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Radeon R9-285 Review – Part 2 – Sapphire and PowerColor

Radeon R9-285 Review – Part 2 – Sapphire and PowerColor

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“… the Tonga GPU has received a decent set of revisions when compared to the GPU used on R9-280 series cards. Some of them may only appeal to specific consumers, such as the tweaked media functionality but other like the revised memory bandwidth efficiency are a welcome addition… and something which bodes well for future high end cards from AMD. Overall though, despite the initial observation that the memory bus has been reduced vs. 280, we see no concerns in real world use from this change.”

None of that changes here and essentially the same can be said of performance against the GTX 760 OC. The Radeons compete well with that card when gaming at 1080p and also stack up well in other areas such as power use and thermal performance.

What do we think of the individual card designs? Well thinking back to the original MSI model the PowerColor is closest to that. It is slightly more compact but follows a metal shroud and dual fan design which looks nice too. The those two cards have very similar OC specifications and perform within 1-2fps of each other at all times. That said the MSI version does run noticeably cooler while being equally quiet. Moving to Sapphire we don’t get the metal cover but we do gain a more compact form factor. Interestingly the card compares very well in framerates, again just 1fps or so off the PowerColor and Sapphire offer lower temperatures and power use at load.

In the end it all depends what you want from a card. Each of the R9-285 models that we have reviewed have their selling points, the most obvious being the compact Sapphire card for those building a small system as it offers the fastest performance available in the compact/ITX format. If that isn’t important then search around for the best deal and have that confirm your purchase.

Recommended Award

Sapphire R9-285 Compact

Recommended Award

PowerColor R9-285

Radeon R9-285 Review – Test System

Sapphire Radeon R9-285 Compact ITX
PowerColor Radeon R9-285 TurboDuo OC
MSI Radeon R9-285 OC Edition with Twin Frozr IV
Gainward GeForce GTX 760 Phantom OC

Intel Core i7-5960X Gigabyte X99-Gaming 5
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB 
Corsair AX1500i Antec Kuhler 1250

Installed on a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench

Intel Wireless AC 7260
Razer DeathAdder
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate
ASUS 120Hz/3D Display

Windows 8.1 64-bit
AMD Drivers: 14.8 Beta
NVIDIA Driver 340.52
Battlefield 4
GRID Autosport
Rome 2: Total War

The test system was built from scratch, a format of the hard drive was performed (NTFS) and then Windows 8.1 was installed. Following the completion of the installation, the video drivers were installed. All windows updates were then installed as were the latest builds of the benchmarking tools. Finally, the hard drives were de-fragmented (where appropriate). For each test, the video drivers were set to default quality/optimizations (unless otherwise stated).

Good Benchmarking Practice

Where possible, each benchmark was performed three times and the median result for each resolution/setting is shown in the tables that will follow. All applications had their latest patches applied and all hardware features the latest BIOS/Firmware.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson


  1. was kind of hoping to see a few 4k results….

  2. henry balite-chelation

    Why are you saying there’s 32 ROPs when gpu-z clearly shows 64 ROPs?

  3. henry balite-chelston

    Sry, auto made my name wrong

  4. henry balite-chelston

    You may be right but it seems that all shots of the gpu-z are wrong in all review cases cause they all show the same number. Even one reviewer from tech power up said there’s 64 ROPs so I’m abit confused…

  5. henry balite-chelston

    On guru.net on sept. 26th zardon comparing two itx cards says “The R9 285 is built on the 28nm process. It has 64 ROPS, 112 texture units and 1,792 Stream processors. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory is connected via a 256 bit memory bus. The core is overclocked to 928mhz, and the memory is running at 1,375mhz (5.5Gbps effective).”

  6. henry balite-chelston

    Well I answered my own question by studying the diagram. And gpuz is not wrong. Theres a total of 8 RB or render backends each one has 4 z stencle ROPs and 4 color ROPs totaling 8 per RB . that equals 64 total ROPs

  7. henry balite-chelston

    I still could be wrong if they count 1 z-stencle rop and 1 color rop as 1 rop …lol im still learning

    • Sounds to me like those other sites are just copying the details from GPUz. AMD state 32 in their product info and Anandtech agree with us: “Diving into the R9 285’s raw specifications, the card utilizes a 1792 stream processor Graphics Core Next GPU. Paired with these SPs are 112 texture units (in the standard 16:1 ratio), and on the backend of the rendering pipeline is 32 ROPs. ” From http://anandtech.com/show/8460/amd-radeon-r9-285-review

      So yes, as we said. 32. 🙂

  8. henry balite-chelston

    Well I decided to purchase the r9 285 itx in replacement of the 260x. I like the 260x a lot but since I play WOW and their new patch is coming out soon, the recommendation has increased. This is perfect as I have a micro atx tower and with the 260x in it its a pretty tight fit. And since the 285 and 260x are the same size I shouldn’t have an issue.

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