Sapphire Vapor-X R9 270X
OverviewHardware: Video Cards
WHAT WE LIKED:Performance, Price and Value, Cooling, Quiet and looks.
WHAT WE DISLIKED:Driver Disc did not contain drivers that would detect the 270x.
Features: TrueAudio and CrossFire
One of the exciting features of the new line of Volcanic Island cards is TrueAudio. TrueAudio is an integrated positional audio DSP that will be included on select models of R7 and R9 series GPUs. For years, developers have been implementing PC game audio through software to make effects accessible to all gamers, not just those with discrete sound solutions. This approach almost guarantees the same audio playback on a $2000 system as it will on a $500 one, if no discrete solution are in play. The downside is that it takes a good amount of CPU processing power to produce some of the better sound effects. In many cases, the effects that will immerse you further into a game are left out completely because of the CPU hit.
AMD partnered with a little known company named GenAudio, (makers of AstoundSound technology), to develop TrueAudio. The hardware based DSP is able to produce 3D audio effects like real-time reflections, reverb, phantom speakers and 3D audio in 2.1 speaker systems without adding the CPU penalty, since it is all processed on the DSP. Remember, the TrueAudio DSP is not a sound card replacement or substitute; it is a dedicated audio processor developers can choose to take advantage of for a more immersive experience.
Since it is optional, AMD has been reaching out directly to developers to educate and help execute TrueAudio implementations. Two big names in gaming have already committed to using TrueAudio in their upcoming releases. Xaviant: Lichdom and Eidos: Thief pledged support for the new audio technology. They also had game demos on hand at the GPU14 product showcase.
Will this change the way we game and will enough developers get on-board to make it a feature worthy of being included on Volcanic Islands? Since the first is solely reliant on the second, it will all come down to how much AMD puts into working with developers and the product’s ease of use. I would love to hear a difference in realistic sound when a grenade is tossed into a room vs. tossing a grenade in an open field. That is called convolution reverb, just one of the many benefits AMD’s TrueAudio can bring to the forefront of PC gaming without relying on your precious CPU clock cycles.
As you can see, the MSI R9 270X HAWK comes with a factory overclock of 1111MHz on the Core, while most other specs remain the same as the reference. However, that only tells part of the story, so let’s continue on with a discussion about GPU Boost 2.0 to delve a bit deeper and find out what this card is capable of doing.
Multi-monitor support has become even more important to gamers over the last few years. Eyefinity has propelled multi-monitor usage to the forefront of gaming. One way to push all of those monitors is to add additional GPUs using Crossfire. Crossfire technology has also seen an update with the new series of AMD Hawaii GPUs. Some will no longer require the use of an external Crossfire bridge to sync multiple GPUs.
The hardware DMA engine was designed for Eyefinity, UltraHD resolutions and allowing direct access between GPU pipelines over PCI express. This eliminates the performance penalty that comes with using an external bridge while maintaining its compatibility with Catalyst frame pacing technologies. Say goodbye to the ugly external Crossfire Bridge, but don’t throw it away; you may still need it with some cards.
The new DMA engine also allows for you to use any three ports for Eyefinity setups. That is a nice change from having to use at least one monitor on the display port. However, you must have three of the same exact monitors for this to work.