VisionTek Radeon R9-280X
OverviewHardware: Video Cards
WHAT WE LIKED:Price, Performance, Expandability, Adaptability and a Lifetime Warranty
WHAT WE DISLIKED:Rear support of the card is a bit weak, temps a bit high, Didn't include a mini DisplayPort adapter
VisionTek may not be one of the titans of the industry. They may not get the accolades of the Big Three (Sapphire, MSI and Gigabyte). What they do have is an understanding that sometimes you can beat the bigger opponent by not going right at them. This is exactly what we have here. The VisionTek R9-280X doesn’t have the flashy box, doesn’t have some special name for its cooling solution and doesn’t have some crazy color theme. It has functionality. It does exactly what it was meant to do… play games at higher resolutions. As we saw in nearly all of the slides, it beats a card that cost over $450 when it debuted. It plants itself well within the range of the former king of the Radeon product stack and squarely in the competitions’ backyard. The R9-280x may not be a world beater but it is an affordable upgrade path for many, and I don’t mean only those with weak, out of date GPUs that choke out playing the first Crysis. I also mean those that are currently sitting at the top-end with a 7950 or a 7970. Since the R9-280x is based on the same silicon as the former 7970, crossfire is still an option. We are not sure if AMD intended it to be this way or not. It doesn’t really matter. The point is you can add Crossfire to your gaming rig for around $299 and continue being on top. Some people will say that you can’t crossfire a R9-280x with a 7950 as i just stated. I would like to take a moment and prove that to be false.
This is a screen shot of my configuration after I installed the Sapphire 7950 underneath the VisionTek R9-280x using the 13.6 driver. When it was first installing the driver, the R9-280x showed up as an R9-200 series gpu. Following a screen flash it turned into the 7900 series we see now. It now reads both cards are 7900 series GPUs. Crossfire is enabled in CCC with core clocks reading correctly for each card. Since the 7950 is slower then the max boost of the R9-280x, I used Trixx to overclock it to 1000MHz GPU core clock with a 1500MHz memory clock. The 7950 still lacks the amount of cores, but the speed increase will make it a little easier to sync up.
3DMark reads one of the cards as a 7970 and the top location is blank. Very odd. Regardless, 3DMark is able to utilize both GPUs for a massive increase in GPU-only score! It achieved a score of 13047, up from 8100 with just the lone R9-280X.
Adrenaline is a Benchmarking tool for Sniper Elite V2. If you run the same test repeatedly you can use customized presets as seen in the top right hand window. These are the settings we use for benching GPUs. I have enabled the log feature so it keeps track of all past runs. If you take a look at the last two lines you will see that the results doubled the previous runs. A resolution of 1680×1050 is up to 109.6fps from 59.3fps, and 1920×1200 is also up to 88.6fps from 48.1fps. You can see that Crossfire is enabled in the bottom left window. It has issues readying the core clocks but the results are clear as can be.
When Metro 2033 completes running the benchmarking tool it will open your browser and display the results. We use the preset three pass for a solid average result. As seen all the way at the bottom, the MAX fps is 252.40 with an average of 83.67fps on 1920×1200 and the same settings as earlier. We were able to gain 20fps by running in this unconventional Crossfire configuration. The only program that tends not to utilize Crossfire Correctly is Heaven 4.0. It did not run 2x 270x correctly either. Heaven will display two GPUs but the results are the same as if you only ran one.
Now we move back to the conclusion. What we just displayed adds additional value to the VisionTek R9-280x. Not only is it a suitable standalone GPU for high resolution gaming, it is also a fantastic value add on card for existing systems. You no longer have to go spend another $600 to stay in the game. Will this also work using other 280x models? I have no clue. All I know is it was proven to work with the VisionTek R9-280x.
The only gripe I have about the VisionTek R9-280x is that there is not enough support for the hefty rear end of the card. So far it has held up well without bending too much, but what about a few months for now? Adjusting the fan spend to get better cooling really isn’t a big issue for me because I was going to play with those settings anyway no matter how cool or quiet it ran. Others who just want to plug & play, may find this extra two minutes a chore. The maximum temps I reached were worst case scenario. They may never be reached during normal game play, so most users can simply enjoy the silence of the R9-280x.
Over-all, VisionTek has built a solid product that will meet the needs of the masses by covering different segments at once. They didn’t go for the top spot as the big three tend to fight over. Instead they went around the them. VisionTek created a value card that can play everything you toss at it in a single card configuration. It also can be a value add-on card for those that are already established in gaming. On top of this, VisionTek believes in its quality by offering a Lifetime warranty. They are the only company currently doing this for the 280x. Price, performance, expandability, adaptability and a Lifetime Warranty makes it very easy to grant the VisionTek Radeon R9-280x the PureOverclock Editors Choice Award!