AMD RX 480 Gaming Benchmarks & Review Round-up – The New $200 King

Khalid Moammer

If you're reading this then congratulations, you have finally made it. It's been a long wait but AMD's Radeon RX 480 is here. As of right now you can order both 4GB and 8GB versions of the RX 480 online or pick one up from your local store. Oh, and if you've been waiting for gaming benchmarks, as you should, you're in luck. Because we have them, yes all of them. But you already know all of that don't you? so let's not waste anymore time and let's get straight into the juicy bits!

AMD's Radeon RX 480 - The New $200 Graphics King

Let's start off with the RX 480s performance and the gaming benchmarks you've been waiting for all these weeks. Below you'll find a list of every single review for the RX 480 that has gone live as of right now. The list will be updated by the minute as more reviews are published.


Tom's Hardware
What can you expect the RX 480 to do in a more traditional environment? Max out 1920x1080, by all means. Crank your resolution to 2560x1440, even. In almost every case, the Radeon RX 480 is faster than the old R9 290. In most, it beats the R9 390. And in some tests, the 480 even passes our current recommendation for 2560x1440, the R9 390X. Just don’t be surprised if you need to dial back quality in certain titles to yield better performance.

The AMD Radeon RX 480 Is The Best Performing Graphics Card For The Money On The Market

perfdollar_2560_1440Credit : TechPowerUp

AMD RX 480 Power & Noise


Credit : Anandtech


Credit : Anandtech

The RX 480 Dissected - Diving Into AMD's Polaris Architecture

Historically speaking AMD has been quite successful in every one of its first attempts at a brand new GPU on a bleeding edge, manufacturing process. Polaris is no exception. We see no signs of manufacturing complications with the company's first 14nm GPU, Polaris 10. In fact what we see is the opposite. The RX 480 launches today and retailers already have substantial numbers of the RX 480 in-stock. We're hearing AMD shipped 25x times the number of GTX 1080 cards that Nvidia shipped to retailers at launch in fact.

The volume at which AMD is launching its very first 14nm GPU and its surprisingly affordable price both indicate a healthy supply chain and mature manufacturing yields at Globalfoundrie's Malta fab in New York. Which bodes well for the company's other 14nm products, including Zen but I digress. Polaris 10 is one of two new 14nm FinFET GPUs based on the company's new "Polaris" graphics architecture.

"Polaris" is an all encompassing name that AMD has given to its new intellectual property developed for the RX 400 series. It includes the company's new GCN 4.0 graphics architecture as well as its next generation multimedia and display technologies.

The Powerhouse Inside The RX 480 - Polaris 10 XT


There are two versions of the Polaris 10 GPU. Polaris 10 XT and Polaris 10 Pro, which power the RX 480 and RX 470 respectively. Inside Polaris 10 XT we find four ACEs - Asynchronous Compute Engines - in addition to two hardware schedulers and a single graphics command processor. The graphics engine is made up of 36 compute units, arranged in four shader engines each contains its own geometry processor. Every compute unit of the 36 features four Texture Mapping Units and 64 stream processors. These stream processors make up four separate 16-wide Vector SIMD engines which share a single scalar unit and a scheduler.

In total the RX 480 features 2304 stream processors. 144 texture mapping units, 32 Render Output Units and 2MB of L2 cache.  The memory subsystem features eight 32bit GDDR5 memory controllers which make up the card's 256-bit wide memory interface. There are two versions of the RX 480 with 4GB & 8GB 8Gbps GDDR5 memory. For a total memory bandwidth of 256GB/s.


The graphics engine operates at a frequency of 1266Mhz, allowing the RX 480 to deliver a peak single precision compute performance of 5.83 teraflops. The multimedia and display block inside Polaris 10 features AMD's new TrueAudio Next, CrossfireX DMA engine a Displayport 1.4-HDR controller and an HDMI 2.0b controller. This is in addition to a hardware video encode & decode block which can stream 4K video at 60 FPS.

Key Architectural Improvements

With GCN 4.0 AMD improved several key aspects of the architecture, chief among which is geometry performance.  AMD's new Geometry engines inside Polaris can effectively ignore invisible triangles that would otherwise waste valuable work time. This functionality is enabled by a dedicated primitive discard accelerator which discards any triangles with no area or inclusive sample points. The results are quite profound.

In scenarios where tessellation is used in combination with multi sample anti aliasing, the primitive discard accelerator improves performance by 200-350%. A great example of such a workload is Nvidia's Hairworks implementation in Witcher 3. Which combines tessellation with MSAA.

Another key improvement AMD has introduced with Polaris is even smarter memory compression. The new compression engines increased overall available bandwidth in Polaris 10 by more than 35%. Which is effectively double the bandwidth gains that AMD achieved with its previous implementation in the Fiji GPU powering the Fury series. And more than three times the bandwidth gains compared to AMD's Hawaii GPU powering the 390 and 290 series.


AMD has also introduced several shader specific improvements. Including native support for half precision -- FP16 -- instructions, a larger instruction buffer, L2 cache protocol refinements, and instruction pre-fetch support. One of the key new efficiency features that AMD is bringing with Polaris is on-board adaptive voltage regulation.

A feature we saw with Carrizo last year. It effectively allows the GPU to clock higher at the same voltage. It works by matching the voltage in real-time to the frequency of the card and can react with staggering speed. It actively monitors the frequency and the voltage droop and reacts to changes within a single nano second to ensure stability and peak frequency at any given voltage. All in all GCN 4.0 represents AMD's most significant architectural update to the GCN architecture since its  original introduction in 2011.

AMD RX 400 Series Specifications

Graphics Card NameAMD Radeon RX 480AMD Radeon RX 470AMD Radeon RX 460
Graphics CorePolaris 10 XTPolaris 10 ProPolaris 11
Process Node14nm FinFET14nm FinFET14nm FinFET
Boost Clock 1266Mhz1206Mhz1200Mhz
Peak Compute5.83 TFLOPs4.9 TFLOPs2.2 TFLOPs
Memory4/8 GB GDDR54/8 GB GDDR52/4 GB GDDR5
Memory Interface256-bit256-bit128-bit
Memory Speed8 GHz6.6 GHz7 GHz
Memory Bandwidth256 GB/s211 GB/s112 GB/s
MSRP$199 (4 GB)
$239 (8 GB)
$179 (4 GB)
$109 (2 GB)
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