Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Back in November I installed a 980 TI from MSI in my main machine, (you can read more about that here) a beast of a video card that has dominated the high end market until the release of the new flagship models from NVIDIA, the 1070 and 1080. Which, is sadly how things have gone for a while now. NVIDIA has been ruling the roost for a while now. With their flagship cards delivering premium performance at an increasing premium cost. Which leaves AMD in a difficult position, how do you kill the king?

Best Not Miss Indeed...
Especially after the controversial release of the Fury X. I still maintain that they released a perfectly capable card in the Fury, had they released it ahead of the 980 TI it would've been a serious coup, but alas. They were releasing a card meant to crush the 980, they succeeded. They even managed to rival the TI, but the TI had already been released. A water cooler wasn't going to change that. Second chances don't come often, but that's what AMD was looking at this time around. The tough question, how do you gain market share against NVIDIA? How do you ensure you don't miss?

In this case, I think AMD learned a valuable lesson: hit them where they aren't looking. NVIDIA as the institution in graphics cards has gotten to a point of predictability. They release the new 80 and 70 cards. Wait a while for people to blow their loads on the new hotness, then they flesh out the lineup. Which is great for the high end enthusiasts, but how many of you reading this are on a 4k screen? Or even a 1440p? Do you even GSync?

No, if Steam is to be believed, most gamers are rocking 1080p or lower screens. And it makes sense, you can pick up a good 1080p screen for $100-200. But once you start going for those enthusiast level screens, you're talking easily $600+ and honestly you don't need a 1080 to play CSGO or Darkest Dungeon. And hell, you don't need it to play League of Legends or World of Warcraft either. Which is where I really come in. The games I tend to play aren't really that taxing, I mean do I really need the beefiest video card to keep things going? Even when ten boxing I found I wasn't really pushing the TI to it's limit. The only time that happened was when I literally put it under stress test conditions. So, it felt like I had an expensive car that I was only using to check the mail.

If I'm being honest with myself, I felt like something more in the 970 area was more like what I needed. So, when I heard about the RX 480 I was intrigued. So, today the NDA has been lifted and the card has officially been put up for sale (and promptly sold out). Reviewers have had their say, so let's see how the thing stacks up:

36 Compute Units
2304 Stream Processors
Clock Speeds (Boost/Base) 1266 MHz/1120 MHz
Memory Clock 2000 MHz
Peak Performance Up to 5.8 TFLOPS
Memory Size 4 GB ($199) /8 GB ($239) GDDR5
Memory Bandwidth 256 bit
TDP 150W

I've taken the overclocked values from several YouTubers as well as my own findings here, 
JayZ Two Cents 1360
Mine 1345
Awesomesauce Network 1325
OC3D 1320

Currently there isn't much to do with the voltage, the stock cooler on these is quite frankly cheap. But, for someone like me, I would rather get these cheap reference boards and attach full cover water blocks from EK anyways. Which are apparently coming soon.

In the overclocks listed above, I found a lot in the 1320 range from people who said they weren't willing to push the fans to max or tinker too much with the software. So, I imagine we'll see something approaching 1400 MHz on water, which is really not bad at all for a sub $300 card. Additionally, these things simply sip from the wall, TTL on the OC3D channel mentioned a power draw of 280 watts using this card with an X99 rig.

If nothing else, this points to a new trend in computers I think we can all get behind. You don't have to dump a couple hundred on a 1200w beast of a PSU. You can save some cash, get something that's not only smaller, but of better quality/efficiency. More than anything, the release of the 480 has me struggling to come up with a compelling reason to recommend anything but this card for most people, if someone's got the cash for a bigger/better card they don't need my advice, they know what they need/want. But, someone who wants to spend a few hundred bucks building their first gaming rig? Someone looking to replace their old one, who's still running a 1080p or dare I say a 720p screen? Why not give them the card that's going to make them feel like their machine is crushing their games at a respectable price?

For those of us rocking the high end gear, the 480 may not look like much, but to the majority of PC gamers, this is a serious card indeed.

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