AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Review

Ashes of the Singularity, Battlefield & GTA V Results

Ashes of the Singularity

We’ve established that AMD’s architecture fares well in Ashes of the Singularity. At 1920x1080, the Radeon R9 390X and 390 both beat Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980. The new Radeon RX 480 follows that card, and is trailed by the Radeon R9 290 and GeForce GTX 970.

Our frame time variance numbers feature the GeForce GTX 960 prominently; it covers most results, aside from the Radeon R9 290, due to its lower absolute performance.

Jumping up to 2560x1440 doesn’t have as big of an effect on performance as you might expect, and the finishing order remains exactly the same. If AMD’s goal here is to show the Radeon RX 480 ahead of Radeon R9 290 and GeForce GTX 970 for acceptable VR, it’s off to the right start.

Battlefield 4

Experience could have prepared us for this outcome: Radeons don’t do as well in Battlefield. Here, though, the RX 480 essentially ties the R9 290, which itself falls well short of the GeForce GTX 970. At least you’re assured plenty-fast frame rates at 1920x1080 using Ultra details.

Even QHD is playable at maxed out graphics quality, though we still see the 480 tied with AMD’s almost three-year-old Radeon R9 290. Consider that the Hawaii-based board launched at $400 though, while RX 480 starts at $200. Of course, 8GB R9 390s sell for less than $300 these days, so let’s hope BF4 is a worst-case for the RX 480 we’re testing.

Grand Theft Auto V

Average frame rates shoot up in Grand Theft Auto, where our test settings employ FXAA rather than MSAA. Could it be the 480’s leaner back-end? After all, the 390 and 390X can output 64 pixels per clock compared to the 480’s 32, and those older boards benefit from 512-bit buses topping out at 384 GB/s. Even with 8 Gb/s GDDR5, the RX 480’s 256-bit bus tops out at 256 GB/s. The larger cache and improved delta color compression only go so far.

One artifact that these charts don’t entirely capture is an intermittent stutter suffered by AMD’s cards. Big frame time spikes on the Radeon R9 390 are our only data-based indicator of this, but every card exhibits the behavior.

This time the spikes are observable on the 480, 390X and 290, though they appear to be outliers when, in reality, they’re far more persistent.

That issue aside, a higher resolution drives the Radeon RX 480 down under AMD’s R9 390X and 390. We might be inclined to crown the 480 our top pick for playable QHD in next month’s Best Graphics Cards column, but it’s clear that’s where AMD’s biggest implementation of Polaris starts running out of steam.

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  • chaosmassive
    this card will be my replacement of HD 7770 card for sure !
    thanks for the reviews, though power consumption from PCI slot is real concern here
  • asukafan2001
    Seems like a decent card for what it is and what its target market is. Based off where the 1070 and 1080 fall in though i cant help but feel the 1060 which is targeted for the fall might make things uncomfortable for th 480. Nice to see amd working on power efficency though. That has always been a weakspot for them.
  • JeanLuc
    I can't help but think you need to revist this. The AOTS benchmark don't look right, the 480 is behind the 390, 390X and GTX980 in DX12.........I know this card is mid range and all that but it is 14nm with a revised chip design, surely it should be ahead of the last generation mid range cards even if it's by just a small amount.

    Edit: I stand corrected. Just looked at Anandtech and there results confirm what Toms is reporting.
  • Davide_3
    If i replace my Gtx770 with this Rx480 i will gain a lot of performance?
  • Oranthal
    Wow all the hype and it didn't deliver on any of it. Yes its an improvement but a marginal one and the supply is non existent. So its a paper launch as well. I was hoping this would be the solution to my 1440p 144hz freesync setup. Really disappointed, then again nothing lives up to online hype now. Nvidia's offerings hit the performance numbers we wanted but are insanely expensive. So I will keep waiting to see if drivers and oc's helps this card out or hope the 490 delivers.

    Edit: The cards are 100% available on newegg, I guess it took them until 9:30 to have them show up. I am still completely let down and hoping the partner cards and new drivers deliver on some performance gains. I guess its my fault for believing the hype that AMD could produce the same jump in the low to mid tier that Nvidia did for the high end.
  • envy14tpe
    All that hype and finally the release....ahhh. We now have competition in the market place. The 960 and 970 have a good contender. Let's just hope price stays low as AMD doesn't play Nvidia's limited supply game.

    In Taiwan (where I am). There is one listing today selling the Gigabyte for $315usd. Prices need to get worked out. At that price I can get a 970.
  • ImDaBaron
    So....sucking almost the same wattage as a 1080...Yikes
  • CaptainTom
    Honestly quite let down. Will wait for non-reference boards or the 490.
  • Vikerules
    ETA for crossfire benchmarks against a gtx 1080?
  • rmpumper
    So basically AMD caught up to nvidia's now obsolete 9xx series? So much for the hype, though not unusual for AMD.
  • Yuka
    Nice review as usual, thanks a lot.

    It's worrying the un-usual PCIe power sucking the 480 has. Maybe they have to fix something in the drivers? I'd be terrified it is something with the PCB design.

    All in all, it is a very decent upgrade for anyone with anything less powerful than a 290X/970. And that is a lot of people I'd say. At 250, it is not a bad deal, BUT I'd say we really need to wait for the partner boards. Specially for the awkward power consumption numbers. I wonder how Sapphire and Asus (even XFX and MSI) will equip the custom PCBs/Boards.

    Cheers!
  • Sakkura
    2277213 said:
    Wow all the hype and it didn't deliver on any of it. Yes its an improvement but a marginal one and the supply is non existent. So its a paper launch as well. I was hoping this would be the solution to my 1440p 144hz freesync setup. Really disappointed, then again nothing lives up to online hype now. Nvidia's offerings hit the performance numbers we wanted but are insanely expensive. So I will keep waiting to see if drivers and oc's helps this card out or hope the 490 delivers.


    It's in stock on Newegg, at the MSRP.
  • youcanDUit
    will customs cards have the same power issues? is this limited to boards or is this the chip itself?
  • jaber2
    I knew this card was in trouble when it failed to register on Ashe of Singularity, selling for $239 isn't bad but when you consider the 970 is now selling for less.
  • 0InVader0
    Well, I'm not sure what everyone else expecting. People made hype around these cards as if it was running up against the 1070.

    When NVidia releases the 1060, it will most likely set AMDs pants on fire.
  • chaosmassive
    please, dont groan on this card
    this card NEVER MEANT to be compared with GTX 10 series
    look at this price tag, long before this review y'all should got the hint
    its for 1080p gaming nothing more
  • 10tacle
    699111 said:
    Let's just hope price stays low as AMD doesn't play Nvidia's limited supply game.


    Uhm, it's not a "game." It's called demand for a hot new GPU. We saw this with the 970/980 and 670/680 series releases too (I know, I spent weeks trying to snap them up at release).

    With that said, considering the 480 has a massive MSRP price drop and TDP power drop, this is a winner card for AMD in the low-mid GPU segment. Nobody will be replacing their 4-8GB R9 290 and 380 GPUs with this, but for those with older AMD and Nvidia GPUs it will be a massive upgrade without breaking the bank. Looking forward to non-reference OEM variants from the likes of ASUS and MSI.
  • rush21hit
    That's about the level of performance I want to see from this card. AMD gets their job done right. With more time, driver should improve things. Much more improvement on the underlying architecturel than just smaller nodes compared to what nVidia did with Maxwell. Though still, I get the feeling its near derivative as what Fury was.

    Still, at $200, this card is a no brainer. Even if given at 4GB at that price point.

    But what I really want to see is 460. When?
  • Oranthal
    551379 said:
    2277213 said:
    Wow all the hype and it didn't deliver on any of it. Yes its an improvement but a marginal one and the supply is non existent. So its a paper launch as well. I was hoping this would be the solution to my 1440p 144hz freesync setup. Really disappointed, then again nothing lives up to online hype now. Nvidia's offerings hit the performance numbers we wanted but are insanely expensive. So I will keep waiting to see if drivers and oc's helps this card out or hope the 490 delivers.
    It's in stock on Newegg, at the MSRP.


    Yup I jumped the gun as they showed sold out at 9:10 but it was just they hadn't showed the stock until 9:20.
  • elbert
    The base model 480 stock looks to beat out the 970 and overclocked match's the 980. This is based on all the reviews I've seen. The greatest overclock looks to be 1376 for the base model. Only question I have is will there be custom models with 8pin power to make sense of the 1.6Ghz overclock leaks?
  • Cleber_1
    So, this or 970?
  • rush21hit
    So, apparently, according to Tech of Tomorrow channel on youtube, said that the 480 does not OC very well. Meaning, even by slight OC it gets very hot, very fast. That reference cooler may held things up, or perhaps something else being the culprit here.
  • Sakkura
    2277261 said:
    So, this or 970?


    This, but wait for non-reference versions if you can.
  • IInuyasha74
    I think some of you are forgetting that this is a $200 card that is competitive with the $300 GTX 970. It isn't meant to compete with the GTX 1070/1080. For what it is designed to do, it excels. It's power consumption isn't quite what AMD lead us to believe. The temps are concerning, but the board partners will fix that with better cooling solutions and additional power phases. Honestly it should be a highly competitive card.