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Asus R9 270X and 280X DirectCU II TOP Review

Author: Josh Walrath
Manufacturer: Asus

Conclusion

Asus makes a pretty good video card.  The build quality, cooler quality, and overall value and performance of these products are pretty outstanding.  I have to admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for the chip formerly known as the HD 7870, now in the form of the R9 270X.  That chip is downright miserly when it comes to power vs. performance.  It is around the same overall performance as the GTX 760 but is a good 50 watts less in overall power consumption.  The Tahiti chip powering the R9 280X has been out two years now and was the first of that generation.  It still keeps chugging along and the MSRP is right where it should be.

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These are all good things, right?  Well, there are a couple of downsides to these products.  The first is that they do not include the new TrueAudio functionality that the R9 290X and the previous/current Bonaire based cards (HD 7790/R7 260X).  The next is a question of availability and MSRP.  This is the really grim part.

There has been a lot of discussion about the latest AMD cards and crypto/coin mining.  The current train of thought is that people mining coins are primarily using AMD based graphics cards because they do this particular action very quickly as compared to other offerings on the market.  This has lead to a pretty severe shortage of cards based on the R9 270 and above products.  At places such as Newegg the Asus R9 270X DCII TOP is at MSRP ($219), but it is out of stock.  On Amazon these cards are in stock but going for $349.  The R9 280X is in stock at Newegg, but it is at $419.

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AMD, their partners, and retailers are laughing all the way to the bank due to the demand of these cards.  I am not entirely sure why these cards are not available in greater volumes, but who knows if anyone at AMD expected the popularity of Litecoin exploding like it has.  It takes quite a few weeks for orders to be made to TSMC and even longer for the chips to be produced and packaged.  Eventually supplies will get closer to meeting demand, and prices will normalize.  When that time is, we have no idea.

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Pricing and availability issues aside, Asus still has a compelling product.  I did expect the boards to overclock a bit better, but out of the box performance is very good for the price (MSRP that is).  If these cards can be found at MSRP, then they are pretty much a must buy.  Until we get to that point, regular users should take a good look around at what products are available at what prices.

January 16, 2014 | 09:35 AM - Posted by Daniel Nielsen (not verified)

Looks like very solid cards. I really want to see some custom cooled versions of the 290 soon.

January 16, 2014 | 10:04 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Ryan has already reviewed units from Asus and Sapphire on this here site.

January 16, 2014 | 11:16 AM - Posted by LtMatt

Shame you started using DDOF in Bioshock Ryan. The game looks so much better with it disabled, not to mention the impact it has on performance numbers.

January 16, 2014 | 12:02 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Well, those numbers are worst case scenarios for extreme graphics.  Happily, as a user, you can disable it and get a performance boost with your setup!

January 16, 2014 | 12:39 PM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

I'm kind of curious as to why I can find 270 boards with 4GB and 280s seem stuck at 3GB.

January 16, 2014 | 01:06 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

The 270s use a 256 bit bus, so they can cram 4 GB of memory on them.  The 280 has a 384 bit bus, so to go above 3 GB they need to use 6 GB.  That is much more expensive than they feel that most users will go for, so they keep them at 3 GB.  Plus, the 280s are already overpriced with just 3 GB right now!  Someone really didn't figure out this demand thing...

January 16, 2014 | 01:04 PM - Posted by snook

great review Josh. After reading this, I'm convinced that miners are responsible for every known world problem. I mean all of them, including excessive cow flatulence!

They have ruined my upgrade plans for the time being. :/

thanks for the review.

January 16, 2014 | 01:13 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Damn those miners!  At least you can get the R9 270x at a decent price... but yeah, no 280X anywhere near the promised $299.

January 16, 2014 | 04:22 PM - Posted by MDWired (not verified)

Is it me or are the graph numbers switched like the min FPS To high and the avg FPS to low on the Unigine Heaven benchmarks.

January 16, 2014 | 05:36 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

LOL, yup!  Obviously I transposed the numbers.  Just pretend Min is Avg. and Avg. is Min!

January 16, 2014 | 09:07 PM - Posted by DerekR (not verified)

I bought a Gigabyte Windforce R9 270X last November. Having upgraded from an MSI GTX460 with only 768MB of video memory, the 270X was a fantastic deal!

The GTX760 might be the performance equivalent for the 270X, but the price point is mush closer to the older GTX660 here in Japan. Video cards are priced fairly higher than the US. nVidia cards in particular are pricey. When I bought my car a MSI TwinFrozer GTX660 was going for around $200, while the Gigabyte Windforce 270X was only slightly more at $225. Most of the GTX760s that I saw were going for around $370 to $400.

January 17, 2014 | 08:53 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Yeah, that's a pretty steep increase in price as compared to performance on the R9 270X.  The 270X is still probably the best overall deal in the market for what you get.

January 19, 2014 | 12:13 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Makes me glad I got the HD 7870 for $120 after rebate over a month ago. Not sure if I can bring myself to get the 270X at current prices.

January 21, 2014 | 06:29 PM - Posted by Damian (not verified)

Glad I was able to grab the Asus R9 280x DC2T for my new build before the rush. Snuck it out of Newegg beginning of December for $319...before the gouging began.

Love it.

January 22, 2014 | 08:55 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

It certainly is a nice card.  Good job on grabbing it before the insanity hit.

March 22, 2014 | 10:37 PM - Posted by DrunkenBishop (not verified)

Notice the dif in the fans on the 280X other than the actual card size and such.... Put that on the cooling on the 270X and you could no doubt O.C. more. Gotsa LOVE ASUS....!!!! I do.

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