AMD's hardware partners are starting to showcase custom versions of its Radeon RX 480 graphics card with fancy cooling solutions, overclocked specs, and bits of bling. We've already seen glimpses of what ASUS and MSI have in store, and now there are leaked images of custom cooled Radeon RX 480 card from XFX.
It's equipped with a two-fan cooler that runs the length of the card. XFX's logo sits on the topside and lights up when the card is running, adding some visual flair to the non-reference card. And over on the other side of the card is a snazzy looking backplate with several poked holes, presumably so the card can breathe and dissipate heat buildup.
Cooling is definitely a point of emphasis here. Underneath the pair of nine-bladed fans are a couple of big finned aluminum blocks. Four large size copper heat pipes snake through the two aluminum blocks and into a rectangular copper block. In addition to keeping the GPU from overheating, it looks as though XFX paid attention to the memory and VRMs.
The burly cooling solution should provide users with some overclocking headroom, further evidence of which is seen in the single 8-pin PCI-E power connector. AMD's reference blueprint calls for a solo 6-pin PCI-E connector, though there's been a bit of controversy with the Radeon RX 480's power draw. It was found that the card was overdrawing from the PCI-E slot, pulling more than the 75W that's allowable by spec. We didn't experience any issues ourselves, but some on the web claimed symptoms ranging from instability to even damaged motherboards.
AMD later released a driver update that diverts some of the power draw to the single 6-pin PCI-E connector so that the PCI-E slot would no longer be overextending itself. In doing so, the 6-pin PCI-E connector pulls more power than what's technically allowable by spec. That shouldn't be an issue for most power supplies, but for those concerned, AMD also included a new compatibility toggle in its latest Crimson driver release. It's turned off by default, but if a user flips it on, the card lowers its overall power draw. AMD says that any minor performance penalty that might come from running the card in compatibility mode would be offset by other optimizations included in the driver.
In any event, the inclusion of an 8-pin PCI-E power connector and robust cooling on XFX's card hint that it will come factory overclocked, and probably have headroom for further tweaking. We'll have to wait and see as XFX hasn't officially introduced its custom Radeon RX 480 graphics card yet.