The simple fact right up front here is that the AMD R9 280X is an evolution of what saw with AMD’s previous Tahiti products. Mind-blowing performance isn’t what AMD is about these days, and this card is proof of that. It’s got strong performance, but not the unequivocal king of the hill in its price range. Rather, AMD is looking to extend the shelf life and relevance of Tahiti, in a newly refreshed package that offers strong gaming value for consumers. That is not a bad thing, regardless of how you look at it.
You still get all of AMD’s new features here, including support for OpenGL, DirectX11.2 and the Mantle API. You also get 1080p gaming at high settings and of course the 4K UltraHD gaming and movie capabilities. For true 4K gaming, you’ll want to pair a couple of these in CrossFire to really make a difference, but the point is you get the option, and it’s a push in the right direction by AMD to try to stay ahead of the curve.
In terms of raw performance, the ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP can run very closely to a GTX 770, trading blows in a couple instances, and essentially a tie with framerates that are indistinguishable to the naked eye. So we’ll tentatively call it a draw in terms of raw gaming horsepower. However, this ASUS card also runs cooler and quieter than Nvidia’s offering. And if you’re interested cryptocurrency mining, then AMD is the only option to consider. Tossing three of these ASUS TOP cards into a mining rig is a smart option in terms of hashing bang for your buck. However, because of the mining demand for these cards, stock levels are down and prices are up, which isn’t ASUS’ fault, but it is a consideration if you want to grab one (or more) of these hotrods.
Currently the ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP is retailing for $420, which is about $20 more than other 280X models, though depending on fluctuating prices you might get lucky. We think that’s an excellent value considering the high caliber components, low temperatures and noise levels, and performance (not to mention potentially more OC headroom available). A competing GTX 770 goes for about $40 less, but with the AMD prices artificially high due to supply and demand right now, the value is currently a bit skewed. Despite the current price disparity, overall we think the ASUS TOP card is still the better buy.
If you’re looking for an upper tier graphics card, the ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP is an excellent choice, showcasing an impressive combination of sleek styling, low temperatures and noise levels, and great performance.
ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP