It’s been almost two years since AMD launched their Radeon HD 7000 series. The whole series gave a tough time to NVIDIA and when it started to lag behind AMD made a comeback with price cuts and game bundles and once again the HD 7000 series came back to the limelight. But there was obviously a time when AMD had to refresh their lineup to stay relevant and back in September, the red team finally announced their Radeon R7 and R9 series of graphics cards at their GPU14 event in Hawaii. However, that was just an announcement of what was laying ahead. In early October, these new graphics cards started to roll out.
AMD released a total of six Radeon R7 and R9 series cards in the coming weeks. Only two of them were based on completely new ‘Hawaii’ GPU while the rest were simple refreshes of older GPUs; just placed in the market more strategically than their predecessors. The graphics card we are going to discuss in this article is the Radeon R9 280X. It is the fastest of the refreshed models. It is only topped by the R9 290 and R9 290X which are both based on the new Hawaii GPU.
Anyway coming back to our topic; the R9 280X is based on the 28nm Tahiti core which is also at the core of the HD 7900 series (including the HD 7870 XT and excluding the HD 7990). However, the GPU core of R9 280X is an exact copy of the one in the HD 7970 and HD 7970 GHz edition. The R9 280X has same core configuration with 2048 stream processors, 128 texture units and 32 ROPs. Things are same on the memory side as well; we have the 3 GB GDDR5 memories running in a 384-bit wide memory interface.
What differentiates the new R9 280X from the Radeon HD 7970 (or the GHz edition) is mainly the clocks along with some new features that AMD has activated on the new GPU. The HD 7970 came with 925 MHz core clock and 1375 MHz memory clock. Then with HD 7970 GHz edition (GE), AMD bumped up the core clock to 1000 MHz along with the introduction of PowerTune Boost of up to 1050 MHz and the memory clock was also bumped to 1500 MHz. The new R9 280X kind of sits between these two cards. AMD isn’t officially revealing its base core clock but some claim that it is 850 MHz which is lower than both HD 7970 and HD 7970 GE. And it obviously has the PowerTune Boost technology which gives it a boost of up to 1000 MHz; this is again lower than the HD 7970 GE but higher than base clock of the HD 7970. Lastly, the memory is still at the 1500 MHz mark as the HD 7970 GE. Theoretically, the R9 280X’s performance should lie somewhere between both of its predecessors. TDP of all three cards is same; 250W.
So all this means that AMD will now be selling a card that isn’t as good as its previous flagship? The short answer is NO. And the long answer is that HD 7970 was launched with a price tag of $549 but now we’ll be getting same kind of performance (and a lot more) for a lot less money. The new R9 280X will retail for around $299. This put it in the firing range of GeForce GTX 770 ($400) and GTX 760 ($250) from the green team. Both of which are very good cards at their price point but we’ll see later in the review if the new kid on the block gives them good enough competition.
Apart from the lower price, AMD has now brought some enhancements as well which alone justify the process of launching old GPUs with new names. Alongside the new GPUs, AMD introduced Mantle low-level API and tiled display support. We’ll be discussing these in detail later in this article.
HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo Boost:
Anyhow, AMD allowed their partners to launch custom cards from day one. So most of the R9 280X cards available in market right now are slightly overclocked versions with custom coolers for slightly more money. We’ve such an overclocked version with us today. The HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo Boost Clock (yeah, its name is that long but I’ll be referring to it as R9 280X IceQ X2 Turbo mostly) comes with up to 1050 MHz core clock, an enormous twin fan cooler, a buffed up power delivery design with 9 PWM phases and DirectFET mosfets. All of this costs around $320; 20 bucks extra as compared to AMD’s MSRP. Paying the extra money for all these features make sense; atleast on the paper but we’ll put it through its paces to see how good it practically is but let’s have a quick look at its specifications and its competition before we jump further into the review.
|HIS Radeon R9 280X
iPower IceQ X2
|Core Clock||1000 MHz||850 MHz||850 MHz||662 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1050 MHz||1000 MHz||1050 MHz||947 MHz|
|Memory Clock||6 GHz||6 GHz||6 GHz||5 GHz|
|Memory Bus Width||384-bit||384-bit||384-bit||512-bit|