We’ve been hearing rumours of an AMD Polaris fresh for some time now, with plenty of evidence pointing towards a stopgap Radeon RX 600 series. However, just to throw a spanner into the works, an unannounced AMD Radeon RX 590 has just cropped up in the 3DMark database.

Rather than being part of a new family, this card appears to be slotting in at the top of the Radeon RX 500 series, supplanting the current AMD Radeon RX 580.

Now, before you go getting all excited, this card appears to be a fairly straightforward revision rather than a major upgrade. The graphics card, which is dubbed the Radeon RX 590 in 3DMark’s database, looks to be a rework of the Polaris GPU on the 12nm process. This should improve power efficiency and, subsequently, performance, over the current 14nm Radeon RX 580. You’ll have to take a smidgen of salt with this one, but it’s certainly pointing that way.

Looking at the fairly slim specs we have available, the Radeon RX 590 used is clocked at 1545 MHz, some 205 MHz faster than the clock speed of a reference RX 580, but right in line with some overclocked AIB models. However, the smaller process should allow for higher clocks on the Radeon RX 590.

The Radeon RX 590 also appears to utilise the exact same memory, so we’re talking 8GB GDDR5 rather than the newer GDDR6. This appears to be quite the oversight at first glance; the Radeon RX 590 would stand to benefit from the improved memory bandwidth offered by GDDR5X or GDDR6.

As for what all this means for performance? Well, the Radeon RX 590 appears to offer only very minor performance gains over the Radeon RX 580. It’s still early days and there may be further drivers that could offset these results, but the AMD Radeon RX 590 allegedly scores 5,028 in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark. This is around 6% higher than the score of ~4750 that can be achieved by a Radeon RX 580, and around 13% higher than the ~4450 we’d typically expect from a reference GeForce GTX 1060 6GB.

In terms of the mid-tier of the market, this would make the AMD Radeon RX 590 the new performance champion at the sub-$300 price point. The worry for AMD, however, is that rocking up with a GPU that’s 13% faster than a GTX 1060, more than two years after the GTX 1060 launched, is a little superfluous. The GeForce GTX 2060 is surely right around the corner, and we’d expect more significant architectural changes than we’re seeing with this mooted RX 590 model.

Could the Radeon RX 590 be an important step in dominating Nvidia at the middle tier of the market? Or does the Radeon RX 590 not offer enough of a performance boost to excite? Let us know your thoughts!