AMD Radeon RX 480

De­signed for af­ford­able VR

Hyper - - TECH -

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, 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

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