AMD is fast at work to provide their new Graphics cards lineup; we have already reviewed the RX 460 and RX 470 the slightly lower level cards. Both these cards are meant for 1080p gaming and are based upon the improved version of the Polaris architecture.
We intentionally missed one Graphics card that essentially draws the first draft of the AMD’s new design and architecture. It is the first ever card to build on the Polaris 10 architecture codenamed Ellsemere. This new technology is an upgrade from what we saw in the different versions of the R9 Fury cards, as the size is much smaller while the performance boost is on an insane level.
The RX 480 will ride among the middle high-end graphics card of the generation and will provide performance comparable to the likes of the GTX 970 with much better performance to price ratio. AMD has been boasting about it for a long time now even exclaiming it the best card for the 1440p gaming; we have finally got the reference blower model of the RX 480 to see how much credence is there in AMD’s claims.
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With the release of this card AMD is officially shifting to the new GCN 4 architecture that is based on the newer denser 14nm process, gone are the days when we were getting the 28nm cards that draw much power from the socket with less performance. The GCN 4 architecture codenamed Polaris 10 marks its debut with this card, the new manufacturing process increases the number of transistors drastically while making sure that the die remains dense that is the size of the die does not increase.
As a result, AMD was able to fit 5.7 billion transistors on a 230mm2 die while the R9 390 and R9 290 had 6.2 billion transistors with double the size of the die that is 438mm2. The new manufacturing process also allows the physical stream processors to run at a much higher frequency with less power draw, on the whole, that is why the RX 480 is only rated at 150 Watts while the R9 290 and R9 390 were rated at 275 Watts. Moreover, the memory bandwidth is cut to half as it is still a mid-range device, but the performance has remained the same the maximum output of this card is 5.7TFLOPS.
The RX 480 is meant to provide best 1080p gaming experience, and at the same time it should be able to run most games at 1440p, but the main marketing strategy that AMD is opting is saying that it is the cheapest VR ready card in the market to support VR gaming that is still in budding space. The specifications of this card include a total of 2304 stream processors that are spread over 36 Compute units with a base clock speed 1120MHz while the boost clock speed is 1266MHz.
The number of texture units is bumped up to 144 which makes the Texture filtering rate 182.3GT/s. The memory that AMD is using in this card is a 256-bit GDDR5 memory that is clocked according to the size you pick the 4GB memory is clocked at 7Gbps while if you choose the 8GB version, you will enjoy 8Gbps of memory speed. The rendering output units are only 32 that is a bit less since this Graphics card is also for lightweight 1440p gaming.
Coming to the essential part of our review the gaming performance of this card, as it is the mid-range Graphics card we are expecting it to blast its way through the 1080p gaming while the 1440p resolution will be its real test. Starting with the most demanding PC title Ashes of the Singularity, as expected at 1080p extreme preset the Graphics card had no issues, but at 1440p extreme preset the framerates drop from a solid 60 to mid-forties.
Battlefield 4 is a game that is not much demanding in terms of the hardware during our test the game was playable at 1440p ultra settings with 48 framerates on average while there were no dips the game was smooth. Lastly, we tested the only open world game of the bunch the Grand theft auto V at 1080p high settings we were easily getting close to 100FPS same was the case with the higher resolution at 1440p very high settings we were getting 67FPS.
The RX 480 sits on a tight position in terms of price; there is no denying the capabilities of the Graphics card as our performance spectrum showed but $215 price is not the right price. It was unable to beat GTX 970 in any of the benchmarks the GTX 970 becomes more viable option in this price range, and since GTX 970 is old enough, you can grab even the used card with a very good price from Amazon here.