The Asus Strix RX480 video card provides first class performance on a budget. No, it doesn’t have the grunt of Nvidia’s flagship GTX 1080, but it doesn’t have the obscene price tag either – and what you get is much better performance for the money.
Want to get into VR gaming? Check. The RX480 can do that. Want to dabble in 4K gaming? Check. The RX480 can do that too. Want to do all this and still have enough money in your bank to build the rest of your gaming system? Check.
This is the best option. AMD is leading the way when it comes to offering fast video cards at a price to attract people thinking of getting into PC gaming, but are worried about the cost.
Let’s take a closer look at this 8GB Asus Strix RX480 and see how it performs.
Based on the Polaris chipset and 14nm manufacturing process the RX480 gets you into gaming on a budget.
If you’re new to building a gaming PC this is one piece of kit you should definitely consider as your first video card.
Its performance/price is so good it’s received top performance component and top budget component awards – definitely making it one to consider.
Let’s move on to the design and look of the card.
The Asus Strix RX480 features a triple fan design, housed inside a modern looking case.
As is the current vogue with everything from motherboards to RAM, the video card also features LED lighting, allowing you to subtly alter how the card looks inside your new PC.
It’s a cosmetic feature, but hey, it’s a nice touch.
So many people are showing their rigs off on Instagram and Facebook these days that it’s an obvious feature for Asus (and everyone else) to install.
The black metal backplate is fairly plain and features Asus’s Republic of Gamers logo in white, while it’s nicely designed I personally prefer the more compact and understated look of Sapphire’s RX480, but that’s down to personal preference.
It’s a pretty big card, measuring in at nearly 12-inches long, so you’re going to need plenty of space in your case to include it in your setup.
The test system I used for this post is long way from being a top-of-the-range ‘enthusiast’ PC.
So, how does the Asus Strix RX480 perform?
Without question this is a fast video card, but if you want to play the most demanding titles – for example The Witcher 3 and Metro 2033: Redux – at ultra detail settings and at 2560×1440 resolutions, be prepared to accept 20-30 frame per second speeds.
While some games were not too far below the magical 60fps sweet spot, there are plenty of people out there who’ll likely reject the Asus Strix RX480 on this point alone.
But, let me convince you.
First, I ran a couple of tests on Unigine’s Heaven Benchmark 4.0 – the results are below.
As you can see from the results it produced a pretty decent score, almost matching the score of my much more power hungry R9 390x (below).
However, compared to the GTX 1080 that I keep mentioning it was much lower.
With the GTX 1080 clearly showing its quality.
But let’s remember the GTX 1080 will set you back $600-$800, while the RX480 will leave you with change from $300.
While the RX480 performed well at 2560×1440, I wanted to test it out at 1920×1080 too, just to see how it handled the lower resolution.
The results were a lot more impressive.
These findings were generally mirrored in gaming performance as well.
Where the card really struggled to produce a solid 60fps at 2560×1440, frame rates of 50-60fps were easily achieved at the lower resolution.
At the higher resolution it was difficult to record a consistent 30fps, with the frame rate dropping much lower in fight scenes. The result wasn’t pretty.
At 1920×1080 though the game looked extremely good at around 50 frames per second.
This was probably helped by my FreeSync monitor which helps smooth frame rates massively.
Adjusting the detail down to medium settings made a massive difference.
Frame rates happily bumped along at 100fps, dropping to around 90fps during fights. The detail was grainy though and didn’t look sharp enough.
With a few more adjustments I found that the sweet spot was at 2560×1440 resolution and medium detail settings.
Adjusted to these levels the game cruised along at 65fps and looked awesome.
Now, let’s remember that the Witcher 3 is an exceptionally demanding game, probably more demanding than 90% of the games available.
If you’re building this rig to play other titles hitting 60fps at 2560×1440 shouldn’t be a problem.
Metro 2033: Redux
As with the Witcher 3, trying to play Metro at 2560×1440 was a challenge. The frame rate was a consistent 20-30fps, rendering the game virtually unplayable.
Again, adjusting the resolution down made a massive difference with the game running at around 70fps at 1920×1080 and looking great too.
The sweet spot at the higher resolution was at medium detail seetings which helped the gam,e chug along at between 70-80fps.
Raising detail level to high brought speeds back down to around 45-50fps.
So, again fairly respectable speeds from this demanding game, but they’re not achieved at 2560×1440 without lowering the detail settings.
Asus Strix RX480
|Chipset architecture||Polaris 14nm|
|GPU power connectors||1 x 8-pin PCIe|
|Video connectors||2 x DisplayPort 1.4, 2 x HDMI 2.0b|
|Max concurrent displays||4|
Asus Strix RX480 – Verdict
If you’re looking for a good video card at a reasonable price point the Asus Strix RX480 delivers.
While it’s miles behind Nvidia’s GTX 1080 when it comes to pure power, it’s miles ahead when it comes to value for money.
It will handle all games easily at 1920×1080 resolutions – the most used desktop resolution – and will even perform well at the higher resolution of 25650×1440, just be prepared to reduce the detail settings a notch or two to make sure you get smooth frame rates.
The Asus Strix RX480 is available now for around $300.
Building a Gaming PC
Building a gaming PC is a great skill to have, and if you’re planning on including the Asus Strix RX480 in a new system you should take a look at my guides.
If you’re new to building PCs, and are a little unsure about where to start, take a look at the below video playlist. It’s designed to be as simple and straightforward to follow as possible.
There’s tips in there on how to install a video card, among other things.
Click the menu box in the top left of the below window to cycle through all the videos.
I deliberately made the videos short and clear, to help make the learning process as straightforward as possible.
If you need tips and hints about installing a video card for your new PC build, hit me up in the comments section, or tweet me directly.
If you like what you’re reading please remember to sign up to the newsletter for up-to-date news, reviews, builds and more.
But Why Build?
As PC games get better and better and the hardware to run them advances at an ever quicker rate you may be tempted to buy a pre-built custom gaming PC.
STOP! Don’t do it. There’s a range of benefits to building your own PC:
- you’ll save a tonne of money
- you can customize it exactly as you want
- you avoid ‘bloatware’ that comes bundled with pre-built systems and clogs up performance
The good news is it’s a buyer’s market with a massive range of components available to builders and building a gaming PC is easier than many realize.
If you can put together a Lego kit you can build a computer. It’s that easy.
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If you’re interested in other PC gaming components and builds head to the blog.
There’s so many different PC systems you can build. Check out a few ideas below.
- Build a VR-Ready Gaming PC
- Build a GTX 1070 PC to play Overwatch
- Build a $700 PC using AMD’s RX 480 video card
- Build a GTX 1080 PC for $2,000
- Build a PC to play Warhammer: Total War
- Invest in a Skylake gaming system that uses Intel’s latest generation of processors
- Build a Budget Gaming PC for $250!
- Build a mini-ITX gaming PC that would be equally at home in your lounge
- Build a gaming PC to play Minecraft
- Build a streaming PC to showcase your gaming skills to the world