RX 480 civilized discussion and opinion thread.

Discussion created by black_zion on Jun 29, 2016
Latest reply on Jul 10, 2016 by brucer

So, we now have the RX 480. Seems the common themes between all the reviews are:


  • Impressive for the price
    • Around R9 290 and R9 390 levels of performance
      • But with a cut down back end
        • Therefore killing frame rates with MSAA/SSAA
  • Reference cooler which doesn't deafen you
    • But it isn't exactly subtle
    • Or altogether effective at lower speeds
  • Low gaming power draw
    • But high idle power draw
      • And multiple monitors still increase power draw (by 3w)
    • And overclocking even slightly raises the consumption significantly
      • Most of it comes from the PCIe slot, easily exceeding the 75w PCIe limit
        • PCIe 6 pin was a bad idea
  • Overall a good card
    • But could have been a great card
      • Should be a great card when board partners release custom versions in a couple of weeks



I get why AMD did what they did, it was to give a good base card at a low price while leaving adequate room for improvement to differentiate and justify custom versions from the board partners. But I also think that they left too much which could be improved. The power connector, for instance, should have been an 8 pin. The AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Power Consumption Results at TomsHarware says:

AMD’s Radeon RX 480 draws an average of 164W, which exceeds the company's target TDP. And it gets worse. The load distribution works out in a way that has the card draw 86W through the motherboard’s PCIe slot. Not only does this exceed the 75W ceiling we typically associate with a 16-lane slot, but that 75W limit covers several rails combined and not just this one interface.


With peaks of up to 155W, we have to be thankful they're brief, and not putting the motherboard in any immediate danger. However, the audio subsystems on cheaper platforms will have a hard time dealing with them. This means that the "you can hear what you see" effect will be in full force during load changes; activities like scrolling may very well result in audible artifacts.


We’re also left to wonder what we'd see from a CrossFire configuration. Two graphics cards would draw 160W via the motherboard’s 24-pin connector; that's a tall order.

Now it's not like many using these in Crossfire will be using reference editions, and it's not like reference editions should ever be produced after this first batch, but it is possible. There's a lot of cheapo motherboards out there, and at the price of the RX 480 it's going to appeal to them. Even worse, there's still a lot of power supplies out there which still have many 12v rails capped at 18A each (or less). Combine a 125w processor with the 86w to power this graphics card and you're already 211w into that 216w limit, and that's not counting the power to drive everything else which pulls from the ATX20/24 and P4/EPS8.


The lackluster cooler and lackluster component design and layout, that's typical self imposed reference handicapping, and I suspect the choice of a 6 pin instead of 8 pin could be an attempt to limit overclocking, though the thermals themselves would do a good job of that anyway.


I have to wonder, as I imagine at least one person in the RTG is also wondering, should the RX 480 have had a reference version at all? The RX 460 and RX 470 sure, they're targeting even the more mainstream 1920x1080 market, but AMD is banking a lot on the RX 480, and to me the reference RX 480 is just too compromised, especially considering custom versions should hit shelves in the next two weeks.