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Review: AMD Radeon R9 280X and Radeon R9 270X

Review: AMD Radeon R9 280X and Radeon R9 270X

October 18, 2013 4:26 pm0 comments

AMD has the chance to include their components with three of the most powerful gaming devices on the market, where these new chips will undoubtedly face many challenges.


AMD surprises us yet again with powerful, high-end components that blow their competitors away and the evolution of their most well-known components. The manufacturer’s future, therefore, is linked to the success of these components, which won’t likely pose a problem to them. The models we will review today, though, are not the best AMD has to offer.

AMD Radeon R9 280X

Technical Specs

First we have two mid-level models: the Radeon R9 280X and the Radeon R9 270X. Both are less than 300 dollars each and feature the best from past generations of graphics cards. The only mod-level graphics cards with current components are the Radeon R9 290 and the Radeon R9 290X, two GPUs that will hit the market in a few weeks.

AMD Radeon R9 280X

AMD Radeon R9 280X

We will review these two graphics cards in a little while, but what we can say for now is that these are the most attractive components for those looking for something nice without spending too much. The Radeon 280X is actually a revamped Radeon 7970, just like the la Radeon R9 270X is an improved Radeon 7870. Both come in 4GB GDDR5 versions, an improvement over the original 2GB.

AMD Radeon R9 270X

AMD Radeon R9 270X

The Radeon 280X is based on the Radeon 7970 and works at 1GHz. It also features 3GB of GDDR5 RAM at 6gbps, 2048 shader engines, support for up to six simultaneous screens and 384-Bit memory bus. Not much has changed.

This doesn’t mean these devices are bad or don’t have something interesting to offer, though. The Radeon 270X will cost around 180 dollars, the 2-GB Radeon 7870 will cost a bit less than 150 dollars, and the 4-GB version will cost 205 dollars. This model isn’t similar to the Radeon 7870; they both consume 180w.

The Radeon 280X will be much more affordable; the 1-Ghz model will cost 315 dollars(most similar graphics cards cost around 330 dollars). The Radeon 280X will 269 dollars, a significant decrease.

With the release of Windows 8.1, these graphics cards will get new drivers with improved features, like DirectX 11.2, and Mantle (AMD’s new API), TrueAudio and 4k resolution support with a single connector at 60Hz.

TrueAudio, 4k and Mantle

Although the two graphics cards in this article don’t have the most innovative and advanced features present in the most powerful AMD components, they are still very interesting. Two of the three features we’ll talk about in this article will be present in these devices with 2012 architecture.

TrueAudio is AMD’s alternative to offer high-quality multichannel sound for PC. TrueAudio, thanks to its API, allows for the same level of customization as graphical shaders. It needs dedicated hardware thanks to its own set of DSP, and it’s also capable of ending the CPU sound-related processes. Since Creative’s EAX disappeared and Microsoft dropped support for DirectAudio in Windows 7, this is the first attempt to include high-quality multichannel sound in a PC.

AMD Radeon R9 270X

4k resolution (3840×2160), also known as UltraHD or HD, can be found nowadays in two kinds if screens: 24-30Hz –commonly screens and projectors-, and 60Hz screens, the most expensive ones. For now, these graphics cards support up to two 1920×2160 screens. To connect them, you’ll need either two simultaneous connectors or just one with the sufficient bandwidth. To use two screens, you’ll need either Displayport 1.2, HDMI 1.4a or a 2.0 port like the ones that were presented a while ago. Drivers are important as well if you’re using with the latest version of Windows and/or gaming. AMD worked with VESA to make the drivers for these new devices to make them work flawlessly with Displayport 1.2.

AMD Radeon R9 270X

AMD Radeon R9 270X

Mantle is AMD’s new development API, and has quickly become an essential component in high-end systems. This API streamlines the development and programming, which means games designed for consoles can be easily ported to PC and vice versa. AMD promised this new API, compatible with DirectX and OpenGL, will offer better performance by fully taking advantage of its architecture. No games have been developed with this API yet, but we’ll likely see some of them in a few weeks. Ports between consoles and PC will thankfully now be cheaper, faster and easier to make.

AMD Radeon R9 270X

Aggressive prices and many options

Top-notch cooling system, overclocking noise reduction, better hardware and drivers: this and much more is what these models have to offer. In this analysis, we used the MSI TwinFrozr III, a name it inherited from its cooling system. This device features overclocking by default at 1050MHz, the same as the Radeon 7970’s turbo mode. It also has 3GB of RAM and two fans with noise reduction.

AMD Radeon R9 270X

We’ll expand this review in a few days with an analysis of its performance with Crossfire and a 4k monitor. For now, we used a DirectCU-II from ASUS. Another model based on the Radeon 7970, which means we can expect an excellent cooling system, affordable prices and support for QHD (2560×1440) or WQXGA (2560×1600) monitors.

AMD Radeon R9

The Radeon 270X we reviewed is a reference model, the 4-GB version. The price is a bit high for what it is, but without a doubt this graphics card is more than capable of living up to the expectations of those who want to enjoy their games in Full HD (1920×1080) or WUXGA (1920×1200) resolutions. It features the new dissipater the company specially designed for these new models, and one normal-sized Displayport, two DVI and one HDMI 1.4 ports.

AMD Radeon R9 270X

The Radeon 280X consume 250w and require two PEG connectors and 8-pin and a 6-pin one. The Radeon 270X consumes 180w and requires two 6-pin connectors. Both models have innovative power saving modes capable of reducing the consumption to 3-5w when the screen is on standby mode. They also support Crossfire, although the 270X only supports two cards.

AMD Radeon R9

Performance. I

We tested these two models by comparing them to previous GPUs and other similar graphics cards on the market. We got the results we were expecting, nothing really out of the ordinary.

BattleField 3. 1920×1080. Medium quality

BattleField 3.

Diablo 3. 1920×1080. High Quality

Diablo 3

Crysis 3. 1920×1080. High Quality. 2x FSAA

Crysis 3

Performance. II

Dirt Showdown. 1920×1080. Ultra Quality. 8x FSAA. AF 16

Dirt Showdown.

3DMark Fire Strike

3DMark Fire Strike

Bioshock infinite. 1920×1080. Quality ultra

Bioshock infinite

Metro Last Light. 1920×1080. Calidad Alta. FSAA. Tessellation

Metro Last Light

Analysis and Conclusion

We still have to wait, at least for now, to see the most interesting features in action, like TrueAudio, and we’ve also yet to see what the newest high-end AMD models are capable of, which are supposedly as powerful as a Geforce Titan but cheaper and a bit smaller.

For now, we have this Radeon 280X, an improved and affordable –but not cheaper- version of the 7970, a graphics card capable of handling pretty much anything you throw at it, from games to multiple monitors.

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