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Sapphire's Dual-X R9 280: A Solid Option At A Good Price

Sapphire's Dual-X R9 280 OC Graphics Card Review
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With the individual benchmarks behind us, let's consider average performance across those tests. The following chart is based on our DirectX-based results, and does not take Mantle into account.

Its no surprise that the Dual-X cooler allows the R9 280 to stay at its slightly-overclocked state longer than a reference Radeon HD 7950 Boost. On average, that gives Sapphire's card more of a lead against the GeForce GTX 760 in the benchmarks we ran. Other games might show Nvidia's card in a more favorable light, but we do think that these cards are generally on par. Sapphire's Dual-X R9 280 tends to take a slight lead in most titles. In the real world, however, that'd be difficult to notice.

The decision between AMD's Radeon R9 280 and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 760 comes down to features and price, as it has since these two cards were introduced. Folks will favor the Radeon when Mantle, Raptr, or cryptocurrency mining are factors, and the GeForce if CUDA, PhysX, 3D Vision, or GeForce Experience (and its related features) come into play. But it's such a close race that I don't think an enthusiast can go wrong in the $250 range for either a Radeon R9 280X or GeForce GTX 760 with a nice aftermarket cooler.

Having said that, a quick check on Newegg shows that Sapphihre's Dual-X R9 280 is currently on sale for $220 (and $200 with rebate), making it hard to find fault with this graphics card from a value standpoint. It was more than capable of running every game we threw at it, even using demanding detail settings and high resolutions, with averageframe rates that never dropped below 30.

True, we're on the cusp of the introduction of AMD's Radeon R9 285. But performance should be competitive with (if not slightly superior to) the Radeon R9 280, judging from the specifications. Rumors abound that Nvidia might have new products on the horizon too, and they might change our outlook in the near future. Still, none of these potential changes in the market take too much away from the value prospect of Sapphire's Dual-X R9 280 at its current price.

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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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