Testing the AMD Radeon RX 480 for Ethereum Mining

29 Jun
2016

amd-radeon-rx-480

The new AMD Radeon RX 480 is now officially out and we have some results from tests we have actually performed ourselves, results that pretty much confirm an earlier leak that was posted about the expected hashrate. As you will see the number of tested algorithms is only one – Ethereum’s Ethash as it seems that there are some problems at the moment running sgminer with most algorithms on RX 480… could be a driver issue, could be something else. Anyway, we are sure that most of you are interested in the Ethereum hashrate that the RX 480 is able to deliver and we have information about that. The hashrate for Ethereum mining that thr Radeon RX 480 delivers is good, though the power level is not that great, the cooling of the reference design RX 480 is also not that great for mining and the price is also not what some people in some regions expected and on top on shortages, though in many places you can buy the card at the price that AMD announced or close to it and there are enough cards.

Before we move to the tests we should note that there are two variants of the Radeon RX 480, one with 4GB video memory that apparently runs at 7 GHz and is with a lower price (the $199 USD price) and a more expensive 8GB model with memory running at 8 GHz. At launch it is hard to find 4GB versions as apparently they are much fewer as compared to the 8GB models, but if you are buying a card for mining the 8GB model is the one you would want. We have tested an ASUS reference design Radeon RX 480 card with 8GB and 8 GHz video memory, so the results below are for mining Ethereum with that card. The 4GB model with 7 GHz video memory should be slower by about 2-3 MHs compared to the 8GB 8 GHz version, so if you are buying these for mining Ethereum go for the 8 GB models.

rx-480-claymore-ethereum-default

We are using Claymore’s Dual Miner, starting with the default settings of 1266 MHz for the GPU and 8 GHz for the video memory withing the standard 150W TDP limit of the Radeon RX 480 GPU. The result we are getting is about 24.7-24.8 MHS at stock settings with GPU-Z reported power usage of about 108 W, but with actual power usage measured at the wall of 177 Watt. So taking into account the power conversion efficiency of an 80 Plus Gold PSU that was used the actual power usage of the card is apparently 150W at the default settings. This is further confirmed by the fact that while mining Ethereum with the default settings the GPU frequency hovers up to about 1240 MHz and does not go all the way up to 1266 MHz. Essentially hitting the power limit of 150W that the card has, increasing a bit the power limiter by a few percent over the default 100% allows the GPU to stay at the full 1266 MHz… not that it makes any difference for mining Ethereum, but it could be important for other not so video memory intensive crypto algorithms.

With dual mining mode enabled to mine both Ethereum and Decred at the same time the results show about 24.3 MHS for Ethereum and about 365 MHS for Decred (at default intensity of 30). Further increasing the Decred intensity to 35 decreased the Ethereum hashrate to about 24 MHS and increases the Decred mining hashrate to about 450 MHS. So essentially the RX 480 does pretty well in dual mining mode with not so much of a drop in the Ethereum hashrate while providing some good extra performance for mining Decred.

rx-480-claymore-ethereum-overclocked

Moving to overclocking, the only thing we need to do is increase the video memory to the maximum and in this case this means 9 GHz (the card might be able to handle more, but the overclocking software or the driver is apparently capped at 9 GHz max). With the video memory at 9 GHz the RX 480 is capable of delivering about 28 MHS hashrate for mining Ethereum. It is highly possible that even higher hashrate could be achieved if you manage to get past the 9 GHz limit for the video memory, but for the moment AMD’s WattMan software or the Asus tool that we used do not currently allow for more. With the memory overclocked the power usage is increased with just about 7-8 Watt at the wall, so definitely worth overclocking it for mining Ethereum. We were a bit disappointed by the lack of overclockability headroom of the GPU that was able to get just about 1340 MHz with the stock voltage. Of course no point in overclocking it for Ethereum mining, in fact you might want to actually downclock it to get better power efficiency if mining only Ethereum.

asus-rx-480-overclocked-ethereum

What we are not too happy with is the stock cooling solution and how it handles the heat from the RX 480. AMD has optimized the default profile for the fan to keep the card silent and very hot, so obviously it is a no go for mining. What seems to work pretty well is setting up the fan to about 80% and getting decent temperatures with a moderately noisy card – good choice if noise from the mining rig can be an issue. With the cooling fan at 80% you can expect temperatures of about 72 degrees Celsius for the GPU, something that is a bit higher than you’d probably want for 24/7 mining. Going for 100% fan the noise increases significantly and the temperatures drops to about 68 degrees Celsius, so not by much.

We are not too happy with the power usage and the hashrate you get from the RX 480 for mining Ethereum, we kind of expected better results in that area. But then again by lowering the GPU operating voltage and frequency you might be able to get better power efficiency without actually loosing any performance and this is a must if you are mining Ethereum… that is if you are actually able to downclock the GPU, a modified video BIOS with the right settings might be a good solution to that problem, but that would also need some time.

We are going to be doing some more tests to see if things with the sgminer crashing on most algorithms and looking for other options to improve the power usage when mining Ethereum etc., so stay tuned for more info about the RX 480. For the moment however we are not very impressed by the new AMD Radeon RX 480, though a non-reference design with some extra tweaking might be able to change our opinion.



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34 Responses to Testing the AMD Radeon RX 480 for Ethereum Mining

c3msu

June 29th, 2016 at 17:41

Thanks for this great sharing. 28 mhs after overclocking memory is acceptable to me. But what surprises me is that 440 mhs for DCR. I saw your other post for GTx970 single card can have 1300MHS.

But after all it’s always good to have more than nothing.

bilminer

June 29th, 2016 at 18:17

c3msu, this was dcred with dual mining eth + decred results,…when the test all the other algos,…you’ll get the true performance,…

nice review guys,…when you publish all algo test include also the power consumption

thanks!

buythedip

June 29th, 2016 at 19:41

This review has a very negative tone to it. What I see is a card that is close to the performance of a 390 but uses a lot less power. The hype train was real for these 480s, but they perform as well as I expected. Am I missing something here?

Manni

June 29th, 2016 at 19:44

why you hadn´t try to overclock the card AND undervolt it simultaneously? If I don´t undervolt my R9 Nanos, I don´t get much more than 1000 MHz GPU clock, cause the card runs into its TDP limit then. If I undervolt them simultaneous, I can go up to 1100+ Mhz smoothly and stable. I would suppose that this is also possible with a RX 480.

admin

June 29th, 2016 at 19:53

Currently the AMD WattMan software and the ASUS GPU Tweak II software that support RX 480 already do not allow you to play with the GPU voltage and limit you to max 9000 MHz for the video memory, so it is not possible to undervolt to try to achieve lower power usage… tools like MSI Afterburner or Sapphire Trixx have not been updated to support the new cards. Thus so far users are limited in what they can tweak to get optimum performance / power ratio. The only way to reduce the power usage is by lowering the TDP limit via the Power Target slider.

The review is not very negative, there are just some negatives that are present at the moment with the current reference design cards: limits in tweaking, not so adequate cooling, and some unpleasant surprises such as the 7 GHz video memory on the 4GB versions that should result in lower hashrate. After so much hype everyone expected a bit better numbers and capabilities at launch, but hopefully soon the problems will be dealt with. Ether mining aside the GPU overclocking is also a bit disappointing at the moment which can result in not so great performance for other algorithms, provided that you even make the RX 480 mine them. So yes, the RX 480 is far from great at this point.

DwayneJ

June 30th, 2016 at 05:30

It’s safe to mine usin USB risers?

Brogan

June 30th, 2016 at 07:18

According to some reviwes the RX 480 takes well over 80-90 Watt out of the PCI-E Slot (MAX 75W) with 100% GPU-load. Don’t realy think it would be wise to use the card with risers in a mining rig. Even if a good Mainboard will handle this a riser just lacks the grounding an mass of full MB. Don’t want a miner that has more likeliy a chance to burn while I am not at home.

I waited long for this chip to arrive and had the strong urge to replace my R9 290, with Black Screen Bug, with it. But now i’m waiting for the even cheaper RX 470.

admin

June 30th, 2016 at 09:12

Using powered USB risers should not be a problem, in fact we have already tried that and it works just fine. It is preferred to use PCI-E USB risers with 4-pin Molex connectors and a power supply that has thicker cables to ensure that the PCI-E slot power draw that will go through the Molex power connector will not be an issue. Using PCI-E to USB risers with floppy or SATA power connectors may not be a wise idea for 75W+ power draw cards as these power connectors are rated for less. The easiest thing to see if you might potentially have a problem is to see if the power cables start t get hot, if they do, then the power draw may be too much for them.

We’ve seen the concerns about the higher power usage above the recommended 75W limits, both for the PCI-E slot and the 6-pin PCI-E power. Our power usage tests can confirm that the total power drawn by the card can exceed the 150W TDP limit with default settings even when mining Ethereum. Normally good motherboards and power supplies should be able to handle the extra power over the recommendations, though that does not mean that you will be safe from possible issues.

A solution that might help is to reduce the power target for mining and thus save some power without loosing hashrate: http://cryptomining-blog.com/8041-optimizing-the-power-usage-of-amd-radeon-rx-480-for-ethereum-mining/

Osmo

June 30th, 2016 at 13:02

thank you for sharing this great post! i’m gonna buy the rx 480 this week

Manni

July 1st, 2016 at 09:53

@undervolting -> German PCGHW magazine undervolted the RX 480 via WattMan successfully. Link (German only) http://www.pcgameshardware.de/AMD-Radeon-RX-4808G-Grafikkarte-264637/Specials/Overclocking-Undervolting-Wattman-1200042/#a4

John

July 3rd, 2016 at 11:35

I have problems mining with RX 480 on Win7 with Crimson 16.6.2. (ethminer/genoil/claymore). Since it doesn’t seem possible to run 400 series with Crimson 15.12, I don’t know what to do. Obviously it works for you according to the test.

Any ideas? Thanks

admin

July 3rd, 2016 at 16:39

If you are looking for help with something, then you should start by describing the problem first…

John

July 3rd, 2016 at 17:25

It’s not submitting any shares and the hashrate is jumping up and down like crazy.

admin

July 3rd, 2016 at 20:42

Is the card working normally, have you monitored the operating parameters (frequencies, voltages, temperatures) while mining or tried running a benchmark to see if it might again behave not like it should?

bilminer

July 4th, 2016 at 13:35

@admin Have you tried mining with any other algos, then eth. I know most people are all about eth, but if you want a card for a longer run, then it has to be at least decent if not good in all the other algos. I’m specifically interested in x11evo, x17 and neoscrypt performance.

John

July 4th, 2016 at 16:42

No, it’s not working normally. In Asus GPU Tweak it’s showing that the GPU usage is very low, only at 100 % some seconds. Core clock is stable at 1286 Mhz, the temp is 53 C.
In ethminer the hashrate is between 40 – 200 mh/s with the single card, and it’s only getting work, and submitting none. It’s been (not) mining for several hours.
In genoil the hashrate is 8 mh/s and submitting only 1 share per hour or so. The same rig have been working fine before on crimson 15.12 and R9 gpus. I have deleted the DAGs several times, and also the chaindata. :/

John

July 4th, 2016 at 17:33

sorry, I meant between 4 and 20 mh/s

admin

July 4th, 2016 at 17:57

John, have you tried a fresh installation of the OS or driver cleaner and installing the video drivers again, could be something messed up with the software.

bilminer, we have mentioned this in the article – there are some issues with running other algorithms at the moment on RX 480, we’ll update with more information when available.

John

July 4th, 2016 at 18:43

Yes, I have. Now actually Claymore 4.7 is working with expected hashrate. It is submitting as well. I guess “problem’s solved”, even if the other software doesn’t work..
Thanks for your time anyway, cheers!

Jeff

July 16th, 2016 at 09:46

Which is better XFX rx480 or Sapphire rx480?

admin

July 16th, 2016 at 15:16

If the cards are reference design probably won’t matter, otherwise the Sapphire Nitro should be the better choice.

RoyJonesJr

July 18th, 2016 at 20:27

is it still worth trying to mine ethereum ? Or do you think its just peanuts?

BogBeast

July 25th, 2016 at 19:29

Looking to buy my first dedicated GPU to do a bit on mining.

Initially I was looking that the 480 as no brainer but I can seemingly get a new 1060 for a bout £10 more.

So, what should I go for? Is there a review comingof the 1060?

Wolf0

August 6th, 2016 at 09:23

This is some BAD journalism right here. You should NOT go for the 8GB version because they’re clocked higher stock, you should buy 4GB ones and OC them.

Ronnie

August 6th, 2016 at 18:35

What driver where used in this review ?

admin

August 8th, 2016 at 21:51

Crimson Edition 16.6.2

Messa

August 13th, 2016 at 22:20

What’s the best brand to go with using the 470 and 480? With the R9 380 I’ve been led to believe they run cooler and are quieter and worth the extra money over the cheaper brands. Does this run true? And is it the case also with the 400 series mentioned. Also will the 470’s run fine without powered risers? As with the ASUS BTC motherboards powered risers when using R9 380’s is not necessary. Thanks

Messa

August 13th, 2016 at 22:21

Sorry I meant to put: “With the MSI R9 380” I’ve been led to believe they run cooler and are quieter…

Messa

August 13th, 2016 at 22:53

Also meant the Asrock H81 Pro BTC Motherboard, not ASUS

Ruben

August 21st, 2016 at 23:39

BIOS Mod at 32Mhs

gorgamin

August 26th, 2016 at 17:58

@Ruben Which BIOS mod will do 32MHs?

Martin.H

November 7th, 2016 at 14:42

thank you for the Intresting content !!

graphicgermany

November 12th, 2016 at 19:33

Thank you for this nice post. I just read it although its a bit older. I was informing myself for a new article in my graphiccard blog. I was just wondering on the GTX 1060 oder 1070 instead of the RX 480?

plast555

November 18th, 2016 at 16:37

graphicgermany, compare to price and what you get, I choose to buy Gainward GTX 1060 and I’m very satisfied with results, that’s cheap and powerful card, and not to mention that need just 80 – 90 Watts. Today I just bought my 10th GPU, AMD is good also, but in other algorithm is very weak

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