Back when AMD's Radeon RX 480 broke cover, we knew the Polaris party was just getting started. When the RX 480 bared all, AMD teased two more cards in its lineup that were meant to carry the $100-to-$300 PC gaming flag forward: the Radeon RX 470 and the Radeon RX 460. Today doesn't mark the full Monty for these cards, but we do know enough about them now to make some bets about their place in the budding next-generation GPU landscape.
We're left guessing at the exact holes in its lineup that AMD expects to fill with these cards because the company isn't sharing pricing info yet, even as it gears up to launch this duo next week. We feel like we can make some educated guesses about the price points these graphics cards will hit, though, thanks to some simple math and a long history of reviewing these things. Let's dive in.
The Radeon RX 460: drop-in desperado
The Radeon RX 460 is aimed right at the heart of the entry-level gaming market: folks who want titles like Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Rocket League to run smoothly, perhaps with a little bit of graphically-intensive gaming on the side.
The final RX 460 is a little different-looking than the bare-heatsinked model we've seen until now. AMD seems to have borrowed a page from the Radeon R9 Nano's cooler when it designed the RX 460's. The final card is kind of a one-and-a-half slot design that uses a single-slot bracket with a blower exhuast. The reference card appears to have one DisplayPort 1.3 out, one HDMI 2.0 out, and a DVI out. AMD will offer the RX 460 with 2GB or 4GB of 7GT/s GDDR5 RAM on board.
The RX 460 is special because it's AMD's first card built with the smaller Polaris 11 GPU. As a quick refresher, this chip is a little less than half of the larger Polaris 10 chip that powers the Radeon RX 480. It has half the ROPs, less than half of the shaders, half the triangles per clock, and a memory bus that's half as wide. It also has 1MB of L2 cache. It should be way smaller Polaris 10's 232-mm² die, and AMD has also claimed that this chip is its thinnest GPU ever. That may sound like a weird point to make, but it's important for achieving the kind of console-class gaming experiences in thin-and-light notebooks that AMD wants to deliver with the presumed mobile derivatives of the chip it has in the works.
|RX 460||1090||1200||16||56/28||2.2||896||128||7||112||< 75W|
|GTX 750 Ti||1020||1085||16||40/40||1.4||640||128||5.4||86||60W|
Going by the basic numbers above, the RX 460 is a smidge more powerful than a GeForce GTX 750 Ti, our long-time favorite card for entry-level gaming systems. In certain measures, it even matches or exceeds the GeForce GTX 950, a perfectly competent card for gaming at 1920x1080.
If the RX 460's performance in real-world testing shakes out similarly, it gives AMD a weapon it's needed for a while now in the graphics card wars: a quiet, power-sipping card that can play popular games at or beneath 1920x1080 while dropping right into a PCIe slot with no need for external power. The card's claimed "less than 75W" board power attests to that fact. That's a big deal for prebuilt systems that need extra gaming oomph.
Given the huge communities around the e-sports titles that AMD is calling out in its materials, it's a good bet the company will move a lot of these things if the RX 460's performance is solid. If we had to guess, we'd expect the prices on reference 2GB RX 460s to be no more than $120 list—but that's just a guess.
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