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MSI RX 480 Gaming X 8G Review

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MSI RX 480 Gaming X 8G Conclusion:

When you look at the work MSI has done over the past several years to put the MSI Gaming brand out into the market, it is interesting to see that work bare fruit. Looking at the performance curve of the RX 480 Gaming X 8G, I found that the card does what is expected of it and more. A custom PCB using an all-digital VRM built around MSI's Military Class IV companents allow the card to run more efficiently while delivering a high level of performance for the installed hardware. The RX 480 Gaming X 8G is a factory overclocked video card. No surprises there! As a factory overclocked card, it is equipped with a boosted clock speed that is not the highest available on the market. That being said, it also retains that clock speed under load without throttling due to a thermal or current induced spike. This was a problem I saw while working with the Red Devil RX 480 that I have not seen on either of the MSI RX series cards I have tested.

Factory gaming performance is all relative to the clock speed of the card. In this respect, the MSI RX 480 Gaming hits the marks, delivering a great gameplay experience at 1920 x 1080 and even showing up for work at 2560 x 1440 in most games. Again, no surprises here. This card's performance mirrors up with different cards in different games. Sometimes GTX 970 level performance, sometimes GTX 980 / GTX 1060 levels, and sometimes even R9 390 FPS levels. It all comes down to the game that you are playing.

Overclocking the RX 480 Gaming X 8G proved fruitful and helped drive gaming performance in each and every game tested. The factory OC boost clock on this version of MSI's Gaming X lineup is 1316MHz on the core and 2025MHz on the GDDR5 memory. Stout to begin with, but there was quite a bit more margin to be had with this card. I was able to reach 1410MHz on the core, or about a 7.75% improvement over the factory overclocked baseline. On the memory, the percentage was just over an 8% increase, or 165MHz over the factory overclocked 2025MHz (8100MHz effective). Not earth shattering results, but very good for this core.

MSI's build process and use of an effective cooling solution and custom PCB anchoring an all-digital Military Class IV VRM help achieve these kinds of overclocking results. Additionally, this helps drive improvements in the thermal signature and power consumption results. MSI is using proven technology to keep everything cool on this card: a large by huge three heat pipe solution topped with 95mm Torx 2.0 fans equipped with dispersion blade fans. This fan setup improves the cooling performance of the card by increasing air pressure through the air diverter-equipped cooling fin array by up to 22%. The Twin Frozr VI cooling solution just works as I have seen on many MSI Gaming series cards.

Visually, the card looks great. There are red LEDs in the main body of the fan shroud that you can control in MSI's Gaming App. These will stay red, but can be set to several operational modes. The MSI logo on the top of the card can be set to any color in the rainbow by again using the MSI Gaming App to give you that color control you need to match the visuals of a build.

Currently, the MSI RX 480 Gaming X 8G is going for $259 after a $20 rebate on popular e-commerce sites. For that price you get a well built card that delivers what AMD's architecture intended. You get good playable FPS levels at the target resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a card that can deliver at 2560 x 1440, if you need it to, in the latest games. Add in MSI's build quality and ever improving Gaming brand, and you have a card that does all that it was intended to do and more.

 

Pros:

  • Looks
  • Overclocking
  • Cooling performance
  • Custom build
  • Military Class IV components
  • Digital VRM
  • Torx 2.0 fans
  • Low noise
  • RGB LEDs
  • Gaming App

 

Cons:

  • None
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