ASUS STRIX R9 380X DirectCU II OC Video Card Review

AMD has let loose the new AMD Radeon R9 380X GPU, today we evaluate the ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC video card and find out how it compares to a 4GB GeForce GTX 960 and GeForce GTX 970 for a wide picture of where performance lies at 1440p or where it does not at 1440p considering your viewpoint.


In September of 2014 AMD launched the first "Tonga" GPU based video card called the AMD Radeon R9 285. At the time Tonga represented the best architecture AMD had to offer. Even today, AMD's latest "Fiji" GPUs (Radeon R9 Fury series) are based off of the Tonga DNA and GCN architecture. If you want the latest feature set, you want something in the Tonga or Fiji line.

Today AMD is launching its "full-Tonga" as people have come to call it. When the AMD Radeon R9 285 was launched it was not launched at the full potential of specifications. This has been a long awaited GPU ever since the AMD Radeon R9 285 was launched. Since then AMD re-freshed the product line with the AMD Radeon R9 380, which is essentially a Radeon R9 285 with faster clock speeds. Today AMD extends the Radeon R9 380 series with the AMD Radeon R9 380X video card.

AMD Radeon R9 380X

First to pricing. AMD is setting a suggested retail price of $229.99 for this video card, and that is with 4GB of VRAM standard. AMD says factory overclocked custom video cards from manufacturers may start at $239.99. Naturally, there may be more expensive video cards as well from some manufacturers. This puts this video card squarely in the sights of the 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 video card.

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The AMD Radeon R9 380X contains the full 32 Compute Units which gives it 2,048 stream processors. There are 32 ROPs and 128 texture units. The clock speed will run around 970MHz suggested. Manufacturers will have overclocked video cards. On the memory side this video card will have 4GB of GDDR5 on a 256-bit memory bus. The memory will operate at 5.7GHz providing 182GB/sec of memory bandwidth. This is based on the Tonga GPU.

This compares to the AMD Radeon R9 380 in that the R9 380 has 28 Compute Units for 1,792 stream processors. The R9 380 has 32 ROPs and 112 texture units. The clock speed on R9 380 is up to 970MHz as well. The R9 380 has 4GB of GDDR5 on a 256-bit bus at 5.7GHz for 182GB/sec of bandwidth.

Therefore, you will note memory bandwidth has not increased. We know many of you were hoping for faster memory compared to R9 380, perhaps 6GHz memory would have been beneficial here, but AMD did not do this unfortunately. Total board power remains at 190W, same as R9 380.

Product positioning is very important here. Note that AMD is targeting AMD Radeon R9 380X for 1440p gameplay. Note that AMD also targets R9 380 for 1440p gameplay. Whereas it targets Radeon R9 390 and 390X for 4K gameplay. AMD has often overreached in terms of resolution target for this generation of GPUs. In our testing Radeon R9 390 and R9 390X better fit 1440p gaming. Also in our testing Radeon R9 380 better fits 1080p gaming. Therefore, it will be interesting to see where Radeon R9 380X ends up in our testing.


AMD sent us a retail ASUS STRIX R9 380X DirectCU II OC (STRIX-R9380X-OC4G-GAMING) video card for evaluation. Now, this video card carries a hefty premium over the suggested AMD pricing. This video card will go for $259.99. There will also be a non-OC model for $239.99.

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This video card is completely custom and overclocked. It operates at 1030MHz out-of-the-box. That means it has a nice 60MHz overclock without having to do anything. In addition, if you install GPU Tweak you can hit an "OC" button and instantly overclock this video card to 1050MHz, an addition 20MHz. Of course you can just manually overclock it as well. The memory runs at the default 5.7GHz.

The ASUS STRIX is based on STRIX technology so naturally the fans stop spinning at idle speeds and engage when needed. Overall this video card is very quiet. This video card is based on DirectCU II technology and incorporates two 8mm heatpipes and one 10mm heatpipe. The entire heat dissipation area is also larger than the reference design. There are two wing-blade 0dB fans installed. This video card uses ASUS's 8-phase Super Alloy Power suite including Super Alloy Choke, Super Alloy MOS, and Super Alloy Capacitor.

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The video card measures 10.64" in length. As you can see the actual heatsink and shroud are much larger than the video card itself. Even with the enlarged shroud the video card itself is still quite small for a video card of this price range. The only issue we had was the shroud felt a little loosely attached to the heatsink. It would be easy to accidently rip off if you lifted the video card by the shroud, so make sure to have a firm grip on the card. The shroud isn't as solid as we'd like it.

For power you will need to plug in two PCIe 6-pin connectors. ASUS has flipped the clips so they are positioned in a way that they are easy to get to and disconnect if you need to. There are also some LED lights to ensure you have power connected correctly. For output this video card supports DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI (no not 2.0 sadly) and DisplayPort. Inside the box is a sticker, manual, driver CD and power cable converter.

The Comparison

For comparison we are using a retail factory overclocked MSI GeForce GTX 960 4GB GAMING video card. This video card is currently $239 which makes it an excellent comparison today, it is right in the AMD suggested price range. We will be leaving it at its factory overclock for this evaluation, we are not downclocking it.

We are also going to throw in a GeForce GTX 970 simply because of the high ASUS price of $259.99 for this R9 380X. Once you start grazing prices that high you are into the territory of the least expensive GeForce GTX 970 cards and the least expensive AMD Radeon R9 390 video cards with rebates today. GeForce GTX 970's are about $30 more, and there are some Radeon R9 390's even less than that in difference today. We expect the GTX 970 to be a lot faster, its in a different class after all, but due to the price premium from ASUS we feel we need to include it for the full picture.