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AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Review

Rating: 8.0.

2016 has been a slow year for graphics cards and while Nvidia launched their high end GTX1070 and GTX1080 solutions – they are strictly for the gaming audience with deeper pockets. AMD have approached their first 2016 GPU launch differently, opting to release their RX 480 – a mid range card priced at $199.99 firmly targeting the mass enthusiast gaming audience.

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The new AMD Radeon RX 480 is built on the FinFET 14nm process. For Polaris, AMD selected Samsung and Global Foundries 14nm FinFET based process technology, the densest foundry process available. FinFET transistors are crucial to reduce power consumption while enabling operating voltages which are 150mV lower than the previous generation.

The AMD RX 480 will be available in two different memory capacities, 4GB and 8GB. We have heard retail prices of $199 for the 4GB card and $239 for the 8GB card with UK prices around £180 and £215 respectively. Pricing is a little higher in the UK, but I guess most of us are getting used to that now.

RX480 specifications

AMD have pointed out that the reference configuration for the RX480 is 4GB of 7Gbps GDDR5 memory and the 8GB boards will feature 8Gbps GDDR5 memory. AMD told us that partner custom boards will vary from these reference specifications, but they will never drop below 7Gbps memory speeds.

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  • Mupitt

    XFX have a backplate with their Cards
    https://www.overclockers.co.uk/xfx-radeon-rx-480-black-edition-8192mb-gddr5-pci-express-graphics-card-gx-238-xf.html

  • Vulcanproject

    Weird performance, wonder if it is immature drivers in some of these games. Sometimes it’s as fast as a factory OC GTX980, sometimes it’s slower than a 970. That’s quite a large swing.

  • Some games are more beneficial to AMD or Nvidia (without always being a conscious choice … AMD struggle with drawcalls multi-threading in DX11 so the more drawcalls the more AMD will be disadvantaged).

  • Kind of consistent with other review.
    The VR test needs some work (the frame count is a better indicator than the overall fidelity ranking and the SteamVR perf test switch between setttings depending on performances).

    I expected the 480 to be between 980 and TI, but found out it’s more between 970 and 980.

  • Vulcanproject

    I know that AMD will push stuff like Ashes of the Singularity into these reviews because they simply have better performance on it than Nvidia. However it’s still strange to see it so far above the 970 on a couple of the games here then beaten on others.

    It’s not really an upgrade on the 970 or the 390, clearly. I expected a little more if I am honest

  • Fox Tree

    Anyway for that money it’s best option for now. Let’s wait for the 1060. But i don’t thnik nvidia would sell it cheaper than 980 as it will probably match it’s performence. In my opinion 1060 will be still 50$+ more expensive.

  • tachyonzero

    it is ahead of 980 and 970 on DX12 games.

  • Yes and No.
    Ashes of singularity is well know for being advantageous to AMD cards, but I think it is mainly because the bench make use of asynchronous computing (which nvidia failed to implement even on their latest cards … such a bad decision u__u).
    The day when devs will make their games by forsaking non Async GPU is very far in the future (not everything can be dialed down to suit low end PC) so it will still be a long time before that feature make a significant impact.

    In TombRaider the 980 is still ahead of the non-OC card (but considering the noise and temp of the overclocked version …).

    Hitman starts showing the interest of the api (high CPU usage hence dx12 benefits), but then again, the reference card only equals the 980.

    But the 480 is more future proof than the 9xx or even the 10xx

  • Indeed.
    AMD has always offered a better perf/price ratio and the 480 is no stranger to that too.
    Considering the latest price drop of the 9xx nvidia cards, and even suspecting another price drop in a short time, I can’t see nvidia selling a 1060 a less than the price of a 480.

  • Ben Sims

    I currently have a 750Gtx ti. I was looking at the 980 but with this release, I held off. Basically, should I get this or the 980.

    I’d prefer to spend less, but If the performance is significantly less, then I’ll opt for the more expensive

  • G7r9T3

    Just wait for a factory oced 480. 2-3 weeks from it and you will have a singificantly better GPU than 980 in yours hands spending up to $300 ; )

  • Ben Sims

    Bit more than that. – UK ?

  • G7r9T3

    Agreed…

  • goldenboy77

    why would they come out with low end junk

  • BestJinjo

    84% of the desktop discrete GPU market buys graphics cards in the sub-$300 price level. 85% of the remaining 16% purchase graphics cards between $300 and $449. That leaves roughly 2.5-3% of PC gamers who buy graphics cards above $449. John Peddie already did the research and this report costs $5000 USD.

  • BestJinjo

    The RX 480 only has 32 ROPs and it’s trading blows with a 64 ROP 390 and 56 ROP 970. Not bad for a low-end AMD card. This card isn’t meant to be an upgrade for 970/390 users. You are confusing it with Vega. Many people on the Internet seem confused about this. R9 390 was a $329 card. Eventually AMD will have a $329-499 Vega card and those cards are the successors to 970/980/390/390X tiers.

  • Fox Tree

    They won’t sell it for less what 980 is worth. That’s for sure. And that is why it will be always more expensive than 480.

  • Fox Tree

    Guys are right. I got reference card cuz I want CF whithout OC. But if u wait few weeks you will get 980 killer for around 300E. Maybe less. Still -50E than the cheapest 980 in EU.

  • Fox Tree

    I think that in few week we can see 980 killer for around 300E. Its often 1:1 currency factor if it comes to graphic cards. But I dunno how it works in UK though.

  • Fox Tree

    Sometimes there is too much fanboyizm, on both side, to see simple things. RX 480 is a budget card placing itself between 970/980 which is not bad for a 250$ card. We all benefit from that. We will wait few months for upcoming vega 490/490x which will compete with 980ti/1070 and hopfully with 1080.

    Im changing my Vapour-X 7970 Ghz 6G with card that have cost me berly 260E and I can expect in the near future a performance of a stock gtx 980. As you have said its not bad with card which has only 32 rops. 😀

  • Fox Tree

    It some games reference RX 480 has almost the same perormance as stock 980. But you’re right, its not an upgrade for people who have 970/390. I think it never meant to be. Even though it will eventually, with proper drivers, reach around of 980 performance.

    This was aimed for all those pple who sill runs their rigs on gtx 5/6/7 series. I’ve seen many people mentioning that.

  • Fox Tree

    It looks cool. 😀

  • Fox Tree

    “But the 480 is more future proof than the 9xx or even the 10xx” And cheaper. I don’t even care if 480 surpass 980. It doesn’t really matter because it costs 100$ less. For what I know with proper drivers we can expect 480 to perform as good as stock 980.

    It’s really good for a card with 32 ROP’s.

  • Mario A. Vazquez

    AMD pushing???! Guess you are a green fanboy.

    I will more likely think reviewers may include Ashes because:
    A) Is a DX 12 title, and there are only a few of them.
    B) Can compare to AMD soft launch numbers and see if were truth or lies.

    And btw for what I saw in all DX12 titles the RX480 beat the GTX980.

    But also saw the 1070 being 50% or more faster, and sometimes coming close to double, which may put the price difference on discussion. In terms that if you can afford a little more than $300, then you should go with the 1070.

  • Vulcanproject

    I’m not confusing it with Vega at all thanks, it’s difficult to see how your reply relates much to my post to be honest!

  • Vulcanproject

    Yes, AMD pushing. But no, thanks for jumping wildly to conclusions.

    Wow some people are very sensitive on here. Everyone knows Ashes has a publisher that has an agreement with AMD and that AMD themselves use that specific title when they talk about their cards, particularly the new RX 480. For obvious reasons. That controversy has been played out.

    I would certainly hope that this card beats Nvidia cards that are over 18 months old on newer DX12 titles. It does on more of them, the AMD connected ones anyway. Not quite a full sweep however….

    The point I suppose is that the 970 or 980 are not really competitors to this card and nobody will be buying them new. The GTX1060 will be the real rival, and that will be launched post haste it seems. Bring on the true comparison in the lineups then.

  • >savt

    and that isn’t a bad thing either, it is a mainstream card, it just killed that segment entirely

  • I wouldn’t say “killed” because it is just above a 970 on average performances and just below a 970 on average prices. The 4Go /199$ version will probably more suited for that, if the 970 don’t drop its price again.

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  • Mario A. Vazquez

    I know Ashes is more AMD friendly, and that has happened since I remember in the PC gaming industry. Some games work better on AMD, some on NVidia. And each company showcases titles that they dominate at their launches.

    And at least in the AMD launch they did last month is understandable because of that.

    But your comment make the assumption that reviewers include Ashes due to AMD demand, and that’s what I was trying to explain.

    And that assumption has the same sense that the one about Marvel Studios buying all reviewers of the world.

  • Vulcanproject

    You have to understand when cards are sent out by the likes of AMD or Nvidia to be reviewed, their PR departments DO often talk to said reviewers about what they might want to use as a benchmark!

    They will exert any influence they can on sites to include a particular benchmark to favour their product. For as long as graphics cards have been about, it’s not a secret really.

    Ashes of the Singularity is a fairly rubbish game with not that much notable about it besides being practically funded by AMD to be an asychronous compute benchmark. AMD PR have babbled on about this one bench for ages now, unsurprisingly.

    This doesn’t bother me. Nvidia manage to pull all sorts of dirty tricks too, the list is long. We can’t stop it, so we just have to be cynical and aware about them.

  • Cruddy Bapz

    Yeah i have a feeling if we give the Card maybe what…….4-5 months it can be the same or beat 980 just give the drivers time to mature its a new GCN architecture so im pretty sure the drivers still need tweeking

  • Vulcanproject

    Apparently there is a rather alarming problem with the reference cards that has been picked up. It is capable of drawing much more than the maximum PCIe spec from the motherboard slot.

    The power draw exceeds 150w even at stock (75w 6 pin, 75w board slot), but the excess is coming from the board and not the 6 pin. Some motherboards may not be able to deal with this, especially with multiple cards.

    I wouldn’t rush out to buy reference versions of this board in other words. Partner boards may fix this with say an 8 pin connector, problem solved.

  • Vasot

    Meh disappointing performance for 2016 standards

  • Dany Dougherty

    The card has a serious flaw TDP of 164W from a 6 pin will seriously damage your motherboard

  • jose pichardo

    wrong , it is ahead on some titles cause those titles are amd exclusives , do your research first lmao.

  • BaronMatrix

    Interesting card… It’s most interesting that the 480 seems to be full Polaris… That leaves a lot of room in terms of markets… If Vega is not due for 5 months, they will have no cards to compete with 10×0 until then…

    I do think this is a perfect chip to become an X2… Using Nano-type power gating they can keep it under 300W easy with 250W possible…

    We can almost predict Vega will be the FirePro cards and Opteron IGPs, but will it fill the gap between $300 and $600…? It could perhaps have GDDR variants that will slide in those price points… There was also a rumor that Vega was pushed forward to October so it’s interesting as I said…

    But 480 will mean a higher TAM as near 980 perf for $200 will be irresistible for a lot of budget gamers…

  • rocky40

    It’s a great little card for the money you spend on it. I think performance would be more consistent if it had a few more ROP’s in it maybe 48 would be good & then they could also give it a 384 bit memory bus. This would make it a very solid card & actually be a 980 killer instead of just trading blows with it & the 970. The extra ROP’s would not have added to much to the card for price maybe 10-15 bucks for the end user even if they just left the memory bus at 256 bit. Point being it would be a more balanced card all around.

    I am also sure they will figure out the power draw problem over the PCI-E bis as well and if they do not the board partners will just give it a 8 pin power plug and better cooling as well. I realize this card is supposed to be a mid tier card and it does very well for what it has under the hood but it could have been a lot better if they balanced it out like I stated above. Vega will not only have to deal with the 1080 & 1070 cards but also the 1080 Ti future release cards as well so here is hoping AMD has a really great chip about to be released.

    Then again if AMD releases the Vega before Nvidia release the 1080 ti all Nvidia will do is just run the clocks up to the max the chip can handle so they can claim king of the Hill again like they will most likely do when they release the GTX 1060. I am not a fanboy of either camp I use which ever card makes sense to my pocket book because I have both Nvidia & AMD cards in my gaming & other game/home systems.

  • Kris

    AIB’s have 8 pin and it would only damage shitty mobo’s.

  • Kris

    Sapphire RX 480 OC here I come, it will beat the 1060 card, especially in newer games and I bet 50 dollar cheaper too. It also gives you the option of crossfire if you like down the road. which the 1060 will not give SLI.

  • Stefan Duffy

    You don’t understand what “exclusive” means. If it really was exclusive it litterally would not run at all on anything that isn’t amd…

  • Kris

    This card is for guys like me, with next to no money and is upgrading from a 650TI boost…which is shit compared to RX480.

  • Zafirion Ninguno

    RX is for DX12 not for DX11, “think in future” amd allways the same.. xD but is worth

  • Medallish

    It would never damage your motherboard, even less so with the latest driver that keeps the PCIE specs within it’s 75W max.

  • Jorge Rivera

    But its incredible performance for 200-250 dollars…. Compared to the 200 dollar R9 280 i bought a few years back… Not that it matters anyway, im still going for the 1070 lol

  • Mike Hedges

    yes sir the 1060 is 300 bucks for the founders, i didnt see a price for the non founders though? but if you cant get it for under 300 the 480 is a much better deal

  • SlappyTheElf

    The gtx1070/1080 crush it with sheer power, its the gtx 1060 that they need to worry about which will cost more be faster in DX11 games and have less RAM and will fall behind as time goes on.

  • SlappyTheElf

    Don’t kid yourself. The GTX1060 is going to cost more and be a bit faster. The games that the 480 out perform it rival are few in number but they will grow in number. If you want instant superior benchmarks in current the nvidia card is better. If you are keeping it for a few years the RX 480 is likely to be a better buy that gets better as more DX12 games get released.

  • Fox Tree

    But it was never made to compete with 1070/1080. This guy is right that RX is more future proof and i tell you why i think that way. Most of ppl don’t expect dx12 games comming soon. But in my opinion a lot of games supporting dx 12 will show up already in 2017. So having two non ref rx 480 is a better deal tahn bying one 1070. But it is onay what I will do. There are some games with non/bad scalling but only few and medicore. Appat of ROTTR ofc. Most of games will support CF. Now all depends on drivers and stabilisation of CF. But that’s only my opinion.