AMD brings VR to all with $199 RX 480 GPU; gives Nvidia's GeForce 1080 a run for its money

Virtual reality offers a great many opportunities to have new experiences and get immersed in games and movies like never before. But a huge barrier to many is the prohibitive cost of the high-end graphics cards needed to run VR systems. Or, at least that was the case until today, when AMD unveiled its new $199 RX 480, Polaris-based GPU, designed to bring virtual reality to the masses. The RX 480 will come in two flavors, a 4GB version and an 8GB version, though the latter will be more expensive.

The company took the stage at Computex, to unveil its latest graphics card, as it’s making a play for the low-end part of the market. This is a smart move on AMD’s part seeing how Nvidia has seemingly locked up both the mid and high-ends with its latest GTX 1070 and 1080 cards. But don’t mistake the RX 480’s low price for lack of performance.

No indeed, as AMD was quick to tout, the RX 480 can give Nvidia cards a run for their money, especially when it comes to value. The entry-level GPU hits around 5 teraflops of computing power, while Nvidia’s substantially more expensive GeForce 1070 sits slightly above the 6 teraflop threshold. In layman’s terms this means you get VR-ready performance out of the RX 480, for almost half the price of the 1070.

Check out the full unveiling starting at 22:00 minutes in

The RX 480 was also touted by AMD’s partners, including the id Software game studio, for its prowess when it comes to supporting the new Doom remake. As expected, those most excited by the prospect of affordable GPUs for VR, were those making VR headsets, including HTC who said:

We congratulate AMD for bringing a premium VR ready GPU to market at a $199 price point. This shows how partners like AMD survey the entire VR ecosystem to bring an innovative Radeon RX Series product to power high end VR systems like the HTC Vive, to the broadest range of consumers.

But that’s not the end of the story just yet, as AMD is using the RX 480 as a sort of trojan horse to get into Nvidia’s market. The company excitedly announced that two RX 480 cards running together in Crossfire outperformed the top-of-the-line GeForce 1080 GTX. While running Ashes of the Singularity the two cards produced 62.5 frames per second while the 1080 was stuck around 58 FPS. And as AMD gleefully pointed out, the two RX480 cards were only using around 50% of their computing power, while the 1080 was near to 100%.

Obviously, the performance boost mentioned above can only be applied when the games or programs running, benefit from parallel computing, but even so, having two cards with a total price tag of $400 beating out a $600+ contender is impressive.

The AMD RX480 will hit store shelves this summer, on June 29th for $199 for the 4GB version. An 8GB version will also be available around the same time.

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