XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition Review: Maximum Overdrive

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How We Tested XFX's Radeon R9 285 Black Edition

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 with a few new features added from the Radeon R9 290 family. The detailed information is available inAMD Radeon R9 285 Review: Tonga and GCN Update 3.0.

Our goal in this review is to focus on what makes XFX's R9 285 Black Edition 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 tolerable. Then, we'll compare power usage and test overclockability. We will use data generated from full-sized Asus and Sapphire Radeon R9 285 specimens to see how the Black Edition differentiates itself.

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.

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Header Cell - Column 0 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
GraphicsXFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition975MHz GPU, 2GB GDDR5 at 1450MHz (5500MT/s)Sapphire 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)
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
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Battlefield 4Version, Custom THG Benchmark, 10 Minutes
  • SinxarKnights
    These benchmarks are useless without a comparison to different cards.
  • jessterman21
    Ahahahahahahahahaha 2GB
  • Lutfij
    I love how the pros and cons are now highlighted at the bottom of the newly formed articles.

    Kudos Don :)
  • logainofhades
    Even the 280x is a better buy than a 285, right now.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant
    Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 280X 3GB Dual-X Video Card ($229.99 @ Amazon)
    Total: $229.99
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when availableGenerated by PCPartPicker 2014-12-05 09:58 EST-0500
  • chaosmassive
    GTX 970 really make other cards look bad to buy...
    i not say this card bad though...
  • logainofhades
    If you can afford the GTX 970, it is a great card. Many cannot afford one. An R9 290, @ $60+ less is good, and the 280x @ $100+ less isn't bad either. The card that I think will really shake things up is the GTX 960.
  • cleeve
    14738723 said:
    These benchmarks are useless without a comparison to different cards.

    It does. It compares to other Radeon R9 285s.

    We already compared how a stock 285 performs compared to all other cards, we did that at launch as it says in the article. We included a link for those who'd like to refresh their memory. ;)
  • mortsmi7
    "2GB is more then enough for 1080p gaming which the card is designed for."

    Then you haven't played Wolfenstien on ultra @ 1080p (which is only possible with a 3GB or more card). It's probably more accurate to say that 2GB fits the performance tier of the card.
  • Tzn
    And Gtx 750ti the best card out in the market, price, performance, power consumption wise.
  • moshenokoji
    It depends on what you pay for a card. A 280 may be a better buy if the 285 is $250 and the 280 is $230. But, I grabbed a Power Color R9 285 Turbo Duo on Thanksgiving for $200 with a $20 rebate effectively making it $180. $180 for a card that is similar to the 280 and extremely close to the GTX 770 or as fast as with a small overclock - I'll take that.