XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition Review: Maximum Overdrive

Early Verdict

By all measures, XFX's Radeon R9 285 Black Edition is one of the best examples of the chipset you can find on the market. Unfortunately, the current prices don't make a lot of sense with high-end cards like the Radeon R9 290 dropping below $300. The Radeon R9 285 lineup needs more breathing room in order to be a recommended buy.


  • +

    Highest factory overclock available on a Radeon R9 285, Fantastic, quiet and capable custom cooler, Excellent manual overclocking performance


  • -

    Price is currently too close to vastly superior Radeon R9 290

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XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition: Black Never Goes Out Of Style

There's something to be said for picking up the cheapest graphics card you can find and then overclocking the heck out of it. But there's also an undeniable exclusivity reserved for premium products that offer something extra. With the highest factory overclock we've seen so far on a Radeon R9 285, XFX's Black Edition slots into the second category.

Despite its lofty claim to fame, this aptly-named card sports XFX's typical down-to-business style in classic black-on-black. Only the silver and copper hardware contrasts with the minimalistic monochrome theme. Built onto a 112mm-tall PCB measuring 220mm (8.75") in length, the board isn't particularly large. Moreover, it fits into a dual-slot form factor at 38mm (about 1.5") wide. That makes it almost an inch shorter than AMD's reference Radeon HD 7770. And at 544 grams (1 lb 3 oz), it's not particularly heavy either. Asus' Strix 285 is 316 grams (13 oz) heavier. In short, you shouldn't have any problems getting the XFX R9 285 Black Edition to fit inside a majority of PC cases.

Let's talk about that class-leading overclock. At 975MHz, the GPU operates 57MHz faster than reference, which doesn't sound like much. However, no other manufacturer is pushing this card higher. The board's 2GB of GDDR5 memory employs AMD's suggested 1375MHz (5500MT/s) frequency, exceeded only by Sapphire's R9 285 Dual-X OC at 1400MHz.

The images clearly depict XFX's Double Dissipation cooling system. Its block is surprisingly thin, channeling four 6mm copper heat pipes to the black aluminum fins. Both 85mm fans are enveloped by a polycarbonate shroud. As an aside, the protector covering the glossy shroud left a significant amount of adhesive residue behind, which took a bit of time to clean off for the pictures.

The card requires two 6-pin power connectors, easy delivering up to 75W in addition to the PCI Express slot's 75W ceiling. This is the same setup we've seen on all of the Radeon R9 285 cards we've come across so far. Like AMD's Radeon R9 290 and R7 260, the R9 285 doesn't need CrossFire bridges to support multi-GPU configurations.

XFX's Black Edition card is equipped with dual-link DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.

The bundle includes two dual-Molex-to-6-pin PCIe adapters, documentation and a driver CD. There are no video adapters, cables or value-adds in the package, which is something of a disappointment in a premium product.

  • 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.