When AMD released the RX 480, many of us were skeptical that such a cost-efficient card could offer absolutely amazing 1080P gaming performance, 4K @ 60FPS via HDMI 2.0, and full, high FPS VR support. Luckily, for all of us, AMD was not just applying fancy spin to their tests and benchmarks, they really did deliver a top notch card to satisfy most every need short of maxed 4K gaming. With both 4Gb and 8Gb GDDR5 memory variants, it’s difficult to find a model that won’t fit your budget, too. It’s DirectX 12 compatible, competes performance wise with the GTX 980, but can be had for under two hundred dollars. Here is our guide to the best RX 480’s for every preference – including the Best RX 480 for Cooling, Best Value RX 480 and Quietest RX 480 of 2017. Enjoy!
Our pick for best RX 480 had to consider all of the various factors someone would want in a video card. Price, performance, look, cooling, you name it, we took it all under consideration, and in the end, the MSI Gaming X 8Gb was our choice for overall best. It looks amazing to start with. It has customizable LEDs controlled by the MSI Gaming APP. They can even be set to be sound responsive for a very cool effect. It comes with MSI’s Zero FROZR technology, and TORX 2.0 fans, which allow for 22% more air pressure, helping to keep it nice and cool even during long gaming sessions. The advanced cooling system is also helpful to keep the GPU’s amazing boost speed stable and solid. It comes factory-boosted at 1316Mhz, but also has a silent mode if you’d rather keep things quiet. With 8Gb of GDDR5, HDMI 2.0, and DP 1.4, this is a great deal too, at $264.99 at the time of this writing.
There’s a few specific factors to look into when you’re trying to decides which video card should be touted as the best for overclocking. Sapphire’s Radeon Nitro+ 8Gb RX 480 seemed like a solid choice, edging out the competition in a number of ways. The very quick, and easy thing that anyone will notice is a blindingly fast factory boosted speed of 1342MHz. In and of itself, that is a very impressive step up from the stock RX 480. It’s got a very well designed cooling block, with dual fans, and a rear-mounted slot for GPU power, leaving the entire top edge of the heatsink shroud solid. With excellent cooling, and Sapphire’s adherence to top-quality GPU dies, this is an amazing card for overclocking, made clear by the company’s incredibly fast base boost speed.
This year, the crown for best cooling on an RX 480 goes, without much competition, to the ASUS ROG STRIX 8GB OC Edition. There are a few things that make the cooling really special on this model, starting with a rather unique feather ASUS calls FanConnect. It bundles a pair of 4-pin fan connectors which are GPU controlled, allowing for targeted cooling fans, if you’re pushing your card hard with overclocking, or have a ten hour gaming session that needs professional cooling. It also comes with DirectCU III cooling technology. This features heatpipes with direct GPU die contact, which outperforms reference cooling designs by up to 30%. Even without the dual FanConnect fans plugged in, the card comes with a trio of 0dB fans, allowing for amazing air circulation to wick away the heat, and 3x quieter operation than the stock RX 480. There’s a lot of things that are right with this card, and the cooling is really an amazing card for overclocking, made clear by the company’s incredibly fast base boost speed.
The best performing RX 480 for this year has to be given to the Sapphire Radeon NITRO+ 8Gb model. There’s really very little competition when it comes to comparing the raw numbers, and among other things, Sapphire gives us amazing numbers on this beauty. The card itself is elegant and simple with a matte black shroud, and dual black cooling fans. Sapphire takes the stock 1120MHz clock speed, and throws it out the window, increasing the BASE speed to 1208. Then, after increasing the base speed by nearly 100, they add a boost mode that lets you run the card stock at a whopping 1342MHz. That’s a nearly 20% speed increase versus the reference RX 480. If you’re looking for the best performing 480 you can buy, this is going to be the one for you.
If you are a believing that your PC should be seen, but not heard, then you may have a slightly different idea of what the best RX 480 might be. When you need something that performs well, under load, and goes the distance, all while staying nice and quiet, or better yet, silent, you’re going to be adding the PowerColor RED DEVIL RX 480 8GB to your cart. This variant comes with 8GB of memory, and a clock speed of 1330MHz. It comes with a trio of cooling fans, and with PowerCooler’s excellent cooling block, this runs no louder than 38 decibels under load, while boosted. To give a comparison, this is nearly silent as far as PC noise goes, you won’t hear it above the sound of any normal case fans or CPU coolers, even if gaming boosted for extended periods of time. Even the watercooled Fury X is nearly 20% louder when fully loaded. If you need quiet, this is going to be what you need.
It’s important that when you buy a new piece of equipment, that you know the company who manufactured it did a quality job, and stands by their products. XFX is no stranger to quality, and their customer support makes their XFX RX 480 8Gb XXX Edition an easy pick for best customer support and warranty on an RX 480. They offer their unique 3+2 year warranty, which gives you a full 3 year warranty on the entire card, plus an extra 2 years on their ‘hard swap’ fans. This technology makes it a seconds-long process to snap out and snap in replacement or upgraded fans, and with 5 total years warranty on the fans, it’s obvious XFX is very confident in their quality and design.
Value can mean a lot of different things, but when everything is considered, it’s easy to see why the MSI GAMING X 8Gb is considered to be the best value for the year. The base cost for the card isn’t the cheapest of the RX 480 line, coming in at $249.99 (after rebate at the time of this writing), but it features a number of excellent features that make it a great value for the money. It’s got the same top-tier 1080P gaming performance, but with the FROZR cooling technology, TORX 2.0 fans, and professional grade thermal grease, the cooling helps the card last a good long time, staying rock solid even under extended load. It has beautiful customizable RGB LEDs, and multi GPU support for future upgrades. This is the best card to get when you want the absolute most bang for your buck.
There is little that is satisfying in the same way as having your friends gawk and awe at your rig. Or turning heads at a convention or LAN party. There’s no shame in wanting to to be styling with your PC, and when you need a good-looking, elegant card, the XFX RX 480 GTR 8GB XXX Edition DD is a great choice. XFX provides a custom backplate on this card featuring an advanced cooling design, as well as a sharp-looking XFX logo etched into it. the heatsink shroud is all-black, with matte finish, giving it a sleek, professional look that’s at the same time the absolute furthest thing from dull. It has a customizable LED-lit XFX log on the top edge, and the real pièce de résistance is the ‘Hard Swap’ detachable fan design. This allows you to replace the dual fans on the card in seconds. Two clips hold the swappable fans in place, and it makes replacing the stock pro black fans with LED-lid colored fans of your choice. If you want to look good, look to XFX, and specifically, the XFX RX 480 GTR 8GB XXX Edition DD.
AMD has really done a splendid job with the RX 480, and there’s a number of great reasons that make this a better choice than many of the other video cards competing with it right now. The quick and easy answer is the price to performance ratio. This card absolutely crushes games in 1080P. You’d be hard pressed, if you could do it at all, to find a game that cannot be maxed out by this card. With both 4 and 8Gb memory variants, and a plethora of different models, there’s something for everyone in the RX 480 lineup. Besides getting top-notch 1080p performance, you also get solid VR performance, at less than $200 for the more modest models. Satisfying the budget-minded, while still offering $250+ variations with 8Gb of GDDR5, insane boosted clock speeds, and both elegant/professional looking cards, and wild, RGB-LED options, it’s easy to see that even with the various things that we all find more or less important in a purchase decision, there’s something for everyone in the RX 480 line.
Popularity is a fickle thing. It’s rare to find something that’s got amazing buzz, that then lives up to the hype. It’s even more unfortunate to have an absolute gem get developed, then for consumers not to take notice, or get adequate information about. Luckily for all of us, the RX 480 managed to hit the mark on both, and gave us the best of both worlds, when a lot of us are used to having to settle. Maybe it’s the incredible price to performance ratio, especially in 1080p, or running DirectX12. It could be the native HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.4 support, or even the card’s eagerness to crush VR sets for those of us who are stepping into the next-gen experience. Whatever my, or your specific reasons are, it’s easy for everyone to see that there are a LOT of good reasons to choose the RX 480, and it’s consumer acceptance and popularity are surely justified.