A few weeks ago before going on vacation I took a look at the Sapphire RX 480 8GB Nitro and was impressed with its performance. Well as these things normally go, with that being the second RX 480 to come into the office, I did spend some time with both the Sapphire and our original reference RX 480 on the test bench to test out Crossfire performance. Sadly, I hadn’t had a chance to take a look at the numbers until today, though. So today let’s see how the RX 480’s perform in Crossfire for those wondering if picking up a second RX 480 in the future will be worth in.

Product Names: Sapphire RX 480 8GB Nitro and AMD’s Reference RX 480 8GB

Written by: Wes

Testing by: Wes

Amazon Links: Sapphire RX 480 8GB Nitro and AMD’s Reference RX 480 8GB

 

Links to our original Reviews

Sapphire RX 480 8GB Nitro

AMD RX 480 8GB

 

Sapphire RX 480 8GB Nitro Specifications
GPU

2304 stream Processors

14 nm FinFET

4th generation Graphics Core Next (GCN)

Up to 1342 MHz Engine Boost Clock

Interface PCI-Express 3.0
Memory

256 bit Memory Bus

GDDR5 Memory Type

2000 MHz Memory Clock

8192 MB Size

Displays Maximum 4 Outputs
Output

1x DL-DVI-D

2x HDMI 2.0b

2x DisplayPort 1.4

API

OpenGL® 4.5

OpenCL 2.0

DirectX® 12

Vulkan™ 1.0

Shader Model 5.1

Feature

AMD CrossFire (bridgeless)

AMD PowerTune

AMD ZeroCore Power Technology

AMD FreeSync Technology

AMD Eyefinity

AMD Tress FX technology

AMD Liquid VR technology

AMD TrueAudio Next technology

AMD HD3D Technology

Universal Video Decoder (UVD)

XConnect™ technology

Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ Support

High Dynamic Range (HDR) support

16K Hours Capacitor

Black Diamond 4 Chokes

Intelligent Fan Control III

10 mm Heat Pipe

Dual BIOS

NITRO Glow RGB LED lights

NITRO Boost

VR Friendly

Cooling

Dual-X 95 mm fans

Two ball bearing

NITRO Free Flow redesigned airflow

NITRO FanSafe and Fan Health Check

SAPPHIRE Fan Service

SAPPHIRE Quick Connect system

Form Factor

2 Slots Occupied, ATX

240 X 120 X 42 Dimension /mm

Power Consumption 225W
OS

Windows 10

Windows 8/8.1

Windows 7

System Requirement

500 Watt Power Supply (Suggestion)

1 x 8-pin AUX Power Connector

CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive for installing software

AMD Reference Specifications
Architecture Polaris
Compute Units 36
Stream Processors 2304
Clock Speeds (Boost / Base) 1266 MHz / 1120 MHz
Peak Performance Up to 5.8 TFLOPS
Memory Size 4/8 GB
Memory Bandwidth 224 GB/s or higher
Memory Interface 256 bit
Memory Type GDDR5
Board Power 150W
AMD FreeSyncTM Technology Yes
DirectX® 12 Support Yes
VulkanTM Support Yes
VR Premium Yes
DisplayPort Version 1.3 HBR / 1.4 HDR Ready

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Our Test Rig and Procedures

Our Test Rig
CPU Intel i7-5960X Live Pricing
Memory Kingston HyperX FURY Black 32GB Quad Channel Kit 2666 MHz Live Pricing
Motherboard Gigabyte X99-SOC Champion  Live Pricing
Cooling Noctua NH-U12S Cooler Live Pricing
Power Supply Cooler Master V1000 Power Supply Live Pricing
Storage Kingston Hyper X Savage 960GB SSD Live Pricing
Case Dimastech Test Bench Live Pricing
Our Testing Procedures
3DMark The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark using the Fire Strike benchmark in normal, extreme, and ultra settings
Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 Using the Extreme HD preset to get an average FPS
Catzilla 4k Default tests for 1080p, 1440p, and 4k resolutions using the overall score for each as our result
SteamVR Default SteamVR test using Average Quality score
DOOM Doom is tested on the Ultra quality setting. Tests are run at 1080p and 1440p using both OpenGL and Vulkan. The benchmark is a basic one using just the average FPS in the opening scene.
HITMAN 2016 Fullscreen with V-Sync turned off Detail, Texture Quality, Shadow Maps, and Shadow Resolution all set to their highest settings. We test using both DX11 and DX12 at both 1080p and 1440p resolutions.
Ashes of the Singularity Built-in benchmark ran at 1080p and 1440p with graphics settings set to the “Crazy” setting with the exception of turning off V-Sync Mode. The benchmark scenario is set to GPU Focused and we use the Average Framerate for All Batches as the result. Tests are run both in DX11 and DX12
The Division Built-in benchmark ran at 1080p and 1440p with graphics settings set to the default “Ultra” setting with the exception of turning off V-Sync Mode
Bioshock Infinite  Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Bioshock Infinite on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, FXAA turned on, Ultra Texture detail, 16x Aniso Texture Filtering, Ultra Dynamic Shadows, Normal Postprocessing, Light Shafts on, Ambient Occlusion set to ultra, and the Level of Detail set to Ultra as well. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.
Tomb Raider Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Tomb Raider on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, Exclusive Fullscreen turned on, Anti-Aliasing set to 2xSSAA, Texture Quality set to Ultra, Texture Aniso set to 16x Aniso, Hair Quality set to TressFX, Shadow set to Normal, Shadow Resolution on High, Ultra SSAO, Ultra Depth of Field, High Reflection quality, Ultra LOD scale, Post-Processing On, High Precision RT turned on, and Tessellation is also turned on.  We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.
Hitman: Absolution Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Hitman: Absolution on the “Xtreme” quality setting other than the MSAA setting is turned down from 8x to 2x. That setting puts the resolution at 1920x1080, MSAA is set to 2x, Texture Quality is set to High, Texture Aniso is set to 16x, Shadows are on Ultra, SSA is set to high, Global Illumination is turned on, Reflections are set to High, FXAA is on, Level of Detail is set to Ultra, Depth of Field is high, Tessellation is turned on, and Bloom is set to normal. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above, except on the “high” setting.
Sleeping Dogs Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Sleeping Dogs on the “Xtreme” quality setting. That means our resolution is set to 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing is set to Extreme, Texture Quality is set to High-Res, Shadow Quality is High, Shadow Filter is set to high, SSAO is set to High, Motion Blur Level is set to High, and World Density is set to Extreme. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.
Total War: ROME II Ultra-setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in forest benchmark
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Using the built-in benchmark we test with ultra settings at 1440p
Sniper Elite 3 Ultra-setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in benchmark
Thief Tested using the “Very High” setting at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440
Folding at Home 2.2 Using the Folding at Home benchmark 2.2.5 set to OpenCL, WU set to dhfr, and run length set to the default 60 seconds. We test at both double and single precision and use the score at the result
CompuBenchCL Video Composition and Bitcoin tests
Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 heat testing We run through Unigine Valley using the “Extreme” preset for 30 minutes to test in game cooling performance with the fan speed set to auto then again with the fan set to 100%.
Power Usage Using Unreal Valley Benchmark 1.0, we get our “load” power usage number from the peak power usage during our test. We get our numbers from a Kill-A-Watt connected to the test benches power cord.
Noise Testing Our Noise testing is done using a decibel meter 3 inches away from the video card on the bottom/fan side of the card. We test an idle noise level and then to get an idea of how loud the card will get if it warms all the way up we also turn the fan speed up to 50% and 100% and test both speeds as well. The 100% test isn’t a representation of typical in-game noise levels, but it will show you how loud a card can be if you run it at its highest setting or if it gets very hot.

 


Benchmarks

If you haven’t had the chance to check out any of our SLI or Crossfire coverage in the past, you might not know it but for the most part, I let the numbers speak for themselves and just touch on any potential issues. This is a little different from our normal video card reviews, but typically people looking for Crossfire/SLI performance just want the numbers.

In the past, I only included the performance numbers for the games tested that actually supported Crossfire while listing off the games we ran into that didn’t see a boost or even saw a drop in performance. This time around I’m including all of the numbers but will be splitting them up. First, here are all of the games tested that saw a performance improvement when running in Crossfire. The 3Dmark tests have been tuned well for Crossfire and show a large jump putting two 480’s up over the GTX 1080 but all of the games tested didn’t show the same gap. For the most part, the games that support Crossfire show a little under an FPS double but this was still less than the GTX 1080.

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One of the big downsides to running multiple cards in Crossfire or SLI is the lack of support in a lot of games. AMD doesn’t provide a list at all of the games that do have support and from what I can see Nvidia seems to have significantly higher number of games that support SLI but without a list, I can’t be sure. That said of all of the games in our benchmark suite, 7 supported Crossfire and 5 don’t. There were also 4 synthetic benchmarks with support and 1 that didn’t. Below are all of the results with no support and as you can see, typically when you don’t have support you can expect a little less performance than running just one card.

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Power Usage and Final Thoughts

When running two video cards it is also important to keep in mind the extra power usage, this is especially true when you have a card like the Sapphire 480 Nitro that pulled a lot more than the Reference RX 480 in my testing. With the two cards together the pair ended up pulling 455 watts when in game. Oddly enough this is a touch less than the RX 470 Crossfire results, but that was done with two aftermarket overclocked cards where for the RX 480 I had one overclocked card and then the reference card. As you can see this is significantly more than the GTX 1070’s pulled in SLI and a LOT more than the GTX 1080 that has similar performance in our testing.

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So what do I think of Crossfiring two RX 480’s? This ends up being an interesting one because currently going Crossfire is the only way you can get faster performance to compete with the GTX 1080 in AMDs new lineup. Normally I would suggest going with the biggest single card option you can afford now and leaving the SLI or Crossfire option as a way to upgrade later, but AMD fans are more likely to go this route while waiting for other options. In the tests and games that support Crossfire you do see similar performance at 1080p and 1440p as you would a GTX 1080, but you do have to remember that Crossfire support is a little limited and with games that don’t support it you won’t see any benefit or sometimes even less performance. Because of that, I wouldn’t suggest it for people who play a little of everything, but if the games you play everyday support it this is a good way to get high-end performance at a better price.

Live Pricing: Sapphire RX 480 8GB Nitro and AMD’s Reference RX 480 8GB

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld replied the topic: #38206 06 Oct 2016 17:51
I finally get around to checking out the 480's in crossfire

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