ASUS Radeon R9 280X DirectCU II TOP Graphics Card Review
by Stuart Davidson - 8th October 2013
ASUS Radeon R9 280X DirectCU II TOP 3GB Review
This year is huge for AMD... at least on the GPU side. Their tech is powering Wii U, PS4 and Xbox One giving them a huge potential install base and overall platform for developers to master and build on. In addition, as things have worked out, the release of the new PlayStation and Xbox also coincided with the launch of their latest GPU family for PCs. These new products replace the Radeon 7000 series in the market and bring with them, in varying configurations, a mix of higher performance, new features and some enhancements to existing technology.
Clear? Probably not really... so we are going to go with the following approach. Today we will cover the highest specification model available at the time of writing, the R9 280X and our version is the ASUS Radeon R9 280X DirectCU 2 TOP 3GB. That is an overclocked version of the card and one of the highest specification models around. We will be comparing it to the two closest NVIDIA models (pricing wise) in the form of the GTX 760 and 770 (both OC models) as well as the part the 280X replaces, the 7970 GHz. We are testing on the latest i7-4960X CPU, Windows 8.1 and games such as Battlefield 4, F1 2013 and Total War: Rome 2. So if nothing else this gives us a nice base point for the price segment and performance in the latest games, on the latest OS/Drivers with the best hardware backing them all. On Thursday (10th) October when the AMD restrictions are removed we will then begin full coverage of the various partner cards around.
Taking a small tangent for a moment it is worth noting that the R9 in the 280X branding is shared by the other enthusiast cards (290X, 290 and 270X). At the sub $150 price point AMD begin pre-fixing their cards with R7... so R7-260X, R7-250. It is nothing more than an attempt to identify performance segments in a similar way to the naming used on their APUs.
Using Thief, one of the first TrueAudio titles as an example of how the tech impacts game development the above slides show what Yves Breton, EIDOS Montreal's Lead Sound Designer had to say.
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.
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