AMD’s New Radeon RX 480: Graphics Greatness You Can Actually Afford?

As promised, the 2016 GPUgasm continues and not a moment too soon we come to AMD’s new pixel pumper, the Radeon RX 480, otherwise known as Polaris. With Nvidia’s new graphics chipsets delivering excellent performance but at punitive pricing, the narrative I’m unashamedly desperate to deliver involves AMD to the rescue with something very nearly as good, just for a fraction of the cost. With the new RX 480 clocking in at around £200 / $200, the money part of the package looks promising. But what about the performance? Forget the benchmarks, let’s give the new RX 480 a good old grope.

As before, I’m not going to get bogged down with the speeds and feeds. You can read my earlier post on the RX 480’s original announcement here for that. Or there’s a handy table comparison table here that puts the new GPU into technical context.

That said, one detail I do need to deal with involves graphics memory. The RX 480 is available in both 4GB and 8GB versions. I’m looking at both options here. So, yes, I do have an answer to the 4GB versus 8GB conundrum.

All I’ll add re the new RX 480’s technical gubbins is that, for my money, the most interesting element is that it exists at all given AMD has ditched its long-time manufacturing partner TSMC and shacked up with Global Foundaries. Polaris is the first big GPU to come out of that partnership and it’s being produced on a pretty cutting-edge 14nm process (down from 28nm for AMD previous graphics chips), so it’s a relief to see that AMD and GloFo managed to get the thing out the door. It could have gone horribly wrong.

The caveat to all that involves the relatively modest clockspeeds – modest compared to Nvidia’s latest GPUs, at least. But hold that thought, let’s find out what the RX 480 is really like.

AMD’s new board lacks the visual theatrics of Nvidia’s fancy-pants new Geforce cards

My instinct coming in and having studiously avoided reading third-party impressions was that the 8GB board would be the one to go for. So that’s what I kicked off with. As ever, I’m running things pretty much maxxed out in terms of image quality settings, but refer to my Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 hands-on for more detail on my non-scientific and intentionally touchy-feely approach. This isn’t about benchmakrs.

Keen as I often am to entirely miss the point, I jumped straight into the irrelevance that is running Doom running at 4K. It’s a thoroughly tedious game in single-player mode and the one thing the RX 480 isn’t cracked up to be is a 4K machine.

But whaddyaknow, it’s actually completely playable even if you do get the odd slight stutter here and there. To be honest, that probably says more about how efficiently coded the latest engine from id is and in turn how badly coded most other games are than it does about the RX 480. Using the Vulkan codepath, Doom seems to fly on just about everything.

Needless to say, it’s really slick at 2,560 by 1,080 on the 480 and pretty much impeccable at 1080P. Time for a real test, therefore. Let’s try Total War: Attila, a beast of a game that brings the likes of Nivida’s £600/$600 Geforce GTX 1080 to its knees.

The single six-pin power connector means the RX 480 should play nicely with even modest power supply units

At 1080P or 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, the RX 480 is slick and smooth everywhere, which is a relief. I had feared it might show signs of slowdowns zoomed in amongst the troop formations at ground level. Jump to 1440P, however, and you do get a little of that.

It’s fine with the camera giving you a broader, aerial view of the battle and – let’s be honest – that’s what you’re almost always doing in practice. But that ground-level perspective reveals the 480’s limitations. It doesn’t fall apart, but the drop off in frame rates is obvious enough. Needless to say, 4K in Attila is ugly. Even zoomed out, it’s a pretty juddery experience.

Next up is Witcher 3 at 1440P or 2,560 by 1,440 pixels. The RX 480 is actually pretty playable, hurrah. It’s hard to spot specific faults with the performance or pick out conspicuous slow downs or dropped frames. The response to inputs feels snappy, too. And yet you also wouldn’t call it buttery smooth.

It’s only when you drop the res down to 1080P that you can really put your finger on the performance shortfall. At 1080P, the rendering is that critical bit more fluid and easy, which is either fine if 1080P is your target or a little disappointing if you have a 1440P panel. Anyway, the 8GB version of the 480 also hangs together surprisingly well when you up the ante to 4K. I wouldn’t actually want to play it at 4K with this card. But neither does the performance fall of a cliff.

Shadow of Mordor is our final destination and I jump straight into 1440P which the 480 handles with surprising aplomb. In isolation, it’s hard to fault. It feels as responsive as this particular game engine ever does, which is to say not terribly, and the frame rates feel smooth and playable. Once again, it’s the step down to 1080P and the slight but undeniable uptick in slickness that confirms the 480 is right at the edge of its abilities running at 1440P. There’s no margin, no performance to spare.

DisplayPorts aplenty. DVI? Not so much

At 4K in Mordor, it ain’t pretty. Well, the rendering quality is pretty, but there’s copious input lag and sluggish production of new frames. I’d guesstimate high teens re the frame rates.

All of which makes the new 480 in 8GB trim a very decent effort from AMD but not quite the game-changing value proposition I was hoping for. It’s not a 1440P killer for £200, that’s for sure. It’s usable at 1440P, don’t get me wrong. But it’s happier at 1080P and, personally, I’ve moved on from 1080P. It just ain’t enough.

But what of the 4GB version? Arguably, it’s academic. After all, the extra graphics memory is all about running at really high resolution, which isn’t the RX 480’s forte in any case. But for what it’s worth, at 1080P I can’t tell the difference at all and even at higher resolutions I’m not sure I can, either. Yup, that includes at 4K.

Certainly, there’s no dramatic drop off, no evidence of texture swapping over the PCI Express bus putting the kibosh on the frame rates. This was a surprise, so I hopped in and out of Witcher and Shadow of Mordor at 1440P over and over trying to sense some advantage with the 8GB board. Maybe it did feel just a little smoother. But maybe I was projecting.

It’s not quite the budget 1440P board we’ve been waiting for

At that point I cheated a little and perused the web for benchmark numbers. Sure enough, various comparison tests reveal that the 8GB board is typically just a few frame per second faster. In other words, not enough that you’ll actually be able to feel the difference.

All of which means that the 480 is a pretty nice bit of kit but not quite the no brainer I had been hoping for. I remember the last time AMD launched a new GPU at around this same price point with a similar real-world gaming sales pitch. That was the Radeon HD 4870 and it was brilliant.

Subjectively, the 4870 gave virtually the same experience as Nvidia’s finest and most expensive GPUs. Just for far, far less money. Clearly, that ain’t the case here. Whether it’s by the numbers or actually playing games, AMD’s RX 480 is nowhere near the likes of a GTX 1080. It just isn’t.

The solution, in my mind at least, involves those clockspeeds I mentioned. The RX 480 is clocked at 1,266MHz which doesn’t seem too shabby until you remember that Nvidia is clocking its new Pascal chips, including the Geforce GTX 1060, at 1,700MHz and more.

Would a few more MHz help…?

That’s a big old gap and I can’t help thinking the RX 480 would be the card I was hoping for if only it matched Nvidia for clockspeed. It also makes me wonder just how healthy that new 14nm production process from GloFo actually is. Which in turn puts a slightly unsettling spin on AMD’s upcoming Zen CPUs and the fact they’ve been punted into 2017.

But that’s speculation. All I can say for sure is that the new RX 480 is a great 1080P gaming card and a workable option for 1440P with a little tweaking to the odd graphical setting. Whether that’s good enough is up to you.

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85 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    hemmer says:

    So you used a stock card? Are the 3rd party cards (the Red Devil from Powercolor is supposed to be surprisingly good) noticably better? I’ve heard of some strong overclocking going on there.

    They’re also pricier though.

    • hp7015ca says:

      I currently have the MSI RX 470 Gaming X (4 GB) and was able to OC it enough that it’s slightly faster than a 480. YMMV.

    • Ragnar says:

      You’re not going to get stunning benefits, maybe 10-15% faster.

      The main advantage is better cooling resulting in lower temps at much quieter volumes, which is well worth a little extra and avoiding the reference blower design for. MSI seems to have the best and quietest cooling.

    • Orillion says:

      I have the MSI Gaming X RX 470. I can attest to it being basically silent when the fans are on full blast, and I know from r/AMD and the various benchmarks that you can pretty much overclock it to being slightly better than a stock reference 480 for nearly no increase in sound or heat.

      Plus, any card that has an 8-pin connector is just safer in the long run. People claim the 6-pin is fine and that the motherboard can handle the power flow, but the fact is that hasn’t been tested for long-term effects and I could easily see the power drain wear down a motherboard faster than normal.

      • beekay says:

        The wattage it draws from the motherboard is determined by how the graphics card’s power phases are set up, not by the number of pins on its auxiliary power connector.

        If you think you’re going to overload the auxiliary power cable, then you can go ahead and worry about 8 pins vs. 6.

  2. geldonyetich says:

    Good little rundown of a latest card from the company that keeps Intel and NVIDIA honest.

    Yet, I find myself looking at GPU as getting increasingly irrelevant. I’ve seen G-sync in action, it breaks the rules here. Last I heard, the open source AMD alternative cannot complete.

    Then, brutally, we have the other thing: VR. Your occulii and vivuses. Can this card push the nausea inductment devices? Irrelevant: my motherboard can’t, and there’s precisely one game worth playing in VR.

    Madness, I say. Where are my triangle counts?! My CUDAs just could not. I have a debt on Amazon prime 3 months away from payment until I am ready for grounding myself in this new graphical frontier. What are nrw video cards to me now?!

    • Asurmen says:

      Nah, Freesync competes just fine.

      • geldonyetich says:

        Does that mean they managed to finally eliminate the issues reported with FreeSync? Because ghosting is a total deal breaker for me.

        • hp7015ca says:

          Ghosting is a monitor issue, not a problem with Freesync specifically.

          • Jeremy Laird says:

            I’m not sure that’s really true. I’ve not seen a single Freesync monitor that didn’t ghost. I’ve not seen a single G-Sync monitor that did ghost.

            Now, it will, I believe, be technically possible to make a Freesync monitor that doesn’t ghost. In that sense, it’s the monitor that has the problem. On the other hand, I also believe that the way Freesync was implemented, the ghosting is inevitable until the display interfaces catch up with what’s required to implement Freesync without ghosting.

            So the point about G-Sync is that it’s a more complete end-to-end system. I’m pretty sceptical about a lot of NV tech. But for me adaptive sync is one technology where Nvidia’s more controlling approach makes a difference. Adaptive sync needs to be a polished and well implemented tech to deliver on its promise. I don’t think Freesync is there yet, personally, or at least I’ve never seen an implementation of Freesync that I thought was ready for public consumption.

          • remon says:

            All monitors lcd monitors have ghosting to a degree, especially the IPS ones. If you haven’t seen an IPS g-sync monitor with ghosting you didn’t look too well.

            Also, Freesync monitors can use overdrive now. That should solve these problems.

            The only disadvantage Freesync has to G-sync is frame doubling and refresh rates. G-sync has better range because the panel only needs the max refresh rate to be 2 times the min refresh rate to double the frames that take too long to render. AMD’s LFC, low framerate compensation, needs 2.5 times that. And since Nvidia has a say to what panels monitor makers use, unlike AMD, they typically choose fast panels.

            For example, a 60 Hz 4k monitor has to have a range where g-sync works that’s 30-60 Hz, which is very easy to do. The same freesync monitor would need to have a 24-60 Hz range, which is very hard to achieve. Of course, when we talk about 120 hz or 144 hz that doesn’t matter, since they all have the required range.

          • Jeremy Laird says:

            No, you misunderstood me. There’s a particular kind of ghosting peculiar to Freesync panels which you can literally switch on and off as you enable and disable Freesync. Every single Freesync monitor I have seen had that problem. No G-Sync monitor I have seen had that problem.

            The context of the discussion was Freesync, so that was the kind of ghosting to which I was referring, not the generic fact that all LCD monitors suffer from issues related to response times to some degree.

          • UniuM says:

            I know what Jeremy is saying. I have a Radeon R9 390 paired with a AOC G2460PF FreeSync. I see ghosting, yes its true, but it really depends the frames beeing rendered. Example:
            Loading screen of a race in DirtRally, letters scrolling at the bottom is the prime example of FreeSync ghosting.
            But in the end its all about what you do 90% of the time with the monitor, and for fast MP games like CS:Go, overwatch etc.. its perfectly fine.
            G-sync also has its problems, but for me the biggest one is the price.

          • remon says:

            You’re wrong, it’s not specific to Freesync. It was caused by Freesync because the overdrive couldn’t work with FS enabled, which means it’s exactly the same ghosting that LCD monitors have. That no longer applies.

    • hp7015ca says:

      Not only is AMD’s Freesync excellent, they don’t charge a huge premium for Freesync enabled monitors, so the savings are compounded.

      Gsync is only “technically” superior when you get to really high frame rates, but at those frame rates (80 FPS and higher), frame tearing is arguably irrelevant.

  3. Wulfram says:

    It seems a bit weird to be mainly comparing a card to one that is 3 and a half times more expensive

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      And about that much more powerful. The 480 barely keeps up with the 1060, which is about the same price.

      • mukuste says:

        Or you could say, the 480 is in practice identical in performance to the 1060 which is noticeably more expensive.

        • Simplex says:

          Only you couldn’t, because:
          – In DX11/OGL games (99% of games in existence) 1060 is faster, and that’s before overclocking
          – 480 is very poor overclocker, it overclocks maybe 5% and becomes even more hotter, louder and power hungry than it already is – in contrast, 1060 overclocks well and remains relatively cool and quiet in the process (non reference models)
          – I don’t know about USA, but pricing in Europe is crazy – reference 480 costs about the same as non reference 1060.

          I hate how ngreedia price gouges and increases price brackets every generation, but they make good (power efficient) cards, which is why they own most of the market – recently AMD has been clawing back market share from it’s absolute all time low 82/17 (nvidia/amd market share in discrete GPU).

          • mukuste says:

            “In DX11/OGL games (99% of games in existence) 1060 is faster, and that’s before overclocking”

            The benchmarks I’ve seen, it’s basically a toss-up, and the cases where the 1060 is faster, it’s only by a few fps which you won’t notice in practice.

          • Simplex says:

            Which benchmarks are those?

            The benchmark I saw, 1060 wins with 480 in DX11/OGL and the gap widens with overclocking

            “480 is in practice identical in performance to the 1060 which is noticeably more expensive.”
            So how much does 480 cost and how much 1060 cost? Where I live they cost almost the same.

          • remon says:

            No, the 1060 isn’t a much better overclocker than the 480, since it’s artificially locked to a certain max OC. The 480 is a coin toss, you might get a very good sample. And a 5% overclock on AMD gives much better results than a 5% overclock on Nvidia.

        • GenialityOfEvil says:

          Except the 1060 isn’t noticeably more expensive. The 8GB 480 is $10 more than the 6GB 1060, and the 4GB 480 is the same price as the 3GB 1060.

          • Simplex says:

            I’m glad someone called him out on that false pricing propaganda.

          • mukuste says:

            Current prices off a price comparison site, for a comparable custom design:

            MSI Radeon RX 480 Gaming X 8G €299,90
            MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Gaming X 6G €327,92

            And that’s with 2GB more memory on the 480. If you go to the 4GB model, there’s not even a comparison, while having almost identical performance.

            Lol at the “price propaganda”, like this is some sort of holy war. I’m certainly not fanboying a hardware company, I’m too old for that.

          • Simplex says:

            10%/30eur is not “significantly” more expensive to me, especially since 1060 is actually faster in most games. And 6GB VRAM is enough.
            Also, where did you find MSI 480 for 299 euros available and in stock? The cheapest offer I found is 319 euros:
            link to idealo.de
            Comparable 1060 is mere 7 euros more expensive:
            link to idealo.de

          • Simplex says:

            “If you go to the 4GB model, there’s not even a comparison, while having almost identical performance.”

            Please point me to a 480 4GB model than can actually be bought.

            Also, the non existing 480 4GB should be compared to 1060 3GB, which is “significantly” cheaper than 6GB model.

          • hp7015ca says:

            Not sure about the US or UK, but in Canada, they’re almost even with a slight price advantage to the 480:

            link to memoryexpress.com

            If it was just a matter of picking between the 1060 and 480, I would take the 1060. However, the 470 is quite a bit cheaper, and the non-reference models are comparable to a stock 480 in speed. Additionally, they support Crossfire and Freesync monitors, which are less expensive than their gsync counterparts.

          • Simplex says:

            1060 and 470 are in different price and performance categories entirely. If there is a 8GB 470 model then get it, but I’d still buy 6GB 1060 as it will be perceptibly faster (and also more expensive).

  4. rommel102 says:

    The RX480 is not designed to compete with the GTX 1070 or even anything from Nvidia at all. It’s designed to offer VR-ready gaming at a very low price. I realize you guys aren’t big on the VR thing yet, but they are looking at growing the TAM from ~7.5MM to 70MM in a few years, on the back of strong VR adoption. You can’t get to those numbers with a $600 video card, but you can with a $200 one.

    • Wulfram says:

      The 480 is definitely in competition with Nvidia’s 1060

      • Carra says:

        Looking at the prices, that seems to be its direct competitor yes. Bought a 1060 already so I’m happily playing some of those fancy new games I can now play at full detail.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      The thing is, nobody is big on VR yet and there are a very few dedicated VR titles as yet.

      The reality is that the RX 480 will be long dead by the time VR really takes off. Very few RX 480s will be used primarily to drive VR gaming. That’s not necessarily AMD’s fault. But it is almost certainly true.

      • Toupee says:

        I really do appreciate all the detail you go into in your hardware reviews, Jeremy! But frankly, I was disappointed there was no mention of VR here at all. At this point, I don’t even care about 4k gaming — even though I do have a 4k screen — but I really, really care about how these headsets are holding up in a Vive or likewise. I have a GTX 970 right now, and it is acceptable in most scenarios, but my next video card upgrade will likely be to drive VR harder and better.

        Even though I’m sure the readers of this site who have VR are very minimal right now, I would suspect a lot of them are at least considering how VR-capable their next video card purchase will be!

        • Toupee says:

          and by headsets I meant graphics cards, oops.

        • Jeremy Laird says:

          Hi Toupee

          Yes, apologies, I meant to address that issue at the end, briefly. An oversight. Two issues apply here. First, I think this card is reality is probably pre-VR – by the time VR is really being used in significant numbers this card will have been replaced – and probably a few times over. Secondly, I simply don’t have access to VR headsets right now. I realise that if you are seriously considering VR right now, that this will be of little use. But given the relative paucity of VR content at the moment, I think the best advice for most would be to hold off buying a card specifically for VR right now. You’ll only get better performance for less money when you do eventually buy.

          That said, my feeling is that if you’re really serious about VR, the RX 480 might not prove a great long-term choice. It just doesn’t have all that much raw rendering power. If you want an AMD board, I think I’d hold out for the second-tier version of their next big GPU. It’ll be a bit more expensive than the RX 480, but then if you are in a position to buy the headset and the 480, then you’re probably in a position to save up a little longer for that better GPU.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      It has almost exactly the same performance, price, and power efficiency as a GTX 970, meaning its not going to be of much use with VR.

  5. Hunchback says:

    Never again a Radeon, no matter how cheaper it might be :S

    • aircool says:

      I used to love the ATI cards, but there’s no escaping the fact that AMD stuff has problems with many games. Well, to be more precise, many games have problems with AMD stuff.

      I just got tired of having a great card with shitty drivers and shitty support. Every time I get tempted back, I just read the reviews and forums of games I’ve recently purchased and am thankful that despite Nvidia being more expensive in general, Intel CPU’s and Nvidia GPU’s just work.

      • Asurmen says:

        AMD drivers and support have been excellent for awhile. From a number of opinions I’ve heard, Nvidia haven’t been doing too well in that department recently.

        • Laurie says:

          Maybe I’ve been unlucky but I have to say that’s not been my experience with the RX480. On Windows 10, the drivers have caused several BSODs, and on Ubuntu Linux, I get frequent crashes inside the drivers that bring down plenty of programs including various games and KDE.

    • Premium User Badge

      Marclev says:

      Which is sad. It would be be nice to have actual choice, but you just can’t trust the drivers.

      I’d have hoped that would have changed by now.

      • Sakkura says:

        The AMD drivers are more trustworthy than the Nvidia drivers. We’ve seen a lot more issues on the Nvidia side this past year.

        • BreadBitten says:

          Indeed. I held of updating my GeForce drivers for a good amount of time until the Win10 BSOD issue was fixed. Also, from what I’ve been reading around several parts of the internet, AMD seems to have gotten their shit together since the last few drivers.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      I have an R9 290 and an R9 380X and they’re both lovely cards. The latter has great bang for the buck and is basically silent under full load too (it’s in my HTPC).

      I also have a 1060 in my lappy, so I’m not an AMD zealot.

  6. KingFunk says:

    Nice to see some praise being heaped on the old 4870. I bought my present rig ahead of the release of Fallout 3. It contained 2 x 4870 512mb cards in CF. One of them has since died, but I can still play Skyrim at 1080p with most settings at full and the rest a bit down from full. Now THAT’S what I call value for money.

  7. grrrz says:

    I hate being pushed to buy new hardware for games. Not only does it cost time and money, it forces you to admit that you’re serious about playing videogames, which is kinda silly, right?

    • criskywalker says:

      Still cheaper and less silly than a console.

    • poliovaccine says:

      While I understand the initial impulse, money is only worth what you get for it. Being serious about games is being serious about fun. And that is damned worthy, in my own dubious estimation..! I must say, I felt like a consummate “adult” by the time I had been addicted to IVing heroin for eight years, but that doesnt mean it was ever a better value for my money… I also didnt benefit in any clear way from having spent all that time in an arguably “realer” world than that of games… Though being away from games and tech for about eight years did have the side effect of making me see faults in games rather charitably, if at all, which I suppose is saving me money in a different sort of way, haha.

      Anyway, my only point is that you shouldnt give yourself a hard time if you are so into your recreational hobby that it might cause you to learn some incidental technical skills on the side.. because, tho it isnt always readily apparent to, say, the family or girlfriend of a gamer haha, there are absolutely less productive ways to have your fun..

      Or, in motto format, “Could be worse!”

      (Incidentally, almost any heroin addict without a preternatually powerful guilt complex will inevitably, at some point in their recovery, need to replace their old habit with something else to adequately scratch the itch… I had an inkling that, should I return to games, that might be enough for me… and so this games community is where I spend my free thoughts today… what can I say? They scratch the same itch.)

  8. Whelp says:

    I’m still waiting to buy one for 200 quid, as advertised, instead of 300-350 at which it’s still currently sold.

    • Wulfram says:

      You can pre-order one from Scan at that price, apparently

      link to scan.co.uk

      • fish99 says:

        Personally I would pay another £30 for the 8GB version, or for a 6GB 1060. Then again if you own a 970 as I do, I wouldn’t buy either of those cards.

        • Wulfram says:

          I’m not sure the 8GB is worth it unless you’re trying to get some future proofing, and £200 cards are often not bought to last particularly long before an upgrade.

          I don’t think any of the current lot of cards in this sort of price range are a bad choice, really. You could make a solid case for the 470 at £30 less than the 480 4GB too.

          Personally I just got a new PC with a 970, but that was because it was going at good price.

          • aircool says:

            I recently upgraded my 4 year old PC with a 970 and it handles 1080p gaming without any complaint.

            It’s probably about time I bought a new PC (but without the gfx card) as my creaking i5-3570 can bottleneck performance in certain games at certain times, but there’s certainly no rush.

            You can pick up a 970 for less than £200 now, which is a good price for that card.

          • sosolidshoe says:

            aircool: assuming you’ve got a K model and haven’t already, slap an H100i or a Kraken X61 on that 3570 and give it an overclock, costs a fraction of what a new CPU & mobo will. I got mine up to 4.2 stable and even with a 1080 the only thing that even starts to bottleneck on the CPU is very late game TW:WH.

            On the one hand it’s a bit sad games still really aren’t making enough use of CPUs to justify going beyond a 4GHz-ish quadcore, but for the moment I’m somewhat glad as it meant I could buy a really nice graphics card this upgrade rather than a mid-tier compromise.

  9. wodin says:

    Toss up between this and the 1060 as my next upgrade. Haven’t owned a Nvidea for a very very long time..

    I’m leaning towards the 1060..though I hear the 480 may come into it’s own further down the line not sure if it was Vulcan or Mantle or Direct X 12 why it comes into it’s own over the 1060..but apparently it will do

    • Greg Wild says:

      Yep, I’ve been AMD focused with GPUs for years, but managed to pay £230 for a 1060 – seemed like the wise choice. Better performance, better heat management, better power draw… at only a fraction more of the cost of a 480.

  10. wodin says:

    Oh I still have a good old 4870 in my cupboard..god that card was good..and was still good a few years after release. I only upgraded from it about four years ago or so.

    • aircool says:

      I think that might have been my last ATI card as well.

      • jezcentral says:

        I’ve still got my last ATI, too. The mighty 4890. It had a wail like a banshee in a hurricane. When I installed a new Geforce 570, it was so quiet on starting up, I thought my PC wasn’t working. But that 4890 was a great card for its time.

  11. Simplex says:

    “The RX 480 is available in both 4GB and 8GB versions.”

    Did you see the 4GB version actually available anywhere?

  12. Simplex says:

    Also avoid the reference 480 if you like silence – the card gets hot and loud quickly, even worse than the Founder’s Edition nvidia cards. Where are the 480 non reference models, AMD?

    I don’t know about UK, but 480 prices in Poland are crazy and availability is very poor. The 8GB model (4GB model is a Yeti) costs over 300 euros.

    • Asurmen says:

      Didn’t see any reviews showing it getting load and hot.

      • Simplex says:

        Did you see any reviews at all?
        Or, more specifically, did you see any reviews where it was silent and cool?

        Ok, here we go:
        Bit-tech: Sadly, the reference cooler leaves a lot to be desired. The default 2,200 RPM fan speed limit is quickly reached under load in order to keep the card at its default target temperature of 80°C, and the card is relatively loud at this speed – it’s certainly nowhere near as bad as the R9 290X and R9 290 cards were, but compared to what we’re used to these days it does still stand out.

        TechPowerUp: Quoting from the AMD reviewer’s guide, “a lot of work has gone into reducing noise levels for the Radeon™ RX 480.” Sorry, but no, gaming noise levels are bad. The reference card is noisier than every single card released in recent times, and it runs at well above 80°C too. We confirmed the temperature and noise levels with other reviewers, so it’s not only our sample.
        What’s even worse than the heat is the terrible fan noise. While idle noise is fine with 29 dBA (an idle-fan-off feature would have still been nice), in gaming, the fan ramps up a lot, emitting 41 dBA during gaming (not Furmark). This makes the RX 480 the loudest card launched in recent history, much noisier than, for example, the GTX 1080 (which is almost twice as fast).

        • Asurmen says:

          No, I didn’t read a single review at all, and I just wrote those words for the sheer fun of it.

          link to tomshardware.co.uk

          link to guru3d.com

          And in comparison with 1070 and 1080:

          link to tomshardware.com

          Looks to me like the temperature and noise levels of reference cards from both camps produces the same decibels and temperature ranges. Just because you’re using quotes from sites that are clearly exaggerating in their language, doesn’t make your point true.

          • Simplex says:

            You have your sites, I have mine, they do not exaggerate, blower coolers are well knowm for being loud.

          • Asurmen says:

            Despite the fact I just proved they’re clearly exaggerating? Ok, stick with your bias.

          • Simplex says:

            How exactly did you “prove” it? By providing reviews that are clearly downplaying the issue? Ok, stick with your bias.

          • Simplex says:

            Oh, and Tomshardware tested outside the case and noted it may be louder in the case.
            They also compared it to loudness of nvidia reference design, which is also a blower style cooler, loud by design.
            Not to mention the reference design only has 6 pin power despite drawing over 150W. This overburdens either pci-e slot or PSU because it’s power draw is over specification. So it is a poor design overall, luckily the non reference design are finally starting to appear. Too little, too late but better late then never. It really reflects poorly on Amd that nvidia managed to beat them to market with non reference 1060 despite launching weeks later.

            Also, has anyone actually seen 4GB variant of 480 in stores, or is it just a figment of AMD marketing department’s imagination?

  13. Omroth says:

    Woot PC Format shout-out.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    DisplayPort, huh? I was hoping that’d kind of died off. (My hatred for it is solely because I was given a PC with DisplayPort output and monitors with every other type of input. Having to faff with the DP->DVI adapter was a faff I shan’t forgive!)

    • CommanderJ says:

      DP is the only thing that will do Gsync/Freesync, and (along with HDMI 2.x) the only thing that has enough bandwidth to push high rez high refresh.

      DP isn’t dying out, it’s taking over :)

  15. CMaster says:

    So jeremy, having tried both: Would you get the 480, the 960, or just sit on your wallet in the hopes that either the 1070 comes down to a reasonable price (UK side, already a good deal US side), or the 490 delivers at £300?

  16. Kemipso says:

    Needless to say, it’s really slick at 2,560 by 1,080 on the 480 and pretty much impeccable at 1080P.
    You probably meant slick at 2,560 by 1,440.
    Otherwise you have a very strange ratio ;-)

  17. Agnosticus says:

    For all who can’t decide between GTX 1060 and RX480, a quick recap of my findings:

    GTX1060:
    – Faster in DX11 and OGL: i.e. most current games
    – Some games will be additionally better optimised for Nvidia

    RX 480:
    – Faster in DX12 and Vulkan (in some games nearly on par with GTX 1070): i.e. most of the future AAA games like BF1
    – Cheaper FreeSync monitors
    – Most likely better long-term driver support

    I went for a Sapphire RX 480 Nitro+ for 285€ from amazon.co.uk (incl shipping), because Freesync monitors are much cheaper than G-Sync and the RX480 will most likely age much better, also I’m always in support of the underdog ;)

    • mukuste says:

      I’ll add:

      GTX1060:
      – Less power draw
      – Probably less noisy in the reference design? But for both cards, you want to go for a custom design anyway if noise is an issue for you.

      RX 480:
      – More memory, so a bit more future proof.
      – Better compute performance.

      • Agnosticus says:

        You’re absolutely right ofc, but I wanted to spare the technical details and focus on the actual impact on gaming.

        Also I’ve roughly equaled the lower power consumtion of the GTX 1060 with the slightly lower price point of the RX480.

        • RobT says:

          Something else to keep in mind is are the Doom Vulkan benchmarks which heavily favour the RX480. If this is any kind of indication of things to come as games transition to Vulkan and DX12 the AMD card might well be the better long term investment.

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