AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB Power Consumption Results
Power Consumption Results
We’re taking an even closer look at power than usual because we can’t shake the feeling this card was designed for lower clock rates and less consumption. Don’t worry, the following analysis explains this in greater depth. It just seems like there should be an eight-pin auxiliary connector on-board.
MORE: The Math Behind GPU Power Consumption And PSUs
Swipe to scroll horizontally
|Test Method||Contact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card) Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply|
|Test Equipment||2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function 4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA-30A, 100kHz, DC) 4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500MHz) 1 x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function|
Please note that the minimum and maximum states in the following tables don’t always occur at the same time. This is why the individual numbers for the rails don’t necessarily add up to the total for all of the rails.
Idle and Low-Load Power Consumption
The Radeon RX 480’s minimum GPU and memory clock rate is 300MHz, resulting in an idle power measurement of 16W (or 19W if you’re using multiple monitors). That’s simply too high for a modern graphics card. It was actually hard to take a stable reading at idle since even an empty Windows desktop is subject to load fluctuations. The card reacted quickly whenever these occurred, in spite of its high minimum frequency.
Blu-ray and 4K-MKV container playback came in at 36 to 42W. This is acceptable, but certainly not great.
Circling back to our idle measurements, many readers requested that we use a bar graph instead of a table to represent load distribution across the rails and connectors, as well as illustrating overall power consumption. We listened, and the results are as follows:
The seventh phase, which is responsible for the card’s memory, has to deal with an average of 2W and a peak of 3W. The remaining phases are distributed across the 12V rails, with an emphasis on PCIe connector’s three phases. This would be a great setup if it stayed the same at higher loads.
The following gallery contains all of the detailed measurement and analysis results:
Image 1 of 8
In conclusion, here’s a comparison with relevant graphics cards:
Gaming Power Consumption
The outcome of our gaming loop yields a a great example. AMD’s GPU and Samsung’s memory are equally stressed, so there’s no real CPU bottleneck affecting performance. It’s also pretty close to a worst-case scenario in spite of load fluctuations during some scenes. Once again, we’re using a bar graph for our power consumption results to make it clear why we arrived at our (unfavorable) conclusions. It truly takes an observant eye to see why we bemoaned the lack of an eight-pin power connector and the power circuit’s design.
AMD’s Radeon RX 480 draws an average of 164W, which exceeds the company’s target TDP. And it gets worse. The load distribution works out in a way that has the card draw 86W through the motherboard’s PCIe slot. Not only does this exceed the 75W ceiling we typically associate with a 16-lane slot, but that 75W limit covers several rails combined and not just this one interface.
With peaks of up to 155W, we have to be thankful they’re brief, and not putting the motherboard in any immediate danger. However, the audio subsystems on cheaper platforms will have a hard time dealing with them. This means that the «you can hear what you see» effect will be in full force during load changes; activities like scrolling may very well result in audible artifacts.
We’re also left to wonder what we’d see from a CrossFire configuration. Two graphics cards would draw 160W via the motherboard’s 24-pin connector; that’s a tall order. Switching from the bars back to a more detailed curve makes this even more evident.
Here are the detailed results for the individual rails and connectors:
Image 1 of 8
The smaller six-pin PCIe connector implies a more economical graphics card, but let’s be real here: an eight-pin connector would’ve been the way to go. The six phases could’ve been balanced for 30W each, totaling 180W. In such a configuration, two phases would have drawn a maximum of 60W through the motherboard.
We skipped long-term overclocking and overvolting tests, since the Radeon RX 480’s power consumption through the PCIe slot jumped to an average of 100W, peaking at 200W. We just didn’t want to do that to our test platform.
Here’s the comparison overview of our select group of graphics cards:
Stress Test Power Consumption
Believe it or not, the situation gets even worse. AMD’s Radeon RX 480 draws 90W through the motherboard’s PCIe slot during our stress test. This is a full 20 percent above the limit.
To be clear, your motherboard isn’t going to catch fire. But standards exist for a reason. All of the components around the PCIe slot and along the path from the slot to the 24-pin ATX connector will suffer from the peaks. And depending on your platform’s design, audio problems may also materialize.
Once again, here are all of the detailed measurement results:
Image 1 of 8
The comparison overview shows that some of Nvidia’s GeForce cards consume less power during the stress test, since GPU Boost recognizes the nature of the load and limits power consumption accordingly.
There’s no doubt that Polaris is more efficient than its predecessors. However, the design’s efficiency isn’t what enthusiasts might have been hoping for. The Radeon RX 480 significantly exceeds its official TDP. Moreover, distribution between the motherboard’s PCIe slot and the auxiliary power connector isn’t optimal either. It’s up to AMD’s partners to design cards without these shortcomings.
MORE: Best Monitors
MORE: How To Choose A Monitor
Power Consumption Results
Prev Page Professional Application Results
Next Page Temperature & Noise Results
Get instant access to breaking news, in-depth reviews and helpful tips.
Contact me with news and offers from other Future brandsReceive email from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors
AMD Radeon RX 480 Review
This leap to Polaris was made possible by AMD going from a 28nm process for its last two rounds of GPUs (7970, Fury X, etc.) all the way down to 14nm, skipping the 20nm process node in the middle for unknown reasons. Nvidia followed the same path from its 28nm Kepler and Maxwell GPUs to its current 16nm Pascal GPUs, so it seems like both companies took a look at 20nm and decided it wasn’t worth it. The end result is the most efficient and powerful GPU AMD has ever created, and to demonstrate its effectiveness AMD’s launching it directly into the most hotly contested segment of the GPU market; the $200-$240 zone for 1080p gaming.Sure mid-range performance isn’t always quite as attention-grabbing as a high-end GPU like the GTX 1080, but AMD’s gambit is that people want a VR-ready GPU, but don’t want to have to pay $400 for it, as that was the previous cost of admission as the baseline GPUs were the GTX 970 and the Radeon R9 290. When AMD first announced that it’s VR-ready RX 480 would cost just $199, people were quite shocked. Of course that’s the 4GB version, but still, it was an impressive announcement from AMD at the time.
The RX 480 is a full-sized card that requires two PCI Express slots, and is offered in both a reference design as well as tricked-out versions from AMD’s partners. The card we’ve tested was the reference design, which was launched by AMD in two versions; one with 8GB of GDDR5 RAM at $239, and one with 4GB of RAM for $199. This review will focus on the 8GB version, which is naturally the one AMD made available for reviews at launch.
The RX 480 is a 150w GPU, which is a bit lower than the previous generation cards since the R9 380 had a TDP of 190w and the Tahiti-based R9 280X was at 250w, but 30w higher than its main competitor, the GTX 1060. The RX 480 is smallish as far as GPU dies go, measuring just 232mm (squared) and boasting 5.7 billion transistors, which is a smidge larger than the GP106 die in the GTX 1060. It features 2,304 streaming multiprocessors with 144 texture units along with 8GB of GDDR5 memory running at 8Gb/s. Its 256-bit memory bus is wide for a card of this stature and allows for up to 256GB/s of memory bandwidth. It’s notable that AMD has ditched the High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) it used on the Fury X, but it’s possible we might see it make a comeback on one of AMD’s upcoming high-end GPUs, code-named Vega.
Clock speeds on the RX 480 are higher than what we have seen for previous midrange Radeon cards but lower than those on the GTX 1060 due to differences in the respective architectures. The card has a base clock speed of 1,120MHz and a boost clock of 1,266MHz, which is 442MHz lower than the boost clock of the GTX 1060, but the RX 480 kind of makes up for it with more stream processors and more memory bandwidth too. Two specs that are interesting are that since it’s a 150w GPU it requires a single eight-pin PCIe connector, which is two more pins than is required on its baby brother, the RX 470. It also ditches the legacy DVI output, opting instead for DisplayPort and HDMI only, which might frustrate people with older monitors.
To test the RX 480 we pulled some data from our sister site Computer Shopper, which tested it on a system featuring the following specs:
- Intel Core i7-4770K CPU
- 16GB DDR3
- Gigabyte Z87X-UDH5 Socket 1150 mobo
- OCZ Vector 180 SSD boot drive
- 850-watt Thermaltake Toughpower PSU
The card was tested at both 2560×1440 and 1920×1080 resolutions, and they also ran two DX12 tests too. We’ve compiled the results into the following charts.
When we drop down to 1920×1080 we can see that the RX 480 was made for this resolution.
Starting with the 2560×1440 results, we can see that the RX 480 is surprisingly strong at this resolution. Out of eight tests it was only able to eclipse 60fps in three of them, but was close in a fourth game — Hitman 2016. Still, in the rest of the titles it was in the 40s, which is certainly respectable for the price, and settings can always be bumped down from Ultra. Overall, we’d say the RX 480 is just fine for 2560 x 1440 gaming, but of course, the GTX 1060 is a bit faster overall by between 6 and 20%, depending on the game.When we drop down to 1920×1080 we can see that the RX 480 was made for this resolution, as it soared past the magical 60fps marker in every single test, and that is with the game’s highest settings being tested too. In fact, in three of the eight games tested the RX 480 achieved over 100fps, which is phenomenal. Naturally, the GTX 1060 is still faster by anywhere from five to 20 percent, but it also costs more too, so that’s to be expected.
Though there are only three DirectX 12 benchmarks, we see the RX 480 overtaking the GTX 1060 in Hitman and tying it in Ashes of the Singularity, which is consistent with other benchmarks we’ve run that shows AMD with a decent advantage when it comes to DX12. In Rise of the Tomb Raider Nvidia actually increased its advantage over what it could do in DX11 though so it it’s still too early to definitively say whether AMD or Nvidia holds an across-the-board advantage, but things are tilting in AMD’s favor at this early stage.
Going off of our sister-site Computer Shopper’s tests, we see that they were able to nudge the Boost clock up from 1,266MHz to 1,340MHz using the AMD Wattman software, which is about a six percent overclock. That’s not even close to what can be achieved on the Pascal side of things, but then again AMD’s GPUs have never been stellar overclockers, so it looks like that has not changed much with Polaris.
This evaluation specifically focuses on the initial reference edition of the AMD Radeon RX 480, from AMD itself. In the months since its launch, a variety of marginally-improved 480ss have been released from a variety of manufacturers. Prices range from $175 — $260. You can expect slightly improved benchmarks for these 480 variants.