The recent flood of interest in VR technology has sent the graphics world into a frenzy. Companies like AMD and Nvidia are dedicating countless man hours to keep up with the visual demand created by this emerging field. On the super-enthusiast end of the spectrum, we’ve seen graphics cards such as the $600 GeForce GTX 1080 from Nvidia, which has been hailed as “the new king” of GPUs. Launched just last month, the GTX 1080 offers unsurpassed speed and performance - and comes with the price tag to prove it. In fact, for the majority of average consumers, its $600 price tag places it well outside of the range of justification for the cost (although there seems to be no real limit on what avid gamers will pay to provide themselves the best, most immersive gaming experience possible).
On the other end of the spectrum, you have a wide range of graphics cards that come in well below a $200 price point, but deliver a less-than-ideal gaming experience. While they (mostly) get the job done, and won’t have you eating Ramen for the next month, they suffer from lagging, tearing and other such gaming disturbances. AMD has just announced the ideal card for this Goldilocks conundrum though. If your current graphics card isn’t cutting the mustard but the GTX 1080 is too rich for your blood, AMD’s Radeon RX 480 may be just right for you.
One of the most exciting features of the RX 480 (aside from the low price point) is its ability to run VR games for Oculus’ Rift and HTC’s Vive headsets. This will be the first card based on AMD’s forthcoming Polaris graphics processors, and may singlehandedly expand the total overall market for virtual reality. It has more than five teraflops of computing capability while boasting a power draw of only 150 watts over a single 6-pin connector – much lower than the majority of its Radeon predecessors. The card will come in both 4GB and 8GB memory configurations, and will start at $199 when it launches on June 29th.
While it’s impossible to say for sure yet just how well the Radeon RX 480 stacks up against its high-end competition, recently leaked benchmark results indicate it may very well be all that AMD claims it is. Based on a review of the Core clock and memory bus clock specifications from a recent entry in Futuremark’s database for 3DMark 11, the entry tested appears to be the RX 480. Assuming those in the know have guessed correctly, results show that the wallet-friendly RX 480 (when paired with an Intel Core i7-4770) scored 14,461 in the Performance run. A score that high indicates a card that is fast enough for VR, and even puts it above a “VR-Ready” PC. In fact, this benchmark score comes in just under that of a baseline 4K gaming PC.
“What I’m most excited about with Radeon RX 480 (Polaris) is that it could increase the penetration of both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR solutions and increase VR accessibility for more gamers,” says Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “A VR-ready GPU at $199 democratizes PC VR solutions and enables even lower-cost VR solutions in the future.”
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