AMD Radeon RX480 front render

AMD’s new VR-ready graphics card, the Radeon RX 480, is launching at the end of the month on 29 June 2016. There’s been basically no leaks for the past month since the card’s announcement, and AMD has been keeping a lid on anything going out to the press or to partners. NVIDIA’s Pascal family was a badly kept secret, with several key aspects of the cards known months ahead of time, but with Polaris AMD isn’t taking any chances. With cards going out to retailers and reviewers, though, there are always bound to be leaks in the week leading up to a launch, and we’ve finally found some. Ready to get hype?

The most interesting leak came from the Chiphell forums, that dark den on the internet where all the secrets in the computer industry seem to leak from. One reviewer took a photo of the RX 480 they had received, and kindly removed the cooler shroud and heatsink.

AMD Radeon RX 480 leak (1)

Everything seems to be above board here. AMD went the extra mile in designing their new cooler, even adding cooling for the memory and VRMs through the inclusion of a heatsink on the front of the GPU that covers most of the board. The main heatsink is just an aluminium block with a copper core, but this should be enough for a GPU that has a TDP of 150W. Close examination of review cards might also reveal that the fan can be removed for easy cleaning, something that hasn’t been possible with blower designs similar to this one for a while.

The front plate can also be removed, but it won’t be replaceable like the one AMD shipped with the Radeon Fury X. This is similar to the Radeon R9 Nano’s design, which didn’t have a removable plate that could be replaced with a custom design.

AMD Radeon RX 480 leak (16)

The image above surfaced on the AMD subreddit, reposted from the comments section of an article somewhere on the internet that has now been removed. These cards are a bit different because they include a backplate, something that most reference cards aren’t expected to ship with (even AMD’s official PR renders don’t include one). The side of the backplate closest to the video ports has holes drilled for ventilation, and this might be of benefit to anyone wondering if there’s a benefit to cooling by going this route.

Finally, a user on imgur uploaded fourteen images of the RX 480 that he/she received for review. Rather wisely, the clock speeds have been obfuscated inside the Radeon Crimson control panel so as not to violate the NDA, if any was signed to begin with. The reference design is 24cm long, so if you’re in the market for this card you can now start measuring how much space your chassis has for it. At least it’ll run on just about every 450W power supply on earth.

The 3DMark results are rather decent. Dredging up the results I have on file from my review of the Evetech gaming rig from last year, it performs right on the mark compared to the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4GB that was installed, but this is possibly an underclocked result. The temperature results are pleasing – the exhaust temperatures are 62°C at load and 37°C at idle, which is remarkably cool. I’d like for the card to be super-quiet as well, and it is possible for a blower design to be quiet and effective.

AMD’s Radeon RX 480 is expected to launch on 29 June 2016 and might be available locally at that time, or perhaps a week or so later, just in time for my System Builder’s Guide in August. Will it be a formidable opponent to NVIDIA’s Geforce GTX 1070? Time will tell. We won’t have long to wait.

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