AMD RX 480 Power, Temperature and Sound Testing

Edit – As it turns out, my multimeter was on it’s last breath as well. We were able to borrow a Tektronix TBS1104 to provide a far more accurate picture. Keep in mind we didn’t have a tremendous amount of time with this unit, and conducted tests as the same points as below and recorded what appeared to the more stabilized power readings for each. As others have seen as well, there were spikes of total usage going above 150W, though those seemed to last for milliseconds, as opposed to be sustained. Needless to say, power consumption results require expensive equipment in order to be correct and to analyze it in the best manner possible. In the future we’ll make use of such equipment, though it will rotate based on what we can borrow or obtain time to use until we acquire our own.

Original: Power consumption is one of the most improved areas of Polaris and especially in the RX 480. AMD has been very much aware of the high power consumption of cards past, and wanted to correct that. They’ve done precisely that, though keep in mind that this is not the flagship card, but still a very powerful mainstream card. To test we ran the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark at the Extreme preset at 2160P. We measured PCIe power using leads connected to the slot itself, as well as the power connector. These are are the peak numbers that were seen.

RX 480 Power Consumption Fixed

Power consumption was actually quite impressive, considering. IT’s vastly superior to the GTX 970, which is a frugal GPU by rights.

We measured temperature in a similar manner. We played the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark at Extreme at 2160P. We then monitored peak temperature throughout.

AMD RX 480

It’s a bit on the warm side, though that’s to be expected with the stock cooler as it is.

For sound we measured at 1 meter away from an open chassis while we played the aforementioned Ashes of the Singularity benchmark. We used a Reed R8050 to test. We also used an iPhone 6 Plus just to see if it was accurate, and to try to see just how low the sound was, because it was out of range of the professional meter for some reason.

AMD RX 480

How about them sound levels? Well, it’s actually quiet for the most part, or at least it isn’t of a frequency profile that will ruin your day when you’re playing games. In reality, I hardly heard it over system fans and my PSU (which itself is quiet). The results are a very quiet card. Overclocked and we see it go much higher, as it well should. The EVGA GTX 970 was having a fit, and I don’t think it’ll last much longer, unfortunately. Hence the higher idle. Something is amiss with that card… Regardless, the RX 480 is doing well here.


For OC’ing this beast, we were only able to achieve a 6% increase in clocks, to 1340, before the driver would crash. No artifacts, just a crashing. We saw a near 6% increase in performance, with it being closer to 4-5% at higher resolutions. This is enough to investigate this further in another article, once better drivers and AIB cards arrive. This may be a limitation of the OEM card itself, even.

Overclocking is made much easier with the WattMan that is so easily and well integrated into the driver. It’s intuitive and attractive looking. It gives you all the tools you need, even performance monitoring, to experiment with OC’ing.

RX 480 WattMan

What can we conclude?

This isn’t quite the monster we may have hyped ourselves up to believe. But again, AMD never said it was going to be. We did that ourselves. My results see it being as fast as a Fury and sometimes just slower than a 390X. I believe that the drivers are immature and that in time we’ll see the true, stable performance of this card. This is a mainstream card, but it acts like one much higher than its price point.

In essence, AMD delivered exactly what they said they were going to, a GPU architecture that’s vastly more efficient than GCN has ever been. It doesn’t nearly have the resources to compete with Fiji head-to-head, and thus we never expected this $239 card to do that. Instead, it fights above its weight-class in enough situations to make it an incredible deal for the money. It’s also a showcase for what’s to come when Vega 10 and 11 get here later next year. Those big chips will be the true test of GCN 4.0. In the meantime, this cool(ish), quiet and powerful chip is no slouch. It isn’t the absolute best, but it was never mean to be. It’s still one hell of a deal though.

AMD RX 480 GPU review
Polaris might not be the high-end GPU we were hoping for from AMD, but the RX 480 is still an amazing contender at the midrange and seems to scale well in CrossFire compatible games. Not a bad choice given the price. A great value for the money.
General Features98%
What's Right
  • Generally Good Performance
  • Incredible Value
What's Wrong
  • Terrible Cooler
  • Runs Hot
  • Doesn't OC Well
90%Overall Score
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