AMD Radeon RX 480 local price might not be R6,000

AMD Radeon RX480 top render

Over at MyGaming, our friends reported that a source told them the upcoming Radeon RX 480 graphics cards might cost around R6,000 for the 8GB versions. While that price is certainly plausible given our current economic situation I’m quite certain that most cards will retail for less – some even at the R5,000 mark, if we’re lucky. I asked some of my “Industry Sources™” about the local pricing issue, and the responses were quite positive. I also looked at local pricing, and everything’s been collected in a table for you to agonise over while you wait for month-end. Onward!

“Regarding the price indicated, I think R6,000 may be the top-end of the spectrum,” said one source. “I don’t know if AMD has even confirmed with AIBs what the final price will be, because only the MSRPs are confirmed, which is the price the consumer is expected to pay.”

Both sources also confirmed that stock would be available on launch day, 29 June, and that cards would be available in enough quantities that shortages shouldn’t be a major issue. One of the sources also hinted that the Radeon RX 470 and RX 460, both set to be cheaper than the RX 480, could be launching sometime in July 2016. No pricing was available for those cards, but I’d take a guess that the RX 470 falls around the R3,500 price point, while the RX 460 settles in at around R2,000, replacing the retiring Radeon R7 360.

As for actual pricing on the Radeon RX 480, both sources confirmed that R6,000 is expected for some brands, but not all of them. Sapphire’s RX 480 should retail for R5,650, VAT inclusive, when the dust settles after sales open. Gigabyte and ASUS climb a bit higher to R5,899, though this is still way cheaper than the GeForce GTX 1070.

AMD Radeon RX480 underside render

Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a snag regarding the use of back plates and DVI connectors. Most of the reference models shipping this month won’t have those – instead an adapter supplied by AMD will be included in the box to swap HDMI for DVI (Displayport for DVI would be more preferable, though). I would assume that AMD’s closest partners like XFX and Sapphire will ship with a backplate, but ASUS and Gigabyte might not. These issues will become clearer once the cards are on sale.

Separately, I also asked Wootware’s Rory Magee if they’d be importing the PowerColor brand once more, and he replied in the positive. “We will be getting PowerColor GPUs, and we will expect to have them at launch as well (or very near to launch),” said Magee. “We should definitely have some very competitive pricing, though we aren’t able to confirm in advance.”

Given Wootware’s past pricing with PowerColor compared to the other brands in the country, I think we’re looking at R5,199 or thereabouts for the 8GB reference model, and R4,899 for the 4GB model. It’s a thumbsuck at this point, admittedly, but the PowerColor brand has been at times almost R1,000 cheaper than other GPUs on the market, and with comparable quality when you consider the Devil editions. That’s the benefit of importing the hardware yourself, I guess (hint, hint!).

To help make this all a bit easier to bear, let’s take a quick look at the GPU market with the three confirmed prices for the RX 480 thrown in the mix. Where prices are listed for other specific GPUs, I’m using the price for the cheapest card in stock today (21 June 2016), with exception to the GTX 1070 and Radeon R9 390 (now discontinued by AMD). One asterisk next to the price for the R9 390 or GTX 1070 indicates that it’s actually in stock at that price.

AMD Radeon RX 480 price comparison

N/A Rebel Tech Wootware LandmarkPC Raru Loot Titan-Ice
Radeon R9 Fury 4GB R10,442 R10,552 R10,512 R10,810 R10,879 R10,999
GeForce GTX 1070 8GB** R8,599 R8,499 R8,799 R9,319 R9,399 R9,499*
GeForce GTX 980 4GB R8,266 R8,499 R8,458 R8,667 R8439 R8,749
Radeon R9 390X 8GB R7,950 R6,899 R8,385 R8,325 R8,495 R7,049
Radeon R9 390 8GB** R6,645 R6,799* R7,853 R6,709 R6,699* R6,899*
GeForce GTX 970 4GB R5,988 R6,336 R6,283 R6,402 R6,066 R6,349
Gigabyte RX 480 8GB R5899
ASUS RX 480 8GB R5899
Sapphire RX 480 8GB R5650
Radeon R9 380X 4GB R4,320 R4,599 R4,924 R4,264 R4,317 R4,599

I’m not at all surprised how things have turned out so far. General availability of the GTX 1070 is so low that it’s basically nonexistent at this point, though you can buy one right this minute from Titan-Ice. Raru lists their stock coming in on 15 July, more than a full three weeks away. The only real surprise is that super-cheap R9 390X from Wootware. That’s a killer price for a GPU of that pedigree.

The arrival of the GTX 1070 doesn’t upset the cart too much, which is an interesting turn of events. It doesn’t displace the GTX 970 at a similar price, something that happened in the US and overseas markets, and it’s only going to be really disruptive to sales of the GTX 980, the Radeon R9 390X and the Radeon R9 Fury. There’s a chance that R9 390X cards will get a price drop to clear stocks ahead of the GTX 1070’s general availability locally, but it’s an interesting dynamic nonetheless. There’s still a place in the market for the GTX 970 at this moment.

Of course, the minute the Radeon RX 480 arrives, it’s all over for the existing mid-range GPUs. It’ll cannibalise sales of the R9 390 (though much of the stock is gone) and it’ll make short work of the GTX 970, especially if it turns out to be around the performance of the faster Radeon R9 390. Radeon R9 380X sales will also see a drop, as people will rationalise that saving some more to get a card that’s just over twice as powerful is a better idea, even if you end up with the reference cooler design in the launch window.

You might even see GTX 960 sales and prices take a nosedive as potential owners realise the benefits of going the same route. There’s no GTX 960 replacement on the horizon for a good few months, and NVIDIA hasn’t made any noise about the GTX 1060 yet.

The Radeon RX 480 may be priced more than you’d expect at launch, but it’s in line with our current market conditions. No, it isn’t overpriced. No, we’re not being price gouged. This is simply the reality of being at the bottom of Africa, approximately 16,400 kilometres away from Sunnyvale, California – everything we import is more expensive than if we had to produce and ship it locally.

AMD’s Radeon RX 480 is based on the company’s next-generation GCN architecture called Polaris, and is expected to launch across the world on 29 June 2016. The 4GB reference model has a recommended price of $199 in the United States, and $229 for the 8GB model in the same region.