AMD Radeon RX 480
Designed for affordable VR
Welcome to the card that AMD predicts will be in over 100-million PCs within a couple of years. A bold claim indeed, but if they can lower that Aussie price, there’s a good chance it’ll be the $300 card of choice. If there’s one thing AMD is promoting about this card, it’s that it’s VR-ready, and after testing it with several of the launch VR titles, we can confirm it runs basically all of them without a stutter.
It’s nice to see that AMD has finally jumped onboard the HDMI 2.0 bus, with a single HDMI 2.0 port, alongside triple DisplayPort 1.4 ports. These are all fully High Dynamic Range ready, waiting for the upcoming range of HDR TVs and monitors that will start to take over the market in the next couple of years.
Available in two flavours – 4GB and 8GB – we were currently only able to find the 8GB version on sale in Australia. AMD has gone with a blower design cooler very similar to those seen on Nvidia cards, and it’s a ripper. Measuring a mere 44dB under load, it’s one of the quietest we’ve heard, making it inaudible when inside your case. This is likely due to the card only requiring 150W of power, fed via a single 6-pin connector. However, PCPer.com recently discovered the card pulls up to 200W when overclocked, overloading both the PCIe bus and 6-pin power plug. AMD has sent out a press release saying they know of the problem, and that a fix is on the way via driver and firmware updates.
Speaking of driver updates, there’s a new overclocking tool called WattMan, which handles GPU voltage, engine and memory clocks, fan speed and temps. A new histogram shows exactly what the card does while playing games, allowing users to build profiles that push the card right to the edge on a per-game basis. We managed to hit a boost clock of 1345MHz, up from the default of 1266MHz, while memory speeds increase by 10 percent to 8800MHz.
Given this card’s focus on VR performance, we’re a little perplexed that it doesn’t feature something similar to Nvidia’s Simultaneous Multi-Projection tech. This means the RX480 has to render each scene twice during VR. While today’s very simple VR games run perfectly fine with the RX 480, which have the most basic of visuals, we’re a little concerned about how the RX 480 will handle the next generation of games. There’s also the fact that 4K HMDs are just around the corner, which will require drastically more horsepower to run.
There’s also the issue of cost – for the same price it’s possible to buy an R9 390X card, which is around 10 percent faster than the RX 480. Hopefully, this will soon resolve itself as more RX 480s hit the supply chain and prices drop, but until then the R9 390X is the better buy. AMD has made a major gamble on the Radeon RX 480. Here’s hoping that it pays off.
Solid performance Affordable Excellent cooler PRICE COMPANY URL $440 www.amd.com