Our Radeon RX 460 Build
This content was sponsored by AMD.
Be sure you check out part 2 of our story where we detail the performance our RX 460 build provides as well as our contest page where you can win this PC from AMD and PC Perspective!
Just before CES this month, AMD came to me asking about our views and opinions on its Radeon RX 460 line of graphics cards, how the GPU is perceived in the market, and how I felt they could better position it to the target audience. It was at that point that I had to openly admit to never actually having installed and used an RX 460 GPU before. I know, shame on me.
I like to pride myself and PC Perspective on being one of the top sources of technical information in the world of PCs, gaming or otherwise, and in particular on GPUs. But a pitfall that I fall into, and I imagine many other reviewers and media do as well, is that I overly emphasize the high end of the market. And that I tend to shift what is considered a “budget” product up the scale more than I should. Is a $250 graphics card really a budget product that the mass market is going to purchase? No, and the numbers clearly point to that as fact. More buyers purchase cards in the sub-$150 segment than in any other, upgrading OEMs PCs and building low cost boxes for themselves and for the family/friends.
So, AMD came to me with a proposal to address this deficiency in my mental database. If we were willing to build a PC based on the RX 460, testing it and evaluating it honestly, and then give that built system back to the community, they would pay for the hardware and promotion of such an event. So here we are.
To build out the RX 460-based PC, I went to the experts in the world of budget PC builds, the /r/buildapc subreddit. The community here is known for being the best at penny-pinching and maximizing the performance-per-dollar implementations on builds. While not the only types of hardware they debate and discuss in that group, it definitely is the most requested. I started a thread there to ask for input and advice on building a system with the only requirements being inclusion of the Radeon RX 460 and perhaps an AMD FreeSync monitor.
The results were impressive; a solid collection of readers and contributors gave me suggestions for complete builds based around the RX 460. Processors varied, memory configurations varied, storage options varied, but in the end I had at least a dozen solid options that ranged in price from $400-800. With the advice of the community at hand, I set out to pick the components for our own build, which are highlighted below:
Our Radeon RX 460 Build
|Budget Radeon RX 460 Build|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-6100 - $109|
|Cooler||CRYORIG M9i - $19|
|Motherboard||ASUS H110M-A/M.2 - $54|
|Memory||2 x 4GB Crucial Ballistix DDR4-2400 - $51|
|Graphics Card||XFX Radeon RX 460 2GB - $98|
|Storage||240GB Sandisk SSD Plus - $68
1TB Western Digital Blue - $49
|Case||Corsair Carbide Series 88R - $49|
|Power Supply||EVGA 500 Watt - $42|
|Monitor||Nixues VUE24A 1080p 144Hz FreeSync - $251|
|Total Price||$549 on Amazon; $799 with monitor on Amazon|
I’ll go in order of presentation for simplicity sake. First up is the selection of the Intel Core i3-6100 processor. This CPU was the most popular offering in the /r/buildapc group and has been the darling of budget gaming builds for a while. It is frequently used because of it $109 price tag, along with dual-core, HyperThreaded performance at 3.7 GHz; giving you plenty of headroom for single threaded applications. Since most games aren’t going to utilize more than four threads, the PC gaming performance will be excellent as well. One frequent suggestion in our thread was the Intel Pentium G4560, a Kaby Lake based part that will sell for ~$70. That would have been my choice but it’s not shipping yet, and I don’t know when it will be.
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 10, 2017 - 10:11 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, CES 2017, aorus, gigabyte, xtreme gaming, GTX 1080, pascal
One interesting development from Gigabyte at this year’s CES was the expansion of its Aorus branding and the transition from Xtreme Gaming. Initially used on its RGB LED equipped motherboards, the company is rolling out the brand to its other higher end products including laptops and graphics cards. While it appears that Xtreme Gaming is not going away entirely, Aorus is taking the spotlight with the introduction of the first Aorus branded graphics card: the GTX 1080.
Paul's Hardware got hands on with the new card (video) at the Gigabyte CES booth.
Featuring a similar triple 100mm fan cooler as the GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming 8G, the Aorus GTX 1080 comes with x patterned LED lighting as well as a backlit Aorus logo on the side and a backlit Eagle on the backplate. The cooler is comprised of three 100mm double stacked fans (the center fan is recessed and spins in the opposite direction of the side fans) over a shrouded angled aluminum fin stack that connects to the GPU over five large copper heatpipes.
The graphics card is powered by two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors.
In an interesting twist, the card has two HDMI ports on the back of the card that are intended to be used to hook up front panel HDMI outputs for things like VR headsets. Another differentiator between the upcoming card and the Xtreme Gaming 8G is the backplate which has a large copper plate secured over the underside of the GPU. Several sites are reporting that this area can be used for watercooling, but I am skeptical of this as if you are going to go out and buy a waterblock for your graphics card you might as well buy a block to put on top of the GPU and not on the area of the PCB opposite the GPU!). As is, the copper plate on the backplate certainly won’t hurt cooling, and it looks cool, but that’s all I suspect it is.
Think Computers also checked out the Aorus graphics card. (video above)
Naturally, Gigabyte is not talking clock speeds on this new card, but I expect it to hit at least the same clocks as its Xtreme Gaming 8G predecessor which was clocked at 1759 MHz base and 1848 MHz boost out of the box and 1784 MHz base and 1936 MHz boost in OC Mode respectively. Gigabyte also overlocked the memory on that card up to 10400 MHz on OC Mode.
Gigabyte also had new SLI HB bridges on display bearing the Aorus logo to match the Aorus GPU. The company also had Xtreme Gaming SLI HB bridges though which further suggests that they are not completely retiring that branding (at least not yet).
Pricing has not been announced, but the card will be available in February.
Gigabyte has yet to release official photos of the card or a product page, but it should show up on their website shortly. In the meantime, Paul's Hardware and Think Computers shot some video of the card on the show floor which I have linked above if you are interested in the card. Looking on Amazon, the Xtreme Gaming 1080 8GB is approximately $690 before rebate so I would guess that the Aorus card would come out at a slight premium over that if only for the fact that it is a newer release, has a more expensive backplate and additional RGB LED backlighting.
What are your thoughts on the move to everything-Aorus?
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 9, 2017 - 02:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Crimson Edition 16.12.2
Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.12.2 is now live and WHQL certified, ready for you to grab here or through the version you already have installed, which supports the recommended clean installation option.
This particular update addresses Freesync issues with borderless Fullscreen applications as well as compatibility issues with Battlefield 1 and DOTA 2. There are also numerous optimizations and fixes for issues with Radeon ReLive, which you can read in more detail under the Release Notes tab.
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 8, 2017 - 03:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vega 11, vega 10, navi, gpu, amd
During CES, AMD showed off demo machines running Ryzen CPUs and Vega graphics cards as well as gave the world a bit of information on the underlying architecture of Vega in an architectural preview that you can read about (or watch) here. AMD's Vega GPU is coming and it is poised to compete with NVIDIA on the high end (an area that has been left to NVIDIA for awhile now) in a big way.
Thanks to Videocardz, we have a bit more info on the products that we might see this year and what we can expect to see in the future. Specifically, the slides suggest that Vega 10 – the first GPUs to be based on the company's new architecture – may be available by the (end of) first half of 2017. Following that a dual GPU Vega 10 product is slated for a release in Q3 or Q4 of 2017 and a refreshed GPU based on smaller process node with more HBM2 memory called Vega 20 in the second half of 2018. The leaked slides also suggest that Navi (Vega's successor) might launch as soon as 2019 and will come in two variants called Navi 10 and Navi 11 (with Navi 11 being the smaller / less powerful GPU).
The 14nm Vega 10 GPU allegedly offers up 64 NCUs and as much as 12 TFLOPS of single precision and 750 GFLOPS of double precision compute performance respectively. Half precision performance is twice that of FP32 at 24 TFLOPS (which would be good for things like machine learning). The NCUs allegedly run FP16 at 2x and DPFP at 1/16. If each NCU has 64 shaders like Polaris 10 and other GCN GPUs, then we are looking at a top-end Vega 10 chip having 4096 shaders which rivals that of Fiji. Further, Vega 10 supposedly has a TDP up to 225 watts.
For comparison, the 28nm 8.9 billion transistor Fiji-based R9 Fury X ran at 1050 MHz with a TDP of 275 watts and had a rated peak compute of 8.6 TFLOPS. While we do not know clock speeds of Vega 10, the numbers suggest that AMD has been able to clock the GPU much higher than Fiji while still using less power (and thus putting out less heat). This is possible with the move to the smaller process node, though I do wonder what yields will be like at first for the top end (and highest clocked) versions.
Vega 10 will be paired with two stacks of HBM2 memory on package which will offer 16GB of memory with memory bandwidth of 512 GB/s. The increase in memory bandwidth is thanks to the move to HBM2 from HBM (Fiji needed four HBM dies to hit 512 GB/s and had only 4GB).
The slide also hints at a "Vega 10 x2" in the second half of the year which is presumably a dual GPU product. The slide states that Vega 10 x2 will have four stacks of HBM2 (1TB/s) though it is not clear if they are simply adding the two stacks per GPU to claim the 1TB/s number or if both GPUs will have four stacks (this is unlikely though as there does not appear to be room on the package for two more stacks each and I am not sure if they could make the package bit enough to make room for them either). Even if we assume that they really mean 2x 512 GB/s per GPU (and maybe they can get more out of that in specific workloads across both) for memory bandwidth, the doubling of cores and at least potential compute performance will be big. This is going to be a big number crunching and machine learning card as well as for games of course. Clockspeeds will likely have to be much lower compared to the single GPU Vega 10 (especially with stated TDP of 300W) and workloads wont scale perfectly so potential compute performance will not be quite 2x but should still be a decent per-card boost.
Raja Koduri holds up a Vega GPU at CES 2017 via eTeknix
Moving into the second half of 2018, the leaked slides suggest that a Vega 20 GPU will be released based on a 7nm process node with 64 CUs and paired with four stacks of HBM2 for 16 GB or 32 GB of memory with 1TB/s of bandwidth. Interestingly, the shaders will be setup such that the GPU can still do half precision calculations at twice that of single precision, but will not take nearly the hit on double precision at Vega 10 at only 1/2 single precision rather than 1/16. The GPU(s) will use between 150W and 300W of power, and it seems these are set to be the real professional and workstation workhorses. A Vega 10 with 1/2 DPFP compute would hit 6 TFLOPS which is not bad (and it would hopefully be more than this due to faster clocks and architecture improvements).
Beyond that, the slides mention Navi's existence and that it will come in Navi 10 and Navi 11 but no other details were shared which makes sense as it is still far off.
You can see the leaked slides here. In all, it is an interesting look at potential Vega 10 and beyond GPUs but definitely keep in mind that this is leaked information and that the information allegedly came from an internal presentation that likely showed the graphics processors in their best possible/expect light. It does add a bit more hope to the fire of excitement for Vega though, and I hope that AMD pulls it off as my unlocked 6950 is no longer supported and it is only a matter of time before new games perform poorly or not at all!
- AMD Vega GPU Architecture Preview: Redesigned Memory Architecture
- CES 2017: AMD Vega Running DOOM at 4K
- AMD GPU Roadmap: Capsaicin Names Upcoming Architectures
- AMD's Raja Koduri talks moving past CrossFire, smaller GPU dies, HBM2 and more.
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 6, 2017 - 11:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Vega, doom, amd
One of the demos that AMD had at CES was their new Vega architecture running DOOM with Vulkan on Ultra settings at 4K resolution. With this configuration, the pre-release card was coasting along at the high 60s / low 70s frames per second. Compared to PC Gamer’s benchmarks of the Vulkan patch (ours was focused on 1080p) this puts Vega somewhat ahead of the GTX 1080, which averages the low 60s.
Some of the comments note that, during one of the melee kills, the frame rate stutters a bit, dropping down to about 37 FPS. That’s true, and I included a screenshot of it below, but momentary dips sometimes just happen. It could even be a bug in pre-release drivers for a brand new GPU architecture, after all.
Yes, the frame rate dipped in the video, but stutters happen. No big deal.
As always, this is a single, vendor-controlled data point. There will be other benchmarks, and NVIDIA has both GP102 and Volta to consider. The GTX 1080 is only ~314 mm2, so there’s a lot more room for enthusiast GPUs to expand on 14nm, but this test suggests Vega will at least surpass it. (When a process node is fully mature, you will typically see low-yield chips up to around 600mm2.)
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2017 - 03:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: freesync 2, amd
So far we have yet to see a Freesync 2 capable monitor on the floor at CES but we do know about the technology. We have seen Ryan's overview of what we know of the new technology and its benefits and recently The Tech Report also posted their thoughts on it. For instance, did you know that there are 121 FreeSync displays from 20 display partners of various quality, compared to NVIDIA eight partners and 18 GSYNC displays. The Tech Report are also on the hunt for a Freesync 2 display at CES, we will let you know once the hunt is successful.
"AMD has pulled back the curtain on FreeSync 2, the new version of the FreeSync variable refresh rate technology."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- 31-Way NVIDIA GeForce / AMD Radeon Linux OpenGL Comparison - End-Of-Year 2016 @ Phoronix
- The RX 480 vs. the 290X vs. the GTX 1060 – Has AMD Neglected Hawaii? – 35 games benchmarked @ BabelTechReviews
- The Perf-Per-Watt Of NVIDIA Fermi To Pascal, AMD R700 To Polaris With Newest Linux Drivers @ Phoronix
- ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1070 AMP! Graphics Card @ Custom PC Review
- ASUS STRIX GTX 1060 O6G GAMING @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 5, 2017 - 11:50 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: video card, thunderbolt 3, msi, gus, graphics, external gpu, enclosure, CES 2017, CES
You would need to go all the way back to CES 2012 to see our coverage of the GUS II external graphics enclosure, and now MSI has a new G.U.S. (Graphics Upgrade System) GPU enclosure to show, this time using Thunderbolt 3.
In addition to 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, the G.U.S. includes a built-in 500W power supply with 80 Plus Gold certification, as well as USB 3.0 Type-C and Type-A ports including a quick-charge port on the front of the unit.
Ryan had a look at the G.U.S. (running an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, no less) at MSI's booth:
Specifications from MSI:
- 1x Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps) port to connect to host PCs
- 2x USB 3.0 Type-A (rear)
- 1x USB 3.0 Type-C (rear)
- 1x USB 3.0 Type-A w/QC (front)
- 80 Plus Gold 500W internal PSU
We do not have specifics on pricing or availablity for the G.U.S. just yet.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
High Bandwidth Cache
Apart from AMD’s other new architecture due out in 2017, its Zen CPU design, there is no other product that has had as much build up and excitement surrounding it than its Vega GPU architecture. After the world learned that Polaris would be a mainstream-only design that was released as the Radeon RX 480, the focus for enthusiasts came straight to Vega. It’s been on the public facing roadmaps for years and signifies the company’s return to the world of high end GPUs, something they have been missing since the release of the Fury X in mid-2015.
Let’s be clear: today does not mark the release of the Vega GPU or products based on Vega. In reality, we don’t even know enough to make highly educated guesses about the performance without more details on the specific implementations. That being said, the information released by AMD today is interesting and shows that Vega will be much more than simply an increase in shader count over Polaris. It reminds me a lot of the build to the Fiji GPU release, when the information and speculation about how HBM would affect power consumption, form factor and performance flourished. What we can hope for, and what AMD’s goal needs to be, is a cleaner and more consistent product release than how the Fury X turned out.
The Design Goals
AMD began its discussion about Vega last month by talking about the changes in the world of GPUs and how the data sets and workloads have evolved over the last decade. No longer are GPUs only worried about games, but instead they must address profession workloads, enterprise workloads, scientific workloads. Even more interestingly, as we have discussed the gap in CPU performance vs CPU memory bandwidth and the growing gap between them, AMD posits that the gap between memory capacity and GPU performance is a significant hurdle and limiter to performance and expansion. Game installs, professional graphics sets, and compute data sets continue to skyrocket. Game installs now are regularly over 50GB but compute workloads can exceed petabytes. Even as we saw GPU memory capacities increase from Megabytes to Gigabytes, reaching as high as 12GB in high end consumer products, AMD thinks there should be more.
Coming from a company that chose to release a high-end product limited to 4GB of memory in 2015, it’s a noteworthy statement.
The High Bandwidth Cache
Bold enough to claim a direct nomenclature change, Vega 10 will feature a HBM2 based high bandwidth cache (HBC) along with a new memory hierarchy to call it into play. This HBC will be a collection of memory on the GPU package just like we saw on Fiji with the first HBM implementation and will be measured in gigabytes. Why the move to calling it a cache will be covered below. (But can’t we call get behind the removal of the term “frame buffer”?) Interestingly, this HBC doesn’t have to be HBM2 and in fact I was told that you could expect to see other memory systems on lower cost products going forward; cards that integrate this new memory topology with GDDR5X or some equivalent seem assured.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | January 3, 2017 - 07:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, GTX 1050 Ti, gtx 1050
Keep an eye out for reviews of new gaming laptops containing mobile versions of the GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti. These laptops should also be on sale soon, with a quote from NVIDIA suggesting prices will start at around $700 for a base model.
The price reflects the power of the GPU, you are not going to match a $2000 machine with a GTX 1080 in it, but then again there are many gamers who do not need such a powerful card. If your gaming machine is a current generation laptop with integrated graphics this will be a huge improvement and even a laptop with a discrete mid-range GPU from a previous generation is going to lag behind these new models. Of course, waiting to see what laptops based off of AMD's new Ryzen platform may be worth waiting for but for those hoping to upgrade soon, laptops with these cards installed are going to be worth looking at.
1080p gaming at 60fps will not be a problem, and for strategy games and online multiplayer entertainment such as LOL you should even be able to pump up the graphics settings. The cards will support the various GameWorks enhancements as well as other features such as Ansel.
The above example comes from The Verge, who spotted a 14" Dell laptop with the GTX 1050 already on sale at $800. If you want the best choice you should look to the 15.6" model, which offers the choice of a GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti, an i5-7300HQ or i7-7700HQ and a 512GB PCIe SSD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 3, 2017 - 09:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: srgb, lfc, hdr10, hdr, freesync 2, freesync, dolby vision, color space, amd
Since the initial FreeSync launch in March of 2015, AMD has quickly expanded the role and impact that the display technology has had on the market. Technologically, AMD added low frame rate compensation (LFC) to mimic the experience of G-Sync displays, effectively removing the bottom limit to the variable refresh rate. LFC is an optional feature that requires a large enough gap between the displays minimum and maximum refresh rates to be enabled, but the monitors that do integrate it work well. Last year AMD brought FreeSync to HDMI connections too by overlaying the standard as an extension. This helped to expand the quantity and lower the price of available FreeSync options. Most recently, AMD announced that borderless windowed mode was being added as well, another feature-match to what NVIDIA can do with G-Sync.
The biggest feather in the cap for AMD FreeSync is the sheer quantity of displays that exist on the market that support it. As of our briefing in early December, AMD claimed 121 design wins for FreeSync to just 18 for NVIDIA G-Sync. I am not often in the camp of quantity over quality, but the numbers are impressive. The pervasiveness of FreeSync monitors means that at least some of them are going to be very high quality integrations and that prices are going to be lower compared to the green team’s selection.
Today AMD is announcing FreeSync 2, a new, concurrently running program that adds some new qualifications to displays for latency, color space and LFC. This new program will be much more hands-on from AMD, requiring per-product validation and certification and this will likely come at a cost. (To be clear, AMD hasn’t confirmed if that is the case to me yet.)
Let’s start with the easy stuff first: latency and LFC. FreeSync 2 will require monitors to support LFC and thus to have no effective bottom limit to their variable refresh rate. AMD will also instill a maximum latency allowable for FS2, on the order of “a few milliseconds” from frame buffer flip to photon. This can be easily measured with some high-speed camera work by both AMD and external parties (like us).
These are fantastic additions to the FreeSync 2 standard and should drastically increase the quality of panels and product.
The bigger change to FreeSync 2 is on the color space. FS2 will require a doubling of the perceivable brightness and doubling of the viewable color volume based on the sRGB standards. This means that any monitor that has the FreeSync 2 brand will have a significantly larger color space and ~400 nits brightness. Current HDR standards exceed these FreeSync 2 requirements, but there is nothing preventing monitor vendors from exceeding these levels; they simply set a baseline that users should expect going forward.
In addition to just requiring the panel to support a wider color gamut, FS2 will also enable user experience improvements as well. First, each FS2 monitor must communicate its color space and brightness ranges to the AMD driver through a similar communication path used today for variable refresh rate information. By having access to this data, AMD can enable automatic mode switches from SDR to HDR/wide color gamut based on the application. Windows can remain in a basic SDR color space but games or video applications that support HDR modes can enter that mode without user intervention.
Color space mapping can take time in low power consumption monitors, adding potential latency. For movies that might not be an issue, but for enthusiast gamers it definitely is. The solution is to do all the tone mapping BEFORE the image data is sent to the monitor itself. But with varying monitors, varying color space limits and varying integrations of HDR standards, and no operating system level integration for tone mapping, it’s a difficult task.
The solution is for games to map directly to the color space of the display. AMD will foster this through FreeSync 2 – a game that integrates support for FS2 will be able to get data from the AMD driver stack about the maximum color space of the attached display. The engine can then do its tone mapping to that color space directly, rather than some intermediate state, saving on latency and improving the gaming experience. AMD can then automatically switch the monitor to its largest color space, as well as its maximum brightness. This does require the game engine or game developer to directly integrate support for this feature though – it will not be a catch-all solution for AMD Radeon users.
This combination of latency, LFC and color space additions to FreeSync 2 make it an incredibly interesting standard. Pushing specific standards and requirements on hardware vendors is not something AMD has had the gall to do the past, and honestly the company has publicly been very against it. But to guarantee the experience for Radeon gamers, AMD and the Radeon Technologies Group appear to be willing to make some changes.
NVIDIA has yet to make any noise about HDR or color space requirements for future monitors and while the FreeSync 2 standards shown here don’t quite guarantee HDR10/Dolby Vision quality displays, they do force vendors to pay more attention to what they are building and create higher quality products for the gaming market.
All GPUs that support FreeSync will support FreeSync 2 and both programs will co-exist. FS2 is currently going to be built on DisplayPort and could find its way into another standard extension (as Adaptive Sync was). Displays are set to be available in the first half of this year.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!