AMD’s plans now come to fruition, as the Polaris GPUs are in full production, and the first retail products are now launched. Kicking off the Polaris generation in the desktop market will be AMD’s Radeon RX 480, which is aiming for the mainstream market.
At the highest level, the RX 480 is based off of a fully enabled version of AMD’s Polaris 10 GPU. That is the first Polaris GPU to hit the market, and is the larger of the two GPUs. The total transistor count is 5.7 billion, that takes up 232mm2 on GlobalFoundries’ 14nm FinFET process.
When it comes to real-world performance, the RX480 felt just as fluid as the GTX 1080 when playing Overwatch in 1440p with all graphics settings at their maximum. It never dipped below 60 fps, even when things got incredibly hectic.
On the backend of things, RX 480 is equipped with 32 ROPs. This is fewer than Hawaii’s 64 ROPs, but it’s consistent with mainstream parts, as ROP needs don’t scale nearly as quickly from one generation to next like compute (CU) needs. These 32 ROPs are paired with 2MB of L2 cache, which is twice as much L2 cache per ROP as the bulk of AMD’s last-generation lineup.
It’s a $200 card that’s VR ready. That’s huge, especially since the current batch of GPUs which meet minimum VR specs cost around $350.
In the end, AMD has successfully delivered on it’s promise of making a VR-ready card that everyone can afford. And what’s most intriguing is that NVIDIA does not yet have a viable budget competitor. The door is wide open for AMD to redefine what a low-end GPU can do.