XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition Review: Maximum Overdrive

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

One Of The Best Radeon R9 285s, But Is It Enough?

XFX's Black Edition card is undeniably one of the best Radeon R9 285s we've seen. It sports the highest factory overclock on the market, along with one of the most capable coolers mounted on a Tonga GPU. Its simple and understated design isn't flashy, but its unassuming size makes for an uncomplicated installation. Additionally, the card is quite willing to overclock. In our case, we pushed the GPU just under 200MHz higher than the reference frequency with unflagging stability, earning an impressive 20% performance increase in return.

With a majority of the available Radeon R9 285 models in the $230 range, it doesn't seem unreasonable for XFX to ask an additional $30 for its beefed-up example. You might assume we'd have no trouble recommending the the Black Edition, then.

The high-end graphics card market is a lot more complicated with Nvidia's Maxwell-based flagships vying for attention, though. At $330, Nvidia's card disrupts the value proposition of every graphics card that costs over $200. AMD's own Radeon R9 290 is far more powerful than the Radeon R9 285, and it's selling in the $270 range. In fact, as we wrote this, XFX's own Radeon R9 290 Black Edition was going for $280 on Newegg. Thus, it's impossible to recommend any Radeon R9 285 priced so close to the faster 290.

Inevitably, of course, the graphics card market will find its way back to making sense. For the Radeon R9 285 to become relevant again, prices have to drop. Once that happens, we're sure XFX's Radeon R9 285 Black Edition card will more prominently stand out among its peers. After all, it's an excellent example of what the Radeon R9 285 can be.

  • 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.