Reviewed: AMD RX 480

When testing the AMD RX 480 in general gameplay, we had both FRAPS and any in-game frame counters running so we could see the frame rate for reference when needed but also to note any material variations. The methodology is to play the game and note the typical FPS, any rendering issues, look for stutter and also keep an eye out for imperfections around colour or missing textures that impede the immersion.

These tests are subjective, less reproducible and much more prone to variation so the results are not compared to other cards. This is a good representation of my experience with the review sample and what you should expect if you went out and bought this card.

All observations were made on the test system used for benchmarks connected via DisplayPort and running at a resolution of 2560×1440/144Hz unless specifically noted in the comments.

First Person Shooters

The Division

Played on Ultra Settings with V-Sync turned off.  At 1080p, the RX 480 was able to deliver an experience pushing 60 FPS for the most part although FPS did drop when things got busy and when there was a lot of fire.

When pushed to 1440p, the RX 480 wasn’t up to the ‘Ultra’ task as the frame rate dropped to the low 40s and even below. This is to be expected at the price point though.

blops3COD: Black Ops 3

With Texture quality set to Extra, other settings at High and SMAA 1x, we saw a steady 90FPS at 1440p. The game felt smooth and the aim true with no detectable lag on our BenQ XL2730Z FreeSync display. This setup was easily competitive and the KDR stayed positive when playing which is always a good sign.

Battlefield 4 cover art
Battlefield 4

When set to Ultra at 2560×1440, the result was an impressive 70-100 FPS with a typical reading of around 80FPS. It’s worth noting that the gameplay and level of activity can drastically impact the results, for example when zipping through Shanghai in a fast moving helicopter, frames did dip to as low as 60FPS. Typical run and gun gameplay saw much higher results and delivered a great experience for the money.

Far Cry 4 box art
Far Cry 4

The typical frame rate at the Ultra pre-set was pretty stable at 60FPS. As nice as the XL2730Z is, we did switch to a 60Hz 2560×1440 IPS display to enjoy the full colour palate. At night time, we did notice an increase of typical performance to 75FPS.

Role Playing Games


Elder Scrolls Online cover
Elder Scrolls Online

This is a frustrating game to benchmark due to the impact of weather, time of day and the activity of other players. We saw an indicative frame rate of 45-55 when the settings were set to their maximum.



The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

This game has punished many a graphics card in our lab but 45-55FPS on High settings at 1440p is a respectable result. Further tweaking of shadows etc could see a good looking result at 60FPS.

Fallout 4 cover art
Fallout 4

When using the Ultra pre-set at 1440p, Fallout 4 was smooth at 60FPS. The gritty post-apocalyptic world and quirky loot looked great.


A steady 74FPS made playing WOWS immersive and lots of fun – again, we switched to the IPS display for this to really enjoy the colours of the game.

All up, the RX480 delivers some great performance for the price. Remember that this is a reference design card and the models that feature custom coolers will likely have even better performance with lower temps and fan noise. We swapped this card into the console sized Fragabyte rig and considered it to be the perfect graphics card for the case and the purpose of the compact build. 

The RX 480 is on brief to meet the budget, gaming experience and availability of AMD’s target market.

The acoustic profile of the reference cooler can’t compete with the after-market designed coolers like the Twin Frozr VI from MSI or the ASUS STRIX. That said, we did find that our Fractal Design Node 202 rig ran much cooler with a reference design cooler than a non-reference style due to a lack of active case airflow. This is a win for the reference design but for typical builds with decent case airflow, we would recommend picking up a quality non-reference cooled RX 480.


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