Review Index:

AMD Radeon R9 280X Roundup: ASUS, MSI and Sapphire

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: Various

MSI R9 280X 3GB Twin Frozr Gaming

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The next card in our roundup today is the MSI R9 280X Twin Frozr Gamer.  Again, because of the similarity between the R9 280X and HD 7970 GPUs, MSI was able to basically apply the same cooler and PCB for this product as it had in the past.

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This card also comes overclocked out of the box but only by a very modest amount.  The GPU speed is only 50 MHz higher than reference while the memory clock stick to the 1500 MHz default settings.  Despite this, the card will obviously overclock higher thanks in part to the design and cooler.

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The dual fans on the MSI Twin Frozr cooler are larger than most and that allows them to run at lower RPMs while moving the same amount of air and thus reducing noise.  MSI claims that by using a technology called Airflow Control they are able to deflect more of the moving air from the fans over the heatpipes directly.

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MSI's PCB continues to use what they call Military Class components, rated at levels above and beyond what is required.  These include all solid capacitors, super ferrite chokes that run cooler and have higher voltage capacity, and the same Hi-C caps used on MSI's top end motherboards.

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Of course, what MSI product would be complete without the famous SuperPipes!?  These larger diameter heat pipes dissipate more than traditional heat pipes and can more quickly do so. 

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That enourmous SuperPipe filters right past the 8+6 power configuration on the MSI Twin Frozr Gaming R9 280X which can make removing the power connections a bit more cramped than with other 280X cards on the market.

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MSI did change things up a bit on the connection front by replacing the single full-size DisplayPort connection with a pair of mini-DP ports.  Those, coupled with the HDMI and dual-link DVI port, bring the total connections on this card to four.  Though I like the idea of the mini-DP selection, I think losing one of the DVI ports to be a poor trade off.

October 29, 2013 | 03:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

really haven't justified why the MSI didn't get the same award as the Asus.

October 29, 2013 | 04:03 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Not sure what this is tryingt to ask.  It DID get the same award?

October 30, 2013 | 05:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

MSI rocks as cooling and slient fan solutions are mandatory for performance of a processor atleast at a specified clock rate provided by manufacturer.Overclocking is secondary. Also power consumption is less.

October 29, 2013 | 04:15 PM - Posted by Xploder270 (not verified)

Nice roundup!
You tested the MSI card with the old BIOS though, with the alleged VRM overheating problems.

This is the new one (according to Tomshardware(DE) it's a lot louder):

October 29, 2013 | 04:21 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Hmm, interesting I'll take a look.

October 29, 2013 | 07:20 PM - Posted by Brett from Australia (not verified)

Nice write-up Ryan, I really like the look and design of the ASUS GPU, they really have put some thought and effort into the production of this card.

October 30, 2013 | 09:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

All good cards and a nice review, although the noise of the Toxic is disappointing considering the price premium. I would have preferred a presumably quieter 3-slot design like the Asus Matrix Platinum (also $350). Any plans on reviewing that?

October 30, 2013 | 11:35 AM - Posted by YTech

Under Metro Last Light :
What is the difference between the FRAPS FPS and Observed FPS chart?

Other than that, it was interesting to see how various brands tackle certain challenges.

In my opinion, Sapphire would learn a lot from ASUS for their next design. I find ASUS has the neater design for long-term performance.

October 30, 2013 | 06:58 PM - Posted by Paul Hockett (not verified)

Hey Ryan, great article.
I myself just got the toxic 280x about a week ago. I agree the performance is great but i'm having game shadow/ texture flickering as well as some general screen artifacts even out of the box... (crysis 3, heaven 4.0, BF4)as well as some noticeable coil whine.

Im on the latest drivers and believe I have a good enough psu
Thermaltake 750w bronze with a core i5 2500k. Temps are also under 70c when this is happening. Maybe just a bad egg?

October 31, 2013 | 04:52 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Still rocking the house with a gtx 570 SLI setup how does this card compare?

October 31, 2013 | 09:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous SimonB (not verified)

well im from Lithuania and in my country asus cost 100$ then toxic and it cant overclock so much so wait in my country toxic is better in every single aspect since if asus have same oc it would be as loud to maintain temperature at that point so faster cheaper cooler i dont care about sound while i have decent case with sound dapening and taking this bether card i take silver so dont get me wrong but from when silver is bether then gold since gpu toxic>asus in where i live sad to see such ratings just for noice while u knew well that that gpu has more horses compare with cars why ppl love ferary sound? becouse its faster ..... review is good awards not so much graps of fps in games totaly stupid why ? who makes 2 almost identical colors for graps of 4 cards? cant u put red blue green purple? ....... jesus

November 3, 2013 | 05:02 PM - Posted by Filippo Dinolfo (not verified)

I picked up the MSI and updated the BIOS straight away. Performance is nice and it runs quietly. The only thing is the coil whine, which apparantly a lot of customers on newegg are also mentioning. Not a deal breaker, but it is a little annoying at times.

November 3, 2013 | 11:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

@Paul Hockett

Saved me loads of time, cheers, as I thought this might just be mine. Flickery bars across textures and shadows in bioshock and chess boards and technicolour discos in crysis 3. I find it happens quite randomly and can game 8hrs without trouble then next day 30m in it starts so was gonna be a nightmare trying to figure which card was causing troubles. Real shame as when they work i'm enjoying everything at max at 1440p.

November 6, 2013 | 02:47 AM - Posted by Adam (not verified)

Anyone tested this card on Rome 2 ? How does it perform ?

November 11, 2013 | 02:42 AM - Posted by ChucklesNuts (not verified)

I know its' a bit late but i really wish you would have thrown in XFX's Double D R9 280X 1000MHz BOOST

I don't mean to sound like a fan boy for them of which I can only say why doesn't everyone buy an XFX GPU with a Lifetime warranty. This year it seems that what is going to happen is I will be drown back to an AMD GPU. Who pulled no punches this season. From a GTX 780 which I had nearly purchased when the AMD R9 280's were announced and reviewed.

Thanks for the Video Reviews on YouTube and also with This Week in Computer Hardware, with Patrick Norton.

December 4, 2013 | 02:45 AM - Posted by paullacon

So what are the other alternatives of it? I just wanna know more about maintenance..Find more on

January 15, 2014 | 06:44 PM - Posted by MrRez

Just bought one of these(ASUS) and its a beast, bang per buck it one of the best on the market. Well I think so anyway :)

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