Not too long ago, the $200 video card price point didn't even exist. Now, it's where some of the hardest battles are fought between AMD and Nvidia, as it marks the dividing line (or at least the beginning of the line) between reasonable add-on and enthusiast upgrade.
But when releasing a new GPU technology family, the companies typically avoid targeting that mainstream segment right out of the gate, and instead focus on the high or medium-high end, and let the developments trickle down later. This has been proven yet again with Nvidia's recent release of its GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 cards, which are as powerful as you can get, but start at $599 and $379, respectively.
AMD is shaking things up starting, however, with its new "Polaris" GPUs, which it announced today at Computex in Taipei. The first card in the line, the Radeon RX 480, promises to not only come in at $200 when it goes on sale June 29—but to offer performance equivalent to what's found on today's $500 cards.
Polaris cards, like Nvidia's new Pascal releases, uses 3D FinFET transistor design to increase performance without commensurately raising power usage (although it does so by way of a 14nm production process rather than 16nm).
AMD Reveals New Low-Power Laptop APUs
According to AMD, the Radeon RX 480 will pack 2,304 stream processors and 36 Compute Units for peak compute power of 5 teraFLOPS, with a memory bandwidth of 256GBps over a 256-bit memory interface, while offering either 4GB or 8GB of GDDR5 memory (depending on the card configuration). The card, which is slated to have a 150-watt Thermal Design Power (TDP) and operate over a single 6-pin connector, will also support DisplayPort 1.3 and 1.4 HDR and AMD's VR Premium virtual reality and FreeSync monitor syncing technologies. AMD has not yet revealed the Radeon RX 480's clock speed.
In certain scenarios, according to Radeon Technologies Group Senior Vice President Raja Koduri, one Radeon RX 480 card could hold its own against a single Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 (from last generation), and two could deliver equivalent or better performance as a single GTX 1080 card—for about $200 less. If these claims prove true, the Radeon RX 480 could make high-quality virtual reality computing available to a much broader swath of users and further advance that technology's adoption and development.