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MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming Edition Review

MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming Edition Review

December 18, 2013 3:24 pm0 comments

MSI is without a doubt one of the most important graphics cards manufacturers, especially because their Lightning (high end) and Gaming (mid-high level) series. Naturally, after the release of AMD’s latest GPU series (Volcanic Islands), MSI has already released their customized versions as well. Today we’ll review the MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming Edition, a graphics card that promises a great performance and Full HD resolution.

Like we said during our MSI GeForce GTX 780 Gaming Edition review, the Gaming series offers a set of extra features that not only set them apart from the reference models, but also from other customized models from several manufacturers. The R9 280X Gaming Edition comes already Overclocked and with a custom cooler from MSI, and it also offers various new features that will surely meet the needs of all kinds of users.

TECHNICAL SPECS

Taken from the MSI website:

MSI Radeon R9 280XThis is a Radeon R8 280X from AMD, with three different overclock profiles that greatly boost the performance of the base R9 280X, which has a clock speed of 850 MHz and 1 in turbo mode. The MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming Edition works at 1 GHz, and then we have three profiles: Silent, which keeps the turbo speed at 1 GHz; Gaming, with a turbo speed of 1020 MHz; and OC, with a turbo speed of 1050 Mhz.

The memory and everything else remain the same as the reference model, that is, 3 GB of memory at 6 GHz and a 384-bit bandwidth, more than enough for any game even at 1080p.

EXTERNAL ANALYSIS

As it’s normal for MSI’s Gaming Edition graphics cards, the R9 280X comes in a red and black package that features the well known dragon. Apparently, it’s more important to MSI to indicate on the front of the package that the model features the Twin Frozr cooling system, which has given great results to MSI, than anything else, even the model of the graphics cards this model is based on. In the back, we can find a detailed list of the features and technical specs.

MSI Radeon R9 280X

MSI Radeon R9 280X

MSI Radeon R9 280X

A black-colored hard cardboard box contains the device and every accessory: a quick installation guide, a CD with drivers, DVI-VGA and DisplayPort-Mini Displayport adapters, CrossFireX bridge and two power adapters, one to convert the PCI-Express port from 6-pin to 8-pin, and a second one that converts two 4-pin MOLEX connectors to one 6-pin PCI-Express connector.

MSI Radeon R9 280X

Once you unbox it, the very first thing you notice is how big and heavy it is. The R9 280X Gaming Edition is actually taller than any regular graphics card because of the two fans the Twin Frozr cooling system features. On the front of the card, you can find these two fans with the “Gaming G Series” logo between them. It’s a very good-looking card, designed in red and black, perfect for those with see-through cases. This 26-centimeter card features two 92-millimeter fans.

MSI Radeon R9 280X

MSI Radeon R9 280X

Despite having 3 GB of memory, this card has no chips on the back of the PCB, so you’ll need to install a back plate there. It features two CrossFireX connectors, and comes with a switch to change between the two BIOS it comes with. One of the BIOS can’t be changed or modified, while the other one is completely customizable, you can even install a different one if you want.

MSI Radeon R9 280X

MSI Radeon R9 280X

On the upper part you can find MSI’s logo and the huge heat pipes this card has. On the back, you can see the power plugs: one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI-Express connectors. Below, you can see the rest of the heat pipes, as well as the PCI-Express 3.0 connector.

MSI Radeon R9 280X

MSI Radeon R9 280X

MSI Radeon R9 280X

There’s nothing on the back except for the fans’ internal connector, and on the front we have the DVI-DL, HDMI and mini DisplayPort ports.

And now it’s finally time for the tests.

TESTS

It’s time to test MSI’s flagship, and for that we’ve used the following hardware:

  • Intel Core i7-2600K @ 4,4 Ghz.
  • Asus Sabertooth P67 B3.
  • Noctua NH-D14.
  • Kingston HyperX 2400Mhz 2x4GB Beast.
  • FSP Aurum Pro 1200W.
  • Cooler Master Cosmos SE.
  • Corsair 240GB SSD GTX Neutron.
  • Western Digital Black 2TB SATA3.

We’ve used Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 with every corresponding patch and driver, including the Catalyst 13.11 BETA 8 drivers.

TEST BY GPU-Z:

GPU-Z

As you can see, it works at 1050 MHz, so it’s overclocked by default. You can, of course, change this and choose one of the user profiles available through the MSI Gaming App included in the CD, which you can also download for free at MSI’s website.

GPU-Z

This app also comes with an extra utility: by clicking the snowflake icon, the fans run at 70% speed for half a minute, cooling the fan. This feature does wonders when dealing with high temperatures.

http://gaminglaptopunder1000.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Gaming-App.jpg

Temperature

We used Open Hardware Monitor to measure the temperature, and the figure measured is the Delta temperature, that is, the total temperature minus the room temperature. So even if the latter varies, the comparison is fair and precise.

The tests were done with the fan in automatic mode and under the following circumstances: Long idle (30 minutes of total inactivity), Idle (10 minutes of inactivity), Heaven Benchmark (maximum temperature during the benchmark), Games (maximum temperature while gaming) and Furmark for 10 minutes.

Temperature

The temperature obtained is quite high, although we can say the device is completely silent even during the most demanding tasks. Here you can see a comparison between this card and others we’ve reviewed.

Temperature

Consumption

For this test, we used an Efergy e-Socket energy monitor to measure only the consumption of the computer without the monitor, speakers or anything else. That’s why we’ve also included the maximum consumption data (Full LOAD), with the Prime95 processor.

Consumption

As you can see, it consumes around 500W, so a good PSU is highly recommended –a 650W one should suffice-. Here’s another chart with more comparisons.

Consumption

SYNTHETIC TESTS

We’ve tested the MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming Edition with several benchmarks, here are the results.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0

This benchmark comes with several pre-configured presets, but the most demanding one doesn’t use Full HD resolution, so we used a personalized, even more demanding one.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0

The performance wasn’t as good as we expected, we tough it could surpass Gigabyte’s GTX770, but sadly that wasn’t the case.

Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0

Unlike Heaven, this benchmark does have a pre-configured preset with the most demanding parameters: Extreme HD. This is the one we used.

Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0

The results are very similar: the R9 280X falls short and is not capable of surpassing the GTX770. However, more benchmarks await.

3DMark 11

This benchmark measures the graphical performance in regards to DirectX11. MSI’s R9 280X is inferior to the GTX 770, though it is also 60€ cheaper so price-wise it would be comparable to the GTX760 instead.

3DMark 113DMark 113DMark 11

3DMark

We’ve also tested this card with the latest version of 3DMark. Here are the results:

3DMark

3DMark

ComputeMark 2

ComputeMark is based on fluid simulation using the DirectCompute capacity of the graphics card, therefore being an alternative to OpenCL to measure a card’s performance. We ran two tests, one with the normal and one with the extreme presets.

ComputeMark ComputeMark

ComputeMark

The R9 280X performed just like we expected it to, just below the R9 290 and above the R9 270X.

Gaming Performance:

We also tested this card by playing the most recent and popular games. The performance is measured in FPS using the benchmarking utility FRAPS during 20-minute gameplay sessions, trying to always play with as many on-screen elements as possible at all times. Every game is different, but they all had the setting at max and a 1920×1080 resolution.

The methodology in different games is as follows:

  • Resident Evil 6: benchmark utility.
  • Tomb Raider: benchmark utility.
  • Tomb Raider (TressFX) benchmark utility (TressFX on).
  • Metro 2033 benchmark utility (5 runs).
  • Battlefield 3: Game played for 20 minutes in the map “Operation Firestorm”.
  • Battledield 4: First chapter of the campaign one complete player.
  • Guild Wars 2: Game played for 20 minutes, 5 minutes overloaded city (Lion’s Arch) and 15 doing various missions.
  • Bioshock Infinite: benchmark utility.
  • Crysis 3: Level “Welcome to the jungle” full.

Games

As you can see, the performance is simply amazing. The MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming Edition is capable of running the most demanding games in Full HD without an issue, including Battlefield 4.

CONCLUSION

This graphics card is capable of running the latest and most popular games with the graphical setting at max and in Full HD resolution. Thanks to its Twin Frozr cooling system, it keeps very low temperatures and it is also very silent, unlike the noisy reference model this card is based on.

Our verdict: the MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming Edition is an excellent graphics card, recommended for any video game enthusiast.

PROS:

  • Good performance.
  • Pretty cool and quiet.
  • Aesthetic great gamer.
  • Factory overclock, with the choice of three levels through software.
  • Dual BIOS.
  • Quad-CrossFireX support.
  • Price (around 400 dollars)
  • Lots of accessories and adapters included.

CONS:

  • Its height can make not support some narrow boxes.
  • High consumption.

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