When AMD launched the 7000 series of graphics cards, an evolutionary approach was made, moving the bar by improving not only gaming horsepower, but also power efficiency and temperatures. AMD ruled the roost for a time, until Nvidia came along with their 700 series cards, pushing things and gaining the upper hand. Like two titans battling for supremacy, these two companies trade blows with each successive generation launch.
And that brings us to today’s launch of the latest AMD products; namely, the R7 and R9 series graphics cards. AMD is again looking to capitalize on their latest architecture and gain the upper hand this time, but the company has made it clear that framerates aren’t their primary goal. They want to make affordable products that offer strong gaming performance, which is arguably one of the most important criteria for gamers out there who may be hard-pressed to choose where to spend their hard-earned money.
Today we’re focusing on the R9 270X, a mid-range peformance card that retails for $200 as a reference design. More specifically, we’re looking at the MSI R9 270X HAWK, a custom card that boasts a custom heatsink, improved power design, and a factory overclock, all for a modest premium of only an extra $20. Sounds pretty good so far. Factor in that AMD is bringing a host of new features to the market with the R9 series launch, and we’re cautiously optimistic for big things.
The complete change in nomenclature of the R7 and R9 series is understandable, since moving up from the 7000 series to 8000 naming would have created an awkward position of repeating past product names. Regardless of the naming convention, the new R9 270X look to be an evolution of what we saw with AMD’s Pitcairn.
In terms of competition, the R9 270X is positioned against Nvidia’s GTX 660, though as you’ll see in testing, it’s not quite that simple. In fact, the 270X appears to poach AMD’s own lineup, offering strong performance and value that might make it the new mid-range leader in the market.
So, that’s the quick background to set the stage. Now it’s time to delve deeper into the details and a closer look at the MSI R9 270X HAWK to find out how it measures up.