After over six months of teasing and putting out bits and pieces about their next-gen Polaris architecture, AMD is finally here with the release of their first video card release for the consumer market (not counting the Radeon Pro Duo) with the Radeon RX 480. The release of the Radeon RX 480 is a huge deal for the company, as this is the first consumer video card released under the not-so-newly formed Radeon Technologies Group - with the GPU division of AMD forming RTG late last year.
Since then, they held an RTG summit in Sonoma, California last year that we attended, where we were introduced to the Polaris architecture. At the time no one knew that AMD would move into a new naming scheme, with the previous Radeon R7/R9 nomenclature dropped for the easier Radeon RX family of cards, starting with the RX 480.
I promised a more personal approach to my reviews around a month ago, so here we go. I'm a technology junkie. I don't spend my money on cars, or gambling, or anything like that - I grew up spending my money on hardware. AMD has been a company close to my heart since day one, just like NVIDIA and Intel. I hold no bias towards any company as all companies have something exciting to release. And while AMD has been struggling of late, I believe that the new Radeon RX 480 is a huge, huge change for the company - and this is something that excites me beyond words.
A History Lesson
For what feels like forever, AMD has impressed with releases like the Radeon 9700 PRO, the Radeon X1800 XT - and more specifically the X1800 PRO, which could have its 12 cores unlocked to 16 cores, effectively making it the more expensive, and faster X1800 XT. From there, the HD 5870 was a huge deal at the time because of the collaboration with EA and DICE with Battlefield, and then the Hawaii series being a large smash hit.
AMD's Hawaii architecture was released at a perfect time, as it was released at the end of 2014 led by the Radeon R9 290X - and is still a powerful card and impressive piece of architecture, even now. The Radeon R9 290X was a monster, where NVIDIA slapped down their new Maxwell architecture shortly after with the release of the GeForce GTX 980. Where NVIDIA had efficiency on their side with the Maxwell architecture, the Hawaii architecture from AMD proved to be a big deal, and kept legions of AMD fans on Team Red.
In early 2015, AMD released the Radeon R9 295X2 - a dual-GPU video card which like the R9 290X, is still a great card even today. It was the last dual-GPU released for consumers - with NVIDIA only releasing their GeForce GTX Titan Z for the professional market, and AMD with its recent Radeon Pro Duo - which was never destined for consumers.
While AMD has had a spotty past, we have to remember that NVIDIA has as well. Fermi was a mess, a total, hot, and extremely loud mess - culminating in the why-was-it-even-released GeForce GTX 480. This was before my time with TweakTown, but I remember not selling many of GTX 480s in my position at an IT retailer all those years ago. I remember selling boxes and boxes of AMD's Radeon HD 5850 and HD 5870 at the time, but NVIDIA's cards gathered dust.
NVIDIA quickly gathered itself, and launched a totally new offensive - constantly hitting AMD again and again with releases, with their grip firmly attached at AMD's neck with the GTX 980 release. Even more so now with the recent shift to the 16nm FinFET-based GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, powered by their next-gen Pascal architecture. AMD has traditionally tried to fight NVIDIA at the top, releasing flagship GPU after flagship GPU - and it has either beat NVIDIA, equaled them, or lost to them - but not anymore... at least not until 2017.
Why the history lesson? We need to know where AMD and NVIDIA have been over the last few years, and what AMD's new direction is with Radeon Technologies Group. RTG is now not worrying, at least for now, about the enthusiast market - and is instead hitting the mainstream market hard and fast with the new Polaris-based Radeon RX 480.
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- Page 1 [Introduction & A History Lesson]
- Page 2 [AMD Traverses a Sea of Stars With Polaris - Part 1]
- Page 3 [AMD Traverses a Sea of Stars With Polaris - Part 2]
- Page 4 [Polaris 10 & Polaris 11 - Here Are The Specs]
- Page 5 [Detailed Look at the Radeon RX 480]
- Page 6 [Testing Methodology & Test Setup Configuration]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Synthetic]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks @ 1080p]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks @ 1440p]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks @ 4K]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - DX12 & OC Adventures]
- Page 12 [Power, Temperature, & Noise]
- Page 13 [VR for the Other 99% - But is it Future Proof?]
- Page 14 [#BetterRed & Pricing Comparison]
- Page 15 [Final Thoughts]