AMD Radeon RX 480 Graphics Card Roundup

AMD's Radeon RX 480 launched last June (if you missed our in-depth AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Review, be sure to check it out). In the months that followed, we covered new GPUs and embarked on a sequence of in-depth round-ups across Nvidia's Pascal architecture. We always planned to circle back on Polaris, though.

This proved more difficult than we anticipated, as availability from AMD's board partners started off spotty. Fortunately, supply improved and mainstream enthusiasts now have plenty of options to choose from. Some models sport AMD's reference cooler, while others employ custom thermal solutions. Some models come with 4GB of GDDR5 memory and others wield 8GB. Some models sell for as little as $175; the top end spans beyond $260. Now it's our job to figure out which designs work better than the rest.

At launch, the Radeon RX 480 8GB trailed just behind GeForce GTX 970, and later came to follow after the GeForce GTX 1060. But back then, most of our benchmarks were DirectX 11-based. The introduction of newer titles optimized for DirectX 12 painted Polaris in a more attractive light. Today, the two cards trade blows, with AMD's solution generally selling at a lower price.

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But this round-up definitely isn't a comparison between Radeon RX 480 and GeForce GTX 1060. In this piece, AMD's Radeon gets the spotlight. Our aim is to explore, in detail and with a great many measurements, the differences between individual implementations of AMD's Radeon RX 480.

As always, there's very little each manufacturer can do to affect core and memory clock rates. But the opposite is true when it comes to their interpretations of power limits, on-board components, and cooling. That's where we'll focus most of our time and equipment. In fact, we'll present data with these cards on an open test bench and in a closed chassis. In some cases, the differences are significant!

At least for the time being, we have five cards to discuss. More are on their way, and we have updates coming for some of our other round-ups as well.

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