The RX 480 vs. GTX 1060 vs. GTX 980 Overclocked Showdown

Conclusion

Conclusion

This has been quite an interesting exploration for us in evaluating the overclocked and stock RX 480 reference version versus the stock and overclocked reference GTX 980, and versus the stock and overclocked GTX 1060 Founders Edition.  The GTX 1060 did very well performance-wise but still slotted below the reference the GTX 980.

We simply cannot recommend the RX 480 8GB reference version at any overclocked speeds as it appears that AMD has already pushed Polaris right to the edge of stability.  And their driver “fix” apparently still apparently has issues unless you allow a compatibility mode to throttle its overclocked performance.  It unfortunate as the RX 480 appears to scale well with an overclock.  Worst of all, if you turn the fan profile to its maximum, it sounds like an annoying hairdryer on its highest settings.

In contrast, both the GTX 980 and the GTX 1060 are both very good overclockers and they remained stable.  Turning the fan to their highest settings do make more noise, but it is more like a “whoosh” of air which is far less intrusive than the whine of the RX 480 at its maximum fan speeds.

We look forward to hopefully getting our own Pascal Titan X and to comparing its progress over the Maxwell Titan X next week.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section below, or on BTR’s Community forum.

Next week, we will have a new evaluation with a brand new card that we are benching right now.  The results may surprise you.

Happy Gaming!

  • Jamjosef

    Once I saw the RX480 losing in Hitman DX12 everything else you did became irrelevant

    • apoppin

      Hitman at 1920×1080 is the only outlier. At stock and also overclocked, the RX 480 beats the GTX 1080 at 2560×1440. I have no idea what happened at 1080P. That is why it is an outlier.

  • Mark Ferguson

    Amazing you tested the RX480 on Doom but not using the Vulkan API, you should have tested the AMD card on Vulkan and the Nvidia cards on OpenGL for that game and compared, biased much.

    • apoppin

      Another AMD Advocate?

      • mrgerbik

        so?

        • apoppin

          AMD Advocates will focus on just one benchmark and what is not posted instead of the bulk of the information that is presented with 25 other games in their vain attempts to discredit many hours of benching.

          There is no easy way to benchmark DOOM accurately on the Vulkan API; there is no tool like Fraps. It requires PresentMon and Visual Studio, and it takes a lot of extra time and many complex steps for just one benchmark. We did benchmark it roughly originally in our GTX 1060 launch article, and it’s clear that AMD is faster in Vulkan:

          http://www.babeltechreviews.com/gtx-1060-arrives-take-rx-480/5/

          • Alexander Yordanov

            Sometimes, someone needs to take the hard way and not the easy way. Such is life really.

  • JM

    What’s the power draw of the GTX 1060 with the OC (versus without)? Not
    an issue for those who pay pennies for their electricity, but not all of
    us are so lucky. I understand a lot of folks will just get cards and
    overclock them as hard as they can, power be damned, but others like to
    compare things on price/perf and total cost of ownership.

    • apoppin

      I’m sorry, I didn’t test the power draw. I’ll try to do it in a follow up evaluation. This evaluation just focused on performance.

      • JM

        Cheers! I understand the perf angle, but after all, if money is no issue we’d all get a Titan X. 🙂 For me comparing the GTX 1060 against, say, a Sapphire Nitro RX 480 4 GB (including power costs) is where it gets real interesting, as opposed to AMD’s terrible reference design. At stock a GTX 1060 is already very close but does not quite manage to beat the Nitro in frames per buck, but at OC it may very well come out ahead. (Of course, you do need to get good odds in the silicon lottery, but it looks like you did, so this card is a nice best case for comparison.)

        • apoppin

          Actually, I am hoping to get a Titan X tomorrow. 🙂

          If I can get an aftermarket RX 480, I will definitely compare power draw against a stock and overclocked GTX 1060 for you and for BTR’s readers. As I spend more time with the reference RX 480, it is becoming obvious that the Power Limit should not be set to +50%; however, 0% leads to throttling. So overclocking the reference version is a real challenge. However, right now, I am benching a new card for an evaluation later on this week.

          Yes, this particular sample of the GTX 1060 FE is an outstanding overclocker.

          Thank-you for your interest and for your comments!

  • Stark

    sorry about the monitor guys…
    but i appreciate that you guys are taking such pain in your work.
    this is my first visit to this site and i have bookmarked it, and will try to support you guys in any way i can.

    • apoppin

      Thank-you! I just got a new display today. And after a couple of days of benching the Monoprice display with that irritating purple line, it disappeared! So far, it has not returned and I have been benching it since then for many hours. My fingers are crossed that it does not return.

      If you would like more “insider” information, check out BTR’s community forum. It is small but the discussions are usually informative and interesting.

      http://babeltechreviews.com/community/

  • SuperSuhail

    I agree with everything you said in this article but you forgot to mention one thing, and that being price difference. Not everyone who’s paying $200 for a grqphics card is willing to Overclock and with the default config the rx 480 delivers a very good package of performace for its price. Considering there is a difference of about $100-$150 between the two graphics cards i find it reasonable that the rx 480 could have some slight problems.

  • Golemming

    would be cool to see percentage of increase. Digits alone don’t exactly convey how much performance gain actually are

    • apoppin

      I agree with you. Time is always an issue when running a very large benchmark suite. That said, I will try to add percentages of difference today to my new Titan X vs GTX 1080 evaluation – we run the full 25 game benchmark suite at 3 resolutions – at 4K, 2K, and at 1440P.

      • Golemming

        looked at it – look perfect 🙂 I can see exactly how much of a difference there. And it enormous

  • Roy Taylor

    Anyone reading this should consider DX12 async compute and VR performance, and compare pricing. Vulkan is also important. Overall async compute is the must have feature. If the author needs help with access to DX12 and VR content for future reviews we’re all ears.

    • apoppin

      Sure, Roy

      We’d love access to more DX12 and VR content. I’m the author and I will take you up on your offer.

      Thank-you

  • Alexander Yordanov

    I do not see STALKER anymore 🙁

  • Zeblade

    “We simply cannot recommend the RX 480 8GB reference version at any overclocked speeds”

    WOW nothing like standing alone. Good for you! Only thing is seems NO ONE is listening to you. Lol I like the fan top speed..more like a whoosh.

    You do seem to have a following. Say ANYTHING about AMD .. why do people have to give them a hard time? Got 5 NV and one Amd. Always loved NV 3d. Yet when things are said that are not true. The fact that everyone is buying the cards and most if not all are loving them.

    Always buy the card make sure you can return it.. yet in this case you can really sell it back and make more if you wanted. What you will find when you get the card.. everyone system is different. Testing it at home against a 970, 1060, 980, 980TI blah blah.. you find.. wow in some games it hits 980 fps..wow..seems others have found the same thing. pffft what do I know