AMD today launched the Radeon RX 480, the company’s budget-friendly GPU that promises to lower the barrier of entry into virtual reality. And while VR still isn’t exactly what you’d call cheap, budget-conscious consumers looking to upgrade their old gaming rigs or build new, VR-ready rigs should definitely take notice.

Touted as the cheapest VR-ready graphics solution to date, the new Radeon RX 480 was made available today in 4GB ($199) and 8GB models ($239) across the web.

And what can the new budget card do? With a single RX 480 surpassing both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift’s recommended minimum specs—AMD’s R9 290 and NVIDIA’s GTX 970—AMD’s new 14nm Polaris GPU is even said to beat the mighty GTX 1080 ($699) when doubled-up into CrossFire mode; and that’s clear under $500 for two 8GB models.

amd rx 480 polaris (4)

In a test conducted by Guru3D using several resolutions across the game Total War: Warhammer, a single Radeon RX 480 (8GB) rates consistently between the GTX 970 and 980, but tends to stick closer to the 980. While we haven’t seen real world comparisons of both 4GB and 8GB models placed side-by-side, AMD maintains that the 4GB RX 480 is assuredly Oculus Rift and Steam VR-ready.

AMD’s Senior Vice President Raja Koduri said at the announcement of the card last month that the new budget-friendly GPU is “based on what the content developers are going to tune for over the next 3-4 years.” If that holds true, the card should be a viable option for at very least the first wave of consumer VR headsets.

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amd rx 480 polaris (1)
See Also: AMD Announces RX 480 GPU at $199 Targeting ‘the next 3-4 years’ of VR

And what about older cards? At the time of this writing, a R9 290 can be had for $235, while a GTX 970 for $265. Prices are sure to drop, along with it a rush of second-hand cards to hit Ebay, but the price-performance ratio of a new RX 480 simply can’t be denied.

But if you’re the sort of person who’s really strapped for cash, you might want to sit on your nearly maxed-out Visa card for a little while longer though. Nvidia still hasn’t unveiled their GTX 1060 yet, which is rumored to take place during the company’s GTX 10-Series Celebration on July 7th, so there’s no telling how competitive Nvidia will position their lower-priced high-end GPU.

Stacking Up Against the Recommended Minimum

AMD Radeon RX 480 (8GB) AMD Radeon RX 480 (4GB) NVIDIA GTX 970 AMD Radeon R9 290
Stream Processors 2304 2304 2560 2560
Texture Units 144 144 109 160
ROPs 32 32 64 64
Base Clock 1120MHz 1120MHz 1050MHz 947MHz
Memory Clock 7-8 Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 5Gbps GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 512-bit
VRAM 8GB 4GB 4GB 4GB
Typical Board Power 150W 150W 145W 300W
Processor Size 14 nm  14nm  20nm 28nm
GPU Polaris 10 Polaris 10 Maxwell Hawaii
Launch Date 06/29/16 06/29/16 09/18/14 11/05/13
Launch Price $239 $199 $329 $399

*information sourced from AnandTech.com

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  • Steve Biegun

    And here I was all excited to read an article about a spaceship called Radeon RX480!

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Well, and reviews show the card cannot make it’s promised true… I’ll be waiting what the 1060 might bring us (not that it will be much better)..

  • beestee

    Have an 8GB model on order at the office to test against the 750 Ti we have been using in our mid-range builds. I might get a few minutes in with a Rift to see how it stacks up to the 980 Ti currently in my PC. Might be useful to have a few more capable PCs around the office to plug a VR HMD into.

  • JustNiz

    I guess if you’re on a very tight budget this card is good, but its only about as powerful as a GTX 970 which is the bare minimum for VR. I guess if you’re on a tight enough budget to consider this card you probably also can’t afford a Vive/Rift anyway.

  • DaKangaroo

    I think these cheap cards are a good idea and will sell better than beast cards for VR.

    If you’re on a low budget and want to get into VR you’ll need a new computer, cheaper cards will make that easier.

    If you’re already a gamer with a great PC, your PC might not be in a good location in your house for VR, getting a second PC just for the living room for example where there is more space for something like the Vive might be on your wishlist. Getting something just good enough would be preferable to a second absurdly expensive PC.

    The real game changer will be when we get some decent priced laptops that can easily handle VR.

  • Eh…

    Lower performance than GTX970, higher energy consumption than GTX970 (14nm technology vs 28nm technology !!!!), simillar price to GTX970 (in some markets RX 480 is more expancive than GTX 970 – and definitly it is NOT 199$ !!!). New card from AMD is worse than 2-years old NVidia graphic card? Strange… VERY strange!

    • Dice Nick

      Higher performance than Gtx970, lower price than Gtx 970 launch mere few months ago. Gtx970 cost $520 on launch and $450 until end of Aug 2016. Recent price drops are due to Polaris and making room for 1060/70.

  • Eh…

    In Poland this card is 350 $
    :)))))))))))))))))))))))

  • Eh…

    …and I know that few technology portals was already asked in PL to remove review of AMD new card…. WTF?!

  • DM

    Tight budget and VR in the same sentence just make me laugh right now.

    You are talking minimum £500 for the HMD, maybe £1k for the tower, and then enough spare pennies to buy all the VR content. Plus additional money for any race wheels/pedals and HOTAS setups for the best VR experiences.