Review of the graphics card ASUS ROG STRIX-RX480
Serious competition between AMD and NVIDIA on the market of discrete graphics is a condition for the development and use of objective price tags. The competition and response improve the correlation between value and performance that are so important for users. Offering Radeon RX 480 on the basis of 14-nanometer chips with the architecture of Polaris, AMD outlined their idea about the graphics card of the middle class in 2016. The awaited versions of the adapters with the original design have just become available on sale; we offer to get acquainted with one of such models as ASUS ROG STRIX-RX480-O8G-GAMING.
Also see: How to choose Graphics card
At the initial stage of sales of the Radeon RX 480 developers encouraged producers to use only the reference design adapters. However, stock option was not the most successful due to various reasons, that’s why much more interest was given to the original version of the devices based on processor Ellesmere.
Clock speed (Boost Clock) graphics processor is increased up to 1330 MHz instead of 1266 MHz characteristic of the reference Radeon RX 480. It should be noted that this value corresponds to the Mode OS, which was installed on the test instance of the graphics card by default. For a typical Gaming Mode the maximum frequency of the chip corresponds to 1310 MHz. The graphics card has an on-board 8 GB of memory GDDR5, running at 8,000 MHz effective.
Graphics card is available in box of medium size. The adapter is accompanied with manual, CD with drivers and a few reusable cable ties for laying power cables.
Design and layout
At first glance on the graphics card, you check again whether it was Radeon RX 480 that came to the test. There is great similarity with the top models of the new class on the basis of chips NVIDIA.
There are exactly the same dimensions, the identical cooling system, already well-known strict making with graphite and plastic casing and a metal plate on the back side of the PCB. Let’s recall that in this case we are talking about the device of a nominally middle class.
For the cooling, they use a cooler of DirectCU III. The coolers of the same type can vary markedly in design. Something like that we expected to see that time. Will the manufacturer use the same cooler for RX 480 and for GTX 1080? As it has turned out, it’s real.
The applied modification of the cooler has the exact same configuration. It’s two radiator unit comprising a set of aluminum plates. The design uses five Nickel-plated heat pipes. Four of them are 8 mm in diameter, one – 6-mm in diameter. The technology of DirectCU involves direct contact between the chip of the GPU and heat pipes. The advantages and disadvantages of this method are already well knows. It has both supporters and implacable opponents.
In this case, direct contact with the chip has four tubes, one of which touches very tangentially. 6-mm tube has no direct contact, but this does not mean that it is completely useless. Yes, its performance is lower, but it is still in contact with the “active” pipes, taking heat and transferring it to the plates of the radiator block.
The cooler is blown by three fans are axial type with a diameter of 90 mm. On large blade there is a small rim, which, according to the manufacturer increases airflow.
ASUS ROG STRIX-RX480-O8G-GAMING uses large printed circuit Board with a length of 295 mm.
Unit voltage regulator has 8-phase scheme (6+2), while the CPU phases use Assembly from International Rectifier.
In order to control the VRM controller they use Digi+ ASP1300 (IR3567).
Memory chips are located around the GPU. In this case, they use the Samsung chips K4G80325FB-HC25, which are nominally ready to work with an effective frequency, often up to 8000 MHz (2000 MHz).
There is an additional metal plate for additional heat dissipation from the memory chips, which, however, covers not all the chips, because you can only talk about partial cooling. Rather you can say that a typical plate here is used as an element for increasing the hardness.
The technology of ASUS Fan Connect is realized for the ASUS ROG STRIX-RX480-O8G-GAMING. On the side there are two 4-pin connectors that can be used to connect external cooling fans. Their rotation speed will be adjusted depending on the heat of the GPU.
On the reverse side of the graphics card covers the anodized aluminum plate. It is considered that it also increases the strength of the structure, but first and foremost it is rather an element of decor. Many users like the whole visual appearance of the adapters from the rear armour, because the manufacturers satisfy the request for such registration. For a bulky adapter this element will not be an extra one.
Cooling system adapter doesn’t have very large dimensions. It will not take up more space in the housing and will not qualify for the neighbouring connectors. The total length of the graphics card is almost 300 mm, therefore before buying you should make sure the case has enough space to install it.
The additional power connection is provided by 8-pin connector, which immediately removes the issue of energy balance, which caused a lot of noise after the release of the reference of Radeon RX 480. The fact is that the stock model has one 6-pin connector. According to the fact that there is the declared thermal package (TDP) of graphics of cards of 150 watts this configuration virtually offers no redundancy. Not accidentally, the enthusiasts dealt in detail in the nuances of power consumption of this model, incidentally finding out that the reference of Radeon RX 480 would require the PCI Express slot which is larger than the standard 75 watts. In the end, AMD had even to programmatically balance loading, reducing the consumption of the graphics card.
For the ASUS ROG STRIX-RX480-O8G-GAMING this problem is not relevant. Due the presence of 8-pin connector to the graphics, a card can draw up to 225 watts. This is more than enough even for the frequency experiments.
Power connector is habitually deployed for easy connection of power cables. The display system connection to external line of 12V has also become commonplace for graphics cards of ASUS. Next to the power connector the white indicators will light, if the cable is connected and the red reminds us that you need to bring an additional source.
The composition of the interface panel is different from that of the reference model of Radeon RX 480. It also has five outputs. Also there are two port HDMI 2.0, a pair of DisplayPort and one DVI-d. An extra HDMI instead of the third DisplayPort is convenient to use, for example, to connect the VR helmet.
During the first meeting with adapters equipped with an identical cooling system, we have already noted the spectacular illumination of the cooler. The contour of the plastic casing is located in the segments with additional translucent fibers, which acquire color used by RGB LEDs. In practice, this solution looks interesting. The case when a manufacturer really tried to please the fans of illuminations.
The top face of the adapter has the name of the series of Republic Of Gamers, which is also illuminated.
We shouldn’t forget about the back panel. The aluminium protective plate is combined with an engraved big logo of the game that features separate RGB source, the color of which is synchronized with the main light. There lights from all sides.
The ASUS Aura allows you to customize the illumination color and to select the mode. There are not many of the last one. There are perhaps constant glows, fade, twinkle with a certain periodicity and the effect of alternating the color change. Additionally, the adapter can be filled with illumination to the beat of the voice and change the color depending on the current GPU temperature.
In rest mode the graphics card is silent. A hybrid mode of operation of the cooling system is also relevant here.
The efficiency of the radiator block is enough to keep the GPU temperature at 50 degrees. The threshold of active blowing is relatively small. The fans start spinning at a temperature of 53-55C. That is, they start almost immediately, with minimum load on the GPU.
Upon completion of all game tests, the peak GPU temperature did not exceed 65C. To keep the heat in such a framework, the fan speed exceeds 2100 rpm. In our view, the default algorithm of the cooling system is not configured optimally. Yes, the cooler is able to contain the heating of the GPU under 65 degrees, but the noise level is slightly higher than the desired one. It still remains at an acceptable level, but we want the adapters of this class to work quietly. The noise is reduced even with standard tools, using profiles Wattmap that you can configure directly in the graphics card drivers.
Here it is enough to change the target temperature value, for example, from 65 to 75 degrees. It is all. After this simple procedure permissible heating will increase, but the fan speed and the level of noise will be considerably reduced. In our case, the rotation frequency will be dropped to 1600-1700 rpm while the GPU will be heated up 73С.
Such a regime would be optimal as a staff. In any case, pay attention to the fact that the Toolkit Wattman is available only for new adapters of series of Radeon RX 400.
4.5 ASSESSMENT thecomputerfinder.com
PROS: Good performance; overclock GPU; power subsystem; 8-pin connector for additional power; 8 GB memory; efficient; passive work WITH at minimum load; connectors for external fans, spectacular RGB backlight.
CONS: High price; average noise level under load
CONCLUSION: New solutions from AMD and NVIDIA fit perfectly into the scope of mid-range devices. Radeon RX 480 and GeForce GTX 1060 are equal opponents, each of which has its strengths and weaknesses. Nominally the proposal with the chip NVIDIA in most current games is a little more productive and economical. While the GTX 1060 is very quickly entered the market and is offered in a wide range. In turn, Radeon RX 480 is better manifests itself in games with DX12, where the widely used asynchronous computations, but also has the potential to API Vulcan. More memory at a slightly lower recommended value is also likely to be attributed to the merits of the AMD solutions. As far as considered ASUS ROG STRIX-RX480-O8G-GAMING, the graphics card leaves a pleasant impression, but in normal mode under load, the cooler should run quieter, but the starting price turned out to be lower than the announced one. The algorithm of operation of the cooling system will be changed in the driver settings, and the price is variable. For the same cost the equal for equipment the GeForce GTX 1060 will look preferable to the Radeon RX 480, but if you maintain a balance of price and performance, you will get an interesting variant on the basis of the chip AMD with architecture Polaris.
|GPU||Radeon RX 480
|Amount of memory, GB||8|
|Interface||PCI Express 3.0 x16
|Cooling System Design||Branded (DirectCU III)|
|Operating frequencies of the GPU, MHz||1330|
|Memory frequency, MHz||8000|
|Memory bus, bit||256|
|Output Connectors||1x Dual-link DVI-D, 2x DisplayPort, 2x HDMI 2.0
|Power consumption, W||no data|
|Recommended power supply, W||no data|
|Other||Premium components Super Alloy Power II and automated production technology Auto-Extreme. Aura RGB illumination system. HDMI ports that are compatible with virtual reality systems.|