AMD’s Polaris Has Landed: A Look At The $200 Radeon RX 480

by Rob Williams on June 29, 2016 in Graphics & Displays

The moment many PC gaming enthusiasts have been waiting for is here: AMD’s first Polaris based GPU has arrived. Much of what makes the Radeon RX 480 an alluring card isn’t a secret, as AMD itself has been talking about it quite extensively, so let’s just get right down to business: what can AMD’s latest $200 Radeon muster?

Tests: Battlefield 4, Crysis 3 & DOOM

Battlefield 4

Thanks to the fact that DICE cares more about PC gaming than most developers, the Battlefield series continues to give us titles that are well-worth benchmarking. While Battlefield 4 is growing a little long in the tooth, it’s still a great test at high resolutions. Once Battlefield 1 drops, we’re sure to replace BF4.

Testing: The game’s Singapore level is chosen for testing, as it provides a lot of action that can greatly affect the framerate. The saved game we use starts us off on an airboat that we must steer towards shore, at which point a huge firefight commences. After the accompanying tank gets past a hump in the middle of the beach, the test is stopped.

Battlefield 4
AMD Radeon RX 480 - Battlefield 4 (2560x1440)
AMD Radeon RX 480 - Battlefield 4 (1920x1080)

Considering the fact that AMD’s Radeon R9 Nano launched for $649 last fall, the performance of the RX 480 at $200 is downright impressive (though the card we tested is 8GB, this game hasn’t come close to 4GB).

As the GeForce GTX 960 is close to the same price as the RX 480, I chose to test with that. It didn’t take long before I regretted it, though, thanks to its 2GB framebuffer. Yes, those cards existed not too long ago, and yes, it’s a good thing they’re going by the wayside.

Nonetheless, the RX 480 delivers solid performance at 1440p, and excellent performance at 1080p. At 1440p, a couple of modest dials can be turned down (or off) to achieve 60 FPS. The biggest offenders are AA and AO; alternatively, you could try simply using the High profile instead of Ultra.

Crysis 3

Like Battlefield 4, Crysis 3 is getting a little up there in years. Fortunately, though, that doesn’t matter, because the game is still more intensive than most current titles. Even though the game came out in 2013, if you’re able to equip Very High settings at your resolution of choice, you’re in a great spot.

Testing: The game’s Red Star Rising level is chosen for benchmarking here, with the lowest difficulty level chosen (dying during a benchmarking run is a little infuriating!) The level starts us out in a broken-down building and leads us down to a river, where we need to activate an alien device. Once this is done, the player is run back underneath a nearby roof, at which point the benchmark ends.

Crysis 3
AMD Radeon RX 480 - Crysis 3 (2560x1440)
AMD Radeon RX 480 - Crysis 3 (1920x1080)

Can it run Crysis 3? Yup, and at 62 FPS with all of the bells and whistles at 1080p, to boot. Again, 1440p is going to require some dials be turned down, but that’s going to be expected as the game is still very hard on GPUs despite the fact that it’s a three-year-old title.


DOOM 3 was released a couple of months before Techgage launched (March 1, 2005, for the record), and it was a game featured in our GPU testing right from the get-go. For this reason, this latest DOOM feels a bit special, even though it follows DOOM 3 up eleven years later. As we hoped, the game proves to be more than suitable for GPU benchmarking.

Testing: Due to time constraints, an ideal level could not be chosen for benchmarking. Instead, our test location starts us off at the bottom of a short set of stairs early on in the game, where we must climb them, open up a door, and then go to a big room where demons are taken care of and the benchmark is stopped.

AMD Radeon RX 480 - DOOM (2560x1440)
AMD Radeon RX 480 - DOOM (1920x1080)

Can the RX 480 run a brand-new game at 60 FPS? In the case of DOOM, yes – yes it can. That’s even at 1440p, although I must be clear that the High profile, not Ultra, was used. For 1080p gamers, I think Ultra would be worth running.

Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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