What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

The AMD Radeon R9 380X Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: AC: Unity / Battlefield 4

Assassin’s Creed: Unity


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8V96SFIvFKg?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

While it may not be the newest game around and it had its fair share of embarrassing hiccups at launch, Assassin's Creed: Unity is still one heck of a good looking DX11 title. In this benchmark we run through a typical gameplay sequence outside in Paris.

380X-66.jpg

380X-42.jpg


Battlefield 4


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/y9nwvLwltqk?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

In this sequence, we use the Singapore level which combines three of the game’s major elements: a decayed urban environment, a water-inundated city and finally a forested area. We chose not to include multiplayer results simply due to their randomness injecting results that make apples to apples comparisons impossible.

380X-67.jpg

380X-43.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Dragon Age: Inquisition / Dying Light

Dragon Age: Inquisition


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/z7wRSmle-DY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the most popular games around due to its engaging gameplay and open-world style. In our benchmark sequence we run through two typical areas: a busy town and through an outdoor environment.

380X-68.jpg

380X-44.jpg



Dying Light


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MHc6Vq-1ins" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Dying Light is a relatively late addition to our benchmarking process but with good reason: it required multiple patches to optimize performance. While one of the patches handicapped viewing distance, this is still one of the most demanding games available.

380X-69.jpg

380X-45.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Far Cry 4 / Grand Theft Auto V

Far Cry 4


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sC7-_Q1cSro" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

The latest game in Ubisoft’s Far Cry series takes up where the others left off by boasting some of the most impressive visuals we’ve seen. In order to emulate typical gameplay we run through the game’s main village, head out through an open area and then transition to the lower areas via a zipline.

380X-70.jpg

380X-46.jpg


Grand Theft Auto V


In GTA V we take a simple approach to benchmarking: the in-game benchmark tool is used. However, due to the randomness within the game itself, only the last sequence is actually used since it best represents gameplay mechanics.

380X-71.jpg

380X-47.jpg
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Hitman Absolution / Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Hitman Absolution


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8UXx0gbkUl0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Hitman is arguably one of the most popular FPS (first person “sneaking”) franchises around and this time around Agent 47 goes rogue so mayhem soon follows. Our benchmark sequence is taken from the beginning of the Terminus level which is one of the most graphically-intensive areas of the entire game. It features an environment virtually bathed in rain and puddles making for numerous reflections and complicated lighting effects.

380X-72.jpg

380X-48.jpg


Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U1MHjhIxTGE?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

With its high resolution textures and several other visual tweaks, Shadow of Mordor’s open world is also one of the most detailed around. This means it puts massive load on graphics cards and should help point towards which GPUs will excel at next generation titles.

380X-73.jpg

380X-49.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Thief / Tomb Raider

Thief


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/p-a-8mr00rY?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

When it was released, Thief was arguably one of the most anticipated games around. From a graphics standpoint, it is something of a tour de force. Not only does it look great but the engine combines several advanced lighting and shading techniques that are among the best we’ve seen. One of the most demanding sections is actually within the first level where you must scale rooftops amidst a thunder storm. The rain and lightning flashes add to the graphics load, though the lightning flashes occur randomly so you will likely see interspersed dips in the charts below due to this.

380X-74.jpg

380X-50.jpg


Tomb Raider


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/okFRgtsbPWE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Tomb Raider is one of the most iconic brands in PC gaming and this iteration brings Lara Croft back in DX11 glory. This happens to not only be one of the most popular games around but it is also one of the best looking by using the entire bag of DX11 tricks to properly deliver an atmospheric gaming experience.

In this run-through we use a section of the Shanty Town level. While it may not represent the caves, tunnels and tombs of many other levels, it is one of the most demanding sequences in Tomb Raider.


380X-75.jpg

380X-51.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Total War: Attila / Witcher 3

Total War: Attila


Total War: Attila is the only strategy title in our benchmarking suite simply because it is one of the most resource-hungry. It gobbles resources with good reason too: this game happens to be one the best looking of the series thus far. Our benchmark sequence uses the in-game tool since, after hours of gameplay, it seems to show a perfect blend of in-game elements.

380X-76.jpg

380X-52.jpg


Witcher 3


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EBSQMEqpqro?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Other than being one of 2015’s most highly regarded games, The Witcher 3 also happens to be one of the most visually stunning as well. This benchmark sequence has us riding through a town and running through the woods; two elements that will likely take up the vast majority of in-game time.

380X-77.jpg

380X-53.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


380X-86.jpg

Overclocking this particular R9 380X certainly wasn't easy since ASUS already pushed it well past the reference speeds. In the end, by maxing out the voltage to 150mV we were able to hit a constant speed of 1149MHz. That may not be quite impressive in relation to the STRIX's 1030MHz but remember reference speeds are only 970MHz.

Memory overclocking proved to be a bit more challenging since our sample topped out at 6340MHz. Nonetheless, there is additional performance left in the tank.

380X-87.jpg

380X-88.jpg
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Conclusion; A Day Late & A Dollar Short?

Conclusion; A Day Late & A Dollar Short?


AMD’s R9 380X’s launch is an interesting one from a number of different perspectives. Not only is this card being parachuted into a slim segment which is bookended by some extremely capable alternatives on both the high and low end but its success or failure will be ultimately determined by how well AMD threaded that proverbial needle. To make matters even more interesting, the 380X is hitting at a nightmarish time; retailers will be in discount mode and as a result it will face an epic uphill battle for relevance over the next few months. But that doesn’t mean the R9 380X will fail. Quite the opposite actually.

On paper at least AMD’s latest card won’t offer all that much more performance than an R9 285 since its Antigua XT core simply adds a quartet of additional compute blocks and a memory capacity / speed bump to the legacy Tonga architecture. However, those deceptively simple factors add enough processing power to leverage the R9 380X past the GTX 960 4GB and into the niche it needs to be in. This was also accomplished while retaining an acceptable power consumption envelope. Adding up those elements results in a wholly appealing $230 product for gamers who are currently on a 1080P display but want enough spare horsepower for a 1440P monitor.

Unfortunately, evaluating the R9 380X at a $230 price point is a bit of a red herring since AMD sampled us with the STRIX OC, for which ASUS is demanding a not-so-insignificant $30 premium. Those thirty bucks may not seem like much but they push the 380X dangerously close to a completely different market segment, one that’s dominated by the R9 390 and GTX 970. Luckily ASUS has added an amazing heatsink, super quiet acoustics, upgraded components and higher frequencies, all of which should help soften the STRIX OC’s financial blow.

380X-85.jpg

Now before I get into the raw numbers you see above, it’s important to note that ASUS claims their clock speed improvements translate into a framerate uplift of between 3% and 10% depending on the game being played. For argument’s sake, let’s average that out to 5% and you can likely get a relatively accurate view as to where a reference-clocked R9 380X would stand against the other stock cards in this review.

The R9 380X STRIX OC fairly dominates the GTX 960 even when that card is equipped with 4GB of memory, and it should given the $30 to $40 price spread. Truth be told that memory extra capacity likely amounted to a negligible difference since NVIDIA’s GM206 core will become a bottleneck long before memory bandwidth shuts things down. Essentially, the GTX 960 is a card tailor made for 1080P gaming whereas AMD’s latest addition has the capability to become a competent entry-level 1440P option.

Looking at the rebrand side of this equation we come to the R9 280X, a card that’s been around in some form or another for the better part of four years. While that old timer can’t compete in the features department it gives up nothing to the R9 380X, actually gaining ground at 1440P. Considering overclocked versions of this card have been at the $250 price point for tabout 16 months, it becomes obvious the price / performance yardsticks haven’t moved all that much.

The GTX 970 and R9 390 meanwhile aren’t even in the same dimension on the performance front yet only cost about $40 more. This doesn’t necessarily point to something “wrong” with the R9 380X or its positioning but rather it highlights how low the prices have gone for significantly higher end alternatives. It also goes to show that even a small premium for a pre-overclocked card can have some serious repercussions.

NVIDIA certainly isn’t doing themselves any huge favors by leaving a yawning gap between the GTX 970 and GTX 960 4GB since it gave AMD a perfect opening. However, there seems to be a method to that madness. Both have plenty of built-in cost flexing without running face first into a performance per dollar battle against one another. Not so with the R9 380X and R9 390 since the latter seems like an insanely good purchase given its relative dominance in our charts and 8GB framebuffer. The $40 premium you’ll need to pay for a baseline 390 or GTX 970 over the STRIX OC would be money well spent. For the record, I’d be saying the same thing had this 380X’s price been $20 less; the $300 cards are that far ahead.

NVIDIA seems to have come to the conclusion they don’t need a card to bridge the $100 chasm between more affordable offerings with their enthusiast-oriented product stack. Meanwhile, AMD feels like there is a ready and willing market around this bracket just waiting to be tapped by new blood. I’m actually on the fence about which approach is best. At its current $260 the ASUS R9 380X STRIX OC will likely just push would-be buyers to the GTX 970 and R9 390 but those reference-clocked (yet still custom cooled) $230 380X’s could be quite appealing for anyone who wants very good performance on a budget.

Another thing we have to wonder is what took AMD so long to introduce a fully enabled Tonga / Antigua core. The R9 280X was long in the tooth nine months ago, the Tonga architecture certainly isn’t new and folks have been actively looking for a lower wattage $250 option from AMD. In addition, the current crop of GPUs are seeing some pretty dramatic price reductions as of late which causes an unenviable situation for a card like the R9 380X.

So where does this leave things? Unfortunately, all over the place. On one hand the R9 380X is a step in the right direction but its placement within the current scheme of things gives AMD’s board partners very little room to work with. A few bucks higher than $230 and they’re competing against cards that look completely overpowered by comparison. Any lower and they have to offer up R9 380 margins like a sacrificial lamb. Personally, I am going to recommend everyone wait to see what kind of prices the next few weeks will bring before jumping onto the R9 380X bandwagon. Once things settle down a bit this could become a very compelling graphics card but right now questions of value will understandably dominate the conversation.
 
Last edited:
Top