Just a quick consumer alert.

As many of you know, AMD's new RX 480 is slated to launch on June 29, with the RX 470 and RX 460 soon following. We've already seen some retailers posting the RX 480 at prices nearing $300. Lest these unscrupulous scalpers cash-in on pre-sale pandemonium, we'll avoid linking said sellers.

Here's the deal: AMD's list pricing for the RX 480 is $200 for 4GB, and $230~$250 (ish) for the RX 480 8GB. Unlike the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 launch, both of which have been hamstrung by limited availability of the actual product, AMD's Polaris chips should be flooding the market from the get-go. Polaris is not a limited-yield, limited availability chip. There will be thousands of RX 480 GPUs available for day-one purchase in North America alone.

In a recent story circulating the web, rumors of AMD's (confirmed) deference to AS Media for its Zen chipset design have pointed toward USB3.1 transmission speed degradation issues. The reports indicated a slow-down of USB3.1 speeds as ports are distanced from the chipset, resolvable by motherboard manufacturers with a separate controller for USB3.1. The reports have not presented numbers for the alleged speed degradation; we do not have a clear picture of how heavily – if at all – this rumor impacts USB device speed.

Should USB3.1 transfer speeds truly be impacted this greatly by circuit distance, motherboard manufacturers can opt for inclusion of aftermarket ICs that resolve the issue at increased BOM. There is also still some time prior to mass production and shipping – motherboard manufacturers and AS Media may find a remedy to this reported choke-point by then.

We've hit episode 20 of Ask GN – our video series is almost old enough to drink. The format has matured and the user questions have shaped discussion for months now. To contribute to the next episode of Ask GN, please visit the video page and leave your comment among the YouTube commenters – these are good ones, though; we promise.

This week, our Ask GN discussion moves along from the 1080 & 1080 Ti rumor discussion of past episodes and instead focuses on AMD's new RX 480, 470, 460, and potential higher-end devices (e.g. a “490,” should one exist). The questions, as always, are timestamped below.

AMD today followed-up its Radeon RX 480 Polaris announcement with the unveil of its RX 470 and RX 460 graphics cards. Quickly recapping, the RX 480 will ship with >5TFLOPS of compute performance (depending on pre-OC or other specs) and sells for ~$200 MSRP at 4GB, or more than that for 8GB – we're guessing $230 to $250 for most AIB cards. Now, with the announcement of the RX 470 and RX 460, AMD has opened up the low-end of the market with a new focus on “cool and efficient” graphics solutions. Coming out of the company which used to associate itself with volcanic islands, high-heat reference coolers (remedied with the Fiji series), and high power draw, the Polaris architecture promises a more power/thermal-conscious GPU.

AMD's 14nm FinFET Radeon RX480 was just announced at Computex, using the new Polaris 10 architecture. The AMD Radeon RX480 GPU uses Polaris 10 architecture to deliver >5TFLOPS of Compute for $200, at 150W TDP, and ships in SKUs of 4GB & 8GB GDDR5. We have not confirmed if the 8GB model costs more; the exact language was “RX 480 set to drive premium VR experiences into the hands of millions of consumers, priced from just $199.”

“From,” of course, means “starting at” – so it could be that the 8GB model costs more. Regardless, AMD's firmly entered the mid-range market with its 8GB RX480, landing where the R9 380X and GTX 960 4GB presently rest. (Update: We emailed and confirmed that the 4GB model is $200. The 8GB model is not yet finalized for pricing -- probably $250+).

 

AMD's is rumored to be skipping on the high-end market with Polaris architectures 10 & 11, likely aiming to fill that demand with Vega instead. Vega is on the roadmap for public delivery later in 2016.

AMD was first-to-market with Doom-ready drivers, but exhibited exceptionally poor performance with a few of its cards. The R9 390X was one of those, being outperformed massively (~40%) by the GTX 970, and nearly matched by the GTX 960 at 1080p. If it's not apparent by the price difference between the two, that's unacceptable; the hardware of the R9 390X should effortlessly outperform the GTX 960, a budget-class card, and it just wasn't happening. Shortly after the game launched and AMD posted its initial driver set (16.5.2), a hotfix (16.5.2.1) was released to resolve performance issues on the R9 390 series cards.

We had a moment to re-benchmark DOOM using the latest drivers between our GTX 1080 Hybrid experiment and current travel to Asia. The good news: AMD's R9 390X has improved performance substantially – about 26% in some tests – and seem to be doing better. Other cards were unaffected by this hot fix (though we did test), so don't expect a performance gain out of your 380X, Fury X, or similar non-390-series device.

Note: These charts now include the GTX 1080 and its overclocked performance.

GN's embarking on its most ambitious trip yet: Taipei, then Shenzhen, China and neighboring countries, then back to Taipei. There are many reasons we're doing the Asia tour, but it's all rooted in one of the world's largest consumer electronics shows. Computex rivals CES in size, though arguably has a bigger desktop hardware / component presence than CES (hosted annually in Las Vegas). This year, we're attending – should be a good show.

Here's a quick recap of what PC hardware to expect at Computex 2016.

All the pyrotechnics in the world couldn't match the gasconade with which GPU & CPU vendors announce their new architectures. You'd halfway expect this promulgation of multipliers and gains and reductions (but only where smaller is better) to mark the end-times for humankind; surely, if some device were crafted to the standards by which it were announced, The Aliens would descend upon us.

But, every now and then, those bombastic announcements have something behind them – there's substance there, and potential for an adequately exciting piece of technology. NVidia's debut of consumer-grade Pascal architecture initializes with GP104, the first of its non-Accelerator cards to host the new 16nm FinFET process node from TSMC. That GPU lands on the GTX 1080 Founders Edition video card first, later to be disseminated through AIB partners with custom cooling or PCB solutions. If the Founders Edition nomenclature confuses you, don't let it – it's a replacement for nVidia's old “Reference” card naming, as we described here.

Anticipation is high for GP104's improvements over Maxwell, particularly in the area of asynchronous compute and command queuing. As the industry pushes ever into DirectX 12 and Vulkan, compute preemption and dynamic task management become the gatekeepers to performance advancements in these new APIs. It also means that LDA & AFR start getting pushed out as frames become more interdependent with post-FX, and so suddenly there are implications for multi-card configurations that point toward increasingly less optimization support going forward.

Our nVidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition review benchmarks the card's FPS performance, thermals, noise levels, and overclocking vs. the 980 Ti, 980, Fury X, and 390X. This nearing-10,000-word review lays-out the architecture from an SM level, talks asynchronous compute changes in Pascal / GTX 1080, provides a quick “how to” primer for overclocking the GTX 1080, and talks simultaneous multi-projection. We've got thermal throttle analysis that's new, too, and we're excited to show it.

The Founders Edition version of the GTX 1080 costs $700, though MSRP for AIBs starts at $600. We expect to see that market fill-in over the next few months. Public availability begins on May 27.

First, the embedded video review and specs table:

Following our GTX 1080 coverage of DOOM – and preempting the eventual review – we spent the time to execute GPU benchmarks of id Software's DOOM. The new FPS boasts high-fidelity visuals and fast-paced, Quake-era gameplay mechanics. Histrionic explosions dot Doom's hellscape, overblown only by its omnipresent red tint and magma flows. The game is heavy on particle effects and post-processing, performing much of its crunching toward the back of the GPU pipeline (after geometry and rasterization).

Geometry isn't particularly complex, with the game's indoor settings comprised almost entirely of labyrinthine corridors and rooms. Framerate fluctuates heavily; the more lighting effects and particle simulation in the camera frustum, the greater the swings in FPS as players emerge into or depart from lava-filled chambers and other areas of post-FX interest.

In this Doom graphics card benchmark, we test the framerate (FPS) of various GPUs in the new Doom “4” game, including the GTX 980 Ti, 980, 970, Fury X, 390X, 380X, and more. We'll briefly define game graphics settings first; game graphics definitions include brief discussion on TSSAA, directional occlusion quality, shadows, and more.

Note: Doom will soon add support for Vulkan. It's not here yet, but we've been told to expect Vulkan support within a few weeks of launch. All current tests were executed with OpenGL. We will revisit for Vulkan once the API is enabled.

We spoke exclusively with the Creative Assembly team about its game engine optimization for the upcoming Total War: Warhammer. Major moves to optimize and refactor the game engine include DirectX 12 integration, better CPU thread management (decoupling the logic and render threads), and GPU-assigned processing to lighten the CPU load.

The interview with Al Bickham, Studio Communications Manager at Creative Assembly, can be found in its entirety below. We hope to soon visit the topic of DirectX 12 support within the Total War: Warhammer engine.

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