PowerColor RX 480 Red Devil Review
Published: 30th August 2016 | Source: PowerColor | Price: £259 |
We've often mentioned the importance of going into a review with a clear mind and a lack of preconceptions. It's why we do so many tests. You don't want something you expect to be amazing to be slated for merely being good. Try as we might though it was very difficult to come away from our time with the RX 480 Red Devil with anything other than mild disappointment.
The PowerColor Devil range has always produced great products, and when you look at the "on paper" specifications it seems like everything is here for a great variant of the RX 480. We have triple fans, guaranteeing that the mild thermal issues of the RX 480 will be negated. We have a great factory overclock, as good as all the other top-end RX 480s we've seen. And, let's not kid ourselves, it's a PowerColor Devil. That has a certain cachet. We were hoping for something equal to the Strix, or maybe even the Nitro, but with all the temperature and noise benefits of a triple fan cooler. With a little digging we found out that powercolour have increased the temperature limit and REDUCED the power limit to help keep it quieter because that cooler isnt up to the task but reducing that power target has an effect on performance....
Performance was more of a mixed bag. In the early results the RX 480 was either amazing or - relative to other RX 480s - pretty bad, but by the times things settled down into a consistent pattern it was disappointingly below all the other cards besides the reference AMD RX 480. Let's be honest here, beating the reference card is the bare minimum requirement. There were a few times the Red Devil sprung to the top of the graphs, showing that there is enough inherent performance to keep you entertained, and even when it was only above the reference the actual results were still tightly packed.
Considering the low average boost and performance levels lower than we would have expected and to have seen a temperature result so high we then started to think something was wrong, Powercolor assured us everything is fine. 80C really is their temperature target and they say performance is lower due to aiming this card at silence.... Right. What we actually feel is they designed the card and then tuned it so something works. In an ideal world especially with an RX 480 you need a beefy cooler to be able to pack a performance punch and save your hearing. Sadly this one has hampered performance to try and make the cooler sound a bit better.
That's why we're back to the paragraph that we opened with. You need to have zero expectations. If you see that it's a PowerColor Red Devil and therefore expect graph shattering results you'll be disappointed. If you just want it to be a good take upon the RX 480 and something better than the reference then you'll be happy with your purchase. However if youre looking at the Devil as an option to any of the other aftermarket cards it really does come in at the bottom of the pack and we cant help feeling that its all being held back by the substandard cooler.