AMD Radeon RX 470 4GB Graphics Card Review

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by Rob Williams on August 5, 2016 in Graphics & Displays

AMD’s second Polaris graphics card has arrived, and it comes to us in the form of the Radeon RX 470. As its name implies, AMD’s latest model slots in just under the RX 480 – really close. The SRP difference between these two cards is a mere $20, so let’s dive in and see what you can expect from either one.

Introduction, About The RX 470 & Testing Notes

It sure has been an active summer for graphics so far. It all kicked-off in May, with the release of NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080, which was quickly followed by the launch of the GeForce GTX 1070. Fast-forward to the following month, and AMD unleashed its Radeon RX 480, a card that saw NVIDIA leap into action to release the GeForce GTX 1060.

As if that wasn’t enough for a two-month span, both AMD and NVIDIA announced their brand-new Radeon Pro and Quadro workstation graphics cards at SIGGRAPH. Then, for good measure, and in advance of this review, we posted a look at 2560×1080 ultrawide performance of both the GTX 1060 and RX 480.

Whew. It’s been busy, and it doesn’t look like things are going to be slowing down. On the test bench today is AMD’s second Polaris-based release, the Radeon RX 470. The card comes in at $179 SRP, and it aims to become the ultimate “HD gaming” (1080p) card for the money.

AMD Radeon SeriesCoresCore MHzMemoryMem MHzMem BusTDP
Radeon RX 48023041266≤8192MB8000256-bit150W
Radeon RX 470204812064096MB7000256-bit120W
Radeon RX 46089610904096MB7000128-bit75W
Radeon Pro Duo4096*210004096MB*210004096-bit*2350W
Radeon R9 Fury X409610504096MB10004096-bit275W
Radeon R9 Fury358410004096MB10004096-bit275W
Radeon R9 Nano409610004096MB10004096-bit175W
Radeon R9 390X281610508192MB6000512-bit275W
Radeon R9 390256010008192MB6000512-bit275W
Radeon R9 380X20489704096MB5700256-bit190W
Radeon R9 38017929704096MB5700256-bit190W

Based on the RX 470’s specs, it’s not hard to glean that it should prove just a bit slower than the top-dog RX 480. That makes it a bit of an odd model in AMD’s current lineup, but that’s not as odd as the pricing. The RX 480 4GB costs $200 SRP, while this RX 470 has an SRP of $180. It’d be nice to see some greater separation here, but AMD is in a bit of a rough spot since it’s currently only catering to the $200-and-under market (minus the 8GB RX 480).

Despite the odd pricing and minor specs difference, if performance scaling matches what we’d expect, then it kind of makes sense that this card would be priced at $180, $20 price difference be damned.

Unlike the RX 480, which AMD produced a reference model for, the company is relying entirely on AIB vendors to craft cards around its GPU. A fleet of such cards can be seen below. An overclocked (+50MHz) XFX model is the one we received for testing.

GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - BRIX Gaming PC Setup
GIGABYTE Radeon RX 470 4GB Gaming G1
Inside San Francisco (SFO) Airport
PowerColor Radeon RX 470 4GB Red Devil
Napa Valley Marriott Outside Dining Area
Sapphire Radeon RX 470 4GB
XFX Radeon RX 470 4GB
XFX Radeon RX 470 4GB

There’s not much else to say about the RX 470, because we’ve known about the card for so long, and we know what to expect from its performance. So without further ado, let’s just get right into testing – right after a quick look at our test system and methodologies.

Testing Notes

When we need to build a test PC for performance testing, “no bottleneck” is the name of the game. While we admit that few of our readers are going to be equipped with an Intel 8-core processor clocked to 4GHz, we opt for such a build to make sure our GPU testing is as apples-to-apples as possible, with as little variation as possible. Ultimately, the only thing that matters here is the performance of the GPUs, so the more we can rule out a bottleneck, the better.

That all said, our test PC:

Graphics Card Test System
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-5960X (8-core) @ 4.0GHz
MotherboardASUS X99 DELUXE
MemoryKingston HyperX Beast 32GB (4x8GB) – DDR4-2133 11-12-11
GraphicsAMD Radeon R9 Nano 4GB – Catalyst 16.5.3
AMD Radeon RX 470 4GB – Catalyst 16.8.1 Beta
AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB – Catalyst 16.6.2 Beta
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB – GeForce 365.22
NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X (First-gen) 12GB – GeForce 365.22
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB – GeForce 368.64 (Beta)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB – GeForce 368.19 (Beta)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB – GeForce 368.25
AudioOnboard
StorageKingston SSDNow V310 1TB SSD
Power SupplyCooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W
ChassisCooler Master Storm Trooper Full-Tower
CoolingThermaltake WATER3.0 Extreme Liquid Cooler
DisplaysAcer Predator X34 34″ Ultra-wide
Acer XB280HK 28″ 4K G-SYNC
ASUS MG279Q 27″ 1440p FreeSync
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro (10586) 64-bit

Framerate information for all tests – with the exception of certain time demos and DirectX 12 tests – are recorded with the help of Fraps. For tests where Fraps use is not ideal, I use the game’s built-in test (the only option for DX12 titles right now). In the past, I’ve tweaked the Windows OS as much as possible to rule out test variations, but over time, such optimizations have proven fruitless. As a result, the Windows 10 installation I use is about as stock as possible, with minor modifications to suit personal preferences.

In all, I use 8 different games for regular game testing, 3 for DirectX 12 testing, and 1 for Vulkan testing. That’s in addition to the use of three synthetic benchmarks. Because some games are sponsored, the list below helps oust potential bias in our testing.

(AMD) – Ashes of the Singularity (DirectX 12)
(AMD) – Battlefield 4
(AMD) – Crysis 3
(AMD) – Hitman (DirectX 12)
(NVIDIA) – Metro: Last Light Redux
(NVIDIA) – Rise Of The Tomb Raider (incl. DirectX 12)
(NVIDIA) – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(Neutral) – DOOM (incl. Vulkan)
(Neutral) – Grand Theft Auto V
(Neutral) – Total War: ATTILA

If you’re interested in benchmarking your own configuration to compare to our results, you can download this file (5MB) and make sure you’re using the exact same graphics settings. I’ll lightly explain how I benchmark each test before I get into each game’s performance results.