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The Radeon R9 280X

GPU
base
clock
(MHz)
GPU
boost
clock
(MHz)
Shader
processors
Textures
filtered/
clock
ROP
pixels/
clock
Memory
transfer
rate
Memory
interface
width
(bits)
Radeon HD 7970 925 - 2048 128 32 5.5 GT/s 384
Radeon HD 7970 GHz 1000 1050 2048 128 32 6 GT/s 384
Radeon R9 280X ?? 1000 2048 128 32 6 GT/s 384

The formula for the Radeon R9 280X is simple: it's very much like the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition—the boost clock is actually 50MHz slower—but with a price reduction to $299.99. That's the most dramatic news of the day, really, in my book. Yeah, the game bundle is gone, but this is a real-money price drop of about a hundred bucks.

Peak pixel
fill rate
(Gpixels/s)
Peak
bilinear
filtering
int8/fp16
(Gtexels/s)
Peak
shader
arithmetic
rate
(tflops)
Peak
rasterization
rate
(Gtris/s)
Memory
bandwidth
(GB/s)
Radeon HD 7970 30 118/59 3.8 1.9 264
Radeon HD 7970 GHz 34 134/67 4.3 2.1 288
Radeon R9 280X 32 128/64 4.1 2.0 288
GeForce GTX 770 35 139/139 3.3 4.3 224
GeForce GTX 780 43 173/173 4.2 3.6 or 4.5 288

The 280X competes most directly with the GeForce GTX 770, in terms of key graphics rates, but the GeForce is still selling for around 400 bucks. You can imagine how that's about to play out.

We have a couple of examples of the R9 280X on hand. Pictured above is a stock-clocked version from XFX with a snazzy-looking dual-fan cooler. Like the 7970, 280X cards have 3GB of memory onboard, making them a little more future-proof than the 2GB competition.

This is Asus' R9 280X DirectCU II TOP, also with a fancy cooler. Since this card was first to arrive in Damage Labs, it was the one on which we focused most of our testing. This baby is clocked up a little bit from stock, with a 1070MHz GPU frequency and 6.4 GT/s memory. You'll pay for extra juice, though—Asus says the card will list for $309.99 at online stores.

I should note a particular feature of both of these 280X cards: their coolers stick up a long way above the top of the retention bracket at the back of the card. The shroud on the Asus card protrudes about 1.25" past the bracket, and the heatpipe is another quarter inch taller than that. Clearance may be an issue in some PC enclosures.