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.
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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