Building a PC is a tricky process, even if you know what you're doing. If you don't, you run the risk of buying incompatible components. That could be a motherboard that doesn't fit in your case or a CPU that doesn't work with your graphics card. Plus, it's not cheap. It's important to know that what you're buying works well, runs the games you want to, and won't burn through your wallet. Enter the AMD Radeon RX 470.
AMD, a computer component powerhouse, makes graphics cards for all budgets and PCs. This card especially follows this trend. Using AMD's top-line Polaris architecture for superior performance, the 470 offers a low-cost option for your PC. But is it actually a necessary addition to the Radeon line? And does it belong in your rig?
AMD and the RX 470
AMD is well-known as one of the top two manufacturers of graphics processing units (GPUs), alongside Nvidia. In addition to producing some of the best GPUs and CPUs on the market, AMD focuses on using their products to improve education and medical imaging. As a tech company, they focus on reducing energy consumption and improving the working conditions for all of their facilities. That makes AMD a company worth supporting both for their treatment of employees and their excellent products.
One of their top-line GPUs is the Radeon RX 470. Radeon graphics cards are one of the top two lines of GPUs available for PC gamers today. Their main competitor is the Nvidia GeForce line. The RX 470 and other Radeon graphics cards offer a high-definition output for any purpose, and the card includes HDMI 4K support. It's also compatible with upcoming output ports like HDMI 2.0 and High Dynamic Range (HDR) capabilities.
How does the RX 470 stand out?
The RX 470 uses Radeon’s Polaris GPU architecture. This technology, present throughout the Radeon line, is faster and cooler than other architecture before it. Polaris uses less electricity to power more functions than previous AMD cards. To give gamers a less-expensive alternative to the RX 480 card, they created the RX 470. It’s smaller than the 480, but can still easily run major market game titles at the highest resolution. The RX 470 can manage this even with settings turned all the way up, which IGN marks as a significant improvement over the past generation of video cards. IGN also says that compared to the 480, the 470 is only very lightly pared away. It clocks slightly slower and has less memory bandwidth, but also uses a bit less power.
PC Gamer says that when you're looking for a GPU, the most important thing to look for is the model number. It sounds superficial, but it's key. The highest end graphics card of the last generation won't have the hardware to keep up with new developments. Of course, we wouldn't be looking at the RX 470 if it wasn't cutting edge. Past that, you need to look at memory bandwidth. The RX 470 uses GDDR5, which is the fastest available. Since the RX 470 is less powerful and smaller than other Radeon GPUs, it will fit well with other mid-end components like CPUs. If you're working with the best of the best components in every other aspect, look for a GPU that can make the most use of them.
What others are saying
Reviews of the RX 470 were positive but somewhat mixed. PC World and Trusted Reviews were both lukewarm, giving the Rx 470 3.0 and 3.5 out of 5 stars, respectively. PC World calls the RX 470 a great GPU at a terrible price. For the boost in performance for just a small bump in cash, the RX 480 is the better buy. Also, the reviewer thought the RX 470 didn't sit in a new market segment from its slightly more costly sibling. Likewise, Trusted Reviews thought the RX 470 was not needed when the RX 480 cost only a little more.
Reviews on Amazon, on the other hand, were very positive. Of the 652 user reviews of the RX 470, Seventy-one percent gave the GPU 5.0 out of 5 stars. Its total rating is 4.3 out of 5 stars. Buyers said the RX 470 is a good, solid graphics card. It runs games at the highest settings, and at 4K resolution. Like the professional reviews, buyers said it might be a little too pricey to justify buying it over one like the RX 480.
The Radeon RX 470 is available online on stores such as Amazon and Newegg. That's a significant reduction from its original release. Now that the price has gone down, it's a bit more reasonable to purchase the 470 instead of the 480. The price gap better reflects the gap in performance.
How Does the RX 470 Square Up?
Like we said before, the only real other option for a GPU is Nvidia's GeForce line. So, to have a balanced lineup, we chose GPUs from GeForce as well as comparable Radeon GPUs. In order to give you the best idea of how this graphics processor compares to others on the market, we made sure to pick GPUs that are close in price and performance.
Our review process
The graphics cards we chose to compare all come from the newest generation of GPUs, so they're all fair alternatives in most regards. We also used reviews and comparison pieces from websites such as PC Gamer and Amazon. We did this to give you the best estimation of how each GPU compares. Memory bandwidth, processing power, and price were all considered for this comparison.
- New NVIDIA Pascal architecture delivers improved performance and power efficiency; Dimensions are Height: 4.4 inch and...
- Classic and modern games at 1080p @ 60 FPS; Max monitors supported: 3.240 hertz max refresh rate
- Interface: PCI E 3.0, DVI D, DisplayPort, HDMI. Fast, smooth, power efficient gaming experiences
The GTX 1050 Ti rates as one of the most budget-friendly options in this category and, for the price, it's a solid graphics card. Even with its low price, the 1050 Ti comes with high-speed GDDR5 memory interface and 112 GB per second of bandwidth. The card runs 1080p resolution games easily and runs quietly. It also requires only 75 watts to power. It's a considerably smaller graphics card than the RX 470 but fits the budget option very well.
PC Gamer says that for the budget category, the 1050 Ti is probably the best value. However, when this card was new, it was not in the same category as the 470, as it cost quite a bit less. Their review even mentions the 470 as the next step up for the minimum level of performance in gaming. The 1050 Ti's budget build may call for some limitations in graphics settings. This card was the best reviewed on Amazon, earning the Amazon's Choice award. They preferred it for a budget gaming build and said it worked well for that purpose. A few customers complained about the card crashing and not lasting long in their PC.
The GeForce GTX 1060 is Nvidia's flagship GPU. Coming in at a comparable price point to the RX 480, the 1060 is a core choice. It offers gaming capabilities that any PC user would love at a reasonable -- if not a budget -- price. As far as memory is concerned, the GTX 1060 comes with high-speed GDDR5. This is the standard for this generation, and this graphics card offers both three and six-gigabyte (GB) editions. Its memory bandwidth is 192 GB per second. It may be a bit large for some computer cases at nearly 10 inches long. However, its power usage suggests that of a smaller card, as it only uses 120 watts.
The GTX 1060 came out specifically to challenge the RX 480. And according to PC World, it does the trick -- sort of. The card is affordable, efficient, and low power. It's also ready for virtual reality (VR) gaming and gives high resolution at high settings. The reviewers there rate it 4.0 stars out of 5. This graphics card also saw positive reviews on Amazon. They were happy with its good performance on high settings. One said that now that technology has advanced somewhat. The only complaints surrounded customer service and a few customers receiving defective products.
Radeon’s RX 460 is an all-purpose gaming GPU, meant to work for pretty much any computer you may be working with. It still offers the high-end Polaris architecture that is present in other RX-series cards, at a much lower price and profile. It can even operate at low power for use in customized gaming laptops without losing performance. The RX 460 is meant to work for lower-impact games, particularly eSports. These focus on speed and effectiveness rather than stunning 4K video quality.
Still, PC World gave this graphics card only 2.0 stars out of 5. They state that the card carries much more modest components than the RX 470. The 460 has less than half of the compute units and stream processors of its larger sibling. Also, its price is not low enough now to justify this one over the 470. Some customers say it overheats and causes frame rips. Others say it's a good quality product at a decent price that you can overclock.
At this point in the review, the RX 480 has earned a bit of a reputation as the notorious big brother. Sold as the core GPU to the 470's budget option, some reviewers found this card to be the strongest competition. The RX 480 comes with all of the bells and whistles that the 470 has, only with a bit better performance. It features 224 GB per second of memory bandwidth, more compute units than the 470, and a greater number of processors. With better performance, the 480 was once an existential threat to the 470. They occupy their own spaces a bit better.
When it came into the world, PC Gamer said the Radeon RX 480 redefined what a graphics card at that price range could do. While it's smaller, cheaper counterpart earned lackluster attention from the same site, the 480 was met with pleasant surprise. Rated 4.5 stars out of 5, PC Gamer found that the RX 480 was VR compatible and ran games at high resolution with next to no compromise. Unlike the RX 470, the RX 480 appears to have gone up in price since it was released. Also, relatively few buyers have reviewed the card online. Users warned that it may take more power than listed and that it can run very hot.
Pros and Cons
There are plenty of features inside the Radeon RX 470 that may make it a good fit for your PC. All the same, close competition means it's important to weigh every factor.
Is the RX 470 the Right GPU for You?
When picking components for your PC, you want the best of the best. Part of the fun of building or upgrading a PC is finding the best gear you can for your budget. Often, this means looking for a sudden deal or rebate that brings the unattainable into your price range. But, if performance is less important to you than budget, you may consider trimming off a little excess. This is the niche that the Radeon RX 470 fills. When it came out, the 470 was not a real option. It was better to just pick up the beefier RX 480, or wait until that one went on sale. Now, I have no problem recommending the RX 470. It has good components and high performance without being redundant.
Sometimes a product takes a little time to find its niche. As the 2016 PC World review says, the RX 470 was released at a terrible price point. Now, it's an easy pick. If you want a GPU that will get you started in PC gaming, this is a good option. You can be sure you're getting a quality product. Graphics cards are the domain of AMD Radeon, and this one will be able to handle any challenge you throw at it. You may just need to save those ultra settings for another time.