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AMD enters the VR race with competitively priced RX480

The big buzzword of today in gaming is virtual reality (VR). To get on board, AMD have unveiled their newest line of Radeon graphics cards to make use of this, the RX480. They have set themselves the internal challenge of bringing vr to 100million gamers within the next few years, a higher target than competitor NVIDIA’s projected 65 million.

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To directly compete with the GeForce GTX 1080, the RX480 is competitively priced, with the 4GB DDR5 memory model entering the market at $199 and the 8GB at $249, significantly cheaper than the $380 currently set for the Titan cards. It also has a significantly lower power draw than previous Radeon cards at only 150W, making it a very attractive graphics card for gamers on a smaller budget. It also comes with 5 Teraflops of processing power, 256-bit memory bus width and a boost clock of 1.08 GHz.

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AMD showed during the conference that the main obstacle deterring consumers from adopting VR is the expense, with 68% of 1000 respondents in a online survey conducted by US company Seidmon Associates.

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However, AMD were also keen to show in their press conference that whilst raw computing performance is higher with the GTX 1080, there is no performance loss when doubling up on the cards. With two RX480 cards working in crossfire, the equivalent to NVIDIA’s SLI configuration, performance was even better than the more expensive cards. In a benchmark test of the strategy game Ashes Of The Singularity, the two AMD cards managed to achieve 62.5 frames per second (FPS), whilst the equivalent GTX 1080 setup managed 58.7 FPS. The real test however will be how well it handles the VR games it is designed to support.

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The RX480 will be available from 29 June, and is compatible with both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Whilst the VR headsets themselves still have a high price point, the cheaper graphics card options might be enough to start the push towards greater VR adoption.

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