The AMD Radeon R9 270X ($199 list) is AMD’s new midrange graphics card aimed at gamers who want strong 1080p performance, but can’t afford luxury models. Like most members of the Radeon R7/R9 family, it’s a refreshed version of a previous architecture—in this case, the AMD Radeon HD 7870. Specifically, it’s a drop-in replacement for that chip, but at slightly higher clock speeds.
The old AMD 7870 ran at 1GHz core clock, while the new chip runs at 1,050MHz. Memory transfer speeds are also up significantly, from 1,200MHz to 1,400MHz, a gain of some 17 percent. Where the original AMD 7870 shipped in both 1GB and 2GB flavors, the new R9 270X is strictly 2GB only. All of the retail cards currently shipping have the same set of display outputs—one HDMI, one DisplayPort, and two DVI. This should allow for a great deal of flexibility, and users can run up to three monitors off a single card, without relying on DisplayPort alone.
The primary competitor for the R9 270X is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 760, which still retails for $50 to $60 more and the HIS R9 270 iPower IceQ X² Boost Clock, which sells for $20 less, at $179. We’ve also included results for the MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G. While substantially more expensive, at $299, the MSI R9 280X is currently one of the best price/performance deals you can buy in the GPU market, and it’s useful to check exactly how much performance an extra $100 will buy you.
We tested the R9 270X on an Intel DZ77GA-70K motherboard with an Intel Core i7-3770K CPU and 8GB of DDR3-1600. Windows 7 64-bit w/ SP1 and all available patches was used. All games were tested at 1,920 by 1,080 resolution using AMD’s Catalyst 13.11 Beta 1 drivers and Nvidia’s GeForce 331.40 driver. All game benchmark tests were run at 1,920 by 1,080, with maximum details and 8x MSAA enabled.
In Civilization V’s Late Game View, the R9 270X scored 75 frames per second (fps), a fair bit behind the Nvidia GTX 760, which scored 87fps, with the HIS R9 270 scoring 68fps. The MSI R9 280X, on the other hand, still wins the high-level benchmark test with an overall score of 93fps. Shogun 2: Total War was an effective tie; the Nvidia GTX 760 came in at 39fps to the Radeon R9 270X’s 38fps; the MSI R9 280X faster than both, at 53fps.
In Metro 2033, with 4x MSAA selected, the AMD R9 270 scored 28fps, and the R9 270X scored 30fps to the Nvidia GTX 760′s 29fps. The MSI R9 280X scored 39fps. In BioShock Infinite, the AMD R9 270 and R9 270X still came in below the Nvidia GTX 760. The R9 270 slipped in at 51fps, the R9 270X hit 55fps, and the Nvidia GTX 760 scored 65fps. All fall below the MSI R9 280X, which scored 77fps.
Hitman: Absolution was a small win for the R9 270X, at 31fps, compared with the Nvidia GTX 760, which scored 29fps. The AMD R9 280X is substantially faster, at 42fps, and the R9 270 anchored the bottom of the stack at 28 frames per second—right behind the Nvidia GTX 760.
The Nvidia GTX 760 is 30 percent more expensive than the R9 270X, but was just marginally faster across our entire test suite. The MSI R9 280X was 50 percent more expensive than the R9 270X, but offered 33 percent better performance across our entire suite of tests. If the frame rates seem low for many of these titles (and admittedly, they are) keep in mind that we’re hitting the GPUs with workloads that punch above their weight class. Full antialiasing and anisotropic filtering, combined with maximum detail levels, is expensive. With slightly relaxed detail settings, frame rates would lift by a fair margin.
The R9 270X is roughly 10 percent faster than the R9 270, and about 10 percent more expensive. Mathematically, that’s a decent deal—but in real-world terms, 10 percent isn’t the difference between playable and unplayable. Both the HIS R9 270 and the 270X are substantially better deals than the Nvidia GTX 760, but the R9 270X doesn’t offer a dramatically different experience over the HIS R9 270.
Those on a budget looking for a midrange card will be well-served by the AMD Radeon R9 270, which is our new Editors’ Choice for midrange graphics cards. The R9 270X, while a balanced option at a fair price, doesn’t have a dramatic advantage over its cheaper cousin.
|Memory Clock Speed||5.6 Gbps|
|GPU Engine Clock Speed||1050 MHz|
|No. DVI Output(s)||2|
|No. VGA Output(s)||0|
|Requires Power Connector?||yes|
|Video Outputs||DVI, HDMI|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc