AMD Radeon RX 460 review: An affordable graphics card with bleeding-edge tech

The AMD Radeon RX 460 graphics card is built for e-sports and low-power systems.

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Our test system

We tested the XFX RX 460 on PCWorld’s dedicated graphics card benchmark system. I know, I know, it’s not the sort of system a card like this would normally slot into, but we like to test all graphics cards in the same system to keep variables to a minimum. Our testbed’s loaded with high-end components to avoid potential bottlenecks in other parts of the machine and show unfettered graphics performance. Key highlights:

  • Intel’s Core i7-5960X ($1,016 on Amazon) with a Corsair Hydro Series H100i closed-loop water cooler ($97 on Amazon).
  • An Asus X99 Deluxe motherboard ($360 on Amazon ).
  • Corsair’s Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory ($65 on Newegg), Obsidian 750D full-tower case ($155 on Amazon), and 1,200-watt AX1200i power supply ($308 on Amazon).
  • A 480GB Intel 730 series SSD ($248 on Amazon).
  • Windows 10 Pro ($199 on Amazon).

We’re be pitting XFX’s $150 Radeon RX 460 4GB against the old workhorse EVGA GTX 750 Ti ($110 on Newegg, $90 after rebates), which is still so popular that it wasn’t retired when Nvidia rolled out the GeForce GTX 950—which we’ll also be testing, in the form of the EVGA GTX 950 SSC ($150 on Newegg). Sadly, we don’t have an older Radeon R7 360 to test due to the unorthodox launch of the Radeon R300 series, and the Radeon R7 350 was only launched in Asian markets. But those two Nvidia cards should shine a clear light on the RX 460’s relative performance.

We benchmark every game using the default graphics settings unless otherwise noted, with all vendor-specific special features—such as Nvidia’s GameWorks effects, AMD’s TressFX, and FreeSync/G-Sync—disabled. For this entry-level card, we used our standard 1080p resolution benchmarks, but also tested each game with medium graphics settings enabled to see how they run with graphics dialed back. It’s a more realistic representation of how these cards would be used in the real world.

But first, let’s do something completely different!

Test 1: E-sports

AMD’s billing the Radeon RX 460 as an e-sports-centric card, so why not divert from our standard GPU review programming and talk about the card’s performance in those games?

Rather than run a gamut of benchmarks in lengthy e-sports matches, I loaded up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, League of Legends, and Overwatch and just plain played. I set the graphics options for each game to High settings, then unleashed my innate noob skills on the unsuspecting masses, keeping an eye on the fps counter in the corner all the while.

Indeed, every game sailed smoothly past 90 fps in general with the XFX Radeon RX 460. League never faltered. Dota 2 stayed above 110 fps in the vast majority of circumstances—without the beta Vulkan mode enabled—though it sometimes dipped into the high 90 fps range when a multitude of characters were battling onscreen. CSGO always cleared 150 fps, and Overwatch ran like butter. Delicious, clarified butter.

Every game performed like a champ and looked absolutely gorgeous, even when action got hot and heavy on-screen.

To put that in perspective, here’s a chart from our look at e-sports performance on an APU-powered budget system that AMD designed in conjunction with the Fnatic professional gaming team. The chart shows how each game runs at 1080p resolution, and then lists a second entry that shows what settings we needed to nerf in order to coax the games into hitting 60 fps. Sometimes it required dropping the overall resolution, and other times we needed to reduce in-game graphics settings. On several occasions we had to do both.

fnatic amd apu pc esports benchmarks

 

Wave goodbye to all of that with the RX 460. If you’re looking to supercharge your performance in e-sports games, AMD’s new card delivers in spades.

Onto the regular benchmark suite!

Next page: The Division

At a Glance
  • While we heartily recommend the Radeon RX 460 in general, XFX's customized 4GB version isn't compelling at this price point.

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