A few weeks ago I unboxed Gigabyte’s new RX 480 G1 Gaming graphics card on the channel and quite a few of you have been begging for a review ever since. So today I’m delivering you that review, and if you remember two weeks ago I looked at the very impressive MSI RX 480 Gaming X 8G.
MSI’s Gaming X version offered vastly improved thermals, strong performance that didn’t suffer from throttling, and a quiet operating volume. Unfortunately overclocking wasn’t great but we have come to expect that with this latest generation AMD and Nvidia GPUs.
Apart from the disappointing overclocking the only other issue was the price. Right now it still costs $290, which is well above the $240 MSRP. Though to be fair the cheapest board partner card I have seen costs $260 for the PowerColor Red Devil. Down under we are paying at least $370 though the vast majority are priced over $400.
The Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming comes at a slightly more wallet friendly $270 US and in OZ land that translates to $430. Currently Gigabyte’s GTX 1060 G1 Gaming is also selling for $270 US or $450 Aussie so some stiff competition can be found at this price point.
Having already looked at the GTX 1060 G1 Gaming and Xtreme Gaming graphics cards, both of which are very impressive I might add despite some hefty price premiums, I’m keen to see how the RX 480 G1 Gaming shapes up.
So let’s take a closer look at our subject shall we. The RX 480 G1 Gaming is a relatively compact graphics card, measuring just 232mm long and 116mm tall. Since it’s a dual slot card it measures 40mm wide. It has to be said this looks more like a basic WindForce graphics card, rather than a G1 Gaming model.
The card is wrapped in a black plastic fan shroud with orange highlights. It feels a little cheap and flimsy, though it will be more than durable enough to serve its purpose. Attached to the shroud are a pair of 90mm fans using Gigabyte’s blade fin design. The side of the shroud which typically faces outwards sports an RGB backlit Gigabyte logo and fan stop logo.
Something I noticed right way was just how light this graphics card is. Although it is much smaller than the MSI card we looked at a few weeks ago, it is still actually lighter than I was expecting. In total the card weighs 715 grams which sounds quite hefty until you realize that the MSI card weighs almost an entire kilo at 979 grams, making it almost 40% heavier.
Pulling the cooler off reveals that the G1 Gaming cooler weighs 415 grams itself, so it accounts for almost 60% of the card’s total weight. The MSI Gaming X cooler weighs 506 grams, meaning it accounts for a little over 50% of the cards total weight. The difference being that MSI has done with a much larger PCB along with a huge heatspreader on the front side of the graphics card covering the memory chips and power circuitry.
Still Gigabyte are working with almost 20% less metal so it will be interesting to see how this impacts the cards ability to dissipate heat. The cooler is a pretty basic affair featuring a single array of aluminium heatsinks measuring 205mm long, 70mm wide and just 18mm tall. Gigabyte has gone with a cheap aluminum base plate though they do use smoothed direct contact copper heatpipes to try and maximise thermal extraction. There are three 6mm copper heatpipes in total.
Along with the RX 480 GPU this same cooler is also used to take care of the eight GDDR5 memory chips as well as the 6+2 power phases. That is a serious amount of combined thermal output that this little heatsink has to deal with.
As is expected from all board partners Gigabyte has included an 8-pin PCIe power connector to ensure the card doesn’t overdraw from the PCIe slot. Although Gigabyte does appear to have gone a bit light on the cooling, they have still included a nice full size backplate to protect the rear side of the graphics card.
Around at the I/O end we find three DisplayPorts, a single HDMI output and a dual-link DVI output. MSI went with a more VR friendly set up by offering two HDMI outputs, but I don’t have an issue with the configuration found on this card.
Okay so before we jump to the benchmarks let’s just quickly talk clock speeds. The reference clock speeds see the RX 480 operate at up to 1266M Hz. Gigabyte has blown the lid off that by increasing the ceiling by 1.89% to 1290 MHz. Still I can’t give Gigabyte too much of a hard time here, MSI with their big beefy cooler only went to 1303 MHz. Anyway the memory has been left at 2000MHz so don’t expect to see any real gains over the AMD reference card for the most part.
Overclocking, which was attempted using both Wattman and MSI Afterburner with various over and under voltage settings again resulted in a maximum stable clock speed of 1360 MHz. I was able to game for a 30 to 60 minutes at 1370 MHz and even 1380 MHz but the system would eventually crash. I am not interested in overclocks that are good to run a set of benchmarks but fail to provide 100% stability after a an hour or more of game play, so by far the majority of my time on these reviews is found finding the maximum stable overclock. Anyway let’s get on with the benchmarks…
Star Wars Battlefront
Starting with Star Wars Battlefront we find as expected the G1 Gaming is able to hang with the Gaming X making it a few frames faster than our reference card.
Far Cry Primal sees the G1 Gaming match the MSI card exactly along with the stock R9 390. Again it was a few frames faster than the AMD reference RX 480 card.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Again the G1 Gaming matched the bigger fatter Gaming X card with 47 fps on average when testing with Mirror’s Edge Catalyst at 1440p.
The RX 480 board partner cards have really delivered in Tom Clancy’s The Division. Again Gigabyte is able to match MSI with 49 fps making both cards slightly faster than the stock GTX 1060.
The Witcher 3
This time in The Witcher 3 the partner RX 480 cards matched the stock GTX 1060 with 44 fps and once again the G1 Gaming hung in there with the Gaming X card.
Overwatch + Overclocking
Overwatch has been used to showcase our overclock, as unimpressive as it is. At 1360 MHz, the maximum stable overclock we achieved managed a 5% bump in frame rate. This is inline with the 5% increase in clock speed over the factory overclock.
Power consumption was on par with the MSI Gaming X card as we saw a total system consumption of 285 watts. This is comparable to the HIS Radeon R9 390 and R9 Nano.
The G1 Gaming has been able to hang with the Gaming X for the majority of our tests but this result is a real let down. Remember we discovered that the Gigabyte card has 20% less metal in which to dissipate heat, well here is the result of that downgrade. It runs 9 degrees hotter the G1 Gaming, which reached 80 degrees, making it just a single degree cooler than the AMD reference card.
Thankfully unlike the reference card the G1 Gaming did remain very quiet even under full load when operating at 80 degrees. That said when overclocked the fans did certainly spin up to audible levels, so not an ideal graphics card for overclockers.
I have noticed Gigabyte has been copping a lot of flak over the past week or so regarding the performance of the RX 480 G1 Gaming graphics card. As you might expect the operating temperature has been front and center of the drama. I think at this point it is pretty much unanimous that the reference card doesn’t put the RX 480 in the best possible light, and well by that I mean it sucks.
There are a few issues with the reference card but essentially it boils down to the fact that it runs hot, loud and doesn’t overclock worth a damn. Sadly the G1 Gaming only improves on one of these things; the operating volume, as it is genuinely quiet. Of course the problem being it still runs bloody hot.
MSI, however, managed to create a model that not only runs very quiet but also much cooler than AMD’s reference card.
Still it’s not all bad news, Gigabyte are currently selling the G1 Gaming for $20 US less. Granted this is less than a 10% saving but for those on a tight budget that could make all the difference. That said I would be very motivated to pay the slight premium for the card that ensures much lower operating temperatures.
Overall I don’t feel the Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming is nearly as bad as some are making out. Yes, it does run relatively hot but for those that just want an affordable graphics card to stick in their machine and forget about, the G1 Gaming does fit the bill. You certainly aren’t sacrificing any frame rate performance, though if you intend to overclock then we suggest looking for an alternate solution. With graphics cards such as the PowerColor Red Devil on offer for even less money, it really does make it difficult to recommend this G1 Gaming model at the current asking price.