Review Index:

Asus R9 270X and 280X DirectCU II TOP Review

Author: Josh Walrath
Manufacturer: Asus

Power, Temperature, and Overclocking

Last year when NVIDIA released their Kepler architecture it was a point of contention that they had a more efficient architecture when it came to gaming performance.  It certainly seems that perhaps after some minor fixes on AMD’s side they are right there when it comes to power/performance efficiency.

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At idle all of the cards are pretty closely matched, with the 760 being lower than everyone else.  AMD is not quite able to get their idle power down as low as what NVIDIA does, but it is still pretty low.  In CrossFire mode AMD is able to turn off one card altogether, so there are only a few watts difference between single and multiple cards.

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At load we see the 770 and 280X right at the same level.  The 270X on the other hand runs over 50 watts less than the 760.  Once CrossFire is enabled, then we see a pretty significant increase in power consumption at the wall socket for the AMD cards.



Asus has done a mighty fine job with their DCII coolers.  All of the cards at idle with the fans spinning silently all are in the 30C range.  Once things heat up a bit, we still see a pretty compressed range of temperatures for the cards.  The only real outliers are the boards in Crossfire.

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I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed in the overclocking potential of these cards.  The results weren’t bad, but they certainly were not beyond the norm.

The 280X board is clocked at 1070 MHz out of the box, but I was only able to get the board stable to 1135 MHz with a small voltage tweak.  The memory did have a bit more headroom as I took it from 6400 MHz up to 7300 MHz.  Overall this lead to some nice performance gains, but nothing all that impressive for such a beefy cooler.

The 270X boards was also disappointing in that I had previously taken the MSI R7870 HAWK to 1300 MHz core.  I was expecting as good, if not better, overclocking performance from this card.  It was not to be.  I was able to take the board from the 1100 MHz stock speed to 1225 MHz.  It is a better overclock than what we saw with the 280X, but it does not reach the heights that the year+ older R7870 did.  The memory on this board also did not overclock all that well, especially as compared to the 280X.  I was able to take it from 5600 MHz up to 5900 MHz.  This is not a huge overclock by any stretch of the imagination for GDDR-5.

I was honestly expecting a lot more out of both solutions, but I guess I still can’t complain about free performance with just a little tweaking.

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.

May 12, 2014 | 10:19 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

hello everybody, sorry for my english i am french

i have a lot of problem with asus r9 280x directcu 2 top artifact game freeze and stop and return in windows and i dont understand why if someone know about please tell me


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