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Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 review: Polaris rethought and refined

Brad Chacos | July 25, 2016
The wait was worth it for custom Radeon RX 480 cards.

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Nvidia’s new Pascal GPU performs far better in Hitman than the older Maxwell-based graphics cards, but again, this game is built for Radeon. The Nitro+ RX 480’s slight overclock only helps to widen the advantage between it and Nvidia’s GTX 1060.

Next page: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Now for something completely different! Whereas Hitman adores Radeon GPUs, Rise of the Tomb Raider performs much better on GeForce cards. It’s also the single most drop-dead gorgeous PC game I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

We only tested the games DirectX 11 mode, as we haven’t had a chance to reevaluate the game’s DirectX 12 enhancements now that several patches have been released to fix its once-wonky implementation.

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The Nitro+ RX 480’s overclock doesn’t provide much of a boost here. The GTX 1060 still reigning supreme in this Nvidia-favoring game. That said, the Nitro+ RX 480 still delivers frame rates far in excess of the 60 fps gold standard with everything cranked at 1080p resolution, and comes damn close to it at 1440p, too.

Next page: Far Cry Primal

Far Cry Primal

Yes, Far Cry Primal is yet another Ubisoft game, but it’s powered by a different engine than The Division—the latest version of the long-running and well-respected Dunia engine. We test the game with the free 4K HD Texture Pack installed.

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Up until this point we’ve compared the Nitro+ RX 480 against the reference editions of the next-gen GPUs, and the narrative remains the same: The Nitro+ RX 480 is a little bit better than the reference RX 480 in Far Cry Primal, and closes the gap with Nvidia’s GTX 1060. It seems like a good time to point how just how much more performance this new generation offers compared to the $200 last-gen cards. The difference is night and day. You’ve never been able to play the most demanding new games at 1440p resolution on a $200 graphics card—until now.

Next page: Ashes of the Singularity

Ashes of the Singularity

Ashes of the Singularity, running on Oxide’s custom Nitrous engine, was an early standard-bearer for DirectX 12, and it’s still the premier game for seeing what next-gen graphics technologies have to offer. (It’s a fun real-time strategy game, too!) The performance gains it offers with DX12 over DX11 are eye-opening—at least when running on Radeon cards.


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