PowerColor Devil R9 270X Reviewccokeman - November 14, 2013
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PowerColor Devil R9 270X Closer Look:
Much like PowerColor's Devil HD 7870, the Devil R9 270X is built upon AMD's Southern Islands GCN 28nm architecture, code named Pitcairn. While a refreshed card, the Devil R9 270X is built to the same demanding specs with some additional tweaks to the technologies supported, including DirectX 11.2. Front and center, and what really catches the eye, is the dual slot tri-fan equipped cooling solution that comes with a pair of 80mm and a single 90mm fan to cool down the custom built PCB and VRM components. As with the packaging, the Devil theme flows over the card from the front to the back with red accents against a black background. A look that stands the test and is hugely popular.
The back side of the PCB features a cover that functions to add additional cooling to the VRM circuits while providing additional structural rigidity to keep the mass of the cooling solution from turning the PCB into a flexible flier and cracking the trace layout in the card. Looking at the cooling solution on the back side you get additional ventilation over the 7+1+1 phase VRM circuit. The top side of the Devil R9 270X has the card name highlighted against the red accents so you can show off the card through a case window. The bottom of the card has a 16x PCIe 3.0 interface for use in motherboards that support the PCIe 3.0 standard with backwards compatibility to earlier standards. Measuring 11.25 x 5.31 x 1.77 inches, the Devil R9 270X should fit into any chassis.
Display connectivity on the Devil R9 270X mirrors up with the Devil HD 7870 and features a DL- DVI, SL-DVI, HDMI 1.4a, and a pair of mini DisplayPort connectors that support resolutions up to 4K, as well as Eyefinity screen setups using up to six displays by using a combination of available connectivity and the use of an MST hub. AMD has tweaked the connectivity to allow for any three outputs to be used to send the signal to the displays in a multi display system. Additional card ventilation is used to get as much of the thermal load out of the chassis. A small vent over the HDMI/MiniDP connectivity is the avenue for this thermal load. PowerColor includes covers for each of the display connectivity options to prevent dust intrusion into the connection points. On the back end of the card the shroud hangs over the PCB by enough to push the thermal load out of the shroud and into the surrounding air stream.
The Devil R9 270X supports CrossfireX connections for an up to two card solutions as seen by the single brdge connection on board the spine of the card. AMD's delivery of its newest frame pacing driver at the end of the month should allow us to see some teeth back in Crossfire configurations. Power for the Devil R9 270X is supplied by a pair of 6-pin PEG connections providing up to 225 watts to the card when you count the two 6-pin connections and 75W from the PCIe slot. AMD and PowerColor recommend a power supply of at least 500 watts when using this card and most likely a 600+ watt PSU when a pair are used in a Crossfire configuration.
When you get to the basics of the hardware we have the same PCB and components as seen on the Devil HD 7870. Once you get all the hardware off the PCB, you can see the additional cooling for the 7+1+1 VRM circuits at the front of the PCB. There are a total of eight GDDR5 memory ICs that comprise the 2GB frame buffer surrounding the GPU core.
Closer inspection of the 7+1+1 phase assembly that makes up PowerColor's "Platinum Power Kit" uses a digital controller and Super Capacitors for improved reliability. The front section of the voltage circuit features large aluminum heat sinks to cover the DirectFet components that are cooled by way of the airflow through the primary heat sink. PowerColor is using a CHIL Products CHL8228C eight phase digital voltage regulator to manage the power needs for the Devil R9 270X. This design is said to deliver up to 90% power effciency.
Inspecting the cooling solutions shows that the design used on the Devil R9 270X is identical to its HD 7XXX series card. Cooling down a GPU can seem like a monumental task for the installed heat sink package. PowerColor is using a three high efficiency fan design mounted to an aluminum heat sink to manage the thermal load on the Devil R9 270X. Covering up the entire PCB, the aluminum fins have plenty of surface area. Running through the aluminum fins are a quartet of 6mm heat pipes that carry the Devil's heat load from a copper contact plate up to the aluminum fins. The contact surface is smooth and appears to be flat to take advantage of mounting on the core. Apistek fans are used to provide the airflow through the heat sink to keep the Devil R9 270X from making an untimely early trip to hell. Used on board are a pair of 80mm fans and a single 90mm fan.
PowerColor and AMD chose to keep the 28nm, 2.8 billion transistor Graphics Core Next Southern Islands Pitcairn core around for this card with a few tweaks to bring along some new technologies and support for this generation. The core features 20 compute units filled with 1280 streaming multiprocessors, 80 texture units, and 32 ROPs. As a highly overclocked card, the clock speeds are going to see some significant boosts over the baseline clock speeds for the architecture. PowerColor boosted the core clock speed to 1150MHz with the 2GB of GDDR5 memory seeing a boost to 1400MHz (5.6GHz effective) all to drive performance to another level right from the start without any tweaks. Elpida GDDR5, part number W2032BBBG-6A-F, in a 2GB package runs through a 256-bit bus on the Devil R9 270X. This part is rated for use at 6.0Gbps using 1.5v.
When you look at the component selection, great looks, and cooling package, PowerColor has continued with what is a successful design concept that offers visual appeal as well as high performance potential. Let's see if that goal is realized.