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.