MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC Video Card Review

AMD has launched the $249 AMD Radeon R9 285 video card. We dive into this somewhat confusing GPU. We compare it to the GeForce GTX 760 as well as an AMD Radeon R9 280. We'll discuss GCN differences in this new video card that may give it the edge with some feedback from AMD.

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MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC

Instead of a reference video card, we have a full retail custom packaged video card from MSI to evaluate today. Add-in-board manufacturers are ready to sell custom made factory overclocked video cards today.

The MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC is part of MSI's GAMING series line of video cards. The MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC sports MSI's Twin Frozr IV cooling technology. This video card will retail for $249, the "same" street price of the R9 285. This is exciting since this MSI GAMING video card is factory overclocked. You are receiving a free overclock, custom PCB and design, custom cooling, custom long life and overclocking friendly components with no hike in MSRP pricing.

The fans on MSI's Twin Frozr use two large Propeller Blade fans with Dust Removal Technology which make sure there is always plenty of airflow going to your card. Heat from the GPU is transferred to the fin grid array by virtue of heat pipes with MSI's special SuperPipe technology. SuperPipes transfer heat twice as fast as regular heat pipes enabling an MSI GAMING graphics card to stay cooler than the competition. MSI's new Twin Frozr IV Advanced found on our Gaming cards is equipped with all new Airflow Control technology. This new thermal technology. This new tech uses a special deflector inside the heat sink to direct airflow to the heat pipe leading to quicker heat dissipation.

MSI's Military Class 4 components (these are MIL-STD-810G certified) are in use on the AMD Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC to ensure maximum performance, longevity and overclocking ability. Hi-C CAP is a small super-efficient capacitor that allows for 93% energy efficiency. Super Ferrite Chokes use a Ferrite core that is Super-Permeable. This allows the chokes to run at 35 degrees lower temperature, have a 30% higher current capacity and a 20% improvement in power efficiency. Solid CAPs are used for lower Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) as well as improving the life span.

The MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC video card also supports MSI's GAMING App. This is a small application you can install to select between OC Mode, Gaming Mode and a Silent Mode. Note that our card came out of the box clocked in the OC Mode. We installed the latest version of GAMING App supplied to MSI (version 2.0.0.21) and verified OC Mode was the default clock speed, and it was. You can select Gaming Mode which clocks the video card lower, and Silent Mode which clocks the video card at stock reference AMD R9 285 clock speeds. We performed all our tests in OC Mode as it is the out-of-box default.

Specifications and Pictures

Naturally, the MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC video card is factory overclocked in OC Mode. The overclock is set at 973MHz. Remember, reference AMD R9 285 runs up to 918MHz. Therefore, MSI provides a free 55MHz clock speed bump. The 2GB of GDDR5 of memory is running at the reference 5.5GHz frequency.

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As you can see the MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC requires two PCI-e 6-pin power connectors. MSI customized the power connectors so that the clips are toward the back of the video card. This way you do not have to squeeze your fingers in-between the power connector clips and the heatsink to remove power cables, very smart thinking.

The Twin Frozr cooling solution is a completely open solution, which will dump heat into your case. Therefore proper positive pressure cooling is recommended to push the air outside the case. The video card measures 10" inches in length and is quite tall at 5.5" in height due to the extra surface area of the PCB and heatsink. There is a metal stabilizer bar atop the video card which keeps it very rigid.

You can see on the back of the PCB there is room for an 8-pin power connector in the design. This could point to a R9 285X model in the future. The PCB edges are rounded nicely as well and not at all sharp. All the power components are cooled with a heatsink making direct contact. Oddly, however, some of the RAM is not fully covered by the heatsinks. This video card supports two DVI ports, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.