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Sapphire's ITX Compact R9 285: Good Things In Small Packages

How We Tested Sapphire's ITX Compact R9 285

We already know what the Radeon R9 285 can do thanks to the in-depth analysis we performed when this product was launched. In short, it's about as fast as the Radeon R9 280 it replaced, with a few new features added from the Radeon R9 290 series. The detailed information is available in AMD Radeon R9 285 Review: Tonga and GCN Update 3.0.

This time around, we're interested in what makes the Sapphire ITX Compact R9 285 different from other models on the market. To that end, we'll focus on the cooler's ability to keep temperatures low and noise output livable. Then, we'll compare power usage and test overclockability. We will use data generated from full-sized Asus and XFX Radeon R9 285 specimens to see how Sapphire stacks up.

Graphics cards like the Radeon R9 285 require a substantial amount of power, so XFX sent us its PRO850W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified supply. This modular PSU employs a single +12V rail rated for 70A. XFX claims continuous (not peak) output of up to 850W 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 256GB 840 Pros, so we standardize on these exceptional SSDs.

Test System
CPUIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3GHz, Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15MB 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 4GB, 1600MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T
GraphicsSapphire ITX Compact R9 285 OC Edition928MHz GPU, 2GB GDDR5 at 1375MHz (5500MT/s)Asus Strix Radeon R9 285954MHz GPU, 2GB GDDR5 at 1375MHz (5500MT/s)XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition975MHz GPU, 2GB GDDR5 at 1450MHz (5500MT/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 Catalyst 14.9 beta
Battlefield 4Version, Custom THG Benchmark, 10 Minutes
  • Nuckles_56
    Very nice card and for such a small size; a very impressive cooler
  • StarBound
    Now I would love to see Gigabytes gtx 970 itx to compare it to.
  • jjb8675309
    Some real game benchmarks would have been nice.
  • SirTrollsALot
    Thats great! Can you do ITX power supply review next please!
  • CaptainTom
    Personally I wish all graphics cards had the same connection options as this one (2xDP, HDMI, DVI). It is perfect and allows any type of connection combination you could want. Plus, the use of mini display port allows room for a bigger output of air = better cooling.
  • Amdlova
    looks nice and shine this graphic. Bring Now The 290x Itx... I want hell on earth.
  • rohitbaran
    Considering the power draw of R9 290x, it will unfortunately be hell in your ITX rig rather than on earth lol.
  • Musaab
    Toooooooooooooo late I will go with GTX 970 and I am sure we will see shot GTX970 and even 980 sooner
  • bloc97
    r3 3xx cards will again, be cheaper, and more performant than its nvidia counterpart.
  • huilun02
    I hope they also make a mini 290X, so that together with the mini GTX 970 we can hammer down an extra nail in the coffin for the cancerous consoles.

    I know the 290X may require a power plant to run and ignite the atmosphere, but can't a man dream?