AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Review

Hitman, Metro: Last Light Redux & Project CARS


Strong performance in Hitman lands the Radeon R9 390X and 390 ahead of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980. The Radeon RX 480 lands right below that board, and in front of the Radeon R9 290. Absolute performance is clearly a problem for Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 960.

The previous assessment holds true at 2560x1440, where the larger Hawaii-based chips extend their lead over Polaris 10 somewhat. Fortunately, with Radeon RX 480 behaving a lot like a GeForce GTX 980, its value is undeniable.

Metro: Last Light Redux

Like Battlefield 4, we know Metro to be graphically taxing. It similarly beats the Radeon RX 480 up at 1920x1080, placing Polaris right around the Radeon R9 290 (and that’s despite running settings that don’t include super-sampling, which would have been debilitating). Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 970 is faster, as are the Radeon R9 390 and 390X.

Pushing the resolution to 2560x1440 changes little; AMD’s Radeon RX 480 performs a lot like the company’s R9 290 yet again. Not that this is bad. The 290 has more Stream processors, more texture units, twice as many ROPs and a 512-bit memory bus offering a lot more bandwidth. But an improved architecture and higher clocks help even the playing field.

Project CARS

That Nvidia enjoys a large advantage in Project CARS is no surprising. It’s more interesting that AMD’s Radeon RX 480 trumps both 300-series cards, even with the Anti-Aliasing option set to High, corresponding to a custom 4x MSAA mode. Better still, frame time variance is incredibly low on the 480, resulting in smooth delivery.

The gap between AMD’s cards narrows, but Radeon RX 480 remains on top. Outperforming two beefy 275W previous-gen boards using a 150W GPU with fewer on-die resources is an impressive feat for AMD. Of course, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 posts even more exciting numbers at that 150W power ceiling. But that card starts at $450.


MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • 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.