AMD Radeon R9 270X 2 GB Review 16

AMD Radeon R9 270X 2 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • According to AMD, the R9 270X reference design will retail around $200.
  • Solid performance increase
  • Power efficient
  • Good price/performance
  • Never Settle game bundle included
  • Software voltage control possible
  • Native full-size HDMI and DisplayPort
  • Up to four active outputs
  • Worse price/performance than HD 7870 and HD 7850
  • Noisy cooler
  • High temperatures
Functionally, AMD's Radeon R9 270X does not bring anything new to the table. It's basically an overclocked Radeon HD 7870 with a new AMD reference cooler. But the card delivers good performance matching that of the HD 7950, which is effectively a one-tier increase over the previous generation. Compared to NVIDIA's lineup, we find it performing between NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 660 and GTX 660 Ti, and 12% behind the recently released GTX 760. When choosing between the R9 270X and the HD 7950, which can now be had for as low as $210, consider memory: The HD 7950 with its 3 GB of memory meets the recommended system requirements of "Battlefield 4" and the 2 GB R9 270X does not.
AMD's new cooler design, while looking pretty, doesn't really impress with its cooling capabilities. It runs relatively hot (not too hot) and has to do so with quite a lot of fan noise to achieve those temperatures. This leads me to the conclusion that the thermal solution is simply underpowered, which doesn't have me worry for the whole product line because most board partners will probably use existing HD 7870 cooler designs. Doing so should be easy given the high efficiency of the R9 270X. Power consumption is very good, especially in gaming. My only complaint is that 2D multi-monitor and Blu-ray playback is still running at the same inefficient levels we've seen from AMD for the last couple years, while NVIDIA's cards have improved drastically by consuming less than half the power of comparable AMD cards in those states.
When looking at pricing, we immediately see that the card is significantly more expensive than the HD 7870 and HD 7850, even with the performance gains taken into account. For now, the HD 7870 and HD 7850 are better deals if you want the best possible price/performance. AMD did send us an email clarifying that these good prices will last until HD 78xx supply runs out. We'll see when that happens. Compared to NVIDIA's offerings, the AMD R9 270X clearly is the better option around the $200 sweet-spot. The GTX 660 is $10 cheaper but is 10% behind in performance, and at $235, the GTX 660 Ti is 5% faster but also much more than 5% more expensive. Then there is the 12% faster GTX 760, but with its $250 price point, it's clearly out of reach of the R9 270X. Still, I think a more reasonable price for R9 270X would be around $180 or so—maybe we'll see that in the near future. The higher MSRP could also give board partners more room to release their custom designs without any large price increases.
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