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XFX R9 285 Double Dissipation Black Edition Review

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XFX R9 285 Double Dissipation Black Edition Closer Look:

The XFX's R9 285 Double Dissipation Black Edition is build around AMD's third generation 28nm GCN architecture, code-named Tonga. Much like the bulk of the Tonga-based video cards we have seen, XFX's Black edition card is at the top of XFX R9 285 product stack. As such, it comes from the factory with a core clock frequency of 975MHz on the GCN core and 1375MHz on the GDDR5 memory. This is the highest clocked R9 285 variant I have looked at.

The front view is kind of unassuming and could honestly be just any dual fan card. That's part of the Black Edition mystique and takes you back to the cover of Metallica's black album (Yes I'm old enough to have played vinyl). It's a minimalist look that works.

The back side of the card is just as unassuming with plenty of surface mount components on the PCB. The top and bottom views give you an idea on how the Ghost 2.0 Double dissipation cooling solution gets rid of the airflow pumped through the heat sink. Build to use in a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot, the card is backwards compatible for earlier platforms. Measuring 8.7 x 4.4 x 1.5 inches in size, this card is shorter than your typical R9 28x card, allowing for an easier fit in smaller chassis that get more popular each week. At 1.5 inches thick, the card is a dual slot design with a total of four heat pipes to carry the thermal load to the fin array. Most new motherboards can accommodate this card with no issues.




Display connectivity on XFX's R9 285 Double Dissipation Black Edition consists of a pair of DL DVI-D ports, a single HDMI 1.6 port, and a DisplayPort 1.2. With Eyefinity 2.0, you can use any combination of three of the four ports to run an Eyefinity three monitor setup using either the same size or different size monitors. A vent is above the DisplayPort and HDMI ports, to provide some much needed thermal relief by venting some of the thermal load out of the chassis. Pretty much the long running standard for AMD and NVIDIA based cards for some time now.

The back end of the card is open thanks to the Ghost 2.0 design, allowing airflow to exhaust out from not only the top and bottom, but out the back end of the card as well. On the back end of the PCB are a pair of 6-pin PCIe power connections, to deliver up to 150W that, when combined with the 75W from the PCIe bus, a total of 225W to feed the card. With a lower wattage TDP, the XFX R9 285 Double Dissipation Black Edition has a 750 watt minimum power supply suggested with an XFX 850 watt PSU as the recommended size. I find that odd when comparable cards have a 500 watt recommendation.



At the front of the top edge of the PCB, are the remnants of what would be the Crossfire Bridge connections. The R9 285 uses AMD's XDMA interface for bridge-less Crossfire, where the data is sent over the PCIe bus. A pair of 6-pin PCIe power connections are usually on the top side of the PCB, but are located on the tail end of the card on this model.


The entire shroud/heat sink easily comes off the XFX R9 285 Double Dissipation Black Edition, by removing four small spring loaded screws around the GPU socket on the back of the PCB. Ultimately, this reveals the large copper contact plate and a significant amount of thermal interface material used to ensure contact with the core. XFX is using its Duratec components for the power package used, to deliver the current needed to supply the boards 6+2 phase power system. A small aluminum heat sink is used to cover the VRM circuit on the card. Small in size, but it receives a large amount of airflow from the 100mm IP-5X fans to keep the VRM cool.



The XFX Double Dissipation heat sink package is used to drive airflow through the quad heat pipe equipped aluminum fin array to remove the heat from the 28nm GCN core. Using four 6mm heat pipes, the thermal load is gathered up from the 28nm Tonga core. Each of the aluminum fins features black paint on each side of the aluminum fins in the array. A pair of 100mm IP-5X dust free fans from First D, which spin slower while driving airflow through the fin array, allowing the core to stay cool and up to 13dB quieter than the competition.

Utilizing Ghost technology 2.0 on the Double Dissipation cooling system, means that you get a free floating heat sink with a lightweight polymer shroud, to reduce the weight of the card. This design cools the Duratec components on the business side of the PCB, to improve longevity and consistent operation.



AMD's third generation 28nm Tonga core is build with 1792 streaming processors, 32 ROPs, and an unknown amount of transistors. This Tonga core supports DX12, Freesysnc, Mantle, and is meant for 1080P performance. 2GB of GDDR5 memory from Elpida, rated for operation at data rates of up to 6Gbps (1500MHz), is used on this R9 285 Black Edition card from XFX. Clock speed out-of-the-box on the GDDR5 memory is 1375MHz, leaving some overclocking potential on the table. AMD's R9 280 uses similar settings, however, it has a total of 3GB of GDDR5 memory running through a 384-bit bus, while the R9 285 uses 2GB running through a smaller 256-bit bus, reducing memory output by comparison at first look. Thanks to AMD's lossless data compression techniques the R9 285 does not see a performance hit.



With a target resolution of 1920x1080, the R9 285 Double Dissipation Black Edition card from XFX is primed and ready to deliver excellent frame rates with better than medium graphics settings at 1080P resolutions. 2560x1440 is an ambitious task, but we will see how well it handles that resolution in the testing part of the review.

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