First look: Meet AMD's Radeon RX 480 graphics card

Here's a visual preview of the Radeon RX 480, AMD's $200 graphics card with enough oomph to power VR.

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Brad Chacos

Meet AMD's Radeon RX 480

Hello, gorgeous. It’s no surprise that AMD’s Radeon RX 480 will hit the streets on June 29, bringing VR-ready performance to the masses for the low, low price of just $200. That sort of performance leap is possible because the RX 480’s the first graphics card based around AMD’s cutting-edge 14nm “Polaris” GPU, which represents a two generation technological leap forward over the 28nm GPUs found in today’s cards.

While we can’t go into details about performance results or embargo dates or anything, PCWorld’s received an early sample for testing, and the interest around the card is hot enough that we thought we’d do a small visual preview of the RX 480 ahead of our full review. AMD gave us the thumbs up to show the intact exterior of the card, so let’s take a look.

rx 480 stats

Radeon RX 480 stats

Fooled you! Before we dig in too far, here's a look at the tech specs AMD has already released publicly for the Radeon RX 480.

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Brad Chacos

First look

One thing immediately jumps out at you glancing at the Radeon RX 480: While $200 graphics cards tend to cut corners in the aesthetics department, AMD went high-class with the RX 480. The 9.5-inch card's looks mirror the attractive finish of the much higher priced Radeon Fury X ($630 on Amazon) and Radeon Nano ($500 on Amazon).

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Brad Chacos


A closer look at the Radeon RX 480's blower-style fan. Blower-style fans are common on reference graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia.

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Brad Chacos


Here's a look at the Radeon RX 480's port selection: A trio of DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 connectors and a single HDMI 2.0b port. The card also supports high dynamic range video, just like Nvidia's GTX 1070 ($450 on Amazon) and GTX 1080 ($700 on Newegg).

AMD ditched DVI connections years ago, but fear not DVI fans: You can often find custom Radeon boards by AMD's hardware partners (like VisionTek, Sapphire, and Asus) that add the functionality back in.

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Brad Chacos


The side of the Radeon RX 480 features the new-look Radeon logo, along with a single 6-pin power connector used to draw the card's 150 watt TDP.

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Brad Chacos

Junk in the trunk

The rear of the card is, well, the rear of the card.

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Brad Chacos


Here's the rear of the Radeon RX 480, which doesn't feature a cost-adding backplate. Note how short the actual PCB is; the last 1.5-inches of the card is pure cooler. 

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Brad Chacos


A gratuitous close-up for you graphics cards nerds out there.

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Brad Chacos

Almost a Nano

Here's the Radeon RX 480 (top) lined up next to a Radeon R9 Nano, with an iPhone SE tossed in there for good measure. (And by that, I mean more scale reference.) We're looking at the backside to drive home just how short the RX 480's PCB really is. It's only an inch or so longer than the mITX Radeon Nano—and the RX 480 uses a traditional GDDR5 memory chip array, rather than the Nano's space-saving (and super fast) high-bandwidth memory.

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Brad Chacos

Not-quite competitors

As you can see the RX 480 is slightly shorter overall than Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070. Even though we’re showing these side-by-side since the RX 480 is AMD’s first graphics card based on next-gen 14nm “Polaris” GPU tech and the GTX 1070 is part of Nvidia’s initial 16nm “Pascal” GPU volley, they aren’t really competitors. The RX 480 is aimed at a mainstream-friendly $200 price point, while the GTX 1070 brings Titan X-esque performance down to the $380 level.

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Brad Chacos

Backside redux

The GTX 1070 Founders Edition features a full-length PCB, unlike the RX 480’s shortened board. 

That’s it for now. To find out how the Radeon RX 480 performs under the hood, tune in for our full review on... oh wait, I can’t talk about that. AMD’s first Polaris-based graphics card is scheduled to hit the streets on June 29, though. Even cheaper Radeon RX 470 and RX 460 graphics cards have been revealed as well—though AMD’s given no indication whatsoever of when to expect their launch.

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