ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC Video Card Review

Today we are taking a look at the high end of ASUS' offerings featuring the Radeon R9 380 GPU in the form of the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB. We will pit it against the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 4G to see which card can be crowned king of the hill in the low $200 price range.

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Evaluation Method

We evaluate what each video card configuration can supply us in terms of a playable gaming experience while supplying the best culmination of resolution and "eye candy" graphical settings. We focus on quality and immersion of the gameplay experience rather than how many frames per second the card can get in a canned benchmark or prerecorded timedemo situation that often do not represent real gameplay like you would experience at home. Then we will follow with apples-to-apples testing in with minimum, maximum, and average framerates.

Test System Setup

We will be using a ASUS Sabertooth Z77 motherboard, an Intel Core i7 3770K Overclocked at 4.6GHz, and 16GB of Corsair RAM.

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The ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB is priced in near parity to the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 4G with the ASUS card selling for $229.99 before a $20 mail-in-rebate and the MSI card selling for $249.99 before a $15 mail in rebate. (Worth mentioning is the MSI has gone up in price since we wrote this review.) Both cards are equipped with 4GB of GDDR5 and are shipped in factory overclocked configurations. However, on the AMD side, there are several R9 380X cards available, also with 4GB of GDDR5, that are priced around $230-240 without a mail-in-rebate causing the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB to step a bit on its faster sister GPU’s toes a bit.

While both cards in this evaluation have the ability to select different "modes" (Quiet, Gaming and OC) within the respective tweak applications, we have elected to test the cards at their stock out-of-box clocks and for each, that corresponds to "Gaming" mode.

Drivers

For the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB, we are using the Crimson 15.11.1 Beta drivers.

For the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 4G, we are using the GeForce Game Ready 361.43 WHQL driver.

As there was a gap between the initial testing and writing of this article and its conclusion due to the VBIOS update that we received from ASUS, the drivers used in testing are not the most current available at the time of publication. We checked performance levels between the drivers that we used and the current ones, and found that there were no performance differences between them for the games in this evaluation.

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