AMD Radeon RX 480 Hands-On Preview, Testing Underway

You’ve been hearing about AMD’s next-gen Polaris GPU architecture and the first card to feature it, the Radeon RX 480, for months now. We’ve already covered a number of Polaris’ new features and architectural enhancements, and have even shown you a few renders of the Radeon RX 480 itself, but now we’ve got a card in hand and are ready to get down to some in-house testing. Feast your eyes on this...
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The AMD Radeon RX 480 Has Arrived

As you can see, the AMD Radeon RX 480 has a design language that’s reminiscent of the previous-gen Radeons, with an understated, rectangular fan shroud and dimpled faceplate. The Radeon logos on the top and side, however, feature a brand new font and the case bracket sports additional venting and accommodations for the updated display output configuration – which consists of a trio of DisplayPort outputs and an HDMI output.

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AMD Radeon RX 480 Front And Back

The Radeon RX 480 is only about 9.5” inches long and has the typical dual-slot form factor of most mid-to-high end GPUs. The overall length of the card, however, is lengthened due to the cooling fan, which protrudes form the back, and incidentally has additional cut-outs for air intake. The actual Radeon RX 480 PCB is significantly shorter. The PCB only runs about 70% of the length of the overall card.

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Radeon RX 480 Outputs And Cooling Vents

The AMD Radeon RX 480 reference card pictured here is rather unassuming, and belies the next-gen 14nm FinFET GPU with a brand-new architecture that resides beneath its cooler.  We suspect AMD's board partners may get creative with custom RX 480s in short order. According to AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group, the Polaris architecture employed in the Radeon RX 480’s GPU offers a “historic leap in performance per watt” for Radeon GPUs. This $199 card will reportedly offer performance in VR-applications that rivals cards over twice its price. We’ll be finding out soon enough.

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Radeon R9 Nano (Left), Radeon RX 480 (Right)

In comparison to the Radeon R9 Nano, which has an absolutely miniscule PCB, the Radeon RX 480’s is only about an inch longer. The cards are also about the same weight; the Radeon RX 480 is only a couple of ounces heavier. The Radeon RX 480 requires significantly less power, however, as evidenced by its single 6-Pin PCI Express supplemental power connector.

We’ll be testing the Polaris-bard AMD Radeon RX 480 in the days ahead and will be able to give you the full scoop soon enough. For now, our previous coverage and these pictures will have to do.