Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 2GB Graphics Card Launch Review
When AMD launched their initial R9 and R7 series cards recently it was clear from the new naming system they had adopted that other models would be released in the future which filled specific gaps. We saw that happen with the 290X, 290 and down at the R7 260 as well. Today we see AMD fill another gap in their current product stack with the launch of the R9 270 which sits between the R7 260X and R9 270. We have (one of) Sapphires R9 270’s on our test bench today and will be looking at it against the GTX 660, the direct competition, in games like Battlefield 4 and Batman Arkham Origins.
But first, what is the R9 270?
At its core, this is an enhanced Radeon 7870… that’s right… 7870. It would have been reasonable to assume that the R9 270X using 7870 configuration GPUs would mean the non X would be based around a 7850 GPU but AMD have gone down a different route. This is the "full" Pitcairn GPU (1280 Stream Processors, 20 Compute unites) again and the latest revision of the GPU at that. That means enhancements to the base silicon and the potential to run at higher speeds. Add to that tweaks to the performance/voltage states and we begin to see an evolution of the 7800 design. As well as manufacturers being able to build their own PCB around the cards, enhancing the design over the 7870 there is one other key difference. The new R9 270X/270 (and 280s) allow the use of Eyefinity without the need for a DisplayPort adapter… output configuration permitting. So in the case of the reference configuration of Dual DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort we can use 2xDVI and HDMI for Eyefinity. There is one caveat on the cards we have tested, the screens and system must be off when connected. Hot plugging displays will not enable Eyefinity without DisplayPort in Windows.
And then we have AMD Mantle.
Simply put, Mantle is AMD’s approach to providing the ideal platform for game developers to expose the features/performance of the AMD cards in their games. It is an approach similar to that found in consoles where developers can draw better performance out of the hardware than the PC equivalent… there is no need for the DirectX/OpenGL layer/overhead in the process. It’s GPU>Mantle API/Driver>Game. Using Battlefield 4 as an example there will be a patch released later this year which moves AMD users from the DirectX build to a Mantle build and gives Dice the opportunity to expose more graphics features and performance.
So that’s the basics on what AMD are doing in the current generation, with a little of what we can expect in the future. Essentially putting in place a platform now for developers to take advantage of later if they wish.
NOTE: In early November 2013 AMD announced that upcoming games Star Citizen and Thief will use Mantle…
Let’s get started on the Sapphire card.