ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP & R9 270 DirectCU II OC Reviewccokeman - March 9, 2014
Category: Video Cards
Price: R9 270 DC2 = $259, R9 280X DC2 = $479
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ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP & R9 270 DirectCU II OC Introduction:
If you have been a gamer for a while, ASUS DirectCU II cards have earned a reputation for delivering excellent performance with higher-than-baseline clock speeds for the generation of the card. Staying cool under fire, the direct contact heat pipe cooling solutions employed to manage the thermal load, have traditionally been high-end to say the least; with large heat pipes and newer fan technologies that deliver lower noise along with the improved cooling. This generation is no different.
The two cards I get to look at today are the R9 280X DirectCU II TOP and the R9 270 DirectCU II OC. Both feature factory clock speed increases, the R9 280X DirectCU II is a TOP variant of the R9 280X, which features the highest clock speeds out of ASUS R9 280X product stack. In this case, 1070MHz on the specially selected core and 1600MHz on the GDDR5 memory. The R9 270 DirectCU II is a factory overclocked version that comes with a 950MHz base clock and 975MHz boost clock to go with the 1400MHz memory clock speed. Both cards have advantages besides the cooling from ASUS by using its own proprietary Digi+ VRM and Super Power Alloy components to deliver the current needs to the card cooler and more efficiently for a longer lasting card.
Priced at $259 for the R9 270 DirectCU II OC and $479 for the R9 280X DirectCU II TOP, each card is neither the most expensive nor the least expensive when searching our favorite e-tailers. Let's start the article by taking a look at how the card reaches the consumer by looking at the packaging.
ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP & R9 270 DirectCU II OC Closer Look:
The packaging used by ASUS for this pair of AMD-based video cards look almost identical with the front view on both showing claw marks across a black background. Highlighted features include the DirectCU II cooling solution employed on each card with the R9 280X DirectCU II TOP solution being touted as 20% cooler and 3X quieter than the reference cards, while the solution used on the R9 270 DirectCU II OC is touted again as 20% cooler and vastly quieter. You get the point; reference cards are loud!
Each of these cards are part of the DirectCU II lineup. The R9 280X is a TOP version while the R9 270 is an OC edition. Windows 8 support is shown on the R9 280X DirectCU II TOP, but not on the R9 270 DirectCU II OC, although both will run fine with Windows 8. It comes down to the UEFI support on the card and how it interacts with Windows 8. The back side of the package illustrates the benefits of the DirectCU II cooling solution, Digi+ VRM, and Super Alloy Power components, as well as a quick look at ASUS' own GPU Tweak software package. Outside of the size of the package and actual card name, there is not much to distinguish the two boxes. Each has consistent messaging for the consumer.
Internally, you start to see some differences, just due to the clear size differences between the two cards and the marketing concepts used. The R9 280X DirectCU II TOP comes in black with a slim cardboard box containing the accessory bundle, while the R9 270 DIrectCU II OC comes in a slimmer white box having most of the accessory bundle under the foam or in a cutout below the R9 270 DirectCU II OC.
The accessory bundle is kind of slim on both cards. Each gets a driver disk that has the latest GPU driver at the time of packaging and ASUS GPU Tweak software. A "Speed Setup" guide is included in case you need direction on how to install the cards. A CrossFire bridge connector is included, in case you ever decide that just one card is not enough for your gaming needs. The R9 270 comes with a DVI to D-Sub adapter in case you are still running a monitor equipped with a D-Sub connection. Sure its slim, but it gets the job done.
Past experience has shown that ASUS puts together a very stout package when it comes to its DirectCU II based lineup, regardless of whether you are looking at an AMD or NVIDIA based video card. In this case, I get to look at a pair of AMD cards in the R9 series. Let's dig into the cards and see how well they perform, stock and overclocked.