Review Index:
Feedback

AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X Review

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

The AMD Radeon R9 280X

Today marks the first step in an introduction of an entire AMD Radeon discrete graphics product stack revamp. Between now and the end of 2013, AMD will completely cycle out Radeon HD 7000 cards and replace them with a new branding scheme. The "HD" branding is on its way out and it makes sense. Consumers have moved on to UHD and WQXGA display standards; HD is no longer extraordinary.

But I want to be very clear and upfront with you: today is not the day that you’ll learn about the new Hawaii GPU that AMD promised would dominate the performance per dollar metrics for enthusiasts.  The Radeon R9 290X will be a little bit down the road.  Instead, today’s review will look at three other Radeon products: the R9 280X, the R9 270X and the R7 260X.  None of these products are really “new”, though, and instead must be considered rebrands or repositionings. 

There are some changes to discuss with each of these products, including clock speeds and more importantly, pricing.  Some are specific to a certain model, others are more universal (such as updated Eyefinity display support). 

Let’s start with the R9 280X.

 

AMD Radeon R9 280X – Tahiti aging gracefully

The AMD Radeon R9 280X is built from the exact same ASIC (chip) that powers the previous Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition with a few modest changes.  The core clock speed of the R9 280X is actually a little bit lower at reference rates than the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition by about 50 MHz.  The R9 280X GPU will hit a 1.0 GHz rate while the previous model was reaching 1.05 GHz; not much a change but an interesting decision to be made for sure.

Because of that speed difference the R9 280X has a lower peak compute capability of 4.1 TFLOPS compared to the 4.3 TFLOPS of the 7970 GHz.  The memory clock speed is the same (6.0 Gbps) and the board power is the same, with a typical peak of 250 watts.

View Full Size

Everything else remains the same as you know it on the HD 7970 cards.  There are 2048 stream processors in the Tahiti version of AMD’s GCN (Graphics Core Next), 128 texture units and 32 ROPs all being pushed by a 384-bit GDDR5 memory bus running at 6.0 GHz.  Yep, still with a 3GB frame buffer.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X!!!

The most important change for the R9 280X is price.  Starting at $299 for reference clocked models this is essentially giving Tahiti a discount of $60-80 compared to prices from just last month.  (BTW, you will likely find deals on Radeon HD 7000-series cards while inventory is cleared, so you might want to jump on them.)  Let’s also consider than the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition card launched in June 2012 with a price of $499, $200 higher than the cost for essentially the same product today. 

View Full Size

Because we are basically looking at the same ASIC and board design for the R9 280X as with the HD 7970, board partners like ASUS are ready with custom designs out of the gate. 

View Full Size

For our R9 280X testing AMD sent along an ASUS TOP model that comes overclocked out of the box at 1070 MHz core and 1600 MHz memory.  Obviously for our testing today I turned down the clock speeds to match reference specifications but we'll spend more time with the ASUS model in an upcoming review.

View Full Size

The R9 280X requires a 6+8 power configuration and ASUS has made the decision to turn them around 180 degrees to keep the cooler shroud from interfering with installation or removal. 

View Full Size

The output configuration is ideal with the ASUS R9 280X as well - with a pair of DL-DVI outputs, a full-size HDMI port and a full-size DisplayPort.

 

AMD Radeon R9 270X – Pitcairn to Curacao

The next card down the updated AMD Radeon products stack is the R9 270X and will hit a price point of $199.  The analog card from the previous product stack is the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, otherwise known as the Pitcairn GPU.  The reference card I received from AMD actually had a label on the back that indicated a new ASIC name of Curacao, though when prodded for an answer AMD finally admitted that it was in fact NOT a new chip at all.  Oh well, take that for what you will.

View Full Size

The core clock speed of the R9 270X is 1.05 GHz (up to, thanks to Turbo clocks) which gives it a 50 MHz increase over the HD 7870 GHz Edition.  As a result, the theoretical peak performance jumps a bit from 2.56 TFLOPS to 2.69 TFLOPS as does board power from 175 watts to 180 watts.  The 256-bit memory bus is running at a noticeably higher speed though: up to 5.6 GHz from 4.8 GHz which should push memory bandwidth up to 179.2 GB/s. 

But again, the other specifications remain the same.  That means a 2.8 billion transistor 28nm chip with 1280 shader cores, 80 texture units and 32 ROPs.  The memory bus is backed by 2GB of frame buffer by default but you can expect to see 4GB options for about $30 more.

View Full Size

I mentioned the price of $199 above, and while that is lower than the HD 7870 GHz Edition was selling for last month, it’s not by much.  A quick look at PC Part Picker showed several models selling for $215-225 in early September.

View Full Size

Our AMD Radeon R9 270X testing was done with a reference sample that keeps the rather nice black/red design theme shown off at the GPU14 tech day event and live stream last month. 

View Full Size

The 270X only requires a 6+6 configuration for power.

View Full Size

AMD is definitely pushing this updated output configuration as the R9 270X reference card uses it as well.

October 8, 2013 | 12:03 AM - Posted by Irishgamer01

PS. Like the photo spread of the cards....size and shots.
Very good work.

October 8, 2013 | 09:39 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Thanks!

October 8, 2013 | 12:12 AM - Posted by JohnGR (not verified)

I am looking at those slides from AMD comparing R9 and R7 to HD5000 and HD6000 for 10 minutes and I try to understand what the hell is going on here? Was HD7000 never existed or is AMD feeling that it's customers have the memory of a goldfish and no brain at all?

October 8, 2013 | 12:43 AM - Posted by Humanitarian

This 290(x) better not be stillborn, I really want some top-end competition.

October 8, 2013 | 06:55 AM - Posted by snook

me too. It has to directly compete with the GTX780 or it's a loss in my mind.

October 8, 2013 | 01:25 AM - Posted by Howie Doohan (not verified)

Something odd about these prices, if the 280X is around $300 and the 290X is according to rumours around $600-700 what will fill the large gap? Could there be a 290X cutdown chip on the horizon?

October 8, 2013 | 06:58 AM - Posted by snook

I'll bet the 290X come in at $500-550. no way they price it equal to higher than the GTX780.

unless, they are retarded.

October 8, 2013 | 09:40 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

That is my concern as well.  A huge price gap between the 280X and 290 series would leave a gap in product stack that NVIDIA could go after.

October 8, 2013 | 02:45 PM - Posted by nobody special (not verified)

Did they really lower the price when you don't get 3-4 AAA games now? NV cards still come with Batman Arkham Origins (AAA surely and not even out yet) and a few with Rise of the Triad also (evga's come with both).

Not to mention only a fool buys stock when you can get 3 cards on newegg that are 100mhz faster for $249, and for $259 you can get the Zotac that is 140mhz faster and has memory OC'd 200mhz too over what you're testing here. So basically add another 12% to your scores and remember 1 or 2 free games vs 0. When I can get an OC card that is the same price as a company's set price I call that the new ref card :) You wouldn't buy a ref clocked card for the same price would you? $249 is the cheapest.

Evga, MSI, Gigabyte ($249) and Zotac at $259 at newegg, all are over 100mhz faster. Who buys these ref clocked cards? Newegg displays the speeds for everyone to see on one page. I'm surprise anyone can sell a ref clocked card. Zotac's is 1111/1176 as opposed to your tested 980/1033 probably.

At the same time, I suspect most card makers will clock 280x the same as ghz editions anyway. Having said that, people should just buy OC'd 7970's and take the games if they want AMD. But I don't think the situation is quite as bad as said here considering the games and price for an OC 760 card out of the box (many brands). NV will just adjust prices, uplock a model or two and drop everything else down in a few weeks (before black friday no doubt). They have profits they can take a dip on, AMD cutting just means break even or losses yet again. AMD on the other hand owes $200mil note to GF in Dec which will likely wipe out any profits from these cards and xmas console sales. I hope for their sake, Hawaii is phenomenal.

October 8, 2013 | 12:40 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

There are rumors of a "R9 290" but I haven't read much on the rumors except the name.

October 8, 2013 | 09:08 PM - Posted by snook

Tim, this would be cool. If the 290 competes with the 780 and the 290X with the titan. then the 290X price could be as high as they want, lol

October 8, 2013 | 01:31 AM - Posted by Daniel Nielsen (not verified)

Hrm, good to see that the 280x is at least on par with the GTX 770. But doesn't seem like i need to upgrade from my GTX 680 yet.

October 8, 2013 | 03:34 AM - Posted by WantT100 (not verified)

after 2 years we receive the same cards again. what a yawn fest.

October 8, 2013 | 07:00 AM - Posted by snook

except for the one I suspect they have tested (290X), but an NDA keeps us from knowing the results.

October 8, 2013 | 12:06 PM - Posted by icebug

Do you think that vendors will continue selling the "soon to be forgotten about" cards such as the 7950? I don't see any mention of the cards in between the cards "released" with this new series.

October 8, 2013 | 12:12 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

They will continue to sell them as long as they last but I think the HD 7000 series is soon going to MIA and EOL.

October 8, 2013 | 03:15 PM - Posted by icebug

Let's just hope that they get a solid fix in place for Eyefinity CF before all of these cards are out of stock.

October 8, 2013 | 02:21 PM - Posted by option25

I'm wondering why they would release they're slower-rehashed cards first and sit on the 290X/290. With the big games coming soon you would think they would be pushing them as much as possible now as the green team has nothing to counter. I hope I'm wrong but maybe AMDs upcoming flagship won't compete directly with Nvidia's existing top end chips, hmm, but that has to be wrong right. It's got to be more powerful then the GTX 780, we hope for the sake of the consumer anyway. I guess AMD could be waiting to see what Nvidia is going to do about these new parts. Let's play the waiting game again! Anyone know when we'll have (exciting) news or release dates on new AMD top end card(s)?

October 8, 2013 | 02:43 PM - Posted by sosna (not verified)

Since the article mentions that the video outputs of the 280x have changed to similar to the 700 nvidia series,can a 280x do 120hz eyefinity with the use of only one dual link display port to dvi adapter -or is it the same like the 7970 which required 2 adapters-?

thanks

October 9, 2013 | 10:11 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Interesting question, I'll check!

October 8, 2013 | 03:09 PM - Posted by Daniel Masterson (not verified)

Except for the 290X these cards are very underwhelming. I was really hoping for something different instead of more 7000 cards.

October 8, 2013 | 03:36 PM - Posted by Eradikation (not verified)

It's amazing 2 years later they still can't get multi gpu configurations right but they can re release old hardware as new. None of the offerings can compete with sli 670s or higher. Gtx 700 series may not be quite the new but they directly replaced their elders with price while boosting performance. What good is releasing new cards with crossfire capabilities when it still doesn't work.

What good is eyefinity when no amd card has enough power to play newer games at that resolution and multi gpu just plain don't work correctly at any resolution. I always bought amd cards since it was ati when 3dfx folded. I always believed they were the better value but their has been trash support the past years and to believe they just recently acknowledged crossfire to be a problem is beyond me. So glad I spent saved a few extra and went with the company who provides real support and real fixes for their problems. Scary to think amd is leading us into a new console generation with sub-par gpus. Eeek

October 9, 2013 | 10:13 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

To be fair AMD has addressed frame pacing CrossFire issues on single monitor (2560x1600 and under) configurations since August 1st.  It's not perfect yet, but it's much better than it was.

October 8, 2013 | 06:05 PM - Posted by Nacelle

I don't supposed they mentioned anything about Crossfire + Eyefinity working correctly this time around?

October 9, 2013 | 10:14 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I do mention that in the story.  CF + EF still isn't fixed on these cards yet.

October 8, 2013 | 09:04 PM - Posted by snook

Ryan, your next article should just be blank with instructions
to fill out the information as we please. That way we can all be satisfied we are glorious opinions.

October 9, 2013 | 10:14 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

LOL  :D

October 9, 2013 | 06:21 AM - Posted by snook

ugh, pre-order sites have it at $650-729.

this is not good. hope they are wrong

October 9, 2013 | 11:54 AM - Posted by PapaDragon

Great Review and Video Showcase Ryan. That Asus 280x looks amazing. The price /performance of the 7970, I mean the 280X makes it even better as Im looking to upgrade from my 1gb 7850 to play Battlefield 3 at Ultra at 1080p, which is essentially the only game I play. Bf4 beta isnt to kind to it(7850) either, hopefully I will upgrade son.

Anyhow, keep up the great work, waiting anxiously for the Juggernaut 290X and 290 review!

October 9, 2013 | 04:16 PM - Posted by dredz1985 (not verified)

I don't understand what all the hate with these cards is about. If you are someone that is coming from say a card 3 gens ago then this is a good deal. The price is 300 for a card that can max out any game right now at 1080p and even at 1440p depending on the game.if your not going to buy it then just Waite for the 290x which is expecting to be 600. Not everyone has that type of money

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.