XFX Radeon R9 280 Black Edition OC Review
It is fair to say that the market for modern Radeon GPUs has been a bit crazy over the last year or so. Their ability to perform currency mining tasks well has impacted sales, availability and pricing significantly but now AMD and their partners are getting a hold of the situation. Now with plenty of stock in the channel and prices stabilised and a new free game promotion in the works there may never have been a better time to consider one as an upgrade.
Today we take a look at the XFX Radeon R9 280 Black Edition OC, a custom design factory overclocked version of the R9 280.
Packaging and Bundle
XFX stick with familiar packing on the R9 280 and on the front we get some key info on the cooler along with a note of the OC status. Inside are two power cables, a CrossFire bridge, software disc and various bits of product information. Also worth noting is that this card is eligible for the AMD Never Settle promotion which gives us a free copy of 3 games, such as Murdered: Soul Suspect and Thief.
The R9 280 Black OC Edition
We saw in our recent R9 290X review that for their latest generation of cards XFX have revised the cooler used, moving away from the metal construction to lighter plastic design. While this model doesn’t have the LED lighting of the higher spec card it does retain the Ghost Thermal/Double Dissipation branding, so we have two 90mm fans present and beneath them are aluminium fins and copper heatpipes. XFX use a black PCB and unlock the voltage on this model to allow us greater flexibility for tweaking. Also present is a UEFI/SecureBoot compatible BIOS for those who require it.
Powering this card are a 6-pin and an 8-pin connector and further along we have the dual CrossFire connectors which allow us to connect multiple cards together to enhance performance. For card outputs XFX use two mini-DisplayPorts, HDMI and two DVIs. This allows us to connect display configurations such as 3x1080p screens for 5760×1080 Eyefinity gaming and 4K screens are also supported.
The 280 features the 28nm Tahiti core with this model running at 1000MHz. There is 3GB of Hynix GDDR5 memory running at 1300MHz and for the Stream processors AMD and XFX have gone for a 1792 “core” design (32ROPs/ 11 Texture units) and our memory bus is 384-bit. PCIe 3.0, DirectX 11.2 and DirectCompute are all supported on this card as is acceleration of high definition content and the card can output 7.1 audio over HDMI including DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. Finally, as expected, Mantle and TrueAudio are both supported.
User Experience and Conclusion
Starting with the build quality and design of the XFX R9 280 Black OC Edition we have a card which looks great compared to the reference design. The cooler shroud used by XFX is stylish and while we don’t get the LEDs used in some of their cooler the silver flashes will add a little to a windowed build. There are a nice through set of outputs used here and the matt black PCB that XFX use always looks great.
Judging the performance aspects of this card (or any R9 280) is a little difficult as they tend to sit in a price point between the GTX 760 and GTX 770, though closer to the 760. AMD and XFX are also giving a very decent bundle away with the card which we must factor in too. So for that reason we went with the 760 in most of our comparisons and the overall findings were very positive for the Radeon. Throughout our testing the XFX card, with the exception of WildStar, the 280 performed above the 760 (a manually overclocked, to the limit, version). We threw in a GTX 770 too check how it compared and in 3DMark and BattleField 4 the R9-280 was a decent match also. In terms of noise and temperatures, the DD cooler used by XFX is very quiet. One of the quietest Radeon coolers in fact and we never saw the temp go above 67°C during out testing.
As a nice bonus, there will also be some situations where 4K gaming is possible, for example League of Legends, which looks great. 4K video playback and desktop use will also be perfectly fine and we saw a nice little boost in framerate from enabling Mantle on our test system.
At around the £200/$280 price point the XFX R9 280 Black OC Edition offers good value thanks to a great bundle from AMD (and lifetime warranty from XFX). It allowed us to game at 1920×1080 in the latest games with maximum detail too which is always a great achievement for a mainstream card.
|Where to buy…|
|Scan.co.uk – £179.99|
|NewEgg.com – $279.99|