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Asus RoG RX480 Strix Edition Review: Mid-range enthusiast dream

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The good fellows at Asus South Africa dropped off this little surprise at the MCave; an Asus RoG RX480 Strix Edition. My colleague SonZ figured that since I had done a piece on the PowerColor RX480 8GB reference edition, why not run the same tests on this shiny new card?

It's big. Really big.

The Asus RoG RX480 Strix Edition is bigger than my old GTX 480 by a significant margin, and I couldn’t get it into my (what I would have thought was) roomy Coolermaster CM690 II chassis. Thankfully, SonZ pulled a rabbit and arranged a Coolermaster CM Master 5 chassis for the purpose of this review.

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The monster…

Display card details

  • Graphics Engine: RADEON RX 480
  • Video Memory: 8GB GDDR5
  • Engine Clock: 1310MHz (gaming) – 1330MHz (OC Mode)
  • Memory Clock: 2000MHz x4 (8.0Gbps)
  • Memory Interface: 256bit
  • DirectX® Support: 12
  • Bus: Standard PCIE 3.0
  • Display Connecors: HDMI/ DisplayPort x2 / DVI
  • Max Resolution DVI: 2560×1600
  • Max Resolution HDMI: 4096×2160
  • Max Resolution DP: 4096×2160
  • Board dimentions: 29.8 x 13.4 x 4 cm
  • Minimum power requirements: 500 watts
  • External power requirement: 1x 8-pin PCIe Power connector
  • Included Software: Asus GPU Tweak II, Drivers, Aura lighting software

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If the chassis wasn't modular, it wouldn't have fit…

Observations

I couldn’t get the front chassis fans plugged into either the motherboard or the cards’ fan management section, so I had to run without it. While this did cause my machine's internal temperature, and the graphics cards’ idle temperature to sit a bit higher, the graphics card itself ran an overall 10 degrees lower than my reference card under load (at about 70 degrees).

Taking this into account; while I am not into the overclocking scene, this should allow a significant edge in the enthusiasts’ market segment, precisely at whom this card is aimed.  

Another caveat was that while this build and the fan configuration wasn’t optimal, there was increased work from the cards’ fans to keep everything cool, so there was a bit more noise overall. Something to consider: I got coil whine while testing Fallout 4 and the Witcher 3.

Included Software

This card includes the Asus Aura color-tweaking software and the Asus GPUTweak II adjustment software. Also included with this review package is a 1-month premium subscription to World of Warships, and a 1-year premium subscription for X-Split Gamecaster.

ASUS GPUTweak II works in a similar manner to the MSI Afterburner package; that is to make adjustments to the graphics cards’ various settings, such as the GPU core and memory clock speeds, as well as voltage adjustments the ability to monitor it all in real-time. Some pre-set exist for “safe” overclocking, stock speeds, silent mode as well as a user-based profile, which can be selected and adjusted on-the-fly. There is an easy-mode adjustment method, shown below, as well as the “professional” mode, which includes sliders for precise adjustment.

 

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The Aura application is a simple package for making adjustments to the on-board lighting system integrated into the card. Options include a static color setting, as well as strobing, breathing and cycling color effects. Personally, the temperature setting is the coolest function, to be able to see what the card is running at with a glance.

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Test Conditions

Except for the change mentioned with the CM Master 5 chassis to accommodate this monster card, all other hardware components are identical to my machine mentioned in my initial review:

  • Processor: Intel i5 4690k
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97X U3DH
  • Memory: 16GB Adata DDR3 1333 Memory (4×4 layout)
  • Storage: Samsung Evo 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid HDD
  • Power Supply: Corsair HX-620 Modular PSU
  • Display: 2x Dell U2412M

Driver for these tests: Radeon Crimson 16.9.1

All other conditions are otherwise the same – Wattman profile settings kept at default, no overclocking performed, resolutions at 1920×1080, and frame-rates and other tests the same as the last time.

The benchmarks

As stated before, the machine is the same; only differences are the upgraded drivers at the time of writing. I ran tests on both cards with the new driver set.

 

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Note: A patch came along rendering the game unplayable when I was attempting to make measurements on the reference card

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Analysis

For the most part – the benchmarks come in mostly neck and neck, with the Strix coming slightly ahead in most of the games. Sadly, when I was performing the tests the next day for Witcher 3, I couldn’t keep the game in running condition as it kept crashing after I ran an update before loading those tests for the reference card.

What I found most interesting, was the card’s apparent equality in the 3Dmark tests, but radically different in the Heaven Benchmarks, with the Strix card clearly having a noticeable performance buff.

Conclusion

There is a little difference between the reference edition cards and this Asus RoG RX480 Strix edition graphics card – if left in its stock configuration. The appeal for this card will be the mid-range enthusiast, who’d be interested in tweaking and performance gains, getting the last drop of oomph out of their investment, and who don’t mind a little noise from the card, and who want a bit of flash and pizazz. Personally, I’m generally in the mindset, that, when I’ve made my decision to play a game, I’m going to tweak settings once for ideal performance for me, and it’s a ‘set and forget’ policy from there on. I’m not a streamer, so the value-added extras have little appeal to me. Make no mistake; this card is a wonderful piece of kit, but I’m in the zone where I want my gear to “just work,” which this card does, and it does so with style.


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Pretty running lights, with diagnostic extra power light included!

 

Pricing on the card is in-line with market offerings, especially with the initial wave of “reference design” boards. But making a choice of offerings available considering how I described myself in the previous paragraph, I’d want something the does the job, with little fuss, and does so quietly. This card performed  otherwise admirably and if the monstrous size weren’t such an issue, I’d wholeheartedly put this over my reference, but the size will be a problem for the unprepared; and the noise-level can be a factor to some.  

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You can pick this little beauty up at Wootware for R5389.

Have you been overclocking your RX480? What were your results and do you have any tips and tricks to share with fellow readers? Let us know in the comments below.

Cover & summary images credit: Asus

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