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PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 8GB Review

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PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 8GB Testing:

Finding out the just how much gaming FPS performance PowerColors Latest Devil series card the Red Devil RX 480 8GB  can deliver will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will be testing the cards at their stock speeds to see how they stack up and will test each one to find the maximum stable overclock. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. Resolutions of 1920 x 1080, 2560 x 1440, and 3840 x 2160 will be used.

 

Testing Setup:

Comparison Video Cards:

  • XFX R9 390X DD
  • MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G
  • PNY GTX 980 XLR8
  • XFX R9 Fury
  • PowerColor R9 390
  • NVIDIA GTX 980Ti
  • NVIDIA GTX Titan X
  • NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founders Edition
  • NVIDIA GTX 1070 Founders Edition
  • NVIDIA GTX 1060 Founders Edition
  • MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G
  • MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G
  • MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G
  • Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 4GB

 

Overclocking:

  • PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 8GB: 1370MHz Core, 2180MHz Memory

Overclocking the Red Devil RX 480 8GB was an exercise in frustration after the ease with which the Sapphire card was able to hit and maintain the applied overclock settings. I'm always up for a challenge, but this one was pushing all of my buttons to get done and deliver good consistent results. I tried both AMD's Wattman software and ASUS GPU Tweak software that was able to overclock the settings properly since my go-to software did not work with this generation of AMD cards. The big buttons that you need to adjust are the Power Limit, Temperature Target, and the Fan Speed Target min and maxes to give you a more consistent fan speed when under a 3D load.

What I found with this card is that if you overvolted the GCN core and memory, you had a very narrow envelope with which to hit the clock speeds you set under load. If I ran the card at its default applied voltage, the clock speed would throttle during most games to the point that the applied overclock setting would be just a pipe dream. What it finally took to get the 1370MHz applied core clock speed, I had to set the voltage on the core to 1070mV with the Power Limit to the maximum level with the temperature target set to 45 °C. This got me to the promised land on the core clock speed.

I then attempted to bump the memory clock speed up to the 2100MHz range with an applied voltage of 1100mV, and this is when it all went sideways again. By applying the voltage to the memory, the core clock speeds and gaming performance suffered due to the reduced core clock speeds induced by the added voltage. At this point I started back from square one and kept running into low gaming performance results due to what I can only surmise are power limits built into the card's hardware or BIOS. After testing as many combinations of voltage, clock speed, fan speed, memory speed, power limit, and temperature targets as I could work through, I finally stumbled on a combination that, for the most part, kept the clock speeds on the core much closer to the applied 1370MHz throughout my testing.

I ended up running the core at 1370MHz using 1090mV applied on State 7. For the memory, I set the voltage at 1050mV with an applied memory speed of 2180MHz. Temperature target was set to 45 °C with the power limit set to 50%. I set the minimum and maximum target fan speeds to the highest level so that once the fans spooled up they were on full speed to keep the core as cool and as far from thermally throttling as possible. I cannot say I am particularly fond of AMD's tool or the tight controls used to manage the clock speeds on the latest lineup. You get overclocking margin, but it takes some work to test and tune in each of the games you play.

 


 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for thirty minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were re-run until they passed a full hour of testing.

 
  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Fallout 4
  2. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  3. Far Cry Primal
  4. Battlefield 4
  5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  6. Hitman (2016)
  7. Tom Clancy's The Division
  8. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  9. Ashes of the Singularity
  10. 3DMark

 

  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption



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