AMD Radeon RX 480 Video Card Review – Polaris Arrives


Temperature & Noise Testing

The gaming performance on a graphics card is the most important factor in buying a card, but you also need to be concerned about the noise, temperature and power consumption numbers.

AMD Radeon RX 480 Idle and Load Temps:


When it comes to temperatures the AMD Radeon RX 480 with the stock GPU cooler idled around 37C on our open air test bench and then hit 84C at load while gaming. The stock GPU cooler is basically a copper cored aluminum finned heatsink that you’d more commonly see on a CPU cooler. It was loud and ran at 2,100 RPM while gaming. We used 6.4GB of the cards 8GB of memory and put the GPU and memory controller at 100% load during our benchmarking. The voltage topped out at 1.25V while the most you could set it to in WattMan was 1.15V, so that is a bit odd.

AMD Radeon RX 480 Temperature

Here is a chart that shows the temperatures of the AMD Radeon RX 480 versus some other high-end desktop cards and you can see that the stock GPU cooler isn’t that great. We hit 84C and that is hotter than any other card we have tested this year.

Sound Testing

We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has 1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with ‘A’ frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

Radeon RX 480 Noise Testing

The AMD Radeon RX 480 also is the loudest graphics card that we have tested recently as it topped out chart at 51.5dB. The reference design GPU Cooler is basically garbage and it looks like AMD went with a low cost design to hit the $199 price point. They most certainly splurged on the GDDR5 memory chips and cut back on the GPU cooler! Just one look at the GPU cooler used on the RX 480 should make that clear!

radeon-rx480-cooler2 radeon-rx480-cooler

** The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X reference card that we are using was the original model with a loud water pump that whines. AMD changed the pump design before the cards hit the retail market, but wasn’t willing to replace ours. We expect retail cards to perform quieter for this and hopefully AMD will send us a replacement card for proper noise testing. **