AMD's latest graphics card, the Radeon RX 480, is a great release for a bunch of reasons. At the forefront, the amount of performance offered at the card's $199 price-point ($239 for the 8GB model) is fantastic. When a brand-new $200 card can almost match last year's $500 one, there's good reason to be excited. As we saw in our review, the card also offers great DirectX 12 performance - something the company takes extremely seriously.
If there are real caveats to mention about the card, though, it's that it draws more power than the competition, and thus can run a bit hotter. For that reason, the "reference" model of the card really isn't what we'd recommend opting for. Instead, aftermarket models with much more robust coolers would be a better place to look.
Well, if the RX 480 runs hot, the new ASUS Republic of Gamers Strix model looks to do everything it can to make sure it doesn't. At the forefront of this card's design is DirectCU III, which places the heatsinks directly on the GPU to assure the fastest dissipation possible. Three large fans will help with getting that warm air away from the card, each of which features ASUS' patented "wing-blade" design.
What's cooler (sorry) is FanConnect, two 4-pin headers on the card that will allow users to connect their system fans to the card itself. Why would anyone want to do that? You see, whenever a motherboard deems it necessary to ramp fans up due to higher temperatures, it's the CPU temperature that's referenced, not the GPU. With FanConnect, that changes. You'd connect two fans that you think would be most important to combat GPU temps, and the card will take over. In addition to all of this, ASUS says these are "0dB" fans, so they can go extremely quiet (or be turned off) in the event that the load doesn't warrant them on.
Other perks of the RX 480 Strix edition includes Aura RGB lighting, extra HDMI ports for VR use, and ASUS' usual sprinkling of high-end components, as part of its 'Super Alloy Power II' package. As you'd expect, this card comes pre-overclocked out of the gate, spec'd at 1266MHz for the standard edition, and 1,310MHz for the 'OC' edition.
ASUS says that the RoG Strix RX 480 will become available next month, and pricing information will have to wait until then.