AMD Radeon R9 280X Graphics Card Review

by Rob Williams on October 8, 2013 in Graphics & Displays

Most next-gen GPU launches are a simple affair: Launch one model, then another, and then another. AMD’s latest series is a bit different. In advance of its forthcoming flagship R9 290X, the company decided to push all of its mainstream parts off of the truck at once. So, let’s get started, first with a look at the $299 R9 280X.

Page 3 – Game Tests: Battlefield 3, BioShock Infinite

Battlefield 4‘s launch is right around the corner, but despite there being a beta available, I’m sticking to Battlefield 3 for the sake of reliable benchmarking until the dust settles. Even though BF3 was released in 2011, it remains gorgeous at maxed-out detail settings, and a good challenge for today’s GPUs – though the real challenge begins above 1080p for mainstream and higher parts.

Battlefield 3 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor
1920×1080 (1 Monitor)

Battlefield 3 - 5760x1080 Triple Monitor
5760×1080 (3×1 Monitors)

Manual Run-through: Operation Guillotine (chapter 5) is the basis for my benchmarking here, as it features a lot of smoke, water, debris and is reliable for repeated benchmarking. The level starts us out at the top of a hill, and after descending it, we go over a fence and through a riverbed. I stop the play-through after reaching the first set of stairs.

AMD Radeon R9 280X - Battlefield 3 (1920x1080)

AMD Radeon R9 280X - Battlefield 3 (2560x1440)

AMD Radeon R9 280X - Battlefield 3 (4800x900)

AMD Radeon R9 280X - Battlefield 3 (5760x1080)

AMD is off to a great start here. Given the fact that the R9 280X costs $50 more than NVIDIA’s GTX 760, it seemed certain that it’d be the better performer overall, but based on Battlefield 3 alone, that 20% increase in cost can net you between a 30~40% boost in performance.

At 1080p, both cards here perform quite well – NVIDIA sits behind, but still delivers 60+ FPS on average. And this, it must be mentioned, is on Ultra. Using our multi-monitor resolutions, even 4800×900 becomes a bit much for either of the cards. Your option here would be to drop from Ultra to High, or turning off AO and AA in particular, to achieve respectable performance.

BioShock Infinite

Sometimes, the hype that follows a game to its launch can be a little ridiculous, and all too often, it doesn’t live up. BioShock Infinite (our review), though, is one of those rare instances where reality exceeded expectations. Infinite‘s world is immersive and chock-full of eye-candy, and its gameplay mechanics and AI help craft something truly special. This is a must-play game, it’s that simple.

BioShock Infinite - 1920x1080 Single Monitor
1920×1080 (1 Monitor)

BioShock Infinite - 5760x1080 Triple Monitor
5760×1080 (3×1 Monitors)

Built-in benchmark: Finding a “perfect” level for manual benchmarking proved difficult with this game, as numerous variables arose in each one I tested that made them less-than-ideal. Fortunately, the game’s built-in benchmark is effective, so while I hate to forego the manual route, I feel confident in the results generated with this tool.

AMD Radeon R9 280X - BioShock Infinite (1920x1080)

AMD Radeon R9 280X - BioShock Infinite (2560x1440)

AMD Radeon R9 280X - BioShock Infinite (4800x900)

AMD Radeon R9 280X - BioShock Infinite (5760x1080)

It’s almost as though both BF3 and BioShock Infinite share the same graphics engine, because both performed similarly across the board. Both cards once again are suitable at 1080p, while the R9 280X handles 1440p quite well. Moving into multi-monitor territory once again, this game proves to be a little too much for either card.

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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