I am user of the MSI RX480 in reference design. Since the first day, I noticed, that the reference cooler is a little problem for this card.
We have a cooler design, that is build to blow hot air out of the case with its radial van. In my opinion this is not a bad idea at all, because you will not have problems with bad case ventilation.
Under load temps with this cooler easily go to 83°C and above. MSI defined a temp limit of 90° and a target temp of 80°. Van tries to get the card down to target temp.
Depending on the game that is played, this can be a real problem. In normal use the card has problems to reach the maximum clocks displaying high framerates. Some games go down to 900 or 1000 MHz.
At first I thought the cooling of the GPU is the main problem. So I decided to change it against something else. At the moment I use an Accelero Mono Plus. This really keeps Temperatures between 65 and 77°C. With that I expected, that the maximum clocks are easy to hold.
At this point you will see, that the problem is not only the GPU temp. Powerlimit forces the card to still downclock in many situations.
So the only way to let the card use its potential is to raise the power limit. You can rise it to use up to 50% additional power. with this setting, you will get maximum clocks in nearly every situation.
A little risk could be the VRM temps. VRM go to over 90°C with normal power limit in some situations at high clocks. In case of a higher powerlimit I got them over 105° playing Witcher 3.
I know their specification make 120° possible but I think this can lower their lifetime.
At the moment I use a little undervolting in combination with power limit.
My card is undervolted at 1,045V at 1265MHz. Powerlimit is on +35%. With this setting my card is on 75° GPU and 89° VRM temp playing Witcher 3 ultra settings full clocks without NVIDIA Hairworks.
How do you get the best out of your RX480?