Sapphire Radeon RX 480 Video Card Review (21260-00-20G)
The development and release of NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture and GTX 1000 series cards have undoubtedly increased pressure within AMD. In an effort to remain competitive, AMD has developed the Polaris GPU architecture, a new forefront in powering AMD’s next-generation graphics processing units. While the next generation AMD cards are still quite new, one of the best cards in the market today that utilize Polaris is the Sapphire Radeon™ RX 480. Built to operate with increased efficiency and performance, the RX 480 combines all the well-known features of an AMD card into a sleek and powerful unit.
As mentioned previously, one of the biggest changes from previous generation models is without a doubt the new Polaris architecture. While Fiji powered the older RX 300 series cards, newer cards with Polaris have significant improvements in multiple areas within graphical processing. One of the most prominent features includes additional support for modern gaming monitors, improved streaming and recording functionality, and higher quality virtual reality gameplay. These features are important in bringing RX 400 series cards into the current generation of gaming where virtual reality gaming and streaming have grown to be a multi-billion-dollar industry. Polaris also addresses additional concerns with overheating and temperature management. Through various changes in power, gating, and clocking technologies, the Polaris architecture allows the Sapphire Radeon™ RX 480 to have a lower system power requirement and therefore deliver cooler and quieter performance.
While there are different versions of the RX 480, the Sapphire Radeon™ RX 480 8G D5 features 8 gigabytes of GDDR5 RAM. Combined with a 256-bit memory bus and a 1266 MHz boost clock speed, the Sapphire Radeon™ RX 480 8G D5 allows gamers to incorporate up to four separate monitors per card into their gaming display. Outputs, including three DisplayPort 1.4 ports and one HDMI port, allow support for high-end 144Hz gaming monitors and resolution up to 3840 by 2160 pixels. In addition, the RX 480 also comes with well known AMD technologies such as AMD Freesync, AMD Eyefinity, AMD Crossfire™ and AMD XConnect™. AMD FreeSync, the counterpart to NVIDIA’s G-Sync, prevents screen tearing by dynamically adjusting the frame rate of the visual content to match the refresh rate of a compatible monitor. AMD Eyefinity is designed to allow gamers to create custom multi-monitor configurations with up to six separate displays. The combination of the RX 480’s 8GB’s of RAM and 256bit bus allow multi-monitor setups to be accomplished without a challenge. For individuals that require extreme performance and need multiple GPU’s in sync, AMD Crossfire™ will be beneficial as it allows two or more graphics cards to operate in parallel. AMD XConnect™ complements this technology as it permits external graphics cards to be connected and disconnected at any time.
The Sapphire Radeon™ RX 480 is designed with today’s gaming environment in mind. As a result, a heavy emphasis is placed on enriching the virtual reality experience. AMD Liquid VR technology creates an immersive and realistic environment with sharp, bright, and vibrant images when combined with the RX 480’s HDR (High Dynamic Range) Ready functionality. Despite being a high-end and powerful card, the RX 480 is also surprisingly power efficient due to optimizations within the Polaris architecture. By dynamically optimizing game volume from real-time temperature and workload readings, SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 480 GPUs boast exceptionally silent gaming. This feature is not often seen in other graphics cards.
Overall the Sapphire Radeon™ RX 480 8G D5 is a sleek looking card in AMD’s new RX 400 series with significant improvements over older models thanks to AMD’s new Polaris architecture. Gamers looking to invest into a next generation graphics card will find the Sapphire Radeon™ RX 480 a suitable contender to meet their needs.