AMD’s Radeon RX 480 and this generation’s console upgrades


With Sony’s and Microsoft’s upgraded consoles, the PS4 Neo and Xbox Scorpio, getting most of the headlines in the gaming press you’d be forgiven for overlooking the new range of PC graphics cards that both Nvidia and AMD launched recently.

Nvidia, which is the world’s largest company when it comes to PC graphics, unveiled its new flagship card, the GTX 1080, while AMD could not stop talking up the virtues of its new Radeon RX 480 graphics card, which sacrifices raw computing power and is aimed at budget-conscious gamers.

This is because while Nvidia and AMD are bitter rivals in the PC graphics market, the truth is that Nvidia has had the performance edge since it launched the old GTX 970 card back in 2014, while AMD’s options for those who enjoy living on the cutting-edge of technology, have been bulkier, consumed more power and did not deliver the same level of performance as Nvidia’s offerings, as was the case with AMD’s earlier flagship card the Radeon R9 Fury X.

But now, instead of attempting to compete with the world-conquering performance of Nvidia cards like the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, AMD is aiming to cater for those who want to game on PC without breaking the bank, offering a relatively powerful card like the RX 480 at about $200 in the US. And most online reviews have indeed reached the conclusion that this is a worthy piece of kit, with the likes of PC Gamer stating that the card “brings formerly high-end performance into the mainstream”.

The question that arises now, given the availability of budget parts like AMD’s new graphics cards, is whether PC gaming is once again a solid alternative to console gaming. The truth is that for most people it isn’t, even though at times it has looked like the PC would end up ruling the video game market


Even with new consoles on the horizon, is PC gaming now a worthy alternative to console gaming?


The thing is though, that owning a home console like the PS4 or the Xbox One is still the best bet for most people, due to a console’s convenience, small footprint and lower price than a gaming PC. For those who simply want to remove their newly-acquired game’s cellophane cover, pop in a disc and get right into the action, it is clear that a console is still the best option.

Consoles also used to have an advantage when it came to upgrading, as one could buy a machine like the PS3 or Xbox 360 and know that it would last them for an entire console generation without having to upgrade the hardware at all. This has never been the case on PC at all, as regular upgrades (like more memory or a new graphics card) are necessary every couple of years in order to be able to run the latest AAA games well.

The situation could now be changing in the console world though, with both Sony and Microsoft introducing new, upgraded versions of their PS4 and Xbox One consoles midway through this generation. The PS4 Neo, a souped-up PS4 with support for ultra-high definition graphics, is rumoured to be releasing this year, while Microsoft announced at this year’s E3 that the Xbox Scorpio would be hitting the market next fall.

And since PlayStation and Xbox games will run better on the new machines, it is likely that many console gamers will be thinking about upgrading to the new models, perhaps in order not to fall behind their friends and neighbours who may be getting these new consoles when they hit the market. This for the first time creates a “my machine is better than yours” situation for users of the same console brand and type (like the PS4), making the console market more like the PC one, and giving console users a taste of what the PC upgrade cycle feels like.

But still, both Sony and Microsoft have stated that all future games will still run on the vanilla PS4 and Xbox One, meaning no console owner will be left behind, and also those who are so inclined and can afford it can own both a gaming PC and a console, enjoying the best of both worlds. But as long as people are enjoying their video games and having fun with their platform of choice, whether that be PC or console, then everything will be fine…

AMD Radeon RX 480
COPYRIGHT: Advanced Micro Devices.