Review Index:

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

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: Various

Sapphire R9 280X 3GB TOXIC

View Full Size

Finally we get to our Sapphire TOXIC version of the Radeon R9 280X.  This card has the most "meat" to it at first glance with the highest overclock out of the box as well as the biggest and baddest looking cooler of the bunch. 

View Full Size

The TOXIC card runs at 1150 MHz GPU clock speed and a memory speed of 1600 MHz, both of which are improved over the reference settings.  At 1150 MHz, 15% over the default settings, the Sapphire card is obviously going to have a performance advantage over the ASUS and MSI cards when we just "plug in and play."

View Full Size

The Sapphire card moves the bar up some by making its cooler taller and longer while also including a set of three fans (rather than the usual two).  The two fans on the outside are a smidge bigger than the one in the center although all three are smaller than those used on the ASUS and MSI offerings. 

An orange and black color scheme also adds some flash to it which set it apart. 

View Full Size

Sapphire classes things up some more with a lit logo along the top and an orange plastic cover hiding the voltage monitoring points for those extreme overclocking types.  The button above the Sapphire logo (which lights up yellow by the way) is used to switch between standard and UEFI modes.

The cooler under the three fans includes a pair of 6mm, a pair of 8mm and a single 10mm heat pipe and a fairly massive amount of cooling fins for dissipation. 

View Full Size

The PCB on the Sapphire TOXIC R9 280X includes an 8-phase power design for the GPU and a 2-phase power design for the memory system. These should allow for some further overclocking of the Tahiti GPU.  Sapphire also built the TOXIC card using high quality, double-sided Black Diamond chokes and all-solid capacitors for stable power delivery.

Also, the back plate looks pretty damn cool when installed in a system with a window.

View Full Size

Attempting to further up the ante, Sapphire bumped up the power delivery to the card with an 8+8 connection rather than the default 8+6.  You may also notice that the cooling shroud extends past the PCB here by another inch and half making it the longest card in our roundup.

View Full Size

Sapphire continues to innovate on its R9 280X TOXIC by including 5 difference display outputs including dual DL-DVI, a full size HDMI port, and a pair of mini DisplayPorts.  I would guess that only four of these outputs can be utilized at any given time. 5-6 panels might require a DisplayPort MST hub.

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 :)

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.