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Intro

We tested the most recent video card from AMD: the Radeon RX 480, based on the new Polaris architecture, focused on the mainstream market and virtual reality. Let’s see how it performed in our tests.

The Radeon RX 480 is based on the “Ellesmere” chip, which is part of the new Polaris architecture. It is manufactured under 14 nm lithography, with tridimensional transistors, also called “FinFET”, which allows less energy consumption than the earlier generation, whose chips where manufactured under 28 nm process.

The Radeon RX 480 chip has 2,304 cores, divided in 36 compute units, works with base clock of 1,120 MHz and boost clock of 1,266 MHz, has a 256 bit memory bus and TDP of 150 W. According do AMD, it supports FreeSync, Vulkan, VR Premium, and DirectX 12 technologies.

About video memory, the Radeon RX 480 was launched in two versions: with 4 GiB of GDDR5 RAM running at 7 GHz (224 GiB/s bandwidth) and 8 GiB of GDDR5 RAM running at 8 GHz (256 GiB/s bandwidth). According to AMD, other manufacturers can offer models with different memory speeds, but not under 7 GHz. The suggested price in the USA is USD 199 for the 4 GiB model, and USD 239 for the 8 GiB version.

The card we tested is the AMD reference model, with 8 GiB of memory. Figure 1 shows the Radeon RX 480 we tested. Notice that its designs resembles to the Radeon Fury X, which we already tested.

Radeon RX 480 reviewFigure 1: the Radeon RX 480

The 4 GiB Radeon RX 480 is placed on the price of the Radeon R9 380X (also with 4 GiB or memory), while the 8 GiB model is placed between the Radeon R9 380X (with 4 GiB) and the Radeon R9 390 (which has 8 GiB of memory). There is no direct competitor from NVIDIA in this price range, and the closest products are the GeForce GTX 960 (USD180 with 2 GiB of memory) and the GeForce GTX 970 (USD 290, with 4 GiB).

Therefore, we decided to test the Radeon RX 480 versus the GeForce GTX 960 and the Radeon R9 380, which we tested recently. Besides that, we also included a GeForce GTX 970.

Keep in mind, however, that all the three video cards included in this test are factory overclocked. The Zotac GTX 970 (model ZT-90101-10P) has a 3% overclock on the GPU, the HIS Radeon R9 380 is 2% overclocked, and the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 (GV-N960G1 GAMING-4GD) has an overclocking of 11%. Thus, the comparison to other models, with different clock rates, can have different results.

In the table below, we compare the main specs from the video cards we included in this review. Prices were researched at Newegg.com for this article.

Video card

Core clock

Turbo clock

Effective memory clock

Memory bus

Memory bandwidth

Memory

Processing cores

TDP

DirectX

Price

Radeon RX 480

1,120 MHz

1,266 MHz

8.0 GHz

256 bit

256 GiB/s

8 GiB GDDR5

2,304

150 W

12

USD 229

Gigabyte G1 Gaming GeForce GTX 960

1,241 MHz

1,304 MHz

7.0 GHz

128 bit

112 GiB/s

4 GiB GDDR5

1,024

120 W

12.1

USD 180

HIS IceQ X2 OC Radeon R9 380

990 MHz


5.7 GHz

256 bit

182 GiB/s

4 GiB GDDR5

1,792

190 W

12

USD 170

Zotac GeForce GTX 970

1,076 MHz

1,216 MHz

7.0 GHz

256 bit

224 GiB/s

4 GiB GDDR5

1,664

145 W

12

USD 290

Now let’s take a closer look to the tested video card.