Graphics Cards Guide

MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G review

MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G - A Decent Choice

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Overall rating 8.5/10
Performance:
8.5
Features:
8.5
Value:
8.5
THE GOOD
Good cooling system
Rather attractive price point
Strong overclocking performance
THE BAD
Conservative factory overclock; video memory not overclocked


Test Setup

Test Setup

These are the specifications of our graphics testbed:

  • Intel Core i7-3960X (3.3GHz)
  • ASUS P9X79 Pro (Intel X79 chipset) Motherboard
  • 4 x 2GB DDR3-1600 G.Skill Ripjaws Memory
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive (OS)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 7200 RPM 1TB SATA hard drive (Benchmarks + Games)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Below is the list of cards we'll be testing. The immediate competitor to the MSI Gaming card is the ASUS Radeon R9 280X DirectCU II TOP card. In addition, a number of add-on partner cards were used to represent reference ones, and they were downclocked to the clock speeds of their reference counterparts in order to gauge their performance with updated drivers. For the AMD Radeon HD 7970, the downclocked Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB GDDR5 was used. For the NVIDIA GeForce GTX cards, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 Windforce 3X OC was downclocked to represent a reference GTX 770; while the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Twin Frozr IV OC was used to represent the GTX 760.

  • MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G 3GB GDDR5 (AMD Catalyst 13.11)
  • ASUS Radeon R9 280X DirectCU II TOP 3GB GDDR5 (AMD Catalyst 13.11)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 331.40 Beta)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 331.40 Beta)
  • AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB GDDR5 (AMD Catalyst 13.9)

Note 1: In temperature and power consumption comparisons, the results used were from the data gathered from the actual reference cards. Please refer to our reviews for the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 and GTX 760.

Benchmarks

Since we've already figured out the potential of the Radeon R9 280X via the previously reviewed ASUS card, we'll be using a much more truncated list of tests this time round for our assessment:-

  • Futuremark 3DMark 2013
  • Crysis 3

Primarily, we will be focusing on the overclocking upside, temperature performance and power consumption of the MSI R9 280X Gaming. This is in order to determine how MSI is able to differentiate its first R9 280X graphics card in comparison with the ASUS R9 R280X card. For our temperature and power consumption tests, 3DMark 2011 was used. 

Here's a look at how the MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G stacks up against the competing cards:

MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G and competitive SKUs compared
  MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G ASUS Radeon R9 280X DirectCU II TOP 3GB GDDR5 (R9280X-DC2T-3GD5) AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB DDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB GDDR5 (reference card) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
Core Code
  • R9 280X
  • R9 280X
  • Tahiti XT
  • GK104
  • GK104
GPU Transistor Count
  • 4.3 billion
  • 4.3 billion
  • 4300 million
  • 3.54 billion
  • 3.54 billion
Manufacturing Process
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
Core Clock
  • Gaming Mode: 1000MHz (Boost: 1020MHz)
  • OC Mode: 1000MHz (Boost: 1050MHz)
  • Silent Mode: 1000MHz (Boost: 1000MHz)
  • 1070MHz
  • 1050MHz
  • 1046MHz
  • 980MHz
Stream Processors
  • 2048
  • 2048
  • 2048 Stream processing units
  • 1536 CUDA cores
  • 1152 CUDA cores
Stream Processor Clock
  • 1000MHz
  • 1070MHz
  • 1050MHz
  • 1046MHz
  • 980MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
  • 128
  • 128
  • 128
  • 128
  • 96
Raster Operator units (ROP)
  • 32
  • 32
  • 32
  • 32
  • 32
Memory Clock (DDR)
  • 6000MHz
  • 6400MHz
  • 6000MHz DDR (GDDR5)
  • 7012MHz DDR
  • 6008MHz DDR
Memory Bus width
  • 384-bit
  • 384-bit
  • 384-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth
  • 288GB/s
  • 307.2GB/s
  • 288GB/s
  • 224.3GB/s
  • 192.3GB/s
PCI Express Interface
  • PCIe v3.0 x16
  • PCIe v3.0 x16
  • PCIe ver 3.0 x16
  • PCIe ver 3.0 x16
  • PCIe ver 3.0 x16
Power Connectors
  • 1 x 6-pin power cable; 1 x 8-pin power cable
  • 1 x 6-pin power cable; 1 x 8-pin power cable
  • 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin
  • 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin
  • 2 x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology
  • CrossFireX
  • CrossFireX
  • CrossFireX
  • SLI
  • SLI
DVI Outputs
  • 1
  • 2
  • 1 x Dual-Link
  • 1 x DVI-D, 1 x DVI-I
  • 1 x DVI-D, 1 x DVI-I
HDMI Outputs
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
DisplayPort Outputs
  • 2 x mini DisplayPort
  • 1 x Native DisplayPort
  • 2 (version 1.2 HBR2)
  • 1
  • 1
HDCP Output Support
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes