Trade Resources Industry Views AMD Radeon RX 480 Revealed: Meet The $200 VR-Ready Graphics Card

AMD Radeon RX 480 Revealed: Meet The $200 VR-Ready Graphics Card

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AMD fired shots across the bow of Nvidia at its Computex press conference, announcing a brand-new, $200 graphics card that supports VR gaming. When it goes on sale on June 29th, it'll be the cheapest GPU you can buy with these capabilities. We have all the details.

AMD Radeon RX 480 specs

The new card is the AMD Radeon RX 480, officially priced at $200 (about £165 when you tack on VAT). AMD has made direct comparisons with Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, not because the RX 480 is more powerful, but instead because two RX 480's working together is faster than a GTX 1080. It might seem like a weird comparison, but when you consider that a pair will cost less than $500, you can see where AMD is coming from. More on that later.

In terms of specifications, the RX 480 has 36 compute units and 4GB or 8GB of GDDR5 memory running on a 256-bit bus. Power consumption is 150W. It runs on AMD's much-talked-about Polaris architecture that gamers have been waiting on for a very long time.

The DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 and HDMI 2.0b connectors will also be capable of outputting HDR games, when they eventually appear.

AMD Radeon RX 480 performance

AMD has been fairly tight-lipped on performance data so far, with no single-GPU figures revealed. It has, however, revealed performance for two GPUs running in Crossfire on the strategy game Ashes of the Singularity. In that benchmark, the RX 480 scored 62.5fps compared to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 480's 58.7fps.

But it's not quite that simple.

Ashes of the Singularity is a single game that's well optimised with DirectX 12 and supports asynchronous compute, a technology that allows graphics cards to run computing tasks and graphics tasks at the same time. This is something AMD does very well and Nvidia does less well, so it's no real surprise that the RX 480 comes out on top here.

If you're 100% convinced that you'd rather have two RX 480s instead of a single GTX 1080, bear in mind that with power consumption up at 300W with two cards (versus 180W for Nvidia) you'll need a higher capacity power supply and a more expensive motherboard that supports CrossFire. In other words, it's not a zero-sum game.

Related: All the highlights from Computex 2016

It's also worth noting that multi-GPU setups don't always add up to great performance, although AMD insists that with DirectX 12 games and those built on Vulkan, multi-GPU solutions are well supported.

However, if reports stating that the RX 480 is capable of running games smoothly at 1440p resolution prove accurate, this will definitely attract a lot of interest and could put AMD in a great price/performance sweet spot.

Doom for Nvidia?

Visual metaphor brought to you by AMD's Raja Kodouri

Should Nvidia be worried? Only a little. First, it's widely expected (and, frankly, inevitable) that Nvidia will launch a mid-range GeForce GTX 1060 in the next few months that will support VR. However, given the AMD Radeon RX 480 will launch on June 29th, this will give AMD a big head start when it comes to the mid-range part of the market. It could be a very exciting battle.

The lack of a high-end Polaris-based card will be a disappointment for some, but the specifications of the RX 480 leave room for some much more capable models.

As soon as we get news on a finished version of the RX 480 that we can get in for review, we'll bring you full benchmark data.

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