XFX Radeon R9 285 DD Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, be advised that every author perceives these factors differently. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer revisions that occur after publication which could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on this conclusion, as it represents our rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
My ratings begin with performance, where the $250 XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition Double Dissipation competes against NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760-series graphics cards in terms of price, but performs closer to the more-expensive GeForce GTX 770. Here’s how the XFX Radeon R9 285 fared against the competition:
In DirectX 11 tests the XFX Radeon R9 285 routinely mirrored performance with GeForce GTX 780, and almost always outperformed the GTX 760. Ultra-demanding DX11 games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum produced similar results between Radeon R9 285 and GTX 770, but GTX 760 was outperformed outperformed by 6 FPS. Battlefield 3 tests put the Radeon R9 285 slightly ahead GTX 760 when Ultra quality settings were used, but trailed GTX 770. Lost Planet 2 played well on all graphics cards when set to high quality with 4x AA, but was a test anomaly that forced the Radeon R9 285 to really trail behind GTX 770 and barely surpass GTX 760. In Aliens vs Predator the performance was more competitive, and R9 285 was well ahead GTX 760 by nearly 10 FPS. Metro 2033 is another demanding game that requires high-end graphics to enjoy high quality visual settings, producing a 7 FPS lead for Radeon R9 285 over GeForce GTX 760 while matching GTX 770.
Synthetic benchmark tools offer an unbiased read on graphics products, allowing video card manufacturers to display their performance without special game optimizations or driver influence. Futuremark’s 3DMark11 benchmark suite strained our high-end graphics cards with only mid-level settings displayed at 720p, allowing the Radeon R9 285 to build a slight lead over the GeForce GTX 770 while dominating GTX 760 in all tests. Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark tests used maximum settings that tend to crush most products, yet the XFX Radeon R9 285 still surpassed GeForce GTX 760 by more than 10 FPS at 1920×1080 while matching performance with the more expensive GTX 770.
Appearance is a much more subjective matter, especially since this particular rating doesn’t have any quantitative benchmark scores to fall back on. AMD’s Radeon HD series has traditionally used the same recognizable ‘black and red brick’ design over the past few years, which tends to dull consumer appeal. XFX breathes new life into this aging look with their Double Dissipation twin-fan cooler and glowing XFX logo at the end of the fan shroud. Unfortunately this modified design exhausts much of the heated air back inside the computer case, which might possibly increase operating temperatures on less-ventilated enclosures. Fashionably good looks could earn points with some consumers, but it’s the card’s low noise output and modest operating temperatures that should leave the biggest impression.
Thanks to extremely quiet operation of the XFX Dual Dissipation fansink, the Radeon R9 285 operates at a very stable temperature under full load. The card requires two 6-pin PCI-E power connections to operate properly, which are available on most all 600+ watt power supply units. Additionally, consumers have a top-end single-GPU solution capable of driving three monitors with AMD HD3D support using the two DL-DVI ports with supplementary DisplayPort outputs.
Nobody likes to RMA their video card because it usually means going without use of the computer, which is why construction is so important. According to XFX marketing representatives, any new R-Series graphics cards with Double Dissipation receive a lifetime warranty if the owner registers their card with XFX within 30 days of purchase. Should the XFX Radeon R9 285 Black Edition Double Dissipation graphics card fail during the warranty period, technical support is available by registering your product at xfxsupport.com.
As of September 2014, the XFX Radeon R9 285 DD (model R9-285A-CDBC) is available online for $249.99 (Amazon | Newegg). This price matches the least-expensive GeForce GTX 760 models, and costs at least $80 less than the GeForce GTX 770 models that it usually outperformed. Radeon R9 285 certainly delivers values, and will push NVIDIA to lower their prices to remain competitive.
Summary: the XFX Radeon R9 285 DD graphics card relies on the twin 90 mm fans in its Double Dissipation fansink to keep the AMD Tonga GPU cool and quiet under full load, which is something you won’t get from cards using the AMD reference cooler design. This makes the XFX R9 285 DD ideal for standalone desktop installations and high-demand gaming. Multi-card CrossFire sets no longer require an interconnect bridge, and so long as the enclosure is large enough to fit two dual-slot cards and offers above-average case ventilation there will be room for upgrade opportunities in the future. For the money, you’re getting a very competitive video card that runs quietly and matches performance with much more expensive models.
+ 3rd-Generation improved AMD Tonga GPU
+ Matches performance with GeForce GTX 770
+ DirectX 11.2 ready graphics solution
+ Supports CrossFire and CrossFireX
+ Triple-display and AMD HD3D support
+ XFX Double Dissipation system keeps GPU very cool
+ Relatively low audible noise under full load
+ 2GB GDDR5 video RAM buffer is plenty adequate
+ UltraHD 4K displays supported
+ XFX Lifetime product warranty
– Some heated exhaust is circulated back into enclosure
– GPU does not offer as much overclocking headroom
Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: How much are you willing to spend on a graphics card?