The HIS R9 270 iPower IceQ X² Boost Clock is a midrange graphics card aimed at consumers who want decent game performance but who can’t afford to drop $300+ on a single graphics card. While the $179 (list) R9 270 faces a tough challenge from the Nvidia GeForce GTX 660, it’s both a touch faster and a touch cheaper and wins our Editors’ Choice award for entry-level graphics cards on those merits.
Architecturally, the R9 270 is identical to the AMD Radeon HD 7870 that launched in the spring of 2012. Both cores feature 1,280 stream processors, 80 texture mapping units, and 32 render output units (ROPs). The difference between then and now boils down to clock speed (the HIS R9 270 runs at 900MHz base, 925 clock compared with an even 1GHz for the old AMD 7870) and of course, price. When it launched on March 12, 2012 the Radeon HD 7870 was a $349 part. The R9 270 you can buy today is a $179 GPU. And that makes something of a difference when it comes to evaluating its overall performance. What makes the R9 270 potent at this price point is that it retains the same number of render outputs and a large frame buffer (2GB, more than enough for games in 1,920 by 1,080) but is only just over half the price of the MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G.
The R9 270 is geared to face off with the Nvidia GTX 660, and Nvidia has packed that card with an interesting bundle. Right now, some Nvidia GTX 660′s are shipping with Splinter Cell Blacklist, Assassin’s Creed IV, and a coupon for $50 off an Nvidia Shield. If you were thinking about buying an Nvidia Shield, or haven’t played those titles, it’s a strong argument for Nvidia’s GPU.
We tested the R9 270 on an Intel DZ77GA-70K motherboard with an Intel Core i7-3770K CPU and 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory. Windows 7 64-bit with SP1 and all available patches were used. All games are tested in 1,920-by-1,080 resolution, with maximum detail settings and 8xMSAA enabled, save where noted otherwise.
In Civilization V’s Late Game View, the R9 270 scored ever so slightly ahead, at 68 frames per second (fps) to the Nvidia GTX 660′s 66fps. The AMD Radeon R9 270X hit 75fps on the same test. In Shogun 2, Total War, the two midrange cards tie, with the R9 270 at 35fps and the Nvidia GTX 660 pushing 34.5fps; the R9 270X again eked out a narrow win, at 38fps. That’s faster, yes—but not enough to make a terribly large difference.
The Metro 2033 gaming test still manages to push video cards despite being several years old, but AMD again ekes out a win here, with the R9 270 scoring 28fps, the Nvidia GTX 660 got 25fps, and the R9 270X got 30fps. These detail settings are a bit much for these cards; the game runs significantly faster if you disable some of the top-end settings.
BioShock Infinite maintains a better frame rate, and it’s one game where the Nvidia GTX 660 led the R9 270 by about eight percent. The R9 270 hit a respectable 51fps in this test, while the R9 270X and the GTX 660 both scored 55fps. Finally, in Hitman Absolution, the R9 270 also took a lead at 28fps, with the R9 270X scoring 31fps, and the Nvidia GTX 660 scored a relatively slow 23.5fps.
At $179, the HIS R9 270 iPower IceQ X² Boost Clock offers excellent operating temperatures, quiet operation, and the best overall performance in this price bracket, which is why it earns our Editors’ Choice for entry-level graphics cards. Buyers who want a bit more power should look to the $199 R9 270X, though it’s worth noting that the roughly 10 percent difference in performance between the two won’t drive fundamentally different experiences. On the other hand, the cost delta is proportional to the performance improvement, so the R9 270X is an equally fair value. As for the older Nvidia GTX 660, if you’re a serious fan of the Assassin’s Creed or Splinter Cell series, or if you want to buy an Nvidia Shield, then it’s still the better card.
|Includes DVI-I-to-VGA converter?||yes|
|GPU Engine Clock Speed||900 MHz|
|No. DVI Output(s)||1|
|No. VGA Output(s)||0|
|Requires Power Connector?||yes|
|Video Outputs||DVI, HDMI|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc