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PowerColor R9 285 Turbo Duo Review

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PowerColor R9 285 Turbo Duo Conclusion:

There you have it. AMD set out to build a card to not only compete with the GTX 760 at the $250 price point, but to deliver a card that easily beats out the competition that has had a stranglehold on that price point. In a majority of the tests run, the PowerColor R9 285 is faster than the custom GTX 760 I used as a comparison. In this respect AMD and its partners like PowerColor have succeeded in the exercise. AMD gave them a new architecture that used basically the same specifications as seen on the R9 280 (HD 7950), but came equipped with a slimmer memory bus and only 2GB of GDDR5 memory in a package that runs at a lower voltage that in practice is more energy efficient. To that end PowerColor's R9 285 Turbo Duo and its 5+1+1 phase Gold Power Kit and custom is the most energy efficient of the cards tested for this review.

As part of the Turbo Duo line up, the R9 285 TD is equipped with the latest fan technology in PowerColor's arsenal: its Double Blade fans. This two fan setup equipped with the Double Blade fans is a novel approach that is a radically different design from what we are used to seeing on our discrete graphics cards. By using this design, PowerColor is allowing the fans to work smarter in the same form factor while keeping noise levels in check. By boosting airflow by as much as 20% there is a benefit to the consumer. Overall cooling performance was similar to that of the balance of the cards tested using a heat sink with a much smaller overall footprint.

Overclocking is a way to gain additional performance over the stock clock speeds to deliver added FPS for no financial overhead. Using a custom PCB and VRM, the R9 285 Turbo Duo sees a boost of just over 10% on the memory and a tick over 13% worth of clock speed from the Tonga core. Both pretty respectable numbers from a $250 video card. Comparing the performance generated by the R9 285 Turbo Duo and the GTX 760 it is paired against at the $250 price point, we see that in the majority of the tests run the PowerColor R9 285 Turbo Duo gives the user a higher level of performance. In this respect AMD and partners like PowerColor have put out a card that does indeed own the price point. Of course there are games where the performance margin is small or the results favor the GTX 760, but for the most part the R9 285 is the better choice. AMD touts 1080+ gaming performance; what that means is that the R9 285 should be able to deliver playable performance at 1440p. In every game but two, PowerColor's R9 285 Turbo Duo does just that; reducing the settings would get it above 30 FPS in all ten game tests.

Built as a replacement for the now EOL R9 280, the R9 285 creates a pricing problem for AMD and its partners as the R9 280 is going to hit the bargain bins, making adoption of the new core and card take a bit longer, I feel. For those who jump on the bandwagon early you will get a card that is fully capable of playing games at up to 2560x1440 with 30+FPS and ready to fill an important stop in AMD's GPU product stack.

 

Pros:

  • Performance
  • Overclocking 
  • Gold Power Kit
  • Double Blade fans
  • Low noise
  • Cooling

Cons:

  • None
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