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AMD RX 480: The Good, the Not so Bad, and the Ugly

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Posted July 8, 2016 by Josh Jackson in News

Wow! The RX 480 release has been wrapped up in more drama than a few seasons of Jersey Shore!!! Sure, that statement could be an over exaggeration considering I’ve never seen Jersey Shore, but the drama is real enough, that’s for sure. To be clear, my complaint is not directed at writers on other sites. I know of a slight disagreement between PCPer and Tom’s Hardware, but the issue was resolved almost immediately and professionally. With the power issue being fixed today, I want to discuss the good, the not so bad, and the downright ugly angles behind the RX 480 release.

I’m still incredibly excited about how good the new releases are for graphics cards this year. In the case of AMD’s RX 480, I feel like AMD is doing a great job of meeting the appropriate expectations. When Maxwell hit the scene, the R9 300 series was almost laughable in comparison. To the series benefit, it was in a great price-to-performance bracket, but the bars set in overclocking and power efficiency were way above what was being hit by the more budget friendly option. Now, we have a card that is much, much closer to those standards with the RX 480. The reference design isn’t as strong in overclocking, but the AIB partners are sure to fix that in the coming weeks. While this can make the choice a bit harder between Red and Green, I don’t feel like builders will actually feel like they had to compromise in any area if they choose AMD, which is great!

Now, it’s obvious that the RX 480 wasn’t a perfect launch, but here’s where we get to see how the bad things aren’t that bad. If you’ve followed the news at all, you’ve heard about the power draw issues from the PCIe slot. In some cases, the motherboard can be damaged from excessive draw, but it seemed that the issue wouldn’t be too common of an occurrence. However, a consumer doesn’t want a “probably” won’t happen in their purchase. In light of that, AMD quickly looked into the issue, changed their responses, and released a driver fix today that takes care of the issue. That’s a fast turn around and the argument that these issues shouldn’t happen is a bit unfair considering the massive restructure the graphics department has gone under in recent months. The issue that the 4 GB cards are just a re-labeled 8 GB card is bizarre that it’s even being called an issue. Sure, the 8 GB owners pay a bit more, but the 4 GB owners do take a risk in flashing the BIOS. If anything, GDDR5 is probably pretty cheap and this helps save AMD costs on having a secondary manufacturing line.

This finally brings us to the ugly side of the RX 480. I still have a hard time believing just how much hate is being pointed at AMD for this release. In the past 5 years, this has to be one of the most exciting times for PC builders. AMD has a card that does a great job in competing in all levels. It may not win some conceived notion of a golden trophy, but it effectively gives consumers an option that doesn’t compromise. Remember what the R9 290 did to get that nice level of performance? It had thermals and power consumption that was through the roof! Those days are looking like they’re behind us, but so many comments are making AMD look like they’re the worst screw ups of all time. Furthermore, I’m amazed at the level of people who say that AMD should have done this, or shouldn’t have done that. Considering the operating budget AMD has had to work with in the past few years, they have so much going against them that I’m amazed at how well they’re overcoming the difficulties. Look, I don’t want NVIDIA to fail either. I love seeing two companies going at each other’s throats because that’s where progress and true innovation come from. If you’re excited about the future, then certainly comment in the PureOC forums and let us know!

I know I’ve harped on some of this before. I doubt I’ll rant on this again, but I really want to see comments that are excited about new hardware, not angry at all the little things that go wrong. Sure, the fanboy wars will never stop and I could be fighting a losing battle, but I proudly stand by my enthusiasm about what I see as great steps in the hardware industry. Don’t get me wrong either. I’m not saying we need to look the other way when there’s a problem. When sites like Tom’s or PCPer address an issue, we get a fix. I want to see Radeon overhaul their stock cooling in much the same way that the AMD CPU division did. But maybe we can keep our angry emotions in check a bit more rather than bottling up the enthusiasm all the time. If you have an RX 480 and need the latest driver update, check out the link below.


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