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Game Benchmarks

Sapphire's Dual-X R9 280 OC Graphics Card Review
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Watch Dogs

We begin our benchmarks with Watch Dogs. As you already know, its developers stand accused of handicapping the potential graphics quality of the PC version to maintain parity with consoles. Regardless, it's a fun game with attractive visuals that definitely exploit available GPU horsepower.

At the high detail preset, Sapphire's Dual-X R9 280 has a slight advantage over the competition. The GeForce GTX 760 fares better in our frame time variance measurement, but all of the cards display an acceptable result with few spikes at or above 15 milliseconds. We didn't notice any particularly smooth or laggy products during our tests.

Arma 3

Arma 3 is a brutally realistic combat simulator, and it's also taxing on the PC.

The results are quite close, but Sapphire's Dual-X 280 manages a slight advantage in both frame rate and frame time variance over the GeForce GTX 760 and Radeon HD 7950 Boost.

Battlefield 4

The Battlefield 4 benchmark gives us an opportunity to turn on AMD's Mantle graphics API and see if the company has made any improvements compared to DirectX since we last checked.

The Mantle rendering option does grant the Radeon cards a miniscule boost in FPS, but nothing to boast about. The results are extremely close across the board, though Sapphire's card once again garners an insignificant win.

Battlefield 4 is known for low frame time variance, and these tests do nothing to dispel that expectation.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is another game that demands a great deal from PC hardware in exchange for beautiful graphics. Will any of these competing graphics cards be able to separate themselves from the pack?

Not really. It is almost as though the Radeon 7950 Boost, R9 280, and GeForce GTX 760 were designed to deliver extremely close performance in the benchmarks we picked.

Thief

Thief is known to demonstrate significant advantages for Radeon cards when the Mantle API is enabled, so lets see if the GeForce is able to keep up.

It's no surprise that Nvidia's GeForce GTX 760 is behind the pack in this title, but it still presents a playable result. The Radeons enjoy a smoother frame rate, however, and never drop below 30 FPS. The Mantle API does add a couple of frames per second to the minimum and average performance numbers.

The average frame latency is low across all three cards. We see some GeForce spikes in the sample, but that evens out with the Radeon cards over time according to the average and percentile data.

Titanfall

Titanfall is a difficult game to benchmark in a consistent manner; the only way to select a specific map is via a private multiplayer match, which is incompatible with Fraps due to the game's dependance on EA Origin's overlay. Our benchmark therefore consists of standing in place and looking at a demanding part of the Demeter map.

The results are very close, so once again there's not too much to discuss.

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  • 7 Hide
    Menigmand , August 25, 2014 2:14 AM
    Why no noise measurements ?
  • 1 Hide
    patrichpachich , August 25, 2014 2:19 AM
    ill wait for tonga
  • 6 Hide
    Nuckles_56 , August 25, 2014 2:32 AM
    Quote:
    Why no noise measurements ?

    The one thing I was really interested to see
  • 0 Hide
    blackmagnum , August 25, 2014 2:47 AM
    This... as a newer, faster and more power efficient R9 285 comes out?
    What are the board partners thinking?
  • 1 Hide
    Omegaclawe , August 25, 2014 4:35 AM
    They got the wrong memory bandwidth for the R9 280 and 7950 cards... it's 384-bit.

    Which is why I'm worried that the 285 won't be able to keep up. Particularly at higher resolutions.

    [Response by Cleeve:

    Doh! Fixed. :)  [/Response]
  • 1 Hide
    elbert , August 25, 2014 5:05 AM
    Wow mantle gives Intel 6 cores relevance in games. Wonder if AMD will design a 16 core now for the AM3? Cant wait to see mantle on Intels new 8 core CPU's.
  • 0 Hide
    Shneiky , August 25, 2014 5:16 AM
    Am I the only one who finds it unfair to bench an Overclocked card and put it against a reference model?
  • 1 Hide
    elbert , August 25, 2014 5:16 AM
    The mantle 4770 test for thief was -.1 min fps and only 1fps average increase. Clearly on the 6 core its getting more in both min fps and average.
  • 1 Hide
    elbert , August 25, 2014 5:31 AM
    The battlefield 4 mantle test lost performance with the 4770 on 1080.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , August 25, 2014 6:47 AM
    Quote:
    Am I the only one who finds it unfair to bench an Overclocked card and put it against a reference model?


    This is a Sapphire Dual-X review, not a reference 280 launch.

    The Sapphire Dual-X R9 280 comes overclocked from the factory.

  • 2 Hide
    cleeve , August 25, 2014 6:49 AM
    Quote:
    This... as a newer, faster and more power efficient R9 285 comes out?
    What are the board partners thinking?


    This is simply a last look at the 280, relevant from the perspective that these will probably be discounted on the market for a little while.

    As far as performance, we don't believe the 285 will be much faster (possibly even slower), based on specifications.

  • -1 Hide
    anthony8989 , August 25, 2014 7:21 AM
    I agree with Shneiky. The small margins by which the 280 edges out it's win could easily be explained away by the fact that it's an aftermarket card vs reference cards.
  • 3 Hide
    Shneiky , August 25, 2014 8:06 AM
    What I mean is - this is OC 280 vs Stock 760. If you get a OC model of a 760 from Asus, EVGA or Gygabyte or whatever - the margin between 280 and 760 will shrink, turning it into a battle of power an acoustics, since you can get custom 280 and custom 760 for comparably the same price.

    P.S Just made a check. In most big on-line retailers in Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, the SAPPHIRE DUAL-X R9 280 3GB GDDR5 OC w. Boost cards are actually more expensive than OCed 760s.

    SAPPHIRE DUAL-X R9 280 3GB GDDR5 OC - 270 EUR

    ASUS R9280-DC2T-3GD5 - 245 EUR and it is clocked 40 Mhz higher

    GIGABYTE GV-N760OC-2GD - 230 EUR and it is clocked 100 Mhz and 120 Mhz more with Boost compared to reference model. That is more than 10% over-clock and it is enough to surpass the OCed 280.
  • 0 Hide
    OcelotRex , August 25, 2014 9:12 AM
    Quote:
    What I mean is - this is OC 280 vs Stock 760. If you get a OC model of a 760 from Asus, EVGA or Gygabyte or whatever - the margin between 280 and 760 will shrink, turning it into a battle of power an acoustics, since you can get custom 280 and custom 760 for comparably the same price.

    P.S Just made a check. In most big on-line retailers in Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, the SAPPHIRE DUAL-X R9 280 3GB GDDR5 OC w. Boost cards are actually more expensive than OCed 760s.

    SAPPHIRE DUAL-X R9 280 3GB GDDR5 OC - 270 EUR

    ASUS R9280-DC2T-3GD5 - 245 EUR and it is clocked 40 Mhz higher

    GIGABYTE GV-N760OC-2GD - 230 EUR and it is clocked 100 Mhz and 120 Mhz more with Boost compared to reference model. That is more than 10% over-clock and it is enough to surpass the OCed 280.


    I agree that the 760 reference was a little misleading along with not including the power and temperature measures from the 760 as well.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , August 25, 2014 9:35 AM
    Quote:
    I agree with Shneiky. The small margins by which the 280 edges out it's win could easily be explained away by the fact that it's an aftermarket card vs reference cards.


    You can't buy a reference card on Newegg anymore. All the Radeon R9 280's come with custom coolers.

    There are still a lot of 760's with reference coolers available, however.

    Nevertheless, you guys are probably picking nits and missing the point. The margin of win/lose is so close that it's irrelevant, as I point out in the conclusion page. A random sample of different benchmarked games might show 760 strengths better than the newest titles that we chose for relevancy.

    The point is, they're so close it's almost irrelevant which you choose. Pick based on price and your preferred features, or your prevelance for Radeons or GeForces.

    As far as power/noise measurements, we'll be digging into that much deeper in an upcoming Radeon review. ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    animalosity , August 25, 2014 9:39 AM
    Quote:
    ill wait for tonga


    I'm curious. Why? There seems to be no advantage to the R9-285 at all except lower draw power. That's it. Who cares about a higher clock on the memory when its gimped by a 256 bit memory bus. Do the numbers.

    You can see 176 GB/s memory bandwidth vs 240 from the Tahiti. Both have the same exact number of shader cores and Tahiti also has a slightly higher base clock. Seems to me that Tonga at the same price point has no benefit whatsoever. Don't understand this card.


  • 0 Hide
    anthony8989 , August 25, 2014 9:40 AM
    Quote:
    You can't buy a reference card on Newegg anymore. All the Radeon R9 280's come with custom coolers.

    There are still a lot of 760's with reference coolers available, however.

    Nevertheless, you guys are probably picking nits and missing the point. The margin of win/lose is so close that it's irrelevant, as I point out in the conclusion page. A random sample of different benchmarked games might show 760 strengths better than the newest titles that we chose for relevancy.

    The point is, they're so close it's almost irrelevant which you choose. Pick based on price and your preferred features, or your prevelance for Radeons or GeForces.

    As far as power/noise measurements, we'll be digging into that much deeper in an upcoming Radeon review. ;) 


    I understand and acknowledge that. The point I was making is that you ( perhaps inadvertently ) put this 7950 Boost rebrand in the best possible light by using an aftermarket cooled and OC'd version against the stock clocked and cooled competition. But since there are no reference models of the card available , that may have been AMD's aim - to put this rebrand in the best case scenario. But you the reviewers should try and level the playing field.

    Honestly it's not a big deal. I understand where you're coming from , it's just my opinion is all :D 
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , August 25, 2014 10:02 AM
    Quote:

    Honestly it's not a big deal. I understand where you're coming from , it's just my opinion is all :D 


    I hear you, man.

    Like I said, we've got a thorough comparison coming in the near future with more details. This was more of a goodbye to the 280, really, which i believe will be a better option than the 285 unless you *REALLY* want to save power.

  • 1 Hide
    OcelotRex , August 25, 2014 11:40 AM
    Quote:

    As far as power/noise measurements, we'll be digging into that much deeper in an upcoming Radeon review. ;) 


    That's what I am talking about. To me efficiency is nearly as important as performance assuming a near equal price and close performance. Even 10% less performance at 60 FPS is only 54 FPS something I can't really notice without fraps on.

    I would like to see how the new cards are stacking up to the GTX 7 series though. Since the GTX 760's have seemed to have not fallen in price I might think about selling mine off to get something new.
  • 0 Hide
    fkr , August 25, 2014 12:46 PM
    you guys can wait and I will enjoy my fully under warranty msi twin frzrs i picked up off of ebay for $125 a piece.

    btw i already sent one into MSI and within 10 days it came back fully repaired. my daughter (autistic) opened up my rig and dumped juice on the GPU and MSI still replaced it without conflict or headache (I did clean with 99% alcohol). they have just earned my money for future purchases
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