Asus ROG Strix RX 470 4GB full review
AMD is currently throwing all of its new graphics card technology at the more affordable end of the spectrum. Now, not long after the release of the company’s first Polaris-based product, the Radeon RX 480, comes the even less expensive RX 470 with its eye fixed on the 1080p prize. Here we take a look at Asus’s overclocked ‘Strix’ version of the card, which adds many premium features to AMD’s reference design. See also: Best graphics cards to buy
Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 470 04G review: Price
So it's cheaper than the RX 480, but how much? Well, you can buy the Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 470 04G for £188.99 inc VAT from Scan.co.uk. This makes it around £60 cheaper than the XFX RX 480, and almost £100 cheaper than the Founders Edition of the Nvidia GTX 1060. However, the price difference between the RX 470 and RX 480 can be as little as £10, with the cheapest RX 480 cards costing around £200.
Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 470 04G review: What is the Radeon RX 470?
With the vast majority of PC gamers running at 1080p, AMD decided to target exactly this resolution with its latest technologies. First came the Radeon RX 480, which is promoted as an entry-level VR-capable card, and now the more price-sensitive RX 470 reviewed here. If you’re not into virtual reality gaming, or can’t afford it, then an RX 470 may be all you need for solid 1080p gaming at a reasonable price. The card reviewed here has been given the Asus Strix treatment, which adds extra features to AMD’s reference design along with overclocked gaming performance.
The RX 470 actually employs exactly the same graphics processor as its bigger brother, the RX 480, but with selected components disabled, thereby producing a reduced performance version. Where the RX 480 comes with 2304 stream processors, the RX 470 leaves only 2048 of these enabled. The memory bandwidth on this 4GB model is also reduced from 224 GB/s down to 211 GB/s. Core clock speeds in reference versions of the card also suffer a similar reduction, but this Asus Strix model comes pre-overclocked with a maximum core speed of 1,270 MHz, which is actually 4 MHz faster than a standard RX 480, helping narrow the performance gap while keeping the cost low.
See also: RX 480 vs RX 470 vs RX 460
Like the RX 480, the RX 470 uses AMD’s latest 14nm FinFET technology to enable higher performance with lower power consumption than previous generations. It will also support the latest DirectX 12 games.
In addition to boosting the clock speeds, Asus has also provided its GPU Tweak II utility which provides a choice of three preset performance modes, allowing you to balance performance, power and fan noise to your own requirements. You can also switch into manual mode to push performance even further.
High levels of overclocking require an efficient cooling system, and the Strix RX 470 comes with a custom twin fan solution fitted to a large heatpipe-based heatsink. This design leaves many of the board’s components visible and makes the card look completely different to the standard fully-enclosed box of AMD’s reference design. Another major cosmetic difference is the including on RGB illuminated logo which changes colour under the control of the supplied AURA software utility. Unlike some of the more expensive Strix cards, there’s no metal backplate on this model, which we think is fair considering its price-sensitive positioning.
If even more cooling is required, you can make use of the ASUS FanConnect feature, which allows you to wire up a fan from your system case directly to the graphics card which will then control the fan speed as required to keep GPU temperatures down
We found the built in fans to run very quietly and they’ll switch off entirely when not required, so you can build a PC which operates silently when gaming performance is required. Unfortunately, we noticed audible coil whine coming from the card while running benchmarks, but it’s not as loud as many other cards we’ve tested.
Asus has fitted this board with a pair of DVI-D ports for compatibility with older displays, along with one each of HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 for modern ones. The latter two ports are the latest versions which support high refresh rates and and also HDR when using DisplayPort. To install the card in your PC you’ll need a single 6-pin power connector.
Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 470 04G review: Performance
If you’ve familiar with the RX 480, then the benchmarks from the RX 470 will be much as you’d expect. It offers all of the same capabilities of its bigger brother, but with a little less speed.
What’s important here is that the RX 470 still delivers enough power for high quality 1080p gaming and from our benchmarks we can see that it does, achieving average frame rates of 83.5fps in Thief and 118 fps in Alien Isolation, both on Ultra settings. Drop the quality level a little and you may even get away with 1440p on some titles, although we would recommend a faster card if you’re serious about gaming at the higher resolution.
Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 470 04G review: Benchmark results
Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 470 04G review: Don’t buy for VR
If you’re thinking of venturing into the world of VR, then we’d advise you not to take an RX 470 with you on that trip. While its Steam VR Performance Test results show it can pass the test without dipping below the required 90fps, it does so with only a ‘Medium’ quality rating and a VR quality score of 5.8. This results in it failing to be deemed VR ‘Ready’ by the test, achieving instead the lower result of ‘Capable’. An RX 480 on the other hand will get you the ‘Ready’ rating you should be looking for as well as a higher quality score of 6.7.
So, while the RX 470 will run VR titles, we feel that if you can stomach the kind of expense required for a VR headset, then you should seriously consider saving a little more for a more powerful graphics card than this one.
All things considered, the Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 470 04G does exactly what it sets out to do, by delivering solid 1080p performance at an affordable price. If you have an older graphics card and you’re looking for an upgrade, then you’ll find this one consumes less power than previous generations and brings with it all of the latest technologies you could want, such as modern output connections, and DirectX 12 support.
Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 470 04G review: Should you buy one?
Where things start to get tricky is in deciding whether this particular card is the one for you. Thanks to the large number of options AMD has provided with the RX-series cards, and the sometimes very tiny price gaps between them, it can be hard to decide which one to get.
An 8GB version of the RX 470 is available, but Asus has decided to offer only a 4GB version of this card. You will see factory-overclocked 8GB models from other vendors, but we feel the price premium you’ll pay for one of these simply isn’t worth it for a card aimed at 1080p gaming, where 8GB is seldom an advantage.
We feel 4GB is ample for 1080p gaming and there are no new cards from Nvidia competing in this price segment at the moment, making the Asus ROG Strix 04G an attractive proposition. However, the biggest competition for any Radeon RX 470 has to come from the 4GB version AMD’s own Radeon RX 480. With price differentials sometimes as low as £10 between the two GPUs it may make sense to so save up just a little more and get the fully-specced version of the GPU. Asus currently has no plans for a 4GB Strix version of the RX 480, so you would have to switch to a different manufacturer.
When weighing up buying decisions, be sure to compare the model with ‘04G’ in the name rather than the almost identical version with just ‘4G’, as this is the factory overclocked version we have reviewed here.
Asus ROG Strix RX 470 4GB: Specs
- GPU: AMD Radeon RX 470
- Compute Units: 32
- Stream Processors: 2048
- Core Speed Base: 926MHz
- Boost Speed: 1270MHz (OC Mode) 1250MHz (Gaming Mode)
- Memory Speed 6.6GHz
- Memory Bandwidth 211GB/sec
- Memory bus width: 256-bit
- Memory type and capacity GDDR5 4GB
- Maximum digital resolution 5120x2880
- PCIe 3.0
- CrossFire Ready: Yes
- Power Consumption: 120W
- Recommended System Power Supply: 450W
- Power Connector: 1x 6-pin
- Ports: 2x DVI-D, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.4 Card width: 2 slots
- Dimensions: 129mm x 242mm
- Accessories: 2x ROG cable ties, 2x Orange Colour Decals
- Software: ASUS GPU Tweak II, Aura utility
- Warranty: 3 years