With all of the new tech releasing this year, I felt this post was pretty much overdue. Generally speaking, when something new releases, it’s out and available for public consumption on the “release day”, but, when speaking about something like graphics cards, that isn’t always the case. In fact, more often than not it’s the polar opposite.
When new tech like GPUs are released, and new graphics cards roll out using them, it will always take some time for A.) the prices to settle and B.) the supply to meet demand. This means, for the first couple of months (usually) cards will be overpriced and less available than other bits of freshly released tech would be in comparison.
Not only that but when a new graphics card is released, we’re generally only given access to “reference” and “reference-based” models for the first couple of weeks at least – and then the “custom” models will start to roll out sometime afterwards. It’s almost ALWAYS better to wait for custom models instead of jumping into a reference-based model. Custom models will usually make improvements to the reference design that ultimately make it a stronger card, whether that’s due to custom power options, custom cooling or a completely new PCB – or all of the above and then some. Custom cards generally won’t cost much more than reference-based cards either, and in some cases they’ll even be less expensive while still offering better cooling, etc.
So, with the recent release of AMD’s beastly RX 480 (and the upcoming 470 / 460), you’re seriously better off waiting to find a custom model. Just like when the GTX 1080 and 1070 released, I didn’t add them into my builds until I was able to source well-priced custom models and it will be the same story with the RX 480. On top of that, I’m not a fan of what AMD had to do to fix the reference-based cards and their reported power issues, this is something that will be addressed in custom models by being given different power options.
All-in-all, feel free to jump into a new graphics card upon release, you probably won’t be disappointed. But, you’ll probably be even happier with a custom model that cools better, runs better and looks better to boot.