Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

AMD Radeon R9 270X and R9 270 Video Card Review

We take a look at AMD's mid-range R9 270X and R9 270 with an MSI R9 270X GAMING and SAPPHIRE R9 270 Dual-X. We will make comparisons to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 760 using a retail card which is within this range of AMD's GPUs. We will overclock all three video cards and put these head-to-head for the ultimate mid-range performance comparison.

Introduction

AMD's mid-range lineup, the AMD R9 270X and AMD R9 270 have yet to be evaluated by us, and that is about to change. Whenever possible, we like to use retail video cards as the comparison card for our main video card evaluations.

Normally we would take the AMD R9 270X GPU based retail card being evaluated today and compare it with reference cards. Then, we'd do another separate review on the AMD R9 270 GPU based retail card being evaluated and compare it with reference cards. However, since the competitive reference card that needs to be compared to both video cards is the same, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, and the performance and price points are similar between all cards, we can bring all three retail cards together for you and compare these in one review.

On the following pages we will dive into each individual retail card we have up for evaluation today. You will see what MSI has brought to the MSI R9 270X GAMING 2G video card, and what SAPPHIRE has brought to the SAPPHIRE R9 270 Dual-X video card and what ASUS has brought to the ASUS GeForce GTX 760 DC II OC video card. We will also overclock all three video cards and put these head-to-head against each other for the ultimate mid-range showdown of performance!


AMD R9 270X

This is our first review of a video card based on the AMD R9 270X GPU. However, it isn't as foreign as you might think. In October of 2013 AMD announced a re-branding of its video cards. Among the re-brands was the AMD R9 270X. The AMD R9 270X is basically an AMD Radeon 7870 GHz Edition re-brand. The R9 270X's GPU is based on Pitcairn GCN 1.0, this means it does not have TrueAudio support. However, it does fully support AMD's Mantle.

The AMD R9 270X does differ from the Radeon 7870 GHz Edition in one way, the boost clock speed has been lifted to 1050MHz (1.05GHz), which is 50MHz faster than the 1000MHz (1GHz) clock on the Radeon 7870 GHz Edition. Otherwise, it has the same 1,280 stream processors, same 80 texture units and same 32 ROPs. Memory bus runs at 256-bit with 5.6GHz GDDR5. TDP is 180W.

The unique part about the AMD R9 270X was that AMD dropped the MSRP pricing on it officially to $199, making this an appealing offer. However, the recent demand with Coin mining has tremendously impact the street price of this GPU. The lowest prices these video cards can be found for is $250 with prices going up to $300. This puts the AMD R9 270X in a whole different class of cards.

AMD R9 270

The AMD R9 270 was launched in November of 2013 without much fanfare. The reason is that the AMD R9 270 is extremely similar to the AMD R9 270X, so similar in fact the only difference is the boost core clock. That means the AMD R9 270 is based on the same Pitcairn GCN 1.0 GPU as the 7870 GHz/270X. This is what you might call a re-brand of the Radeon 7850. There is no TrueAudio support, but there is Mantle support.

Just like the R9 270X there are 1,280 stream processors, 80 texture units and 32 ROPs. The boost frequency on the GPU however has been lowered to 925MHz. That means there is only a 125MHz clock speed difference between the AMD R9 270 and AMD R9 270X. You will find the same 256-bit memory bus and 5.6GHz GDDR5. The TDP is 150W.

The slight reduction in clock speeds means a slight reduction in price. The official MSRP of the R9 270 is $179. However, just like the 270X it shares an unexpected hike in price due to demand. These video cards pricing start at around $230 and go up to $270. As you can see, these are within range of the 270X.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760

For our comparison card that directly now competes against both the AMD R9 270X and AMD R9 270 is NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 760. The GeForce GTX 760 was launched last summer, well before the re-branding of the R9 270X and R9 270. The official MSRP of the GTX 760 is $249, which places it right in the middle of the current street pricing on R9 270X and R9 270. In fact, the very retail card we are evaluating today falls right in-line with the two AMD R9 270X and R9 270 based video cards we are evaluating.

The GeForce GTX 760 has 1,152 CUDA Cores, a base clock of 980MHz and a boost clock of 1033MHz. The memory bus is 256-bit with 6GHz GDDR5 memory.


Summary of Cards Being Compared with Price

A summary of the comparison is below, and detailed evaluation of each video card being evaluated follows on the next pages.

MSI R9 270X GAMING 2G - This video card is based on the R9 270X GPU, this being MSI's "GAMING" edition, there are three modes available through a software application.

The pricing for this video card changed during the evaluation process of this review. When we started, the price was at $269 and the card was in stock. At that price, it matched our other two cards perfectly on price. However, the price has since gone up slightly during this review. The price is now at $279 and on top of that the video card is out-of-stock. If you look elsewhere, like Amazon it's at an insane $320, but in stock. The $320 price is way outside the norm, the MSRP on reference R9 270X should be $199. That tells you how crazy pricing is, and how unstable.

SAPPHIRE R9 270 Dual-X - This video card is based on the AMD R9 270 GPU, which remember only has a 125MHz clock difference to the 270X, they are identical GPUs. The MSRP pricing has these at only $20 differences. However, just like the 270X, this one has been fluctuating in price to drastic extremes. The price of this video card changed three times during our evaluation, and each of those times was a step down in pricing, not a step up.

When we started this evaluation the price was at $260, which put it right in-line with the MSI R9 270X we were evaluating, and makes sense. The two GPUs should not be that far apart in price to begin with, it should be a natural comparison. However, the price fell last week down to $249. Then, at the conclusion of this evaluation the price has fallen yet again now down to $229. So the pricing is $50 apart right now from the MSI 270X, but it did NOT start that way, nor should it be that way. Remember, the MSRP should be $179, thus $20 difference from the R9 270X. The performance difference of only 125MHz certainly is comparable between the two, these compare on performance, if not by price right now due to inflated numbers.

ASUS GeForce GTX 760 DC II OC - The video card here is overclocked, this is the OC version, and even this video card has had some price fluctuations. When we started this evaluation the price of this card was at $270, just like the MSI 270X. However, a week ago it dropped to $249. However, suddenly now, at the end of this conclusion it is back up to $269. As you can see, it is perfectly priced in comparison to the 270X at the $279 price, or right in the middle of the two if you compare it at the $320 price of the 270X. On the onset of the evaluation all three cards were similarly priced. Out of all three cards, it is the AMD cards that have fluctuated in price more. However, even with that being so, you will find that ALL of these cards compare "by performance."


Test Setup

The test setup is on the same system as shown here. We are using Catalyst 14.2 Beta 1.3 on all AMD based video cards. We are using ForceWare 334.89 on the GTX 760.