I’m not going to beat around the bush here about this and come right out with it; the R9 280 is basically just a rebranded HD7950 with a tweaked BIOS. Now that is out of the way and off my chest, I have been a big fan of the Tahiti based 28nm chip that AMD had implemented with the HD7950/7970/280 as it not only offers exceptional bang for buck, but performed pretty damned well. Now since the release of the R9 280, the prices dropped considerably compared to the launch price of the HD7950 it replaced which not only put this card in a strong position on the market, but cemented it’s place in the £150-200 price bracket; a good place for a gaming card to be.
Aside from all of that, I have had the HIS R9 280 IceQ X2 3GB graphics card on the test bench and it’s time for my final verdict on what has been an interesting card (good and bad) but let me go right into what I mean by that!
Starting out with the feature of any graphics card review (the performance), the HIS R9 280 performs brilliantly for its price point and this particular variant performs very well against the more expensive NVIDIA GTX 770. Now although the GTX 770 is now defunct or will be within the next month or so, I am interested to see how NVIDIA try to compete with cards like the R9 280 in the same price point; the GTX 750Ti and GTX 760 were hardly a match in specs so I expect a new rival imminently. Back to the HIS IceQ X2 R9 280 though, performance in synthetics was strong, it was even stronger in games clearly showing its weight and impressing me; the overclocking results scaled better than expected.
Now when you compare an AMD and NVIDIA card to each other, fan boys start sharpening their blades ready to attack but the way I see it, performance and price are the main factors when buying a card but more importantly, cooling has started to become more of an issue recently since the R9 290/290X broke the walls down with their molten lavaesque core. Now it’s safe to say that the IceQ X2 cooler is not just cool but pretty silent although it didn’t vent much of the air out the rear; it begs the question how much heat will go back into your system to circulate so although the temperatures of the card are good, other components inside your case might not feel the same way.
Looking at the aesthetics of the card, they really are a love hate relationship. What I mean by that is the cooler is a great looking cooler, the gold colour makes it look and feel even more prestigious but why would you put such a great cooler on a blue PCB? It not only ruins the general aesthetic but in 99% of PC cases, the most visible part will be that PCB. Remember the colour is subjective to personal taste however most people will probably agree that anything but a black or white PCB is ghastly and generally frowned upon. Aside from the PCB though, the card looks awesome and the silver X plate over the gold shroud is such a beautiful combination.
Touching on the price of the HIS R9 280 IceQ X2 OC graphics card, it can be had for around £150-160 depending on your choice of retailer which is very impressive given the bang for buck you get with this card. Although HIS haven’t really included much in terms of bundle with this card (VGA to DVI adapter), swapping this out for a Mini DP adapter would have been a much more refined choice but they only cost a couple of quid and considering the performance you are getting for your money with this card, it’s hard to argue against it.
Overall the general feel of the card is solid; great performance, nice aesthetics bar the thing I won’t mention again and of course it runs super cool and quiet. Combine all that into one package and what do you have? A great graphics card named the HIS R9 280 IceQ X2 OC is what you have! For the price point it would be really hard to recommend anything else and given that the HD7950 it replaces was a solid card, this adds a little flair to the mix with the brilliant IceQ X2 cooler.
Huge thanks to HIS and AMD for making this review possible!
– Represents fantastic bang for buck
– IceQ X2 cooler is cool and quiet
– Unlocked voltage
– Fantastic overclocker
– Blue PCB
– Doesn’t vent all the air out externally
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