PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 Video Card Review

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Posted by Heath Coop on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - 8:00am

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

Introduction

PowerColor has released a brand new video card in the Red Devil RX 480 8GB GDDR5. It is based on AMD’s latest GCN 4 architecture designed for GloFo 14nm FinFET that delivers premium VR capability, increased level of performance, smooth VR, seamless support for next-gen gaming monitors, and CPU-free game streaming or recording. Furthermore, the model also supports AMD’s newest technologies such as Direct 12® and Vulkan™, FreeSync™, and Liquid VR.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 8GB GDDR5 utilizes 8GB of GDDR5 memory with 2304 stream processors, ships with 1330MHz core clock speed, and has 2000MHz memory clock speed which is connected via a new high speed 256-bit memory interface. The 6+1 multi-phases board design enhances the power efficiency and stability, and also enables ultimate performance in overclocking mode with BIOS switch. In order to achieve better thermal solution in both ultra overclocking and silent overclocking mode, PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 adopts the newest fan technology called Double Blade III which increases airflows and prevents dust deposition on fans. The Double Blade III is made with triple 80mm 2-ball bearing fans, with 2pcs of 8mm and another 2pcs of 6mm nickel- plated heat pipe for the best heat dissipation.

In creating one solid card with all components, the Red Devil also includes a backplate as well as having the PCB locked in a thermal module using the method of spring screws to pin through the rivets. The backplate and the copper based thermal module hold the GPU for not only balancing the pressure of the whole board but also for avoiding the damage done to the GPU and other components if dropped.

A Bit About AMD’s 4th Generation GCN (GCN 1.3) Architecture

GCN 1.3 is the latest evolution of AMD Generation Core Next Core architecture, which originally debuted in January 2012 with the HD 7970.  With the latest revision a new 14nm FinFEt process was used over the 28nm process of the original series.

Like the rest of the RX 400 series, the RX 480 is a bit different from the R9 380 it replaces. The Stream Processor count is now 2304 versus 1792. The texture mapping units have been increased from 112 to 144. The raster operations pipelines count has increased from 32 to 36. The new card also features either 4GB or 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM versus 2GB or 4GB GDDR5 VRAM of the R9 380. All of this while having power requirements that are far lower than the previous card.

PowerColor’s take on the Red Devil RX 480


AMD Eyefinty Technology

Run multiple displays from a single graphics board and expand your gaming field of view across all displays.

GCN Architecture

A new design for AMD’s unified graphics processing and compute cores that allows them to achieve higher utilization for improved performance and efficiency.

AMD App Acceleration

AMD App Accelerator creates a “co-processing” environment in which the compute processing potential in your AMD Radeon™ Graphics processor works together with the system central processor, to accelerate enabled applications.

AMD HD3D Technology

Supports the latest stereoscopic 3D content and display technologies

Play 3D games, watch Blu-ray 3D videos, and edit 3D photos on your 3D Monitors, TV, or projector.

AMD CrossFire™ Technology

Multi-GPU support offers superior scalability

Increase our gaming performance up to 2x with AMD CrossFire™ technology, 2.75x for TriFire configurations, or 3.75x with QuadFire configs.

AMD HD Media Accelerator

Assumes rendering responsibility for HD encode (VCE)/decode (MPEG-4 ASP, H.264. MVC, MPEG2, etc.) and conclusively enable superior video playback quality with advanced hardware post-processing algorithms.

AMD PowerPlay™ Technology

AMD PowerPlay™ Technology dynamically adjusts clockspeeds in response to GPU load, saving power for just when you need it.

AMD PowerTune Technology

Maximizes performance under load conditions by dynamically increasing the GPU engine clock to take advantage of unused TDP headroom. Also allows users to configure their own TDP limit, within a provided range, for even higher performance or more power efficiency.

PCI Express 3.0

Delivers double the bandwidth per lane of PCIe Gen 2 for faster GPU.

Microsoft Windows® 7/8.1/10 Support

Comprehensive OS supports the latest Windows7 functionality and Driver support.

Advanced GDDR5 Memory Technology

GDDR5 memory provides the highest available memory bandwidth of any memory technology today, enabling higher GPU performance.

Gold PowerKIT

The Solidly-built Components enhance the stability, performance, efficiency and quality.

Double Blades Fan

The Double Blades Fan can absorb airflow into the center and increase up to 20% airflow compared to the traditional thermal design. It also avoids dust deposition at the bottom of the fan that helps to prolong the life cycle of the graphics card.

HDMI

Integrated high speed HDMI output with 1080p 120Hz 3D Stereoscopic support, and 4K resolution display support.

Microsoft DirextX® 12

Get intense gaming performance and unrivalled image quality with stunning 3D visual effects, realistic lighting and lifelike imagery.

Mute Fan Technology

Providing noiseless environment and reducing the power consumption when the GPU temperature is low than 60°C.

UEFI Support

Better security by helping protect the pre-startup—or pre-boot—process against bootkit attacks and faster startup times and resuming from hibernation.

Virtual Super Resolution

Get quality that rivals 4K, even on a 1080p display while playing your favorite online games thanks to AMD's VSR.

RADEON VR READY PREMIUM

Delivering immense visual power and unmatched technological innovation, AMD's VR Ready Premium solutions set the bar for enabling premium experiences on high-end VR games, entertainment, and applications.

FREESYNC TECHNOLOGY

AMD FreeSync™ technology puts an end to choppy gameplay and broken frames with fluid, artifact-free performance at virtually any framerate.

Vulkan™

Next-generation API support for high-performance real-time graphics. Taking the best and brightest parts of Mantle to serve as its foundation, Vulkan™ is going to be one new and uniquely powerful graphics API.<--pagebreak-->

Packaging

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

 

The PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 comes in a large semi-matte black box with PowerColor's “Devil” logo featured predominately in the front. The box is dark, but still quite eye catching.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

On the back is some highlights of the new card's features. The box is very colorful and easy to read.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

There is a box inside the outer box.

Features and Specifications

Graphics Engine RADEON RX 480
Video Memory 8GB GDDR5
Engine Clock up to 1330MHz with boost
Memory Clock 2000MHz x4 (8.0Gbps)
Memory Interface 256bit
DirectX® Support 12
Bus Standard PCIE 3.0
Standard Display Connecors DL DVI-D/ HDMI/ DisplayPort x3
Feature Support
OpenGL Support
CrossFireX™ Technology Support
ATI Stream Technology Support
ATI Eyefinity Technology Support
ATI Hypermemory Technology  
Display Support
VGA Output  
DVI Output DL DVI-D
DisplayPort DisplayPort x3
HDMI On Board
TV Output  
HDTV Output  
HDCP Support Support
Maximum Resolution
VGA  
DVI 2560x1600
DisplayPort 4096x2160
HDMI 4096x2160
Power Specs + Board Dimensions
Board Dimensions 310mm*128mm*38mm
Minimum System Power requirement (W) 500W
Extension Power Connector One 8-Pin PCI Express Power Connector

A Closer Look

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

The PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 is designed from the ground up to feel menacing. It certainly accomplishes that goal.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

The double blade fan design is something we haven’t seen before. PowerColor states that this new design is supposed to increase airflow 20% and reduce dust accumulation.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

A red anodized “Red Devil” badge with silver highlights adorns the side of the cooler..

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

A new backplate design is unique to the Red Devil RX 480.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

There is at least one of each of the most common monitor connections, so there are plenty of connections options.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

With a 150 watt TDP, the Radeon RX 480 only needs power from one 6 pin connector. PowerColor has chosen to go with an 8 pin design instead.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480

PowerColor includes a few accessories with the card. There is a quick guide and a driver disk. There is also a Devil Club invitation card. We will get to that on the next page.

 

PowerColor’s Devil Club

With purchase of a PowerColor Devil product, the purchaser gets an invitation to PowerColor’s Devil Club.

Here you get access to the latest news, competitions, and artwork. You can also message the PowerColor Devil team and offer suggests for new products. For those who have purchased the Red Devil RX 480, the updated Silent and OC BIOS are available for download.

System Configuration and Testing Environment

Testing Setup

Testing Hardware

  • PowerColor Z170X-UD5 TH Gaming 7 Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 6700K Processor
  • Kingston HyperX Fury 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 Memory
  • Patriot Ignite 3K 960GB Solid State Drive
  • Custom Water Cooling
  • Spotswood Small Tech Bench
  • XFX PRO850W XXX Edition 850w Silver Power Supply

Software

  • Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Geeks3D - Furmark
  • TechPowerUp - GPU-Z
  • CPUID - HWMonitor

Synthetic BenchMarks

  • Futuremark - 3DMark (DX11)
  • Maxon - Cinebench R15 (OpenGL)
  • Unigine – Heaven (DX11)

Game BenchMarks

  • 2K Games - Bioshock: Infinite (DX11)
  • Codemasters - DiRT Rally (DX11)
  • Rockstar – Grand Theft Auto: V (DX11)
  • IO Interactive - Hitman (DX12)
  • Deep Silver - Metro: Last Light(DX11)
  • SQUARE ENIX, Eidos Interactive - Thief (DX11 and Mantle)
  • SQUARE ENIX, Eidos Interactive - Tomb Raider(DX11)

Drivers

  • GeForce Game Ready Driver Version 368.39 – WHQL

Testing Environment

Performance testing consists two sets of tests, synthetic benchmarks and actual game benchmarks. Between the two synthetic benchmarks and five game benchmarks; we are able to test OpenGL, DirectX 9.0C, DirectX 11, and Mantle application programming interface (API) environments. Synthetic benchmarks are run at their default settings. For gaming benchmarks; 1920x1080, 2560 x 1440, and 3840 x 2160 resolutions are used with more demanding detail settings. This is the test where higher price range cards will typically perform well.

Games are chosen using four criteria: 1) Each game must be a well-known title. 2) Each game must have its own built-in benchmark. 3) Each game must be on a game engine that is different from the other games or utilize its game engine in a way that is unique from the other games used. 4) Each game must be free of continuous patch updates, to ensure a consistent environment for future graphics card testing.

Mechanical drives are eliminated in the test system, to alleviate any I/O-related bottlenecks. All testing was done with an Intel i7 6700K processor clocked at 4.5 GHz.

Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit is chosen as the operating system, due to it being the most common operating system currently in use. Only the most current non-beta release drivers are used for testing, unless specifically stated otherwise.

3DMark – Fire Strike

"The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it's not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It's the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we've ever created.

Fire Strike is a showcase DirectX 11 benchmark designed for today's high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today"

3DMark – Time Spy

"The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it's not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It's the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we've ever created.

Time Spy is a showcase DirectX 12 benchmark designed for today's high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today"

CINEBENCH R15

"CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It's completely free."

Heaven

"Heaven Benchmark immerses a user into a magical steampunk world of shiny brass, wood and gears. Nested on flying islands, a tiny village with its cozy, sun-heated cobblestone streets, an elaborately crafted dirigible above the expanse of fluffy clouds, and a majestic dragon on the central square gives a true sense of adventure. An interactive experience with fly-by and walk-through modes allows for exploring all corners of this world powered by the cutting-edge UNIGINE Engine that leverages the most advanced capabilities of graphics APIs and turns this benchmark into a visual masterpiece."

SteamVR

"The SteamVR Performance Test measures your system's rendering power using a 2-minute sequence from Valves Aperture Robot Repair VR demo. After collecting the data it determines whether your system is capable of running VR content at 90fps and whether VR content can tune the visual fidelity up to the recommended level. For machines that are not VR Ready the tool can help determine whether capabilities are bound by Graphics Card, CPU, or both.”

Bioshock: Infinite

"Indebted to the wrong people, with his life on the line, veteran of the U.S. Cavalry and now hired gun, Booker DeWitt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. He must rescue Elizabeth, a mysterious girl imprisoned since childhood and locked up in the flying city of Columbia."

Bioshock: Infinite, developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games, is the third iteration of the Bioshock franchise. It uses the extremely popular Unreal 3 game engine and is one of the best looking games of 2013.

DiRT Rally

"DiRT Rally is the most authentic and thrilling rally game ever made, road-tested over 80 million miles by the DiRT community. It perfectly captures that white knuckle feeling of racing on the edge as you hurtle along dangerous roads at breakneck speed, knowing that one crash could irreparably harm your stage time.

DiRT Rally also includes officially licensed World Rallycross content, allowing you to experience the breathless, high-speed thrills of some of the world’s fastest off-road cars as you trade paint with other drivers at some of the series’ best-loved circuits, in both singleplayer and high-intensity multiplayer races.”

Codemasters' 2011 Dirt 3 is possibly the most popular rally racing game ever created. Dirt Rally is sure to continue that trend. It uses an updated version of the EGO game engine, which is also used has also been used in previous version of the Dirt series.

Grand Theft Auto: V

"When a young street hustler, a retired bank robber and a terrifying psychopath find themselves entangled with some of the most frightening and deranged elements of the criminal underworld, the U.S. government and the entertainment industry, they must pull off a series of dangerous heists to survive in a ruthless city in which they can trust nobody, least of all each other.

Grand Theft Auto V for PC offers players the option to explore the award-winning world of Los Santos and Blaine County in resolutions of up to 4k and beyond, as well as the chance to experience the game running at 60 frames per second."

Grand Theft Auto: V is the newest game in our benchmark suite. The game offers players a huge range of PC-specific customization options, including over 25 separate configurable settings for texture quality, shaders, tessellation, anti-aliasing and more. It has the highest recommended system requirements in our game benchmark suite.

Hitman

"Hitman is a third-person stealth video game in which players take control of Agent 47, a genetically enhanced, superhuman assassin, travelling to international locations and eliminating contracted targets. As in other games in the Hitman series, players are given a large amount of room for creativity in approaching their assassinations

Developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix, Hitman is our first DirectX 12 benchmark.

Metro: Last Light

"It Is the Year 2034. Beneath the ruins of post-apocalyptic Moscow, in the tunnels of the Metro, the remnants of mankind are besieged by deadly threats from outside – and within. Mutants stalk the catacombs beneath the desolate surface, and hunt a midst the poisoned skies above."

Developed by 4A games and published by Deepsilver, Metro: Last Light uses the 4A game engine. At its highest settings, the 4A game engine is capable of bringing all but the most extreme gaming systems to their knees.

Thief

"Garrett, the Master Thief, steps out of the shadows into the City. In this treacherous place, where the Baron’s Watch spreads a rising tide of fear and oppression, his skills are the only things he can trust. Even the most cautious citizens and their best-guarded possessions are not safe from his reach."

Thief was developed by Eidos-Montréal and published by SQUARE ENIX, Eidos Interactive. The newest game in our benchmark suite, Thief is also one of the most demanding and has the highest recommended system requirements. Those heavy requirements allow it to use the Unreal 3 game engine to great effect. It also features AMD's Mantle API, as well as Microsoft's common DirectX 11 API.

Tomb Raider

"Tomb Raider explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold."

Tomb Raider was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by SQUARE ENIX, Eidos Interactive. It features a modified version of the Crystal game engine and was the first game to integrate AMD's TressFX 2.0, which adds hair, fur and grass physics.

Temperatures and Noise

Temperatures

The PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 ran quite cool. The large triple fan design allows for a profile that is less than aggressive side. I found no reason to adjust the fan profile further, even when the card was aggressively overclocked.

Noise

Noise is a very subjective thing. While measuring dB level of noise can tell you how loud something is, it does not tell you the quality of the noise. Human hearing is the most sensitive in the 4000Hz range. This is roughly the same pitch as a crying newborn baby or the old adage, nails on a chalkboard. The human brain is wired to react to this frequency range and when we are unable to stop the noise, we become agitated.

For this test, the best case scenario is absolute silence. For the worst case scenario, I use the most annoying sounding and loudest video card I have at my disposal, the Nvidia 7600GT. The PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 was almost silent most of the time. Even under full load, I rarely noticed any fan noise or coil whine coming from the card.

Overclocking

I decided to use Asus’ GPU Tweak II overclocking utility for the sake of simplicity over AMD’s own Wattman. Currently, Wattman and GPU Tweak II are the only overclocking utilities I have located that support the new RX 480. I adjusted the power target and voltage to the maximum. I tweaked the core speed first and then moved onto the memory speed. After bit of fine tuning, I ended up with +45MHz (1375Mhz) Boost on the core and +1000MHz (9000MHz) on the memory. This was an increase of 3% for the core and 13% on the memory. On an average, we saw an increase of around 5% percent increase in frame rates in our suite of benchmarks.

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Final Thoughts and Conclusion

The PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 has the performance to back up its menacing “Devil” appearance. It is quite capable of playing almost any game at maximum settings at 1080. For those games it cannot play at maximum setting, usually only need the AA turned down slightly. VR and 1440 gameplay are also within reach. I found 1440 gaming to be quite pleasant. VR testing will have to wait until another day.

It also seemed quite happy at its job. It was always cool and quiet, rarely making any noise that would let you know it was working. There is a Silent and a OC BIOS. I was quite happy with the OC BIOS, though the Silent BIOS is just a touch quieter.

Overclocking of the core is a bit limited though. This should not be too surprising, given the Red Devil's already high core base clock. I did find that there was still some real overclocking headroom with the memory and some real performance gains with the added clocks.

PowerColor has taken a direct shot at the enthusiast once again with the Red Devil RX 480. At a MSRP of $279, It is like you are getting a limited edition graphics cards, But without the limited edition price.

Likes

  • Unique Cosmetics
  • Good Overclocking Capability
  • Quiet
  • Reasonable Price

Dislikes

  • None

Highly Recommended

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