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Can AMD's new strategy restore its fortunes?

Competition improves technology – we need plurality in the PC components market and we need alternatives to market giants Intel and Nvidia. In short, the bottom line is simple: we really need AMD to do well. This week’s launch of the Radeon RX 480 demonstrates a new approach that marks a radical shift away from AMD’s traditional release strategy. Gone are the toe-to-toe battles with Nvidia at the top tiers of PC performance – the green team currently has the premium market completely to itself. Now we see new Radeon technology employed in an all-out assault on the all-important price vs performance sweet spots in the graphics market.

According to AMD, 84 per cent of graphics card purchases are in the $100-$300 price segments. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the lion’s share of the profits reside here, but a key part of AMD’s new strategy is to reclaim overall market share. In this area, Nvidia’s overall dominance is undeniable. AMD has clawed back some percentage points in recent times, but the overall outlook has generally seen an 80/20 split in Nvidia’s favour. Unofficial, unverified figures we’ve seen have indicated that certain territories – the Nordics, for example – see the GeForce brand enjoy a 90 per cent market share.

In targeting the mainstream, AMD hopes to gain momentum, increase share and then move on to tackling the higher end of the market with its upcoming Vega products. But in the here and now, despite some teething issues on initial cards, the new Radeon RX 480 represents a good start in returning AMD to a much more competitive state.

As our RX 480 review this week stated, if you want better-than-console visual quality and 60fps gameplay, the RX 480 currently offers the best combination of price and performance, making it a compelling buy. Priced at £180/$199 (blame VAT and ‘Brexit’ on the closer-than-usual cost differential), the bottom line is this – the cost of building a PC that offers a substantial, must-have improvement over the console experience just got a whole lot cheaper.