AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Review

Rise Of The Tomb Raider, The Division & The Witcher 3

Rise of the Tomb Raider

The Radeon RX 480 beats its predecessors again in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Although the GeForce GTX 980 and 970 end up on top, we keep seeing the 480 land between what HTC and Oculus specify as a baseline for enjoyable VR.

At the time of writing, GTX 970s are selling for ~$275. R9 290s aren’t readily available any more, but 390s land in the same general vicinity. If AMD can offer the 8GB 480 we’re testing today for $220 or $230, it’ll play a more meaningful role in making VR accessible to more gamers.

A more taxing graphics workload at 2560x1440 is just enough to give AMD’s Radeon R9 390X an edge over the 480.

The Division

Remember that the partner boards we’re using are almost all overclocked a bit, so it’s fair to call the Radeon RX 480 as fast as the R9 390X and GTX 970 in The Division at 1920x1080. Frame time spikes from the R9 390 and R9 290 may be perceptible to some, though I didn’t note distracting stutter as the benchmarks ran. What we saw from Grand Theft Auto was far worse.

A move up in the field is unexpected as the Radeon RX 480 contends with a higher resolution, especially since temporal anti-aliasing is always on (and the default option is super-sampling). But Polaris doesn’t pick up a position at the expense of another Radeon. Rather, it’s the GeForce GTX 970 that falls two spots. That’s fine by us—at least in this test, the 480 is faster than both VR entry points.

The Witcher 3

It’s clear that, even at 1920x1080, the GeForce GTX 960 is out of its element in The Witcher 3. Meanwhile, we’ll glad put the RX 480 on par with AMD’s Radeon R9 390X and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 970, both of which are represented by overclocked partner boards.

AMD’s Radeon R9 390 and 390X both pass the GeForce GTX 970 at 2560x1440, costing Polaris one position in our average frame rate chart. Still, it enjoys a sizeable advantage over the aging R9 290. The frame time variance numbers look good as well, unless you’re the GeForce GTX 960, of course.

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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.