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Sapphire RX 480 Reference Card 8GB Review.

Caporegime
Joined
17 Jan 2010
Posts
66,802
Location
weston-super-mare
STU_RX480_B5_zpshjoyytnc.jpg~original


Sapphire Product Page - http://www.sapphiretech.com/productdetial.asp?pid=4647A08C-25B5-4E68-B291-DEF9837B36A6&lang=eng

OcUK Product Page - https://www.overclockers.co.uk/sapp...ddr5-pci-express-graphics-card-gx-379-sp.html


Today I will be reviewing the freshest release from AMD the RX 480.

This GPU is based on the Polaris architecture built upon a 14nm process, this should make this GPU very power efficient and the reference design cards bear this out with only needing an external 6pin PCI-E power connect to run.

I won't bore you with the figures such as transistor count etc, rather lets just get into a quick look at the card and more importantly some testing results.


The Packaging

DSC_0123_zpsssqbewjc.jpg~original


All reference cards come in the same box with just a different artwork design on them.

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Inside the box you get a driver disk; get the latest online from AMD as the ones on the disk were out of date before the card even arrived.


The card

DSC_0134_zpsklqbjfa7.jpg~original


DSC_0135_zpsp9y0z69y.jpg~original


And here is the RX 480 in all its glory. It has a very elegant design to it with the larger top plastic part having this dimpled finish that I think looks top notch.

It is a blower type fan and thus all heat is exhausted out of the rear of the case.

The card measures 24.5CM long.

DSC_0143_zpsii8ekw5a.jpg~original


No backplate is fitted to this model and you can see the single 6pin PCI-E connector.

Crossfire is handled via the PCI bus and can go up to a 4way configuration.

DSC_0145_zpseirynjvq.jpg~original


Three displayports which support DP1.4 and a single HDMI that supports HDMI2.0b are supplied.


A look inside

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Removing the fan shroud reveals a small aluminium heatsink and a very strong and heavy metal bracing component that incorporates VRM and memory cooling, this bracing certainly feels like a beefy bit of kit.

DSC_0152_zpsboxkknh6.jpg~original


Taking the heatsink off the core it does at least have a copper slug in its core, but the thermal paste used looked like the worst quality stuff Ive seen for a while and was dried up and crusty, I have immediately replaced with Thermal Grizzly.

DSC_0165_zps3u3e7kzt.jpg~original


Here is the GPU core.

DSC_0159_zps5wmh27qr.jpg~original


And the metal bracing with incorporated VRM cooling and sections where it touches the tops of each VRAM module with a thermal pad, effectively making this one piece metal section one giant heatsink.


Overclocking

As you maybe aware if you've been following the RX 480 reviews and discussion AMD now have a new application called Wattman to overclock and monitor the GPU.

wattman_zpsccnta5hc.png~original


After getting to grips with Wattman I found that my particular card was stable with 5% added to the core making it 1330MHz and 2200MHz (8800 effective) on the RAM would pass the tests,

1_zpsnrxpxpyb.gif~original


1340Mhz core would result in a freeze.


Noise

It is a leaf blower fan and AMD reference coolers have never been much good and as you would expect this follows similar traits.

Its marginally audible while gaming at stock speed but once you even think about overclocking the card you will have to set the fan RPM north towards 4000RPM and more, at these speeds its like a hurricane inside your PC case.

Anything below 3000RPM is just about acceptable to my ears, I would include a video but there are already many on YouTube showing how loud this card can get.



Benchmarks

Test system,

i7 [email protected]
Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz 16GB DDR4
Phanteks Enthoo luxe
Bequiet Dark Power Pro11 850W PSU
Crimson 16.6.2 drivers

Software,

3DMark Firestrike standard gfx score
Unigen Valley using the same setting as here.
Witcher3 using high preset.
Alien Isolation using the same setting as here.
Hitman using the same setting as here.
Ashes of the Singularity using the same settings as here.
DOOM settings in spoiler below
DOOMx64%202016-07-05%2019-13-49-00_zpsihcfmgjn.jpg~original

DOOMx64%202016-07-05%2019-14-11-63_zpsfhmgdt2n.jpg~original

DOOMx64%202016-07-05%2019-13-59-18_zpsifl0sjvi.jpg~original

GTAV settings in spoiler below
GTA5%202015-10-13%2021-12-28-81_zpsjvwvefdq.png~original
GTA5%202015-10-13%2021-12-36-74_zpsvdia9meg.png~original
GTA5%202015-10-13%2021-12-42-01_zpsrdh6pxcb.png~original
GTA5%202015-10-13%2021-12-48-41_zpsyey3kgsn.png~original


Benchmarks.jpg


1080-Games.jpg


A few things to note is that GTAV seemed to stutter a few times during the benchmark with the RX 480 but this wasn't apparent during actual gameplay.

Hitman benchmark ran fine so I do not know where those low minimum values came from.


And keeping the same settings I increased the resolution to 3440X1440 and ran the RX480 at stock.

1440-Games.jpg




Conclusion

I am not sure about this card to be honest.

Its performance in the games I tested isn't much different from cards released roughly 1+ year ago. With pricing not that different to what these older cards cost now (while stocks remain) it makes this a difficult card to recommend.

GTX970 and R9 390 are all around the £200-£230 mark while this card is now £249.99 which is £30 more than when it was first released.

It is good that the card now only needs a single 6pin PCI-E power connector instead of the older cards usually 2 power connectors so there is visible progress there despite all these stories about the card drawing more than 75W from the expansion slot which is now fixed via a compatibility option in the newer 16.7.1 driver released the other day.

Everyone was probably thinking these would overclock well as it uses a new process node but again AMD have used a cooler that is barely good enough even at stock speeds, luckily Sapphire have the Nitro card coming using a custom designed cooler and higher clock speeds.

My basket at Overclockers UK:

Total: £249.95
(includes shipping: £0.00)



I am very hopeful the cooler fitted to this design will be more than adequate while remaining quiet as the previous cards I have had from Sapphire.

Also being on pre-order at £249.99 it is a no-brainer to buy this over this reference design.

During use I had one or two game crashes and the GTAV benchmark had a couple of noticeable stutters/pauses that ruined the minimum FPS score, yet the game itself on a whole plays fine at the same settings.

So in summing up the RX 480 reference design card is now looking like a bad choice due to its current price and when cards with better coolers are due soon and at the same price or a bit higher.
 
Soldato
Joined
10 Apr 2015
Posts
4,053
Location
Hungerford, UK, Earth
great review, worrying about the thermal paste..when you know what effect this has when badly applied to a cpu, let alone a gpu which gets to higher temps. I personally will be looking forward to some bench marks on the 1060, want a 1070 but cant justify the cost, plus at 1080p might not be worhthile
 
Soldato
Joined
26 May 2014
Posts
2,952
great review, worrying about the thermal paste..when you know what effect this has when badly applied to a cpu, let alone a gpu which gets to higher temps. I personally will be looking forward to some bench marks on the 1060, want a 1070 but cant justify the cost, plus at 1080p might not be worhthile
I was reading TPU's review of the EVGA GTX 1070 SC earlier and that looked like someone had squeezed half a tube of the stuff on there.

cooler2ibpt0.jpg


You'd think thermal paste would be one of the easier things to get right when putting together a complex piece of electronics...
 
Soldato
Joined
19 Feb 2011
Posts
5,849
For anyone considering an AMD RX 480 right now, this is just in from the AMD event in Korea earlier today

PowerColor Devil series will have 1367mhz factory OC
HIS Roaring series will have 1342mhz factory OC
XFX Black series will have 1328mhz factory OC
There was no information about Sapphire Nitro factory OC.
 
Soldato
Joined
30 Jan 2007
Posts
15,434
Location
PA, USA (Orig UK)
stulid, how do those reviews change based on using the latest drivers?

What is 'stock' speed for a 980 G1 btw? I see if has different modes of operation with the boost going upto 1354Mhz (at least) in OC mode for example. (The base clock being 1126MHz on a ref 980 and the boost being 1216MHz).
 
Last edited:
Caporegime
OP
Joined
17 Jan 2010
Posts
66,802
Location
weston-super-mare
stulid, how do those reviews change based on using the latest drivers?

I'm not able to test again as the card is out of the system.

But the newer drivers are suppose to add what around 3% in some tests and I think I read the GTAV stutter is fixed too.

What is 'stock' speed for a 980 G1 btw? I see if has different modes of operation with the boost going upto 1354Mhz (at least) in OC mode for example. (The base clock being 1126MHz on a ref 980 and the boost being 1216MHz).

13** something, whatever it was a RX480 can't catch it.
 
Associate
Joined
21 Jan 2010
Posts
1,293
Location
London
That heatsink is so cheap and nasty looking, not to mention extremely basic. Surely they could have come up with something better than that?

It's cheap that's for sure. Like the 4GB cards (which were probably all 8GB) all designed to hit the cheapest price point. Budget card, budget looks, middle ground performance.
 
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