Wednesday , 20 August 2014
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MSI Radeon R9-280X 3GB Graphics Card

Testing Methodology

The OS we use is Windows 8 Pro 64bit with all patches and updates applied. We also use the latest drivers available for the motherboard and any devices attached to the computer. We do not disable background tasks or tweak the OS or system in any way. We turn off drive indexing and daily defragging. We also turn off Prefetch and Superfetch. This is not an attempt to produce bigger benchmark numbers. Drive indexing and defragging can interfere with testing and produce confusing numbers. If a test were to be run while a drive was being indexed or defragged, and then the same test was later run when these processes were off, the two results would be contradictory and erroneous. As we cannot control when defragging and indexing occur precisely enough to guarantee that they won’t interfere with testing, we opt to disable the features entirely.

Prefetch tries to predict what users will load the next time they boot the machine by caching the relevant files and storing them for later use. We want to learn how the program runs without any of the files being cached, and we disable it so that each test run we do not have to clear pre-fetch to get accurate numbers. Lastly we disable Superfetch. Superfetch loads often-used programs into the memory. It is one of the reasons that Windows Vista occupies so much memory. Vista fills the memory in an attempt to predict what users will load. Having one test run with files cached, and another test run with the files un-cached would result in inaccurate numbers. Again, since we can’t control its timings so precisely, it we turn it off. Because these four features can potentially interfere with benchmarking, and and are out of our control, we disable them. We do not disable anything else.

We ran each test a total of 3 times, and reported the average score from all three scores. Benchmark screenshots are of the median result. Anomalous results were discounted and the benchmarks were rerun.

Please note that due to new driver releases with performance improvements, we rebenched every card shown in the results section. The results here will be different than previous reviews due to the performance increases in drivers.

Test Rig

Test Rig
Case Test Bench
CPUs Intel i7-4770K
Motherboards ASUS Maximus VI Formula
Ram Gskill TridentX 8GB (2x4GB) 2666Mhz 11-13-13 Dual-Channel Kit
CPU Cooler Custom Liquid Cooling
Hard Drives 8x Western Digital RE4 2TB 7200RPM 3Gb/s Hard Drives (Raid 5)
SSD 3x Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA III 6Gb/s SSD
Optical ASUS DVD-Burner
GPU MSI Radeon R9-280X Gaming
Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 4GB Video Card
GeForce Drivers 327.23                 (GTX 760,770, 780,TITAN and 690)
Catalyst 13.11    (AMD Radeon R9-280X)
PSU Thermaltake Toughpower XT 1475W Gold
Mouse Tt eSPORTS Theron Gaming Mouse
Keyboard Tt eSPORTS Meks G1 Illuminated

Synthetic Benchmarks & Games

We will use the following applications to benchmark the performance of the MSI R9-280X Gaming video card.

Benchmarks
3DMark 11
3Dmark 2013
Sleeping Dogs
Tomb Raider
Metro 2033
Unigine Heaven 4.0
Batman Arkham City
Dirt 3 Showdown
Metro Last Light
Sniper Elite V2

3DMark 11

3d11 3d11x

Here we see first up is 3DMark 11 and with it the MSI 280X pulls in right around the 770 on extreme and actually surpasses it slightly in the Performance preset.

3DMark 2013

firestrike extreme firestrike

In 3DMark Firestrike and extreme the MSI Gaming model pushes well ahead of the 770 model from Nvidia.

Unigine Heaven 4.0

Unigine Heaven is a benchmark program based on Unigine Corp’s latest engine, Unigine. The engine features DirectX 11, Hardware tessellation, DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0. All of these new technologies combined with the ability to run each card through the same exact test means this benchmark should be in our arsenal for a long time.

heaven

Heaven pushes the 280X very hard and it falls about 1.5 FPS behind the 770 in this test.

Sleeping Dogs

sleeping dogs

Sleeping Dogs is actually a game that is actively bundled by AMD and its dominance in this game is prevelant as it takes a over 2FPS lead over the 770 here.

Metro 2033

metro 2033

Even after many years, Metro 2033 is still one of the most demanding DX11 video games available to really push the limits of your system. Here the MSI 280X pulls a very respectable number trouncing the 770 by 6FPS which is alot when we are talking Metro at max settings.

Batman Arkham City

batman AC

Batman Arkham City is a fun game and utilizes FXAA fully. It is nice to see the full screen anti-aliasing getting picked up by popular titles. Here being an Nvidia based title I am not surprised to see the 280X lose a little ground and it falls 3 FPS average behind the 770 but still within striking distance.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider once again is a heavily pushed title by AMD and with TressFX even after all of this time shows major issues like the hair looking like it was experiencing electro shock therapy to it just looking odd, however switch to the 280X and all is well in the world. Speaking of all is well the 280X once again muscles a lead of over 4FPS over the 770.

Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light

Here we have Metro Last Light which is a brand new game added to our testing platform as it just came out. If you thought Metro 2033 was stressful you have seen nothing yet. The particles and lighting, as well as the PhysX effects all add up to an amazing looking game that can put a stun even the most powerful system in its tracks. Here the MSI 280X we tested Metro Last light without the PhysX effects to ensure fair play as not to overload the NV cards since AMD does not support PhysX and to mu surprise the 280X trailed the Nvidia 770 card by only a single frame which is a surprise for a game which was pushed so hard by Nvidia.

Sniper Elite V2

Sniper Elite V2

Sniper Elite V2 is a fun game which, when first released, was quite stressful but still playable on most higher end cards. By now, most cards have surpassed it, and today is no different however the 280X has a tough time here pulling over 12FPS behind the 770 but still holding a solid 7 Frame lead over the 760 model card.

Dirt 3 Showdown

Dirt showdown

Dirt 3 Showdown is a visually beautiful game with excellent lighting and overall motion blurring creating a real visual spectacle of a game. The MSI 280X pulls in right below the 770 here again at just under 4FPS short of matching.

MSI Radeon R9-280X Gaming MSI as always dresses to impress with its non reference designs and well with the Radeon R series of cards there is no mistaking a MSI card from the rest as they carry very distinctive cooler designs and honestly when first seeing this card I was at a loss to tell it apart from the Nvidia 770 version I had tested some time ago when looking at it from the fans side. However once you get past the fans and shroud designs that is where the similarities end. The…

Review Overview

Performance - 8.5
Value - 9.5
Quality - 9.5
Features - 9
Innovation - 9

9.1

Summary : The new MSI Radeon R9-280X is a powerful, capable and affordable card ready to take gamers to the next level and beyond.

9
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