Power Consumption & Conclusion
For testing power consumption we decided to use Overwatch where all GPUs performed reasonably well. Interestingly, the Radeon HD 5830, 6870, 7850 and R9 270X all pushed the total system power consumption to a similar figure with no more than 13 watts separating them.
But of course, given how much faster they are, this is an excellent improvement in efficiency. As you will see in the graph below, the increased power consumption of these newer cards is offset by the increased performance.
Taking the test system with the HD 5830 as an example, the total system consumption here is only 182 watts, however each frame came at a cost of ~7.9 watts when looking at the average performance on the games we tested.
The new RX 480 on the other hand pushed total system power consumption higher to 243 watts, but because it averaged 135fps in the gaming sessions, each frame came at a cost of just 1.8 watts. This is a much larger improvement that we saw from the R9 380 (third-gen GCN) over the R9 270X (first-gen GCN).
Looking exclusively at the performance gains, we find that the Radeon RX 480 provides one of the most significant steps forward in the $200 price range in recent times. Based on the games tested, the RX 480 was 45% faster (!) than the R9 380 at 1080p.
The last time we saw a gain this large in the AMD camp was back in 2012 when the mid-range HD 7850 became the best value for mainstream buyers. Comparing the RX 480 and R9 380 here has been somewhat skewed by Doom's results. Excluding that game, there's a smaller but still impressive 38% jump between the two.
So while it seems as though GPU pricing has been getting out of hand in recent years, we find that the mid-range offering still provides a serious bang for your buck, and as AMD works hard to recover market share, you can rest assured that mainstream pricing is only going to become more competitive.