XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition Video Card Review

Today we are reviewing the new XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition video card. We will compare it to a pair of GeForce GTX 760 based GPUs to determine the best at the sub-$250 price point. XFX states that it is faster than the GTX 760, but that is based on a single synthetic benchmark, let's see how it holds up in real world gaming.


XFX is a well known company among PC gamers and hardware enthusiasts. It is a division of PINE Technology Holdings Limited. The XFX manufacturing branch specializes in high-performance PC hardware with a focus on gaming products including AMD and NVIDIA graphics processing units and motherboards.

On our test bench today is the XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition video card. This is the second Radeon R9 285 we have reviewed in the last couple months with the first being the MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC video card.

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Radeon R9 285

The Radeon R9 285 GPU has 1,792 stream processors on board with 112 texture units and 32 ROPs. The clock speed works "up to" 918MHz if PowerTune can maintain it with proper cooling. The memory setup on the AMD Radeon R9 285 consists of 2GB of GDDR5 running on a 256-bit memory bus. The memory runs at 5.5GHz. This is less memory bandwidth and capacity than the Radeon R9 280 which has 3GB of GDDR5 on a 384-bit memory bus at 5GHz.

While the R9 285 GPU has less memory bandwidth than the R9 280 that it succeeded, AMD made improvements to the GPU, specifically around tessellation, lossless delta color compression, a newer instruction set, an improved quality scalar and a new multimedia engine. In addition to those improvements, AMD also added the features found within Hawaii, including TrueAudio, FreeSync and Bridgeless Crossfire.

XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition

The XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition comes equipped with a factory GPU clock of up to 975MHz, a respective 57MHzincrease over stock Radeon R9 285 speeds and features XFX’s Double Dissipation cooling system. It is configured with 2GB GDR5 memory running at a 5.8GHz effective rate which is a 400MHz increase over the stock configuration. The cooling system is comprised of four heat pipes that carry heat away from the GPU to an array of aluminum fins that are cooled by a pair of IP-5X approved 90mm fans. The cooling solution uses the GHOST 2.0 design which emphasizes open thermals for maximum airflow. It is sporting two DVI-I connectors, one HDMI 1.4a connector and one DisplayPort 1.2 connector. The card requires two 6-pin PCIe power connectors.

The XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition comes with a lifetime factory warranty if you register it within 30 days of purchase and is currently available in etail for $259.99 before a $20 mail in rebate. It also includes Alien Isolation and Star Citizen games for a limited time.

XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition Images

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The XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition is packaged in a dark box with a turquoise hue showing on a few areas of it. The box is oriented to stand taller than the average GPU box and is also deeper while not as wide as the typical box. The front of the box also highlights the Radeon R9 285 GPU, 2GB of VRAM, the Double Dissipation cooling solution, the Black OC edition designation, the GHOST 2.0 design and the use of 90mm fans. On the back, it goes into further detail about the card’s specifications in a variety of languages.

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The front of the XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition features a black plastic fan frame; not a shroud, as it does not appear to attempt to direct the airflow in any direction as it is open on all sides. The cooling solution is flush with the back of the PCB and utilizes four heat pipes to pull heat away from the GPU to where it can be cooled by the dual fans. As mentioned before, there are two 6-pin PCIe power connections on this card. One other observation that we had about the fan frame is that XFX shipped it with a protective layer of plastic film on it to prevent scratches from occurring during manufacturing and transit. When we removed the plastic film, it left a significant amount of sticky residue on the fan frame. As our supply of goo remover was depleted from the last incident in the underground bunker, we did not determine how resilient the residual mess was to cleaning. Obviously XFX needs to get this lingering adhesive worked out with its supplier as the end user should not have to deal with this botched protective sheeting.

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On the I/O panel there are four ports. These include one DP 1.2 port, two DVI-I connectors, and one HDMI connector. The video card’s measurements are 8.75 inches in Length, 1.5 inches Wide, and 4.5 inches in height.

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