade to a 1440p display
you will likely be wanting a new GPU to go with it. By the time you drop the settings
low enough to get a decent experience out of the 960 the quality drop is very
noticeable. You can still get by but 1440p really needs an RX 470 or better to get the
most out of this title.

Battlefield V:



For Battlefield V I played a single player level (Nijmegen Bridge) for 60mins on each GPU
then using MSI Afterburner captured the average, low and 0.1% low figures for the entire
1 hour run. By using a 1 hour testing window I can at least mostly compensate for the
benchmark not being identical between all GPUs tested.

Naturally, RTX is not supported on an AMD GPU.

Here again at 1080p the RX 590 is powerful enough to handle the Ultra preset, this time
bringing home over 90fps on average. This is taken over an hour of gameplay so the fps
remaining this high in dynamic situations says a lot. The RX 590 is easily be able
to push a 144hz display with some tweaked quality settings for some epic 1080p
multiplayer.

At 1440p Ultra the RX 590 still delivers an impressive 63fps average in this game level.
For this title the RX 590 is quite capable of delivering an excellent 1440p experience.
Yet again, my poor GTX 960 shows it's age though is able to manage playable fps
at 1080p and 1440p with reduced quality settings without anywhere near as much
of a visual downgrade as seen in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Still, if you have been
holding out with something like it for a while now, an upgrade will certainly not go
amiss.



Resident Evil 2 Remake



Now this is a game I just had to get my hands on. I remember being awed by the original
an embarrassingly long time ago and this remake absolutely does not disappoint. The
remake stays marvelously close to the original while adding modern, rather stunning
graphics and updated gameplay. This much awesome does come at a cost however as this
game can really tax a system. Testing was done in DX 11 as it performs better and DX 12
offers no benefit, visually or performance wise.

And, after saying all that the RX 590 slides home with over a hundred fps on "Max" settings
at 1080p. This was with me roaming about one of my saves for an hour on each GPU.
ASRock's RX 590 Phantom Gaming U delivers the performance but does somewhat
break immersion with the amount of noise the fans pump out. While it isn't the loudest
GPU cooling solution I have used, that title goes to my old blower cooled HD 5850, it
certainly isn't quiet. Under load this thing sounds like a portable car vacuum cleaner.

1440p once again yields a healthy 60+ FPS average at "Max" settings for the RX 590.
This game relies heavily on atmosphere and with the settings all cranked it certainly
keeps you on your toes.

The GTX 960 is really hurt by it's lacking 2gb framebuffer here. Lowering vRAM intensive
settings improves things significantly but the overall experience is very lacking as this
game really looks bad at low quality settings. An RX 470 or better will see you sitting
pretty at high/max settings even at 1440p however.



Gears of War 5:



This franchise caught me by surprise. I am not an FPS fan, Battlefield comes with origin
access and was only downloaded for this review. While I enjoy the occasional bloodlust
fueled pixel slaying fest I prefer my games to have a bit more narrative. The Gears series
delivers a surprisingly decent story that also has plenty of mutant alien creatures to slay
and characters that you love and love to hate along the way. It's far from perfect but
delivered far more than I expected.

The benchmarking was done using the built in benchmark as with Shadow of the Tomb
Raider and again, 3 runs per resolution per GPU. This game is brilliantly optimized and
uses some very welcome tricks to keep fps smooth and silky. Tricks that should have been
used this well long before now. I am ofcoarse referring to dynamic variable resolution
scaling. Wonderful as I think it is, it was disabled for all my benchmarking.

Looking at the graph, its instantly clear this is the newest, most demanding title in my
lineup. The RX 590 falls just short of 60fps on ultra at 1080p. Sure, its not even a whole
fps short but this is an average where there were periods over 70fps and drops down
into the high 40s. The dynamic resolution scaling smooths this out brilliantly and keeps
things nice and smooth when enabled however.

1440p requires settings to be lowered to high for a smooth experience but honestly, I
could not tell the difference between high and ultra visually.

This game really needs custom settings to get the most out of it. Beyond it's neat trick
it also gives you the tools you need to really eek out every little bit of quality while
keeping the FPS solid. Each setting has a description along with a little legend that tells
you how intensive it is on the CPU, GPU and vRAM. If you play this title do yourself
a favor and take the time to set up the quality manually, it really will improve your
experience over the presets. This is what I use to get a 60fps average at without
sacrificing anything noticeable at 1440p:



Enabling a "minimum framerate" of 60 will allow you to push these settings even
higher.

Edited by Xaltar - 30 Sep 2019 at 5:15pm
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Performance conclusion:

The RX 590 Phantom Gaming U delivers exactly what it should as a mildly factory
overclocked GPU. Performance is directly in line with other RX 590 variants with
similar clocks. For 1080p gaming this is an absolute beast of a card and can handle
most, if not all new AAA titles with maxed out settings and near enough 60fps.

1440p is also well within reach with maxed settings on the table for a lot of titles.
Where more demanding titles bring averages too low taking quality settings down
a notch is typically enough to get you back to smooth 60fps sailing.



Temperatures and Fan Noise



The cooling solution on the RX 590 Phantom Gaming U is perfectly in line with
ASRock's mid range motherboard offerings; solid, reliable and adequate. It doesn't
do anything more than it needs to and you get a solid price/performance GPU out
of the deal. This is what I believe ASRock was aiming for at least. In this case, I feel
they cut it a bit too close. The component quality is second to none, the dual ball
bearing fans used are very high quality and should last practically forever but...
A bit more spent on the heatsink setup would have made all the difference here.

The noise situation improved significantly once the thermal compound they used
cured and reached it's full efficiency but even now, this card is very clearly audible
even in a noisy environment. It isn't deafening or even intolerable but is is just at
that point where I would call it uncomfortably loud. The cooling solution on my
ASUS RX 470 isn't any better however, it is only a fraction quieter and only when
it isn't overclocked (which it always is).

The cooling solution is adequate, it does it's job and keeps the GPU within perfectly
safe thermal parameters. It isn't cheap or poor quality either. You do have to put up
with a bit more noise than a higher end RX 590 but performance does not suffer for
it. Throughout my testing the GPU consistently hit it's 1560 boost clock and
seldomly dropped below 1500.

If you pick up one of these, bare in mind the thermal compound will likely need to
cure at high temps for a while after all the jostling and bumping about in shipping.
My card's cooling efficiency improved significantly after about 3 hours or so of
benchmarking. The noise levels decreased noticeably.

It is also very helpful to have good airflow in your case, particularly exhaust. The
faster you get the hot air out the cooler the GPU will run and the lower the noise
levels.


Conclusion



Considering ASRock only entered the GPU market very recently and this GPU
was one of the earliest (along with the rest of the RX 500 series) GPUs they designed
I have to say they did a great job with it. Yes, it's a bit loud but is is also the dead
cheapest RX 590 you can buy, cheaper even than quite a few RX 580 models. This
is why I feel ASRock's RX 590 Phantom Gaming X and U GPUs are quite possibly
the best bang for your buck in the current market.

IMO, the RX 590 is a sweet spot GPU in the current market. With pricing having
come down to near RX 580 pricing the RX 580's lower clocks and no guarantee
of achieving RX 590 level overclocks make the RX 590 the better choice. ASRock's
RX 590 Phantom Gaming X and U models are the cheapest RX 590s around so make
a great choice for someone on a budget looking for solid 1080p or 1440p gaming
without shelling out $300+ on only slightly faster alternatives.

If your budget is even tighter still, check out ASRock's RX 570 Phantom Gaming D
4gb and 8gb models. As you can see from my benchmarks the RX 570 is a very solid
contender for considerably less money than Nvidia equivalents.




Build Quality: Solid
The GPU is well put together, does not feel or look cheap and performs as it should.

Cooling: Adequate
The slightly anemic heatsink is compensated for by the powerful, if loud, double
ball bearing fans. While I would have liked to have seen a better heatsink design,
the RX 590 Phantom Gaming U stays cool and does not throttle.

Performance: Right on point
The RX 590 Phantom Gaming U performs exactly as it should and sacrifices nothing
performance wise for it's low price point.

Aesthetics: Decent
The design is simplistic, unobtrusive and functional. Not quite the bling and flash of
it's competitors but it is priced quite a bit lower than said competition. For what it costs
the aesthetics are actually better than I would have expected.

Overall: Bang for your buck!
A quick price search and you can find these for under $200 or 200 Euro in many places.
I am aware that in a lot of countries prices will be higher but the lower cost of the GPU
should still make it a viable option vs other RX 590s. The quality is solid and it lacks
nothing in regards to features.

Checking newegg reviews most of the complaints are about the noise. It is loud but
at the price, you can choose a quieter, slower GPU or get this and put up with some
fan noise.

Personal experience:

After a while I got used to the fan noise and began enjoying the rather huge performance
uplift over my old GTX 960. It has been a long time since I was able to play a new title
maxed out with decent FPS. It's funny how you can get used to loading up a new game
setting it to max quality and laughing at the slide show before dropping things to low/
medium to actually play it.



That wraps up my review on the ASRock RX 590 Phantom Gaming U

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below   

Edited by Xaltar - 30 Sep 2019 at 5:50pm
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