PowerColor Radeon R9 380 PCS+ Graphics Card Review

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by Rob Williams on August 31, 2015 in Graphics & Displays

When NVIDIA released its ~$200 GeForce GTX 960 this past spring, it delivered a solution that allowed gamers to experience high framerates at 1080p and even enjoy some quality 1440p gaming. AMD’s Radeon R9 380 has similar prospects, and conveniently, costs about the same. With PowerColor’s PCS+ edition on the test bench, let’s see how it compares.

Game Tests: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4

Given the sheer number of titles in the Assassin’s Creed series, it’s a little hard to believe that the first game came out a mere seven years ago. You could definitely say that Ubisoft hit the ball out of the park with this one. To date, we’ve never considered an AC game for benchmarking, but given the number of graphical goodies featured in the PC version of Black Flag, that trend now ends.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - 1920x1080

Manual Run-through: The saved game starts us not far from the beginning of the game under a small church which can be climbed to synchronize with the environment. To kick things off, I scale this church and rotate the camera around once, making sure to take in the beautiful landscape; then, I climb back down and run all the way to the water (the top of this small church and the water can be seen in the above screenshot).

Note: For some reason, Ubisoft decided to cap the framerate to 60 FPS in Black Flag even if Vsync is turned off. For most games, this would ruin the chance of it appearing in our benchmarking, but because the game is graphically intensive, I’ve chosen to stick with it, as at higher resolutions, reaching 60 FPS is a perk that will belong only to high-end graphics cards.

PowerColor Radeon R9 380 PSC+ - Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Results (1920x1080)
PowerColor Radeon R9 380 PSC+ - Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Results (2560x1440)

If you have a $150+ graphics card, you’re going to get great performance out of Black Flag with max detail at 1080p. But, the R9 380 has a bit more to offer, allowing us to hit 52 FPS at 1440p using the same settings. That means that with select settings degraded slightly (namely AO and / or AA), 60 FPS at that resolution could be handled no problem. Not a bad start for a $200 graphics card.

Battlefield 4

Thanks to the fact that DICE cares more about PC gaming than a lot of developers, the Battlefield series tends to give us titles that are well-worth benchmarking. Battlefield 3 offered incredible graphics and became a de facto benchmark immediately, so it’s no surprise, then, that BF4 follows right in its footsteps.

Battlefield 4 - 1920x1080

Manual Run-through: The Singapore level is the target here, with the saved game starting us on an airboat that must be driven to shore, where a massive battle is set to take place. I stop recording the framerate once the tank makes its way to the end of this small patch of beach; in all, the run takes about 3 minutes.

PowerColor Radeon R9 380 PSC+ - Battlefield 4 Results (1920x1080)
PowerColor Radeon R9 380 PSC+ - Battlefield 4 Results (2560x1440)

Battlefield 4 proves a little more challenging than Black Flag, with our 1080p settings here giving us 54 FPS on PowerColor’s PCS+ – a value that plummets to 34 FPS at 1440p. At 1080p, disabling anti-aliasing is the no-brainer solution; at 1440p, that change will have to be made along with the dropping-down of some other settings. Where there’s a will, there is a way – if 1440p is your target.

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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