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AMD Radeon RX 460 Review

How We Tested Radeon RX 460

The subject of today’s performance evaluation is Sapphire’s Nitro Radeon RX 460 OC (Igor is testing Asus' Strix card for power, temperatures, and acoustics). Whereas the RX 460 is specified at a 1090 MHz base and 1200 MHz boost frequency, Sapphire operates this model at a 1175 MHz base and 1250 MHz boost clock rate. This figure holds steady at 1250 MHz during our 10-loop Metro: Last Light Redux stress test, too. Sapphire arms the board with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, which we’d consider the right amount for a 1920x1080 target. You’ll see in our benchmarks, even at reduced graphics settings, where 2GB comes up short.

The rest of the field consists of Radeon RX 470 4GB, Radeon R9 270X 2GB, Radeon R9 270 2GB, Radeon HD 7790 2GB, GeForce GTX 950 2GB, GeForce GTX 760 2GB, and GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB.

The RX 470 isn’t the same Asus card we tested for that model’s launch. Instead we have Sapphire’s Nitro RX 470, which more closely resembles AMD’s actual specification with a 932 MHz base and 1216 maximum boost frequency.

Our Radeon R9 270X sample dates back to the original Curaçao launch in 2013. That card is reference-class, and sports a 1 GHz base clock rate with 5600 MT/s memory. Its GPU later came to be called Trinidad, appearing in the Radeon R9 370X with the same number of Stream processors at the same 1 GHz frequency. Consider the two roughly equivalent.

The Radeon R9 270 is a Sapphire Dual-X model with a 920 MHz base core clock and 945 MHz maximum boost.

That Radeon HD 7790 might seem downright ancient (it’s about three and half years old, after all). But its Bonaire processor went into Radeon R7 260X and Radeon R7 360. The clocks and shader configs differ somewhat, but all three land very close to each other for all practical purposes.

Core Clock (Reference)Memory Clock (Reference)
Sapphire Nitro Radeon RX 460 OC 4GB1250 MHz (1200 MHz)1750 MHz (1750 MHz)
Sapphire Nitro Radeon RX 470 4GB1216 MHz (1206 MHz)1650 MHz (1650 MHz)
Radeon R9 270X 2GB1050 MHz (1050 MHz)1400 MHz (1400 MHz)
Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 2GB945 MHz (925 MHz)1400 MHz (1400 MHz)
Gigabyte Radeon HD 7790 2GB1075 MHz (1000 MHz)1500 MHz (1500 MHz)
EVGA GeForce GTX 950 FTW Gaming ACX 2.0 2GB1405 MHz (1290 MHz)1652 MHz (1652 MHz)
GeForce GTX 760 2GB888 MHz (888 MHz)1450 MHz (1450 MHz)
GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB1200 MHz (1200 MHz)1350 MHz (1350 MHz)

As we shift from big GPUs that beg for potent platforms to more mainstream graphics cards, the editors start debating whether to use lower-end hardware in our reviews. This is particularly relevant with low-level APIs like DirectX 12 and Vulkan in play. For now, though, in the interest of fairness, we’re sticking with our Core i7-6700K-based test bed. After all, we’ve already benchmarked everything from Nvidia’s Titan X to AMD’s RX 470 on the same configuration. But rest assured we’ll circle back once AMD and Nvidia slow down with these launches to explore the topic in more depth. By then we hope to have one or two more shipping DX12-based titles to test with, too.

Drivers And Benchmarks

AMD’s Radeon RX 460 is unlike either of the Polaris-based cards already available. Its target market is different, and as such the way we test it needs to change.

The company’s marketing material is particularly bullish on e-sports, though it also talks about the more conventional titles we’re used to seeing in graphics card reviews. Although the RX 460 wields less than one-half of the RX 470’s Stream processors, it’s still wholly capable of playable performance at 1920x1080.

As such, we retained Ashes of the Singularity in DirectX 12 mode, Doom using the Vulkan API, Grand Theft Auto V in DirectX 11, Hitman with DirectX 12 active, Project CARS in DirectX 11, and The Witcher 3 in DirectX 11 from our Radeon RX 470 review. Of course, all of those games had to be re-tested to account for relaxed quality settings. To that collection we added StarCraft II and World of Warcraft, the former based on DirectX 9 and the latter set to utilize DirectX 11.

All of the cards in our Radeon RX 460 review are tested using the most current drivers available to press: AMD recently posted Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.3 to its site, which gets identified as newer than our 16.8.1 build, while Nvidia gave us GeForce 368.98.

Ashes of the Singularity
DirectX 12, Standard quality preset, built-in benchmark
Vulkan, High quality preset, custom benchmark, 60-second PresentMon recording
Grand Theft Auto V
DirectX 11, High quality settings, 2x MSAA, built-in benchmark (test five), 110-second Fraps recording
Hitman (2016)
DirectX 12, Medium level of detail, SMAA, Medium texture quality, built-in benchmark, 95-second PresentMon recording
Project CARS
DirectX 11, Medium quality settings, DS4X/SMAA anti-aliasing, Medium texture resolution, Nürburgring Sprint, 100-second Fraps recording
StarCraft 2
DirectX 9, Ultra quality preset, Polt vs. Snute 2016 Circuit Match, 100-second Fraps recording from 3:00 mark
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
DirectX 11, Highest quality settings, HairWorks disabled, custom Tom’s Hardware benchmark, 100-second Fraps recording
World of Warcraft Battle Chest
DirectX 11, Quality preset '7', custom benchmark, 60-second Fraps recording

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