AMD's New Radeon RX 480: Built For VR, Half The Price Of Nvidia

At its Computex 2016 press conference, AMD has taken the wraps off its brand new Radeon RX 480 graphics card: a brand new 14-nanometre chip designed for 2016 and 2017’s most demanding games and virtual reality graphics. It’s a card designed to compete with Nvidia’s mid-range GTX 1070 and previous-generation GTX 970/980, but at a fraction of the price. AMD says its new cards will be out by the end of June at a price of $US199.

Based on the brand new Polaris architecture designed on the 14-nanometre FinFET semiconductor production process, the RX 480 has over five teraflops of computing performance — not too far off the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070’s 6.45 teraflops, but impressive given that the Radeon RX 480 is aimed at almost half the 1070’s $US379 price point at $US199. AMD is being a bit shy with gaming performance benchmarks for now, but it looks good on paper.

We do know that the Radeon RX 480 will come in both 4GB and 8GB configurations, both using standard GDDR5 RAM rather than the faster GDDR5X or the faster and more expensive HBM used on R9 Fury cards — it’s the 4GB version that’ll hit than $US199 price point and challenge Nvidia’s mid-range graphics ownership.

Importantly, the new architecture means AMD’s new Radeon graphics cards will consume considerably less power than their predecessors, which equalled Nvidia performance at the cost of significantly more energy consumption and waste heat output. The Radeon RX 480 will have the same 150-Watt TDP as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, but will use a single six-pin power connector rather than the 1070’s eight-pin.

Being a new card, too, it supports all the new and next-generation video standards that you’ll be using on your monitors and TVs in the coming years. HDR video is fully supported on AMD’s new cards, as is FreeSync and DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0b, the latter of two enable 60fps gameplay and fast refresh rates at 3840x2160pixel Ultra HD resolutions.

Virtual reality was also name-checked in AMD’s presentation — the company wants to push VR headsets to fall in price. While the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are both quite expensive, they’re first-generation products, and we’ll see them become cheaper especially as they meet strong competition.

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