ASRock Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX580 8G OC Review: A Solid Rookie Effort

AMD's Radeon RX 580 is old news at this point. But in a way, that makes it the perfect card for ASRock's debut as a graphics company. The platform is stable. The competition is established. And the stakes are relatively low. If you're not already familiar with the GPU at the heart of this Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX580 8G OC, check out our AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB Review. Or, go even further back in time to our AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Review, when the Ellesmere GPU made its grand entrance. Today's introduction takes those two years of valuable lessons and applies them to a mainstream card that was clearly designed with cost savings in mind.

The Radeon RX 580's performance is already well-known, so this card's success depends on whether its relatively small thermal solution, lack of a backplate, and absence of eye-catching LEDs can push pricing low enough to undercut competing 580s. Since we got our hands on the Phantom Gaming X before it landed on store shelves, we can only guess that ASRock wants to go up against Sapphire's Nitro+, Gigabyte's Gaming 8G, and PowerColor's Red Dragon, the least-expensive Radeon RX 580s out there. Unfortunately, U.S.-based readers may have to wait a while to find out: ASRock is only selling into South American and APEC countries to start.

Specifications

GPU (Codename)Ellesmere
Shader Units2304
Base & Boost Clocks1380 MHz
Memory Size & Type8GB GDDR5
Memory Clock2000 MHz
Memory Bandwidth256 GB/s
Fans(2) 85mm
Ports(1) DVI-D, (1) HDMI 2.0, (3) DisplayPort 1.4
Power Connectors(1) 8-pin PCIe
Dimensions26.7 x 10.5 x 3.5cm
Weight598g
Warranty1 Year

Unboxing, Look, And Feel

A weight of just 598g tells us that ASRock went with a conservatively-sized thermal solution to cool AMD's Ellesmere GPU. Still, measuring 26.7cm from the slot bracket to the end of the fan shroud, this is a fairly long graphics card. The 10.5cm height and 3.5cm width measurements keep ASRock's Phantom Gaming X within the dimensions of a true dual-slot form factor.

Two 8.5cm fans sit in 8.7cm openings. A total of nine rotor blades per fan are optimized for moving air through the heat sink, so they generate more static pressure than fans designed for turbulent flow.

ASRock shaves off some cost by not using a backplate. That's a sensible decision in our opinion; it wouldn't have done much for cooling, and it isn't needed for stabilization since the thermal solution is so light.

Peering in from the bottom, we can see that ASRock uses horizontally-oriented fins. This is our preference because it allows some hot air to exhaust from the slot bracket. The alternative, fins rotated to face vertically, pushes hot air down toward the motherboard and against the side of your case.

An eight-pin auxiliary power connector visible from the top is rotated by 180 degrees, making it easier to access. On a pricier model, you might expect ASRock's logo to be back-lit with LEDs. That's not the case for its Phantom Gaming X though, and we're fine with this.

The open back side allows warm air to exhaust into your case. Moreover, the use of a short PCB means ASRock's heat sink overhangs the board a bit.

The slot bracket features five familiar outputs. In addition to the single DVI connector, you get one HDMI 2.0 port (particularly useful for VR HMDs) and three DisplayPort 1.4-ready interfaces. Ventilation holes cut into the plate allow some hot air to travel through the horizontal fins and out of your chassis.

The following screenshot from GPU-Z conveys this card's maximum clock rates. In reality, the Phantom Gaming X's power and temperature limits mean those frequencies often aren't sustainable, though.

Test System & Measurement Methods

We introduced our new test system and methodology in How We Test Graphics Cards. If you'd like more detail about our general approach, check that piece out. We've upgraded the CPU and the cooling system since then to make sure that nothing's holding back graphics cards as fast as this one.

The hardware used in our lab includes:

Test System
Hardware
Intel Core i7-6900K @ 4.3 GHz
MSI X99S XPower Gaming Titanium
Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3200
1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System SSD)
2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)
be quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W PSU
Windows 10 Pro (All Updates)
Cooling
Alphacool Eisblock XPX
5x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM (Closed Case Simulation)
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (Used when Switching Coolers)
Case
Lian Li PC-T70 with Extension Kit and Mods
Configurations: Open Benchtable, Closed Case
MonitorEizo EV3237-BK
Power Consumption MeasurementContact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card)
Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable
Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply
2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500 MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function
4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100 kHz, DC)
4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500 MHz)
1 x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function

Thermal Measurement
1 x Optris PI640 80 Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect
Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording

Noise Measurement
NTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File, Low Cut at 50Hz)
Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)
Creative X7, Smaart v.7
Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H)
Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm
Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA)
Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise

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