As you guys know, AMD is launching the R9-280X at the sub-300 USD marker, we expect slightly lower EUR prices. The factory overclocked editions of these card obviously will be a tenner or two more expensive. Now honestly, this really is the Radeon HD 7970 GHz edition (the one that can boost the clock frequency). With a few tweaks we see it perform slightly faster then that Radeon HD 7970 GHz edition. No blame or pointing fingers here though, NVIDIA refreshed its product as well so both parties did this. Overall it remains a very pleasing card to work with. But the sheer reality is that this is a Tahiti XT2/XTL GPU plastered on the a PCB with another cooler and a different label on the box. You'll maybe able to see 5 to 10% performance differences but overall that's it. The pricing however is interesting alright. Hey I'm just stating facts here.
See, fact remains though that the AMD R9-280X is a very capable card with its 3GB graphics memory partition. You can play games easily at FullHD and have a sure thing at QHD 2560x1440; as such the card remains to be in a sweet-spot. The pricing will remain fairly equal towards the R7970 GHz.
When you look at the Radeon R9-280X overall, performance, some new Eyefinity features, PCIe gen 3 compatibility and all other stuff then we can only conclude that we like these cards belong in the high-end (not enthusiast) graphics card arena. For those that embrace multi-monitor gaming, it's for you guys that AMD decided to go for that massive 3GB framebuffer / graphics memory. This product is cooling fairly well, expect roughly 70 Degrees C under heavy GPU load in a proper ventilated PC. Top notch however are the noise levels as really, there aren't any. The card is VERY silent.
The board is rated with a fairly high 250 Watt TDP, that means when you completely stress it, that's the power consumption. Our measurements showed the board TDP is roughly 243 Watt, its reasonable for this kind of performance especially when you take into account that the product is factory overclocked for you. Just as impressive is the board's IDLE power state, in desktop mode when not in use it can throttle down and disable huge segments of the GPU allowing it to draw 10 Watt only. Once your monitor jumps into energy saving / sleep mode then the power draw drops towards 2.7 Watt. Since you do not game all day ling, that's where the most power saving can be found.
Overclocking then, we see average results, we could easily set the card at 1150 MHz. Despite many regulation from NVIDIA, AMD is leaving the voltage bandwidth threshold much wider. Up-to 1.3 Volts, and that really is enough for a nice air-cooled overclock experience. I'll say this once, NVIDIA took away the fun from proper overclocking, AMD still is allowing a lot of stuff. Though slowly they are getting on the same path with power, load and voltage limiters. With voltage tweaking and some more time we think 1200 MHz can be achieved. A little dissapointing but overall tweaking this card should get you anywhere from 10 to 20% additional performance out of the card.
The most interesting product from this weeks launch will be the R9-280X, this rebadged and slightly tweaked R7970 GHz edition graphics card will be sold in the 269~299 USD price range bracket. For that kind of money it is an attractive product with 3GB of graphics memory. And hey, did you know that the R7970 launched in December 2011 that it was tagged at an MSRP of roughly 500 USD. Any game will play 1080P perfectly with the best image quality settings. Even 2560x1440 should not be a big deal. That said, the reality is that anybody who bought their Radeon HD 7970 back in December 2011, there really is no reason to upgrade just yet.
We like the Gigabyte R9-280X WinDForce X3 OC edition. Most variables are right, the overall looks, the cooling and that nice the factory overclock. Our early sample however was rather noisy, once the GPU is under stress there's a lot of fan RPM, we do expect and hope to see this fixed with a BIOS update though. So aside from cooling added benefits are the factory overclock, the four outputs and overall just a really nice product that will guarantee you a pleasant gaming experience as these cards have plenty of juice to work with.
Update: Gigabyte is going to fit a new BIOS into the final mass production units that will lower noise levels.
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