The video card war has begun! Nvidia brought us the enormously powerful GTX 1080 and everyone has been waiting for the competition’s responses with baited breath. But AMD seems to have taken the backseat when it comes to whipping up the most powerful graphics card on the market. Instead they have made a card that may not be the best out there, but it certainly is one of the best value for money purchases a PC gamer could make.
The RX 480 bridges the gap between price and performance, aiming for the mainstream market rather than the dedicated enthusiasts. It opens an entry level route for previously alienated gamers who are budget conscious, and provides a genuinely impressive piece of kit that won’t leave you destitute.
The Radeon RX 480 shouldn’t be underestimated, despite the bargain price of £219.99. It marks a cornerstone in AMD’s production, being their very first 14nm FinFet GPU. 36 compute units, over 2300 cores, 144 texture units and way more under the hood mean that it clocks in around the output of a GTX 970. But with the new Polaris architecture it drastically increase MSAA texture filtering and boosts performance beyond similarly powerful cards out there.
The RX 480 is also intended to meet the minimum specification for VR, providing an Oculus or Vive ready device right out of the box. It performs these duties admirably, running at a flawless 60FPS for most VR applications. The true power of the RX 480‘s VR performance will be better put to the test when more demanding experiences are available, but currently it hits the mark superbly.
In terms of 4K delivery, the 480 outperforms what we expected of such a cheap card, providing very playable frame rates within many different titles. Far Cry: Primal, Rise of the Tomb Raider and even the Witcher 3, a very AMD unfriendly title, ran at a comfortable 30+FPS average. It does require the removal of certain ‘excessive’ features like MSAA to achieve these results, but the value for money is clear here.
So, should you buy it? If you have excessive amounts of disposable income and a thirst for power, look elsewhere. But if you want to enter the PC gaming world with all the juicy extras and keep costs down, there is no better recommendation we can offer than the RX 480.