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Sapphire ITX Compact R9 285 OC Review

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Sapphire ITX Compact R9 285 OC Testing:

Testing this interesting addition to Sapphire's product stack will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will be testing the cards at their stock speeds to see how they stack up and will test each one to find the maximum stable overclock. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. Resolutions of 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 will be used. The NVIDIA comparison cards will be using the 340.52 drivers while AMD-based cards will be using the Catalyst 14.7 beta drivers. The R9 285 will be using the beta release driver.


Testing Setup:

Comparison Video Cards:




  • Sapphire ITX Compact R9 285 OC: Core 1078MHz; Memory 1550MHz

As a compact-size R9 285, my concerns with how this card would overclock were quickly eliminated once the clock speeds started to climb. With the smaller PCB and single 8-pin PCIe power connector, the thought was something had to be compromised to get the R9 285 Tonga silicon working at extended clock speeds. The single 8-pin provides enough power to supply the roughly 190W TDP rating (150W from the 8-pin connection plus 75W from the 16x slot), and the in-house-built 171mm PCB benefits from Sapphire's ability to build custom cards seemingly at will.

To overclock the ITX Compact R9 285, I started by pushing the Power Limit to +20% and pushed the core clock speed to 1100MHz. This of course resulted in a driver failure and a black screen, which ultimately required a reboot to resolve. Knowing about where the last R9 285 I tested stopped scaling without artifacts, I pushed the core clock speed to 1080MHz and tried the test again. This time it would run the whole test, but would have artifacts occasionally, so I dropped the speed down to 1078MHz and all was well for the final core clock speed.

I followed pretty much the same process on the 2GB of GDDR5 memory, but was able to push the modules a bit higher than on the PowerColor sample I just looked at. The Sapphire ITX Compact R9 285 OC was able to reach 1550MHz or 175MHz over the baseline 1375MHz memory clock. Overclocking gets you an added 10+% in free performance when you crunch the numbers. In this case, you gain an additional 740+ points in 3DMark running the Fire Strike test.


Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for thirty minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were re-run until they passed a full hour of testing.



  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Metro: Last Light
  2. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist
  3. BioShock Infinite
  4. Crysis 3
  5. Far Cry 3
  6. Battlefield 4
  7. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  8. Batman: Arkham Origins
  9. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  10. 3DMark
  11. Ultra HD


  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption

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