ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 8GB OC review — premium performance, premium design
+ Silent fan operation
+ RGB lighting effects
+ Cool temperatures under load
+ Low power consumption
+ ASUS FanConnect headers
+ Better VR compatibility with more HDMI ports
- Need more voltage for higher overclocks
Let’s put more AMD Radeon RX 480 scores into our benchmark list. Last time, I reviewed the PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 480 8GB graphics card. It was the highest end gaming card based on Polaris architecture you can get. Moving on, we now have the ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon RX 480 8GB OC in our labs to test. ASUS are known for their premium hardware, so we expect to see a proper high end card from them. Without further ado, let’s go to the unboxing.
It’s doesn’t matter whether it’s an AMD or a NVIDIA card, the packaging for ASUS ROG STRIX cards are pretty similar at first glance. The only way we can differentiate is by the red labels for AMD cards, while NVIDIA cards have green labels. The ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 8GB OC we have here today, is understandably factory overclocked, with further overclocking potential available too. At the front of the box, we have the picture of the graphics card itself and highlights of some features such as ASUS AURA RGB lighting.
At the back of the box we have every detail regarding the card printed. The ROG STRIX RX 480 features ASUS DirectCU III cooling system with triple patented wind-blade fans. It also features Auto-Extreme Technology to ensures consistent graphics card quality as well sd improved performance and longevity. The ASUS AURA RGB has over 16M colors and multiple effects for customization. Last but not least the ASUS FanConnect allowing you to connect PWM fan for targeted cooling in your system.
Inside the box we have the ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480, two set of ROG cable ties, driver installer DVD, user manual and a World of Warship premium pass.
Every one of the latest ASUS’ ROG STRIX graphics cards share the same DNA in term of the design and cooling technology. The ROG STRIX RX 480 dark grey cooling shroud is made of plastic with a matte finish which complements the RGB lighting effect. At the front, we have three patented Wind-Blade fans for cool operating temperature while operating 3X quieter than reference designs.
This card is pretty heavy, so it is a good thing that it comes with a metal backplate to improve the card’s sturdiness. While ASUS was working on that, they most probably thought “why not”, and threw in RGB lighting for the ROG logo.
Unlike the reference design of the Radeon RX 480 which only uses a 6-pin PCIe connector and ended up running the risk of damaging motherboards when pushed hard, the ROG STRIX RX 480 draws power through a 8-pin PCIe connector, which can safely deliver more than enough power for the card even when overclocked. Theoretically, this card can draw 225W from the PSU safely.
At the rear of the card we have two ASUS FanConnect header. You can connect two 4-pin fan to the header and the fan can be control manually through ASUS GPU Tweak II software. This features actually is very useful if you want to control the fan speed based on the graphics card’s temperature, which usually is higher than the CPU’s temperature nowadays.
To make the card more VR friendly, ASUS has throw in two HDMI 2.0 ports, two DisplayPort 1.4 connectors and a single active DVI connector.
These dense aluminum heatsink are part of the ASUS DirectCU III cooling technology. Also, coursing through the fins we have five thick heatpipes which are in direct contact with the GPU to effiiciently wick heat away from the GPU.
The ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 8GB is tested on Pokde’s new and official bench rig for this review. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our sponsors who have supporting us since the early days of Pokde.net.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-5820K|
|Memory||Avexir Blitz 16GB DDR4|
|Storage||Sandisk Ultra II 256GB|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master V850|
|Game Tested||Witcher 3, Battlefield 4, DOTA 2 Reborn, CS: GO, Overwatch|
|OS||Windows 10 64bit Annivesary|
|GPU Driver||GeForce Game Ready Driver 375.57|
|Utilities||Furmak, Fraps, MSI Afterburner 4.3 Beta 14, GPU-Z, OBS, Steam, Uniplay, Origin, GOG Galaxy|
|GPU Architecture||Polaris 10 (Ellesmere XT)|
|GPU||AMD Radeon RX 480|
|Memory||8GB GDDR5 @ 8Gbps|
|Base/Boost Clock||1330 MHz / N/A|
|Card Dimension||298 x 134 x 40 mm|
Almost all the software used in this test are updated to the latest version. That includes the operating system, system drivers, BIOS and graphics drive
ASUS GPU Tweak II
The latest iteration of the original ASUS GPU Tweak II, brings a better UI and I hope ASUS keeps improving it constantly. ASUS GPU Tweak & MSI Afterburner are always my go-to tools for GPU overclocking.
ASUS AURA RGB Software
ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 8GB OC comes with RGB lighting customization through the provided tool in the ASUS GPU TWEAK II. I tend to forget to cover the software customization since the default lighting already looks very nice.
During the graphics card review I monitored the power draw from the system. For the ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 the bench rig never consumed above 306 watts. By subtracting the 120 W (± 10 W) that the rest of the hardware consumes, this card only sips approximately 186 watts (± 10 W). The card sip less than 225 watts that it can safely draw, but it is still higher than the reference designs which is limited to 150W.
DOTA2 and CS: GO was never a problem for a high end card like the ROG STRIX RX 480. The game has smooth gameplay with a framerate of over 100 on both 1080p and 1440p resolution. Meanwhile at 4K resolution, only DOTA2 drops below 100, with an average framerate of 83, which we must say is still very playable, while CS:GO is still great at 141 frames per second on average.
In Battlefield 4 we can see the average framerates drop as low as 35 fps at 4K resolution. The story is a lot cheerier at 1080p and 1440p resolutions though. Compared to the PowerColor RX 480, the ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 wins by a slight margin here.
Playing Overwatch with friends is fun and better when the frames rates is also high. The ROG STRIX RX 480 handles Overwatch spectacularly . Although at 1440p the framerates dropped quite a bit, it actually went up at 4K resolution. This also happened with the PowerColor cards I have reviewed before, so this might be an AMD Radeon thing.
Onto our last game in our benchmark suite, Witcher 3 is the only game which needs a boatload of GPU power for fluid gameplay. For AMD cards, I turned off NVIDIA HairWorks and the results are still not that great, especially at 1440p and 4K. At 1080p you might consider turning off Anti-Aliasing for a better experience.
Both AMD’s and NVIDIA’s latest generation of cards are excellent in terms of their thermals. None of the AIB cards that I have reviewed had any issues with their temperature. Like the ROG STRIX RX 480, the temperatures are fixed at 65 Celsius, and the fan spins very quietly even under load.
Increasing the GPU Clock and Memory Clock without any voltage increment is our aim in Pokde.net. I manage to overclock the card by 70 MHz on the GPU Clock and 100 MHz on the Memory Clock. This gave me a performance gain of around 5%.
The ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 is priced at RM1499 which makes it’s the priciest AIB Radeon RX 480 card, closely followed by the MSI Radeon RX 480 Gaming X. With the competition setting their prices within the same range, I dare say that the ROG STRIX RX 480 is not really that expensive, it is just that the Ringgit that is weak.
For me, VR is yet to become mainstream in Malaysia, and that is why I would prefer to buy a Radeon RX 470 or maybe a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti as both GPUs are sufficient for my usage. After judging based on its performance and features, I award the ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 with the Silver Pokdeward.
We would like to thank our sponsors for our very own benchmarking rig – The PokdeRig. These companies believe in us and put their trust into what we do. They deserve all the love in the world!