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Sapphire RX 480 Reference Card 8GB Review.

Discussion in 'Graphics Cards' started by stulid, Jul 13, 2016.

  1. stulid

    Don

    Joined: Jan 17, 2010

    Posts: 66,847

    Location: weston-super-mare

    [​IMG]

    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

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    Inside the box you get a driver disk; get the latest online from AMD as the ones on the disk were out of date before the card even arrived.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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the GPU core.

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    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,

    [​IMG]

    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


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    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.

    [​IMG]



    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)

    [​IMG]

    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.
     
  2. bayo000

    Mobster

    Joined: Jan 28, 2008

    Posts: 3,329

    Location: Manchester

    Thanks for the review :)
     
  3. Kurgen

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Apr 10, 2015

    Posts: 1,299

    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
     
  4. Darujhistan

    Mobster

    Joined: Oct 28, 2011

    Posts: 2,962

    Why anyone would buy a reference card is beyond me.
     
  5. Aretak

    Wise Guy

    Joined: May 26, 2014

    Posts: 1,446

    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.

    [​IMG]

    You'd think thermal paste would be one of the easier things to get right when putting together a complex piece of electronics...
     
  6. CREATIVE!11

    Soldato

    Joined: Apr 21, 2007

    Posts: 5,476

    Yeah baby... get that core naked, show me what you got underneath that sexy plastic cover.
     
  7. Scougar

    Capodecina

    Joined: Jan 30, 2007

    Posts: 11,658

    Location: PA, USA

    Thanks for a good review stulid :)
     
  8. SiDeards73

    Soldato

    Joined: Feb 19, 2011

    Posts: 5,077

    Location: Kent

    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.
     
  9. stulid

    Don

    Joined: Jan 17, 2010

    Posts: 66,847

    Location: weston-super-mare

    The paste was crusty looking, I slapped a bit of thermal grizzly after cleaning both surfaces.
     
  10. Scougar

    Capodecina

    Joined: Jan 30, 2007

    Posts: 11,658

    Location: PA, USA

    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: Jul 13, 2016
  11. stulid

    Don

    Joined: Jan 17, 2010

    Posts: 66,847

    Location: weston-super-mare

    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.

    13** something, whatever it was a RX480 can't catch it.
     
  12. Overlag

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 10,826

    Location: Romford/Hornchurch, Essex

    My 480 thermal pad/paste was bad too. Replaced it dropped the temps about 5c.
     
  13. CEUOTC

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 1, 2007

    Posts: 2,224

    Location: United Kingdom, Scotland.

    Great review stulid. Looking forward to seeing more non-ref coolers which will make the RX 480 shine IMO.
     
  14. qwerty567111

    Gangster

    Joined: Jul 11, 2016

    Posts: 120

    What did you replace it with, my Arctic Silver 5 is about finished and I don't know whether to get that again or something else.
     
  15. Lokken86

    Mobster

    Joined: Mar 8, 2010

    Posts: 3,640

    Location: Aberdeen

    Were the clockspeeds holding steady and did you undervolt it?
     
  16. pastymuncher

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Jul 12, 2005

    Posts: 16,366

    Location: Aberlour, NE Scotland

    That heatsink is so cheap and nasty looking, not to mention extremely basic. Surely they could have come up with something better than that?
     
  17. stulid

    Don

    Joined: Jan 17, 2010

    Posts: 66,847

    Location: weston-super-mare

    They were steady with the fan screaming.

    No undervolting.
     
  18. kaiserc

    Gangster

    Joined: Feb 25, 2012

    Posts: 174

    Does anyone know when the RX 480 Sapphire Nitro is available?
     
  19. Bantu

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 21, 2010

    Posts: 1,116

    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.
     
  20. Bantu

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 21, 2010

    Posts: 1,116

    22/07 is what OCUK website says. Similar dates seen elsewhere (i think i saw 25/07, but OCUK has worldwide exclusive so would expect to have it earlier).