AMD's Polaris architecture is the answer to Nvidia's Pascal: a 2016 update to graphics card technology that promises all the traditional boosts in efficiency, performance, and value for money — along with the new priority of better VR. Instead of taking on Nvidia directly, however, AMD has sought to hit breakthrough pricing with its opening Polaris salvo, the Radeon RX480, which dips down to $199 while offering enough power to support the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. That's AMD's premise, anyway, so does the RX480 deliver?
The always-thorough reviewers at The Tech Report place the RX480's performance on a par with Nvidia's pricier GTX 970, noting that "a performance jump like this hasn't happened around this price point for a long, long time, and it's quite welcome." Power consumption and noise levels on the RX480, they say, aren't as pretty a picture as its price-to-performance ratio, but they are still delighted with the upgrade at the $199 price point. Similarly enthusiastic is HardOCP's Brent Justice, who crowns the RX480 as the perfect graphics card for 1080p gaming and calls it a giant generational leap from its R9 380X predecessor. AnandTech's judgment is also glowing, though the advice from its preview analysis is to spend an extra $40 for the Radeon RX480 with 8GB of VRAM.
AMD clearly has a winner on its hands with the RX480, which delivers performance that is simply uncontested at its price — at least until Nvidia's Pascal makes its way down from the flagship price tier. Punch the links below for the fully detailed, benchmark-laden reviews of AMD's affordable new starlet.