With their Polaris lineup of Video cards, AMD is looking to take a bite out of Nvidia and their latest 10 series. The company’s promise of affordable graphics power was first demonstrated with the AMD Radeon RX 480, the $200+ USD VR ready top end card, and the RX 470, the 1080P 60FPS card. AMD has now unleashed the eSports targeted $109 RX 460. While it may not be on any VR builders must buy list, the RX 460 is a solid card at an unbeatable price.
The Polaris lineup has been impressive so far, especially when you consider the price vs. performance ratio AMD has set up. The RX 460 continues this trend and is an impressive offering. It is a small, HTPC ready card that will make any eSports gamer euphoric. It promises solid framerates for a fraction of the price of the competition. It has such a competitive price that it almost sounds downright budget.
The core of the RX 460 is the ability to play some of today's hottest competitive games at a solid clip. The 2.2 Teraflop card boasts a clock speed of 1090 MHz, and 1200 MHz when boosted. AMD is offering a choice of a 2GB RAM version or a 4GB Version. With all this horsepower it is astounding AMD have managed to allow it all to run without an external power source. The <75 W card can run off the motherboard, making it an ideal choice for the micro PC/HTPC builds.
We were lucky enough to test out the Powercolor variant of the AMD Radeon RX 460. This relatively inoffensive card does what it needs to do in form factor without looking flashy or bombastic, as many video cards tend to do. During testing the cooler provided ample power to keep the GPU at an acceptable level, and while the card did get warm while playing games for benchmarking, it was never an issue.
But with any video card, the benchmarks and capabilities are what people really care about. While the card is a far cry from some of the top of the line offerings, the AMD RX 460 did surprisingly well. The $109 card managed to score 1682 in the 3D Mark Time Spy graphics test. While this is far below what you can get from the RX 470 that managed a 3295, it does come at a fraction of the price and requires far less power.
One thing any prospective buyer should take note of is the fact the RX 460 has all the features of the big brothers while being a bit more scaled down. The full Polaris range includes HDR (High Dynamic Range), AMD Freesync, and is Vulkan capable with the ability to stream and game smoothly. These are features that the modern Twitch streamer demands and the fact AMD managed to include them on the full lineup is a great consumer-facing move.
The CGMagazine test rig, consisting of an AMD 8350 Octocore running at 4.2 GHz, 16GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and 1080P Monitor managed to squeeze out some very impressive scores in DX12, DX11, and Vulkan with the RX 460. Most of the games we tested ran at a solid 60FPS, while larger, more story driven games only managed a consistent 30.
With everyone now playing Overwatch, this is where testing began. Loading it up at high setting managed to yield on average 85-90 FPS, and while there was a bit of an issue with the new AMD Crimson drivers, and a few minor crashes due to driver errors, they were few and far between. The game ran consistently fast through a series of matches, with no noticeable slowdown beyond it dropping to 80FPS during an especially busy segment.
Games such as Counter Strike: Go, League of Legends, and DoTa 2 all ran at well over 100FPS. There was never a time where I felt the framerate would be an issue, even on a competitive level. The card worked flawlessly though these games. While errors were experienced with Overwatch, these errors did not show while playing all the other games.
The real story for me is not the RX 460 being able to get over 100FPS consistently in eSports titles; it is if the RX 460 can play console style games. This is something I was honestly not expecting; yet while testing, it surprised me. Games were playable on it at "console quality" settings. It should be made clear that you will not be getting 60FPS 1080P consistently from big story driven games, but what you will be able to do is experience games as they would be on the PS4 or the Xbox One. Games like Fallout 4, GTA V, Mirror's Edge Catalyst and Shadow of Mordor all played exceptionally well. While most games did not manage to get above 40FPS on average, GTA V managed to get a consistent 66FPS throughout the testing of the card.
The real hard question, however, is whether or not you should buy it over more expensive options. While I think the RX 460 is a fantastic offering and one that is well needed in today's landscape of expensive graphics cards, it all comes down to needs. The RX 460 is a capable card, and will give the casual player a card that will do about what they would expect from their living room console, and the $179 price for the RX 470 is tempting. It all comes down how you will be using the card. If you are building a small living room PC for some light competitive gaming, the RX 460 will do wonders, but if you are looking to play the latest and greatest games at high FPS, the RX 470 would be a better investment.
AMD has managed to build an exciting lineup of cards, all for under what the competition is offering. The RX 460, while not being a powerhouse still managed to impress. It is a budget card that hits well above its weight class. While I would not recommend it to the hardcore players, anyone that buys it will end up with an accomplished gaming computer, which should be ready for some serious competitive gaming. Just don't expect to be playing 4K or VR anytime soon.