AMD’s Radeon RX 470: A Review

It has no right to be this good…

AMD RX 470 MSI (1 of 4)

Starting today you’ll be able to find AMD’s newly minted Radeon RX 470 graphics card at online retailers for about $180. The MSI Gaming X version of the RX 470 that we were sampled is a well built and highly attractive looking offering. This custom RX 470 can also claim performance levels that are just a couple of percent off of AMD’s reference RX 480 which launched about a month ago. Having spent a few days with it now, it’s really hard to overstate how awesome MSI’s version of the Radeon RX 470 is.

AMD RX 470 MSI (4 of 4)

AIB Manufactures Know What They’re Doing

Starting with the backside of the PCB you can see that MSI’s RX 470 is about an inch taller and equal in length compared to AMD’s RX 480 reference design. It makes good use of that space by stuffing it with a pair of heatpipes, an MSI logo that glows white when powered on, and it sports an eight-pin power connector to support all your overclocking needs.

AMD RX 470 MSI (2 of 4)

MSI’s also modified AMD’s I/O port layout by ditching one DisplayPort and adding a second HDMI port and a dual-link DVI connector. MSI’s also gone for a rather neat shield-styled fan grill on the I/O bracket.

AMD RX 470 MSI (3 of 4)

With all of these features it’s of course easy to neglect to mention the two giant fans with red LEDs and the massive heatsink that MSI’s strapped to an only slightly gimped version of AMD’s Polaris 10 GPU.

For our testing in this article we’ll be using the same FX-8350 based test bed as we did in our RX 480 review. AMD’s provided us with an early copy of their 16.8.1 driver which is what we’ll be using for both the RX 470 and RX 480 benchmarks in this article. Because of the tight turn around time between today and the arrival of our RX 470 sample we haven’t had time to record data on power consumption or noise. But anecdotally noise performance is very good on MSI’s RX 470 and the card’s power consumption hasn’t created any issues yet nor do we expect it too.

Benchmarking AMD’s Radeon RX 470

AMD Radeon RX 470 Performance

There you have it. Our custom 4GB RX 470 performs very similarly to AMD’s RX 480 8GB reference design. It also has a 30 Watt lower rated TDP and is very clearly quieter both at idle due to MSI shutting off the card’s fans; and under load due to its completely overkill cooling solution.

This leaves us with three questions: why didn’t AMD make the performance gap between the RX 480 and RX 470 larger? Was AMD purposely trying to make RX 480 look bad with this lanuch? And why can’t all graphics cards be as awesome and well designed as this unit from MSI? Seriously though, this custom RX 470 is near-perfect as graphic cards go.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.