Conclusion

 The Conclusion

The Red Devil RX 480 improves in performance over the reference (non throttling) RX 480 with a simple BIOS flash by generally more than 3% to over 6%.  The original PowerColor Red Devil shipping BIOS mostly throttled the clocks to slightly above reference non-throttling RX 480 clocks.  It beats the RX 470 by a much wider margin now and becomes more competitive with the GTX 1060 than the reference RX 480.  However, we will have to wait until next week to see just how close it comes to the stock and overclocked EVGA GTX 1060 SC when the Red Devil is overclocked further.

Let’s sum it up:

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 Pros

  • The PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 comes very close to GTX 1060 performance now compared with the reference RX 480 even though it was originally held back by its original shipping BIOS to near RX 480 maximum reference clocks, and it now beats the reference RX 470 rather handily.
  • At $279 the Red Devil RX 480 is only $40 more than the reference RX 480, and it offers a DVI-D input and a nice backplate plus improved power delivery for better stability and overclocking potential with an 8-pin PCIe connector. It also offers a much cooler and quieter fan design that can be left on automatic, unlike the reference design which requires a higher fan speed to prevent throttling.
  • The Red Devil is clocked higher than the reference RX 480 and its unlocked BIOS has narrowed the performance gap further versus the Founders Edition of the GTX 1060, trading blows and winning more games.
  • The Red Devil RX 480 has a very nice 3-fan custom cooling design that is very quiet, becoming only a bit louder with the unlocked BIOS.  The cooling is much more effective than the reference RX 480 which requires a higher fan speed and much more noise to prevent throttling.
  • WattMan brings new features to Radeon overclocking that was not present in OverDrive.
  • New features in Polaris architecture improves on Async compute with dedicated hardware and the Red Devil RX 470 may even be well-suited for VR.
  • FreeSync eliminates tearing and stuttering.

PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 Cons

  • The original shipping performance BIOS of the PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 is too conservative for enthusiasts and they will appreciate using the new unlocked BIOS instead.  The trade-off in higher fan speeds and higher energy usage is worth it in our opinion.

We cannot comment on PowerColor Red Devil overclocking with the unlocked BIOS as we did not test it yet.  The Red Devil is a very good deal and an excellent alternative to the reference RX 480 with its weaker cooler and limiting 6-pin PCIe connector.

The Verdict:Badge---Editor's-choice -final rev.

  • The PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 is new architecture on a new process that uses significantly less power and has more refinements than AMD’s last generation.  It is solidly built and it has higher clocks out of the box than the reference RX 480 which has only a 6-pin PCIe connector and a weak reference cooler.  The Red Devil represents a solid value at $279 in our opinion and it deserves BTR’s Editor’s Choice Award.

We do not know what the future will bring, but right now, the PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 brings solid improvement over AMD’s last generation and it also trades blows with the competing GTX 1060 Founders Edition in a similar price range while coming in ahead of the reference RX 480 performance for $40 more.

We are looking forward to manually overclocking the PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 and comparing it with the overclocked EVGA GTX 1060 SC on the latest Nvidia drivers next week.

Stay tuned, there is a lot coming from us at BTR. We are playing Deus Ex Mankind Divided today with a view to adding it as BTR’s newest benchmark.  Next up, we will evaluate the brand new $199 3GB version of EVGA’s GTX 1060 and compare it with the $199 PowerColor RX 470 4GB card. Expect this evaluation to be published at the weekend. And don’t forget to check BTR forums.  Our tech discussions are among the best to be found anywhere!

Happy Gaming!

Mark Poppin

BTR Editor-in-Chief

 

7 COMMENTS

    • 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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