Gigabyte Radeon RX 480 G1 Gaming 8G Video Card Review

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Today we will cover only our second Polaris 10 based card to date, another RX 480, but this time from Gigabyte. The Gigabyte Radeon RX 480 G1 Gaming 8G brings a more robust VRM and newer Windforce cooler to keep things cool and quiet. Did I mention it has a sizable overclock from the factory? It does! If that sounds interesting, scroll on down, take a look at more details, and see how it performed in our testing suite!

Specifications and Features

Looking at the details below (from the Gigabte website for the RX 480 G1 Gaming), we can see a nice overclock on the core at 1290 MHz (versus 1120 MHz on the reference cards). The GDDR5 memory still comes in at the reference 2000 MHz (8000 MHz effective) resting on a 256-bit bus. This card allows a total of five monitors using its DL-DVI-D, three DisplayPorts (v1.4), and a single HDMI (2.0b) supporting a total resolution of 8K or 7680×4320 @ 60Hz. Gigabyte recommends a 500W power supply with this 150W (stock) card.

Gigabyte Radeon RX 480 G1 Gaming 8G
Graphics Processing Radeon RX480
Core Clock 1290 MHz
Memory Clock 8000 MHz
Process Technology 14nm
Memory Size 8 GB
Memory Bus 256 bit
Card Bus PCI-E 3.0 x16
Memory Type GDDR5
Direct X/ Open GL Version Support DX – 12
Open GL – 4.5
Digital max resolution 7680×4320 @ 60Hz
Multi-view 5
I/O 1x Dual-link DVI-D, 3x DisplayPort 1.4*3, 1x HDMI 2.0b
Card Size 40mm(H) x 232mm(L) x 116mm(W)
Recommended PSU 500W (with one 8-Pin external power connector)

Moving on to the features the first item listed here is the Windforce 2X cooling system. The heatsink itself uses three composite heat-pipes which make direct contact with the GPU die. The second image/feature shows those flat heatpipes, shaped to provide maximum contact and heat dispersion. This dual slot solution uses two uniquely shaped 90mm fans which stop under a specific temperature. Gigabyte calls it 3D Active Fan. There is also an LED on the top of the card that will display “fan stop” when it is in use. You are able to adjust the RGB lighting, the Gigabyte name and Fan Stop on top of the heatsink, using the Gigabyte Xtreme Engine Software.

Last and certainly not least are the upgrade components Gigabyte uses on these higher end cards, Ultra Durable VGA. This includes the use of solid caps, metal chokes, lower RDSon MOSFETs, and Tier 1 memory to make this version much better than the FE models. Along those lines, the G1 Gaming uses 6+2 power phases to get good clean power to the GPU and memory for better overclocking potential.

Please see all of this and more at the Gigabyte website!

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WINDFORCE 2X Cooling System

  • 90mm Unique blade fan design
  • 3D Active Fan with RGB LED Indicators
  • 3 composite heat-pipes
  • Heat-pipes direct touch GPU

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3 Heat Pipes Direct Touch

The pure copper heat pipes are shaped to maximize the direct contact area to the GPU

COMPOSITE HEAT-PIPES

The composite heat-pipes combines both thermal conductivity and phase transition for efficiently managing the transfer of heat between two solid interfaces which increases 29% of cooling capacity.

90mm Unique Blade Fan Design

The airflow is spilt by the triangle fan edge, and guided smoothly through the 3D stripe curve on the fan surface, effectively enhancing the air flow by 23% over traditional fans.

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3D ACTIVE FAN WITH
RGB LED INDICATORS

The XTREME GAMING graphics cards are equipped with 3D-Active Fan, the industry’s first 0dB semi-passive fan design introduced by GIGABYTE back in 2007. The fans will remain off when the GPU is under a set loading or temperature for low power gaming. The LED fan indicator on the top of the graphics card provides an instant display of the fan status.

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16.8M CUSTOMIZABLE COLOR LIGHTING

With 16.8M customizable color options and numerous lighting effects, you could now choose the right scheme for your gaming rig through Xtreme Engine software.

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Ultra Durable Materials

Engineered with the highest-grade chokes and capacitors, this graphic card delivers outstanding performance and durable system lifespan.

Built for OverClocking with 6+2 power phases

Compared to reference design, the 6+2 power phases on the card make the MOSFET working at a lower temperature and provide more stable voltage output.

Smart Power LED indicators

Be alert when PCI-E voltage is unstable with the smart power LED indicator.

GPU-Z

Below is our gratuitous GPU-Z screenshot. Here it confirms all of the hardware backend, current BIOS, clocks, etc, etc. Nothing much to see here we do not already know!

GPU-Z v1.12.0

GPU-Z v1.12.0

Retail Packaging and Accessories

Moving on to the retail packaging, we see the Gigabyte G1 Gaming box with that eye staring right at you with its eerie squint and orange color. The box itself is black with the orange theme of the G1 Gaming line. On the back of the packaging, it shows features and specifications while the sides, never too interesting, shows you serial number and other SKU information. Gigabyte also uses a “box in a box” setup with the GPU sitting in form fitting foam protecting it from the perils of transport, and very well. About the only accessory included here for us was a quick start guide.

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Meet the Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming 8G

Our first look at the RX 480 G1 Gaming shows that black Windforce 2 cooler off with its 90mm fans gracing the front. There are some slight, sharp lines giving it a sense of depth a bit of style along with some orange, G1 themed, highlight lines on the shroud. The card does come with a nice looking brushed aluminum backplate which covers the entire PCB. The card should fit well with most themed builds as it is generally black in color with just a few of the orange highlights. Overall a good looking heatsink hides a solid card below!

Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming - Front

Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming – Front

Back

Back

Other

Other

Other 2

Other 2

Bottom

Bottom

Top

Top

A Closer Look

As we zoom in on the outputs area of the card, we see the very typical assortment of 1x DL DVI-D, 3x DisplayPorts, and 1x HDMI. You can use all of these outputs for five screen viewing action, or a maximum supported resolution of 8K (7680×4320) at 60Hz.

The only power required here is a single 8-pin PCIe connector. Combine the 150W from there and the 75W from the slot, this card can deliver, in spec, 225W to its components. Couple that with its 6+2 phase design and its good clean power getting where it needs to go.

Output - DL DVI-D, 3x DisplaPorts (v1,4) and HDMI

Output – DL DVI-D, 3x DisplaPorts (v1,4) and HDMI

6-Pin Power Required

6-Pin Power Required

After taking the heatsink off, we can see those three flattened heatpipes which make direct contact with the GPU core. Make sure you TIM application is a bit liberal in that it fills the space between the pipes for best results. After taking off the Windforce 2 heatsink, the PCB is exposed showing off the more robust hardware used and the 6+2 phase power delivery section.

The backplate makes contact with the back of the PCB through a thermal pad located directly behind the VRMs. This design will help keep those a bit cooler as well.

Heatsink Base

Heatsink Base

Heatsink Removed - Exposed PCB

Heatsink Removed – Exposed PCB

Back Plate Removed

Back Plate Removed

Base of the backplate

Base of the backplate

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6+2 Power Delivery

Below are shots of the GPU core and the Samsung memory.

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RX 480 core

Samsung Memory

Samsung Memory

Monitoring/Overclocking Software – Gigabyte Xtreme Engine

Gigabyte has their own software suite, Xtreme Engine, intended to give you the ability to monitor and control many aspects of your card. Things from fan speed and profiles, to core and memory clocks for overclocking, to LED control of your device. I didn’t have any major issues with the software. It is intuitive and set up well. My only gripe is that it did not seem to want to control the power limit on the card which limited overclocking. That said, even AMD Wattman was not able to do that on this card for whatever reason. I was able to get an unreleased version of a competitors software and it was able to push the card to the limits. Hopefully we see more control over this card through its “native” software.

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Test System and Methods

GPU Test System
CPU Intel 6700K @ Stock (for the motherboard – 4.2 GHz)
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme
RAM 2×4 GB DDR4 GSkill Ripjaws4 @ 3000 MHz 15-15-15-35 2T 1.35 V
Graphics Card Gigabyte RX480 G1 Gaming 8G
Stock : Core: 1290 MHz / 2000 MHz (8000 effective) Memory
Overclocked: 1365 MHz / 2125 MHz (8500 effective) Memory
Solid State Drive OCZ RD400 (512GB)
Power Supply SeaSonic SS-1000XP (80+ Platinum)
Operating System Windows 10 x64 (Fully Updated)
Graphics Drivers 16.11.3
Other Equipment
Digital Multimeter, Kill-A-Watt

Other cards used for comparison in this review are as follows (links are to the reviews here at Overclockers.com):

Benchmarking Method/Settings

Note all testing below uses 1920×1080 screen resolution (settings also carry over to 2560 x 1440 and Surround/Eyefinity testing if applicable).

All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings, with game benchmarks at noted settings:

  • 3DMark Fire Strike – Extreme, default setting.
  • 3DMark Time Spy – Default
  • Unigine Valley Benchmark v1.0 – 1080p, DX11, Ultra Quality, 8x AA, Full Screen
  • Unigine Heaven (HWbot) – Extreme setting
  • Crysis 3 – Very High settings with 8xMSAA/16xAF (2nd level when you procure and use the Crossbow to get across the level and kill the Helicopter)
  • Metro:LL – DX11, Very High, 16xAF, Motion Blur – Normal, SSAA Enabled, DX11 Tessellation – Very High, Advanced PhysX – Disabled, Scene D6
  • Dirt: Rally – 1080p, 8x MSAA, everything on Ultra that can be, enable Advanced Blending
  • Grand Theft Auto V – 1080p, high settings (see article below for details).
  • Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – 1080p, everything Ultra that can be (Lighting quality High), FXAA and Camera + Object Blur, DOF/OIT/Tessellation enabled.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – 1080p, SSAA 4X, VSync Off, DirectX 12 On, Very High Preset
  • The Division – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
  • Far Cry: Primal – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
  • Ashes of the Singularity – 1080p, DX12, Crazy Preset

More details found in our article: Overclockers.com GPU Testing Procedures

Synthetic Benchmarks

Jumping into the results, we see the Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming 8G post some solid results against the other MSI RX 480 we tested a couple months ago. In 3DMark Fire Strike, we are seeing the G1 Gaming come in 1.4% less (scoring 5,38) than the MSI offering, but again, this is at slightly lower clocks. Moving on to Time Spy, the gap closes here to less than 1% (scored 4,269), likely a product of different drivers between the reviews closing that gap.

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy

Moving on to Unigine Valley and Unigine Heaven, we see the Giga G1 Gaming make up that meager difference and even shows it beating out the other card with these drivers. Granted its by margin of error or les, but still. That isn’t too bad for a card with slightly less clocks than we are comparing it too!

Unigine Valley and Unigine Heaven (Hwbot - Extreme)

Unigine Valley and Unigine Heaven (Hwbot – Extreme)

Gaming Benchmarks

As far as gaming goes, the RX 480 presents itself as a mid-range 1080p card. We can see from the results below, even with our very high/ultra settings, the Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming 8G keeps the FPS almost at 35 for Crysis 3, over 46 for Dirt:Rally, and almost 50 FPS in Metro: Last Light. Again it is running right with the lower clocked card with the updated drivers.

Crysis 3, Dirt: Rally, and Metro: Last Light

Crysis 3, Dirt: Rally, and Metro: Last Light

In the next set of testing the RX 480 easily hits playable FPS here with Far Cry: Primal averaging 60 FPS on the nose, easily beating out the other RX 480 (56 FPS). In Middle Earth: Shadow or Mordor, a pretty, but “easy” game on GPUs, hit 91.3 FPS walking the other RX 480 by a country mile. Not sure of that was a data anomaly or what. But I double/triple checked my settings on this end. The other card was not available for a re-test.

Far Cry: Primal, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and GTA V

Far Cry: Primal, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and GTA V

In our last graph, we start with Rise of the Tomb Raider. In this game, the RX 480 G1 Gaming hits 38.5 FPS, almost 2 FPS quicker than the MSI RX 480. When we look at Tom Clancy’s The Division, it averages 61.5 FPS here. Our last game is Ashes of the Singularity. In this “balanced work out” (stresses CPUs and GPUs), the RX 480 manages to hit 38.8 FPS. For this type of genre, where there isn’t a lot of fast action on the screen, these are plenty playable and appear buttery smooth to me.

Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Division, and Ashes of the Singularity

Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Division, and Ashes of the Singularity

Below I have included results for all of our games at 2560×1440 resolution. In about half of the titles we are at or less than 30 FPS. Now, this doesn’t matter much in a title like AOTS, but will render a game like Crysis 3 and ROTR pretty choppy. Some concessions will have to be made for those titles to achieve acceptable FPS. Then there are other titles, like Dirt: Rally, GTA V, ME:SOM, The Division, and Far Cry: Primal that are well above 40 FPS (65 in the case of ME:SOM) and perfectly playable at the high resolution and our tough settings.

2560 x 1440 Results

2560 x 1440 Results

Pushing the Limits

I bet this section is a sight for sore eyes for our overclocking contingent! That is right readers, I was able to get more clocks out of a video card after our initial overclocking to warrant an appearance here. But, it wasn’t easy.. well.. natural for the Gigabyte card anyway. In order to push past the limits in AMD Wattman (could not adjust power limit there) and Xtreme Engine (same issue), I had to get an unreleased version of MSI Afterburner to help me out here. To that end, the final stable(ish) clock I could manage out of the core was 1421 MHz. The memory I was able to reach 2204 MHz (8816 effective). Leaned on the CPU and bit and ran one of the toughest in our synthetic aresenal and hit 6,153 in Fire Strike Extreme. Not too shabby…!

1421 MHz Core / 2126 MHz Memory

1421 MHz Core / 2126 MHz Memory

Temperatures and Power Consumption

Temperatures using the Windforce 2 cooler on this card reached 71 °C max while stock and 74 °C while overclocking. The fans were whisper quiet at either max temperature hitting around 60% fan when 74 °C. If you prefer things a little cooler for whatever reason, there is plenty of headroom to do so.

Temperatures

Temperatures

Our test system peaked at 312W when overclocked and 264W while the GPU was at stock speeds. A quality 500W PSU will be plenty for this card and even a more power hungry CPU. Its not quite where the GTX 1060 is power to performance wise, but AMD and the Radeon group has made great strides in improving the difference.

Power Consumption

Power Consumption

Conclusion

AMD’s Polaris line has come a long way over previous generations of GPUs, particularly in the power and performance ratio mentioned above. Gigabyte put its own spin on the card by offering a much better performing and quiet cooler than the reference blowers as well as offering a much more robust power delivery. Using the Ultra Durable VGA hardware on its 6+2 phase implementation, versus 3+1 for reference, helps you get the most out of your GPU. We saw some pretty good results here with this sample in breaking 1400Mhz and 2200 on the ram. As always, your mileage may vary.

In that light, the card overclocked pretty well when using the right software. Which, I guess that is my only complaint is to have Wattman and Gigabyte’s Xtreme Engine software able to change everything so it can be a single solution. To be fair, the software I was using isn’t out yet, but should be soon. This really doesn’t bother enthusiasts as we use whatever we are comfortable with that works, but may thwart some novice users in getting the most out of the card at this time.

If we look into pricing. Currently at Newegg.com the Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming 8G is priced at $249.99. This pricing puts it right in the middle of all the RX 480’s listed there. Many have better than reference hardware and coolers, but very few have clocks this high out of the box. Its one of the highest clocked in the list, in fact. Trailing only the Strix ($295), Red Devil ($269), and MSI Gaming ($254). So you really have a great deal out of the box.

If you are looking for one of the highest performing RX 480’s out of the box, quiet, and has plenty of thermal headroom for overclocking, I wouldn’t look much farther than the Gigabyte RX 480 G1 Gaming 8G.

What Does This Mean? Click to Find Out!

What Does This Mean? Click to Find Out!

 

– Joe Shields (Earthdog).

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Discussion
  1. Thanks. I see you use MSI's Gaming X in comparative tests and reviewed it back in August. Would you say the MSI cooler and power section are indeed better or not necessarily?