XFX Radeon RX 460 review

An es­ports card, but is it worth it?

AMD’S HAD AN IN­CRED­I­BLE RUN since the launch of Po­laris. In­deed, the RX 480 has scooped up a num­ber of awards. The GTX 1080 may be the king of the frame rates, but it’s the dol­lars per fps that cinch the deal for us. So, how far can you push the value bracket be­fore things go asun­der?

AMD’s Radeon RX 460 is a $130 low-end bud­get card. Aimed at es­ports gam­ing, par­tic­u­larly Leagueo fLeg ends and DOTA II, it’s not a great pixel-de­stroyer, nor is it ca­pa­ble of chan­nel­ing AAA ti­tles at ac­cept­able frame rates. That said, that’s how we do most of our test­ing, so to ig­nore it would be lu­di­crous, re­gard­less of how much AMD moans at us about it.

xfx-radeon-rx-460-review

So, for a mea­ger $130, you can grab a siz­able chunk of Po­laris 11. With cur­rently only the RX 460 in this tiny 14nm graph­ics fam­ily, this vari­ant comes with three bil­lion tran­sis­tors, 896 shader units, and 2GB of GDDR5 on a 128-bit bus, al­low­ing for a to­tal mem­ory band­width of 112GB/s. That’s quite a drop from Po­laris 10. In fact, it’s over 2 bil­lion tran­sis­tors and 1,152 shader units fewer than its clos­est neigh­bor, the RX 470, which is cur­rently avail­able for $190. That’s a $60 dif­fer­ence for more than dou­ble the per­for­mance of the RX 460. And, boy, does it show. At 1080p, the RX 460 hardly com­petes in our bench­mark suite, scor­ing a pal­try av­er­age frame rate of 14 in At­tila ,12 in Rise of the Tomb Raider, and 30 in Far Cry Pri­mal, a game well known for its solid op­ti­miza­tion in our bench­marks.

Yes, cyn­ics will be say­ing, “Well, it’s not built for that,” and we have to agree: no, it’s not. Its de­sign ethos is en­tirely cen­tered around es­ports. If you’re an es­ports gamer, you’re go­ing to want this, right? Thing is, you don’t just play one game for eter­nity. Per­haps you’re not in­ter­ested in grind­ing out lad­der to­day, but in­stead want to jump into an RPG, or the lat­est As­sas­sin’s Creed, or Pro­jec­t Cars? Well, if you chose this card, you couldn’t, not with­out drop­ping the graph­i­cal set­tings quite con­sid­er­ably.

The pros, who play CS:GO,LoL,DOTA II, or Overwatch ev­ery day, al­ready have top-end cards, be­cause they want the high­est frame rates, and the quick­est re­freshes they can get. And more ca­sual es­port gamers aren’t go­ing to be ded­i­cated enough to not play other games on the side.

We keep see­ing this trend—prod­ucts de­signed with such a niche mar­ket in mind that they fail to ex­cel at what they were de­signed to do. In­tel’s lat­est NUC, for ex­am­ple, had the whole gam­ing nomen­cla­ture down to a T, yet strug­gled with gam­ing. These are prod­ucts that are still very impressive, but the marketing pi­sions seem con­tent to stick la­bels on them that sim­ply don’t fit.

For what it’s worth, for its over­all die size, the GPU at the heart of the RX 460 is an in­cred­i­bly strong per­former. But for the price, it’s way off. And con­sid­er­ing you have the likes of the RX 470 and 4GB 480 cost­ing only $60 to $90 more, it sim­ply doesn’t make sense as to why this card is priced so high. It’s a bud­get op­tion, which has a price to per­for­mance ef­fi­ciency com­pa­ra­ble to a Fury X or GTX 1070—but with­out the per­for­mance. –ZAK STOREY

VERDICT

XFX Radeon RX 460

RAD­I­CAL Low power; small form fac­tor; good for MOBAs.

ROT­TEN Price; in­com­pat­i­ble with Ashes; poor price to per­for­mance; lim­ited gam­ing.

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Sapphire Radeon NITRO Rx 460 4GB GDDR5 HDMI / DVI-D / DP...

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6 Total Score
XFX Radeon RX 460 review

PROS
  • Low power; small form fac­tor; good for MOBAs.
CONS
  • Price; in­com­pat­i­ble with Ashes; poor price to per­for­mance; lim­ited gam­ing.
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