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The AMD RX 480 blows away the competition

AMD RX 480 revealed.jpg

At Computex 2016 in Taipei, Taiwan, AMD has revealed their new GPU that makes use of their Polaris architecture. The AMD RX 480 promises to deliver a great Virtual Reality (VR) and AAA gaming experience for the mainstream market.

Although not as powerful as NVIDIA’s GTX 1080 or even the GTX 1070, the reason why the RX 480 has blown away the competition is simple; its insanely low price compared to its high level of performance. First off, let’s get right into the GPU’s specifications and pricing, then how the Polaris architecture will help VR gaming become much more affordable.

Specifications and pricing

Built upon Polaris architecture and 14nm FinFET, the AMD RX 480 delivers amazing performance. The GPU will come in 4GB and 8GB flavors.

  • Graphics Core - Polaris 10
  • Process Node - 14nm FinFET
  • Stream Processors – 2304
  • Clock Frequency - 1.2 - 1.3 GHz
  • Compute Performance - 5.5 TFLOPs
  • VRAM - 4/8 GB GDDR5
  • Bus Interface - 256-bit  
  • Memory Speed - 8 GHz  
  • Memory Bandwidth - 256 GB/s  
  • Thermal Design Power (TDP) - 150 Watts  

Judging by the specifications, the performance levels in games should fall between an overclocked GTX 970 and a GTX 980. Although it does not directly compete with NVIDIA’s new GTX 1080 and the upcoming GTX 1070, the RX 480 blows away the competition in terms of the price / performance ratio.  

The RX 480’s price point is only $199 / $229 for the 4GB and 8GB variants respectively. Two of the GPUs in crossfire outperforms a GTX 1080 and costs $150 less. Below, watch Linus Tech Tips’ reaction to AMD’s announcement, noting that the GPU could be the best ever value.

Affordable VR is on its way

One of the biggest drawbacks when it comes to the VR market is the price; not only of the VR headsets themselves, but because of the price point of VR capable GPUs. Early this year I wrote an article about the Oculus Rift and how “Stepping into the Rift is too costly”, noting the high price of a headset and a GPU with enough power to deliver a smooth experience.

AMD talks about its aggressive pricing of the RX 480 and how it will jumpstart the growth of PC VR as well as accelerate the rate at which VR headsets drop in price:

  • More affordable VR-ready desktops and notebooks: AMD expects that affordable PC VR enabled by Polaris architecture-based graphics cards will drive a wide range of VR-ready desktops and notebooks, providing a catalyst for the expansion of the addressable market to an estimated 100 million consumers over the next 10 years.
  • Making VR accessible to consumers in retail: Thus far, retail has not been a viable channel for VR sales as average system costs exceeding $9993 have precluded VR-ready PCs from seeing substantial shelf space. The Radeon™ RX Series graphics cards will enable OEMs to build ideally priced VR-ready desktops and notebooks well suited for the retail PC market.
  • Unleashing VR developers on a larger audience: Adoption of PC VR technologies by mainstream consumers is expected to spur further developer interest across the ecosystem, unleashing new VR applications in education, entertainment, and productivity as developers seek to capitalize on the growing popularity of the medium.
  • Reducing the cost of entry to VR: AMD expects that affordable PC VR enabled by Polaris architecture-based graphics cards will dramatically accelerate the pace of the VR ecosystem, driving greater consumer adoption, further developer interest, and increased production of HMDs, ultimately resulting in a lower cost of entry as prices throughout the VR ecosystem decrease over time.

Finally, we might see VR become a real mainstream possibility for PC gamers on a budget. Yes, it looks like the GTX 1080 from NVIDIA will remain the king of GPUs, but not everyone can afford one.

Patric Moorhead, principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy comments:

“The Radeon™ RX series efficiency is driven by major architectural improvements and the industry’s first 14nm FinFET process technology for discrete GPUs, and could mark an important inflection point in the growth of virtual reality. By lowering the cost of ownership and increasing the VR TAM, Radeon RX Series has the potential to propel VR-ready systems into retail in higher volumes, drive new levels of VR content investment, and even drive down the cost of VR headsets.” – Source

AMD has also announced its 7th Generation AMD A-Series APUs, claiming a boost in performance of up to 54% from the previous generation. Watch the announcement video and read more about the APUs here.

The RX 480 will launch on 29 June 2016. At the time of writing, it is still unknown of the GPU will launch at the same time in South Africa or what the local price will be. We will keep you updated as soon as local prices become available.

Below, watch the entire live stream with all AMD's announcements and a VR performance test for the new GPU; then tell us what you think about the AMD RX 480 in the comment section.

Sources: AMD, Computex Live Stream

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