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Sapphire Radeon R9 285 2GB Dual-X OC Video Card Review

By: Shawn Baker | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Sep 2, 2014 12:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Test System Setup




We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.


After going through the specifications, I find myself sitting here still a little confused with how exactly this model sits in the market. The problem is if you break everything down, the card should sit between the R9 270X and the R9 280 3GB. The specifications of the R9 280 3GB and R9 285 2GB are so close, though, that it's going to be extremely close when it comes down to performance - especially when you include out of the box overclocks into the mix.


In the end, though, you should be ultimately ignoring the specifications of the card. It really comes down to price which decides where the model sits. The AMD MSRP list, which doesn't include the R9 280 3GB, says that the new $249 R9 285 2GB sits between the $199 R9 270X and $299 R9 280X. The specs say the same thing, except for the fact that when you look closely, the R9 285 and R9 280 are practically on top of each other with the R9 280 coming out on top.


The issue is the GIGABYTE R9 280 TURBOFORCE 3GB with its really strong 1072MHz out of the box core clock can be had $219.99. Saying that, the R9 280 3GB is a rebadged HD 7950 3GB. That's fine because the HD 7950 3GB was a great card, but it doesn't carry with it some of those newer features that are seen on the true R9 cards. Looking below sums up what the R9 285 2GB ultimately is.




You can see it's the power of the R9 280 Series with the technology of the R9 290 Series. Ok that sounds all very cool, but in the end, what do gamers care about most? Performance! They want to see the numbers that can justify the associated price tag. So the question is, with a price tag that is higher than the R9 280X 3GB, yet a spec that looks lower, is it a video card to buy?


Well, that's what we'll find out today as we compare the Sapphire R9 285 2GB Dual-X OC against the HIS R7 260X iCooler 2GB, HIS R9 270X IceQ X2 Turbo Boost 2GB OC, GIGABYTE R9 280 WINDFORCE 3GB OC, Sapphire R9 280X 3GB Vapor-X OC, HIS R9 290 4GB IceQ X2 Turbo, ASUS GTX 750 Ti 2GB OC, MSI GTX 760 MINI-ITX Gaming, NVIDIA GTX 770 2GB and ASUS GTX 780 ROG Poseidon Platinum 3GB OC in what looks to be one of the most confusing mid-range video card battles we've seen in a long time.


While we've talked a whole lot about how the card sits in the AMD line up, before we move into the benchmarking, we should quickly cover where it compares from an NVIDIA stand point. AMD says the model goes directly up against the GTX 760 2GB. Looking at the price of that card, we'd say it's pretty spot on. So let's see just what happens when we throw all these video cards into the testbed and benchmark them.



The FPS Numbers Explained


When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.


30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.


60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.


120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.



Why are some graphs incomplete?


Adding new game benchmarks is a long, tedious and time consuming task as every video card has to be re-tested in those new benchmarks. Because of that reason we have always just evaluated our benchmark line up every six months. To stay up to date and current with the latest benchmarks and games available, we've changed our approach to adding new benchmarks.


Our benchmark line up will progress and be updated as newer more intensive games with benchmarks comes to light. While this will mean that initially you may only see a single video card in those particular graphs, as the weeks go on and we test more and more video cards, the results will grow quickly. This will help keep our benchmark line up as up to date as possible as we introduce and remove games on a constant basis.

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