Asus R9 270X and 280X DirectCU II TOP Review
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.
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.
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.
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.