The Shipping vs. the Unlocked BIOS

The Shipping BIOS vs. the “Unlocked” BIOS

PowerColor originally shipped the Red Devil RX 480 with a very conservative Performance BIOS that allowed it to boost to 1330MHz, but most of the time it throttled to 1279MHz which made it only slightly faster than the reference RX 480.  Here is GPU-Z.  The Pixel fill rate is 40.9 GPixels/s and the Texture Fillrate is 184.2 GTexels/s.gpu-z

Here is the screenshot of the results of looping Heaven 4.0 continuously with the original BIOS at reference clocks.WATTMAN-PowerLimit-temo

As you can see, the clocks stay around 1279MHz, well below the PowerColor Red Devil maximum boost of 1330MHz and just a few MHz over the maximum boost of the reference RX 480.  Although the core occasionally boosts to the maximum of 1330MHz, ,it often throttles, and the temperature is kept to 72C with a very quiet fan profile.  The Power Limit is restricted to +5% and our original overclocking results were poor.

Here is GlobalWattman with the new “unlocked” BIOS.WATTMAN-PowerLimit-temp---n

We see a significant change with the new unlocked BIOS.  The clocks have now settled in at their maximum boost of 1330MHz – up from 1279MHz in the shipping BIOS – even after looping Heaven 4.0 for over 1/2 hour.  And the Power Limit is now set to +50%, up over the original +5% and the temperature has gone up a few degrees.  Although the fan speed is much higher, it is still reasonably quiet.  In contrast, we have to turn up the fan speed of the reference RX 480 to keep it from throttling which brings its noise into the annoying range.

Even GPU-Z now shows a higher Pixel and Texture fill rate over the shipping BIOS.  The Pixel fill rate is 42.6 GPixel/s, up over the original BIOS’ 40.9 GPixels/s, and the new Texture Fillrate is 191.5 GTexel/s, up from the original 184.2 GTexels/s.gpu-- new bios

We did not attempt to overclock the Red Devil RX 480 yet.  We are going to follow up next week to see how far we can overclock it with the new unlocked BIOS and we will also compare performance with the similarly-priced and overclocked EVGA GTX 1060 SC on the latest Nvidia drivers.  Let’s head to the performance chart to see how the PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 now compares with the reference RX 480.



    • The RX 480 4gb is the same as the 8gb one, just the VRAM changes, there’s also a 3gb 1060, so I’m unsure which one they’re using.

      • We used the Founders Edition of the GTX 1060 (6GB) for this evaluation. I just fixed the typo in the Test bed that mistakenly said 8GB. We are using the Red Devil RX 480 8GB.

  1. I just flashed the unlocked BIOS onto the rx 480, but the max powelimit i can set still is 5%. Any suggestions?

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