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

How We Tested Sapphire's Dual-X R9 280 OC

In this single-product review, we'd like to focus on how Sapphire's Dual-X R9 280 OC fares against its predecessor, the Radeon HD 7950 Boost reference card, and Nvidia's similarly-priced competition, the GeForce GTX 760.

Two of the games we're testing have an option to use a Mantle code path, so we're running those benchmarks (Thief and Battlefield 4) with Mantle enabled and disabled to measure the API's impact.

Graphics cards like the Radeon R9 280 require a substantial amount of power, so XFX sent us its PRO850W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified power supply. This modular PSU employs a single +12 V rail rated for 70 A. XFX claims continuous (not peak) output of up to 850 W at 50 degrees Celsius.

We've almost exclusively eliminated mechanical disks in the lab, preferring solid-state storage for alleviating I/O-related bottlenecks. Samsung sent all of our labs 256 GB 840 Pros, so we standardize on these exceptional SSDs.

Test System
CPUIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz, Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading enabled.
MotherboardASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express
NetworkingOn-Board Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryCorsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T
GraphicsSapphire Dual-X R9 280 OC850/940 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1250 MHz (5000 MT/s)Reference AMD Radeon HD 7950 Boost 850/925 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1255 MHz (5000 MT/s)Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 980/1033 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1502 MHz (5008 MT/s)
SSDSamsung 840 Pro, 256 GB SSD, SATA 6Gb/s
PowerXFX PRO850W, ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriversAMD Catalyst14.7 RC 1Nvidia 340.52 WHQL
Watch DogsVersion 1.04.497, Custom THG Benchmark, 90-second Fraps run, Driving
Arma 3V., 30-sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase"
Battlefield 4Version, Custom THG Benchmark, 90-Sec
Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagCustom THG Benchmark, 40-Sec
ThiefVersion, Built-in Benchmark
TitanfallVersion, Demeter Map, Custom THG Benchmark
  • Menigmand
    Why no noise measurements ?
  • patrichpachich
    ill wait for tonga
  • Nuckles_56
    Why no noise measurements ?
    The one thing I was really interested to see
  • blackmagnum
    This... as a newer, faster and more power efficient R9 285 comes out?
    What are the board partners thinking?
  • Omegaclawe
    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.

  • elbert
    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.
  • Shneiky
    Am I the only one who finds it unfair to bench an Overclocked card and put it against a reference model?
  • elbert
    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.
  • elbert
    The battlefield 4 mantle test lost performance with the 4770 on 1080.
  • cleeve
    14034247 said:
    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.