Up until this time, enjoying a highly capable graphics card has been an expensive luxury. With cards from NVidia and AMD, it is not unusual to pay $400, $500, or even $600 for a card that is capable of running modern AAA titles at high framerates on HD monitors.
Entry and mid-level cards are slightly more affordable, but they always come with compromises, which is something that has always irked the gaming community.
AMD, recognizing the problem, has recently announced a brand new contender in the graphics card market. It’s not the most powerful card, but it has three clear advantages over the competition. It is ready for VR, it will handle high and ultra graphics settings on 1080p and 1440p monitors, and most importantly, it will retail for just $199, a price point that is usually reserved for cards with far less horsepower.
AMD has caused quite a stir with their upcoming offering. While NVidia recently released their powerhouse flagship, the GTX1080, AMD has been thinking about the mainstream audience. The 1080 is a technological masterpiece, and it’s the most powerful consumer card that can be purchased at this time. The problem is that it retails for $699, a price which leaves it firmly reserved for the high end enthusiasts. While the RX480 won’t be able to compete on raw power, it will satisfy the demands of the budget conscious PC gamers who want to be able to enjoy the latest games and VR technologies.
The AMD card is built on a new FinFET architecture, which allows for high performance at reduced thermals and power consumption. This means more efficient computers that outperform competing systems with previous generation graphics cards.
While this card is not aimed squarely at the enthusiast market, it is worth noting that running two cards in a crossfire configuration will allow for performance that is on par with, or exceeds the more expensive NVidia GTX1080. This is important, considering that two RX480s are still less expensive than a single 1080.
The graphics card market looks like it will give us some interesting competition over the next six to twelve months, and it will be interesting to see if consumers are receptive to AMDs extremely capable mainstream offering.
The RX480 is expected to launch at the end of June 2016.