Sapphire Radeon R9 285 ITX Compact Graphics Card Review

by Rob Williams on June 21, 2015 in Graphics & Displays

Finding a good graphics card for a small form-factor PC can be tough, but Sapphire helps make the decision a bit easier with a series targeting ITX builds. While we’re taking a look at the outgoing R9 285, it’s nearly identical to the R9 380, and as we find out, it’s worth a look.


What’s this? A 200 series Radeon review at a time when the 300 series is out? Oui, that is correct. As odd as this might seem, I received this card not too long ago, so I still wanted to give it a proper look. What saves me is the fact that the R9 285 is the same GPU as the R9 380. I happen to have an R9 380 in the lab, so I’ll be following-up soon with a look at that model (ideally once a Radeon driver supports both 200 and 300 series cards.)

Originally, I had planned to do a head-to-head in advance of the launch of AMD’s new series, but with this card having lagged a bit behind shipping-wise, I ran with the GTX 960 review a couple of weeks ago.

When I took a look at the Radeon R9 285 last September, I was impressed overall with what was delivered – an inexpensive offering that butted heads with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 960 and could manage many games at 1440p just fine. What makes the R9 285 I’m taking a look at today special is its SFF focus.

Sapphire Radeon R9 285 ITX Compact Edition

Versus Sapphire’s own DUAL-X R9 285, its ITX Compact Edition is 3.78-inches shorter, giving us a total card length of 6.7-inches. I love big PCs, but I get equally excited about small ones, especially when performance doesn’t have to be held back. A card like this ITX Compact model can certainly aid in that scenario.

AMD Radeon SeriesCoresCore MHzMemoryMem MHzMem BusTDP
Radeon R9 Fury X409610504096MB10004096-bit275W
Radeon R9 390X281610508192MB6000512-bit275W
Radeon R9 390256010008192MB6000512-bit275W
Radeon R9 38017929704096MB5700256-bit190W
Radeon R9 37010249754096MB5600256-bit110W
Radeon R9 36076810502048MB6500128-bit100W
Radeon R9 295X2563210188192MB5000512-bit500W
Radeon R9 290X281610004096MB5000512-bit290W
Radeon R9 29025609474096MB5000512-bit275W
Radeon R9 28517929182048MB5500256-bit190W
Radeon R9 280X204810003072MB6000384-bit250W
Radeon R9 28017929333072MB5000384-bit200W
Radeon R9 270X128010502048MB5600256-bit180W
Radeon R9 27012809252048MB5600256-bit150W
Radeon R9 26510249252048MB5600256-bit150W
Radeon R7 260X89611002048MB6500128-bit115W
Radeon R7 26076810001024MB6000128-bit95W
Radeon R7 250X64010001024MB4500128-bit95W
Radeon R7 25038410501024MB4600128-bit65W

As mentioned before, the R9 285 and R9 380 are the same GPU. As covered in my 300/Fury preview article, AMD did make some improvements to the 300 series, but the one that matters the most is the clock boost; otherwise, clock for clock, the R9 285 and R9 380 are going to perform the exact same.

At 190W, the R9 285 might not be the most power-efficient GPU for SFF use, but as covered later, the temperatures this particular card lets off is favorable versus the GTX 960 from EVGA I looked at a few weeks ago.

Sapphire Radeon R9 285 ITX Compact Edition - Overview

Because ITX and SFF tend to involve a lack of space, Sapphire designed this card to utilize just a single 8-pin connector – a great move. It’s also located at the end of the card, rather than at the top, to allow the cable to easily route through to the back of most SFF chassis.

Sapphire Radeon R9 285 ITX Compact Edition - Power Connector and Air Intake

For connectors, this card includes dual mini-DP, one HDMI, and one DVI.

Sapphire Radeon R9 285 ITX Compact Edition - Video Connectors

This card has lots of room to breathe, and as hinted to earlier, despite its small form-factor, the cooling this card includes is excellent.

Sapphire Radeon R9 285 ITX Compact Edition - Back of Card

In the box, Sapphire includes a thin-but-usable mousepad, a VGA-to-DVI adapter, an HDMI cable, a mini-DP-to-DP adapter, as well as a connector that allows you to convert two 6-pin power cables into a single 8-pin one.

Sapphire Radeon R9 285 ITX Compact Edition - Accessories

For whatever reason, I had no luck with the included mini-DP-to-DP adapter. With it properly connected, I simply got no video on the screen. When I instead used an adapter I’ve had since the Radeon HD 5870 6 Edition days, the video output worked just fine. Something tells me that the included adapter isn’t of the highest quality, so if you run into the same problem I did, you’ll want to source a more reliable adapter.

With all of that covered, let’s get into performance testing.

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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