Radeon Rx 480 Graphics Card Review

Radeon Rx 480

If you're a budget builder looking to put together a low-cost gaming rig, maybe you're considering buying a Radeon Rx 480. But is this the right card for you or would something else fit the bill?

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First, let's learn some fun facts about Radeon. Radeon Technologies Group (formerly known as AMD Vision) builds graphics processors, RAM (random-access memory), RAM software, and SSDs (solid state drives). AMD stands for Advanced Micro Devices. ATI Technologies acquired Radeon in 2006. Radeon licenses their graphics card technology to third-party manufacturers who then build and sell the cards. Some of those manufacturers include XFX, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, Biostar, among others.

The Radeon RX 480 appeared on the market in 2016, and this is important if you're planning on building a PC. Many gamers like to create their own PCs (also known as "rigs"). And every build is usually some variance of a budget build unless you're just a bored millionaire who likes building multi-thousand dollar systems for fun. However, for the rest of us, there is typically going to be a budget involved. And there also are those folks out there who like to build the most robust systems they can with the smallest budget possible as a hobby.

These distinctions may be important to keep in mind if you're thinking of investing in a two-year-old graphics card. Because graphics cards in the PC industry generally don't age well, especially when it comes to gaming. The industry releases new, more powerful graphics cards at a rate that would put both Apple and Andriod to shame.

That said, the latest graphics card may not always be the best value, depending on what you need your system to be able to handle. In such cases, an older card may save you a lot of money.

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Radeon Rx 480: The Lowdown

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The Radeon Rx 480 is available in a wide variety of configurations, but for this review, we'll focus on the ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon Rx 480 8GB DP 1.4 HDMI 2.0 Polaris VR Ready Graphics Card.

Asus was founded in 1989 in Taiwan. They are one of the world's leading brands in PC motherboards, as well as a top-three consumer notebook manufacturer. ASUS was recognized in 2015 and 2016 by Fortune magazine as one of the World's Most Admired Companies. They're also one of many companies licensed to manufacture and sell Radeon graphics cards.

The ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon Rx 480 8GB graphics card utilizes AMD's Polaris architecture and has a 1266 Megahertz (MHz) clock speed with an 8GB GDDR5 frame buffer. It also features AMD Radeon VR (virtual reality) ready premium with two HDMI 2.0 ports, which can simultaneously connect your headset and monitor. It comes with DirectX III and has patented wing-blade fans that promise 30 percent better cooling and up to 3 times quieter performance. This card also has GPU TWEAK software and includes XSplit Gamecaster, which helps you monitor and control its performance and cooling while allowing you to stream games on-the-fly.

What customers think

On Amazon, customers rated this Radeon Rx 480 model 3.8 out of 5 stars. One customer said that the card was fantastic while running games at 1080p Ultra at 60fps (frames per second). He also said that it ran very quiet. Another reviewer mentioned that his card never went above 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) even when overclocked.

But there were a few complaints — a few customers complained of black screens and crashes during hours of gameplay. Another customer recalled a poor customer service experience he had with ASUS concerning a defective card.

Our Analytical Process

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To properly evaluate the Radeon Rx 480, we decided to rely heavily on customer feedback, as they are generally more invested in giving the most critical analysis of products. And customers who build their own rigs are going to be extremely knowledgeable about nearly every benefit and issue related to their graphics cards.

We also looked at four other graphics cards that are slightly newer than the Radeon Rx 480, and compared customers experiences with those cards for a complete and well-rounded review.

Radeon RX 480 Versus the Competition

Let's now take a look at how the Radeon Rx 480 stacks up against four other graphics cards, including two newer Radeon models. With graphics cards, it can be difficult to tell when the manufacturer is just putting a more modern model out that's not much of an improvement over an older model. Often the differences can be too minor for the average gamer to notice, but sometimes they can be huge.

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The Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 D5 2GB Graphics Card features a custom designed cooler that has a 90-millimeter uniquely bladed fan with 3D active fan-stop function, which promises outstanding performance at lower temperatures. The fan blades feature 3D striped curves on the fan surface that's said to enhance the airflow by up to 23 percent over traditional fans.

The card also advertises high-quality chokes and capacitors which promise gamers more durability. It includes one dual-link DVI-D, one DP, and one HDMI port, which they claim can offer smooth 4K video playback. The AORUS Engine interface allows you to tune clock speeds, fan performance, voltage, and power target in real-time to fit your gaming preferences. This RX 550 model also has one-click overclocking, which means you don't need to have any overclocking expertise to bring out its maximum performance.

Reviews

On Amazon, customers rated the Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 3.9 out of 5 stars. One budget builder highly recommended this card stating that its "performance-to-price ratio was outstanding. Customers also liked that the card doesn't need a dedicated power cord. Instead, it draws power directly from the motherboard. They also described the card as incredibly quiet. Another reviewer said this card was perfect for his multi-monitor workstation.

There were a few issues with the card. One customer was disappointed to find out that the fan only kicked on after the card started to get too hot. He claimed the card ran at 105-degrees Fahrenheit with normal usage. Someone pointed out there was minor "coil whine." Another reviewer remarked that the card could barely keep up with newer games, stating that you would need to adjust the setting to low or medium to play more modern games smoothly.

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The MSI Gaming Radeon Rx 560 128-bit 4GB GDRR5 DirectX 12 VR Ready Graphics Card features 4GB of onboard memory. Its memory clocks at 7000Mhz. The Rx 560 is VR ready. It has dual fans with aluminum fins to maximize airflow and dissipate heat. It features Ultra-High Resolution (UHD) which delivers 4 times the resolution of 1080p. This card has one DL-DVI-D, one HDMI, and one Display port. It's also a PCI Express plug-in play card.

​Reviews

One customer said it was an excellent card for gaming and recommended it for a solid starter build. Another customer said it was excellent for video editing. One reviewer said that it ran a six monitor setup with no issues when used in crossfire mode with a second card.

And some customers weren't fans. One customer complained that the fan was extremely loud. There were complaints about the card reaching high temperatures even during light activity like internet surfing. Overheating and shutdowns were a recurring issue. There were a few black and blue screens of death reported with this card.

The reactions were reasonably mixed, most being positive, but they did note that they were building fairly cheap budget builds and did not have high expectations for the card to run some of the newer titles out there.

MSI does offer a three-year warranty. However, it's important to note that it is an industry standard for warranties to start from the date of manufacture rather than the time of sale. That should be a consideration when buying older cards.

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The ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Dual-Fan OC Edition VR Ready Dual HDMI DP 1.4 Gaming Graphics Card features an 1809 Mhz boost clock (OC mode) with 6GB of onboard GDDR memory. It also has NVIDIA ANSEL which allows gamers to capture in-game screenshots.

This card has dual-fan cooling for double airflow while promising three-times quieter gameplay. The GTX 1060 is also VR ready with dual HDMI 2.0 ports that can connect both a headset and monitor. It also comes with GPU TWEAK II and XSplit Gamecaster software that allows you to monitor and adjust performance and stream gameplay.

The GTX 1060 has Auto-Extreme technology and is an aerospace-grade super alloy power II components that promise faster performance and 2.5 longer durabilities.

Reviews

One reviewer remarked on how cool the card remained under heavy stress. Many gamers praised the card's ability to handle most modern games at 60fps or higher.

However, a few customers had some issues. One customer complained that it did not support triple 45 screens at 60Mhz. There were also complaints about ASUS customer support for defective cards. Others complained of black screens, game crashes, and freezing.

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The EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti SC GAMING ACX 3.0 Black Edition features a real base clock of 1607+ MHz and a memory detail of 8192MB GDDR5. Its main feature is a button that allows the EVGA Precision XOC to scan, detect, and apply the optimal overclock for your system. It has ACX 3.0 cooling and a max refresh rate of 240Hz.

The GTX 1070 has DX12 OSD support. It also features NVIDIA Ansel, NVIDIA SLI with HB bridge support, NVIDIA G-SYNC, NVIDIA GameStream, NVIDIA GPU Boost 3.0, Microsoft DirectX 12, Vulkan API, PCIe 3.0, OpenGL 4.6 support, and simultaneous multi-projection. The GTX 1070 has one HDMI 2.0, one DisplayPort 1.4, and Dual-link DVI ports. It's VR ready with a max resolution of 7680 by 4320.

Reviews

One customer claimed his card ran at 45 to 50 degrees Celsius (104 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit) and he could run Battlefront II at 1440p at max settings with a frame rate of 90fps. Many reviews mentioned the card's incredible value for what it can do. That is impressive considering that the card came out a year ago, and there are still new customers singing its praises.

However, there were complaints. A customer complained that his original card broke after seven months and his replacement broke just four hours after he got it. Another claimed that the card ran hot and loud, he said the coil in the card made a whining sound. One reviewer complained about the card's featured EVGA precision software, stating it frequently crashed his games.

Radeon RX 480: Pros and Cons

The ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon Rx 480 8GB Graphics Card has its good points and a few flaws. Also, bear in mind this is a two-year-old graphics card.

Pros

  • 8GB GDDR5 frame buffer
  • Two HDMI 2.0 ports
  • Runs quiet
  • Runs cool
  • GPU TWEAK software
  • Can run games at 1080p Ultra at 60fps

Cons

  • Reported crashes
  • Complaints about poor customer service
  • Can only handle bare minimum VR requirements
  • May become obsolete in another year or two

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Radeon RX 480: Should You Buy One?

The ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon Rx 480 8GB Graphics Card is pretty impressive for its age. However, for a new budget builder looking for the best price-to-performance card; it's too expensive for a budget build, and not powerful enough for a newer build.

That said, it's really not a terrible card but, we could not find the right scenario which would allow us to recommend it either. If you're looking for a great budget card, you should probably check out the MSI Gaming Radeon Rx 560 128-bit 4GB GDRR5 DirectX 12 VR Ready Graphics Card. And if you're looking for one of the best budget high-performance cards on the market, you can't go wrong with the EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 TI Black Edition.

Keep in mind that the performance of any graphics card has a lot to do with the quality and compatibility of other components in your system, like your CPU, RAM, hard drive, monitor, and motherboard. A lot of gamers recommend building a system around your video card to get the best performance.

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