HIS R9 270X IceQ X² Turbo Boost 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


We have yet another R9 270X graphics card on the test bench for review today as we take a look at a second HIS graphics card in quick succession. This HIS R9 270X IceQ X² Turbo Boost 2GB graphics card we have here today comes with the same IceQ X² cooler we saw on the HIS R9 280X iPower IceQ X² Turbo Boost 3GB graphics card that we reviewed a few weeks ago, if that’s anything to go by then this graphics card will have impressive cooling performance. For those of you who are yet to read our AMD R9 270X review we encourage you to do that because today we are not reviewing the R9 270X per sé, but instead what HIS have done with their version of it. AMD’s R9 270X has a stock clock of 1050MHz core and 1400MHz memory, HIS have bumped that up to 1140MHz core and 1400MHz memory making it the highest clocked R9 270X we’ve tested so far.

The particular version of this card that we received was simply a card inside a plain HIS digital box. It came with just a DVI to VGA adapter but of course the full retail package for this will have different packaging and a wider range of accessories which are clearly listed on the product page here.

MSI R9 270 TwinFrozr Gaming OC Edition 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


MSI’s TwinFrozr Gaming series of graphics cards are becoming hugely popular among gamers – and rightly so. MSI offer the same high end dual 100mm fan TwinFrozr IV cooling solution on all the Gaming series graphics cards, even the more affordable GPUs. The TwinFrozr IV runs cool, deadly quiet and gives you bags of overclocking potential, as well as looking down-right awesome. Today we have a graphics card that will sell like Lightning (MSI branding pun intended), equipping AMD’s sweet-spot R9 270 GPU, which is essentially a underclocked R9 270X, MSI’s R9 270 TwinFrozr Gaming looks set to be a winner among gamers. It offers a super-attractive price point, great looking custom cooler and a factory overclock of 50MHz on the GPU core. The 2GB of memory is kept at the default 1400MHz/5600MHz effective reference clock speed.

The box comes with MSI’s Gaming series branding. Included inside, other than the card itself, is a power supply adapter, VGA adapter, quick user’s guide and driver CD.

The back of the box details key features about the product, more of which you can see in detail here at the official product page.

Powercolor R9 270X PCS+ 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


AMD graphics card partners seem to be churning out R9 270(X) GPUs like there’s no tomorrow and today we’ve got another one to put onto the test bench. Powercolor are the provider this time and they’ve sent us their R9 270X PCS+ overclocked graphics card for review. As the name suggests this graphics card uses Powercolor’s PCS+ cooling solution which consists of two 90mm fans with their new double blade fan design and three heat pipes (Two 8mm and One 6mm), that’s all encased in a red and black themed metal shroud with a black metal backplate. Powercolor have also done some work with overclocking taking this GPU to 1060MHz core and 1100MHz boost (up from 1050MHz reference clocks) as well as bumping the memory up to 1425MHz (5700MHz effective) from 1400MHz (5600MHz effective) reference. Other than that there really isn’t much else to point out that you can’t discover from reading our launch day review of AMD’s R9 270X.

There is one last thing that Powercolor wanted us to show you, the readers, and that’s their new Turbo Timer module that is compatible with this graphics card. 

The Turbo Timer module is an optional extra for compatible Powercolor graphics cards, currently just this card and a R7 260X sold by Dataland (Powercolor’s Chinese equivalent) are supported. The Turbo Timer itself is essentially a fan delay device and it ensures that the fans on the graphics card keeps running after shut-down to ensure the graphics card is properly cooled off.

The optional extra isn’t commercially available just yet so we have no idea how much it will cost. However, we can imagine the cost will be pretty small, probably under $10/£10, maybe even less.

As far as I know the Turbo Timer comes with a built in battery to allow it to spin even if the system is unplugged at the wall. While I think the idea is novel, the implementation is impractical and not that useful, I have a few issues with it. Firstly, when a graphics card is shut down it is unlikely to be running hot enough to need further cooling, and after shutdown it instantly stops producing heat so it could never get hotter than the temperature it was at prior to shutdown – meaning the temperature couldn’t be dangerous. Why do graphics cards instantly shutdown if they overheat? Because that’s the most effective way to drastically reduce heat output and prevent damage. Secondly, the module is going to be an optional purchase so you have to pay more for what is a basic and unnecessary feature – it should be included in the price. Thirdly, it is pretty big and bulky for what it does. I would of liked to see the functionality embedded onto the PCB and discretely hidden away, the Turbo Timer module just makes the graphics card unnecessarily wide at the back and it could easily conflict with other PCI(e) cards.

Now onto the main product itself and first the packaging. The Powercolor R9 270X PCS+ comes in a rather plain black & red box with a pretty basic accessory set: you get a driver disc, user’s guide and DVI to VGA adapter.

The back details all the product’s key features but to see them in more detail you can check the product page over on the Powercolor website.

Sapphire R9 270 Dual-X 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


AMD’s R9 270 graphics card is arguably the single most important GPU release of this year from AMD. It offers a never before seen level of performance at its $179 price point, more or less totally beating Nvidia’s GTX 660 – especially when overclocking comes into play. The reason it is so important is because, despite all the media hype, the sub $200 price point is where the vast majority of graphics cards are bought – the R9 270 is going to be very important for AMD’s competitiveness.Today we have another one of those important R9 270 GPUs and the one we have is from renowned AMD partner Sapphire Technology. This is only the second AMD R9 270 to come through the doors here at eTeknix, for those who follow our reviews you may have already read the launch-day review of the ASUS R9 270 Direct CU II OC graphics card we produced. Sapphire’s R9 270 variant is quite different to the ASUS model we reviewed in that this will be hitting the UK shelves at £135, 10% less than the ASUS model which fetches £150. That said we can see what Sapphire are doing – producing a super-aggressively priced R9 270 to target the masses. Yet this graphics card doesn’t skimp on a lot because for its highly affordable pricing you still get a custom cooler and a factory overclock of 945MHz core, up from 925MHz stock.

The front of the box points out all the key features like: 2GB of GDDR5, the fact its overclocked and the use of the Dual-X cooling solution, it also says it includes a 1.8m HDMI cable which is nice because most graphics card vendors only give you a cheap DVI-VGA adapter for a card of this price point.

The back of the box gives you more details on some of the product’s key features. As always we encourage you to check out the official product page if you’re interested in finding out more.

Included with the Sapphire R9 270 Dual-X is a 1.8m HDMI 1.4a cable, molex to 6 pin adapter, CrossFire bridge, Sapphire sticker, DVI to VGA adapter, driver CD, warranty statement, quick start guide and a Sapphire product registration document.

ASUS AMD Radeon R9 270 Direct CU II OC 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Another day, another graphics card release. It feels like I’ve been saying that a lot recently as AMD have gone a bit GPU-crazy with all their new RX 2XX products. Today we have another one of those releases from AMD and it is the R9 270. The R9 270 is the non-x variant of the R9 270X which we reviewed not that long ago. This means it is the spiritual successor to AMD’s HD 7850 from the previous generation series. What’s nice is that the R9 270 isn’t going to be a straight up rebrand of the HD 7850, it is actually physically different but we will get onto that in a moment… first I want to draw attention to the particular R9 270 we’re reviewing today. Sadly AMD couldn’t provide us with a reference R9 270 graphics card (which is always ideal for far comparison purposes), but we’ve still got a pretty sweet looking ASUS Direct CU II OC variant of the R9 270 instead. ASUS have fitted the R9 270 with their renowned Direct CU II cooling solution and given it the OC treatment which means it comes with a high factory overclock – 50MHz more than the reference design, as shown below in the GPU-Z screen shot. The memory frequency is kept at the stock level of 1.4GHz/5.6GHz actual/effective.

As we’ve briefly mentioned the R9 270 replaces the HD 7850 but it isn’t an identical GPU. The R9 270 actually comes with 256 more GCN stream processors and 4 more compute units (CUs) while being within that same 150W TDP board power envelope.

In terms of the raw specifications the 1280 stream processors and 20 compute units make this unit virtually identical to the HD 7870. The only difference is a lower clock speed of 925MHz, compared to 1GHz on the HD 7870, which means the R9 270 is capable of 2.37 TFLOPS versus the 2.56 TFLOPS on the HD 7870. There’s also only a single 6 pin power connector on the R9 270 compared to dual 6 pin connectors on the HD 7870. Despite a lower core engine clock there is a much higher effective memory speed of 5600MHz compared to 4800MHz on the HD 7870 which should balance out some of that lost performance due to the lower core clock. The R9 270 isn’t that different to any other current high-end R9 2XX series GPU as it has Direct X 11.2 support, OpenGL 4.3 support and Mantle API support.

AMD says that upon launch there will be a wide selection of R9 270s available from its board partners, you can see those below.

The R9 270 will cost $179 which is $20 less than its bigger brother the R9 270X. If we compare the R9 270 to the pricing of the HD 7850 and HD 7870 when they launched, $249 and $349 respectively, we can see the R9 270 is a dramatically more affordable graphics card. The result is that consumers will be able to pick up the R9 270 for $179, which is cheaper than the HD 7870 GPU this is essentially based on (even taking into account current clearance pricing deals that can be had on HD 7870s).

ASUS’ packaging boasts that the Direct CU II OC version of the R9 270 is 20% cooler and 3X quieter than the reference AMD board and cooler design.

The back details some key ASUS features like their Direct CU II cooling solution and Super Alloy Power VRM components. You can also download ASUS’ own GPU Tweak software to overclock your ASUS (or non ASUS) graphics card.

Included with the retail package was a speed set up guide, driver and software CD, DVI to VGA adapter and CrossFire bridge.

ASUS Radeon R9 270X Direct CU II TOP 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


We’ve already seen and reviewed AMD’s reference R9 270X, be sure to check that review out here, but today we have a variant from an AMD partner – more specifically the ASUS Radeon R9 270X Direct CU II TOP 2GB graphics card. The Direct CU II TOP version is based on the best speed binned R9 270X GPUs ASUS could get, they are then overclocked a pretty significant amount and given the ASUS Direct CU II cooling treatment. ASUS claim to be 20% cooler and 3X quieter than the reference design with DIGI+ Syper Alloy VRM components that have 30% less power noise and 2.5X longer lifespan than reference components. The cooler itself uses three large 8mm heatpipes and a pair of 80mm fans to dissipate heat over a dense aluminium heatsink. Given the reputation of the ASUS Direct CU II implementation we can expect it to be a pretty cool and quiet running graphics card while the TOP aspect should see it perform much better than a normal R9 270X, and even overclock a bit further than normal GPUs would.

Out of the box there is a 70MHz boost to the core clock though the memory clock remains the same as reference . ASUS have also tweaked things we can’t see such as adding an additional power phase to the GPU power controls taking it from 5+2 to 6+2. ASUS also use better power componentry that has 80mv less ripple, allowing for more stable overclocks, and higher efficiency, lowering power consumptions and reducing heat wastage.

The box points out all the key features of the product including the GPU Tweak software which ASUS is really trying to push with its video cards.

The back has a more detailed explanation of the key aspects about the card. Included with card is a software utility and driver CD, a speed setup guide, dual molex to 6 pin adapter and a CrossFire X bridge.

Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X WindForce OC 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Another day and another graphics card review. We are again covering the AMD R9 270X after having already reviewed the AMD reference card which you can see here and the ASUS Direct CU II TOP version which you can see here. The next in line for review is a variant from Gigabyte and more specifically the Gigabyte R9 270X WindForce OC 2GB graphics card. This uses Gigabyte’s acclaimed WindForce cooling solution with a trio of 75mm fans and an array of copper heat pipes. It also packs a modest 50MHz core overclock out of the box to give you an extra boost in performance. In true Gigabyte fashion they are also going to be targeting a particularly aggressive price point with this card – offering one of the cheapest R9 270X graphics cards on the market and with a custom cooler and factory overclock! The main selling point for Gigabyte is the use of their “Ultra Durable VGA Board” package which essentially means better quality components such as a double inner layer copper PCB, reduced voltage ripple and reduced circuit impedance for a better and more stable GPU.

The version we received from Gigabyte was a press sample so came in a plain Gigabyte box.

Inside the box was just the card and nothing else, a retail version would of course have an accessory bundle.

AMD Radeon R9 270X 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


As you may already know AMD’s new series of graphics cards are officially launched today and we have here for you the AMD Radeon R9 270X review, but we’ve also checked out the R9 280X and R7 260X of which you can see reviews of both on our site’s main homepage, or by searching in the search bar if you’re reading this some time after publication. We have managed to get our hands on a reference AMD R9 270X, a card which is essentially an overclocked HD 7870 brought to market at a lower price point than the HD 7870 originally was.

The specifications can be seen below and a clock speed of 1050MHz on the core and 5600MHz on the memory is a fair bit higher than the 1000MHz and 4800MHz the AMD HD 7870 offered. The higher clock speeds mean the R9 270X is capable of 2.69 TFLOPS over the 2.56 TFLOPS offered by the HD 7870. Like with all new AMD RX-2XX series graphics cards there is Direct X 11.2 support, OpenGL 4.3 support and support for AMD’s new API mantle. AMD have opted for a price point of $199 MSRP for the R9 270X meaning it is actually priced roughly the same as the HD 7870 currently is (the HD 7870 is currently priced to clear so stocks won’t last long) but when the HD 7870 originally came to market it retailed for $349 – so this is $149 cheaper.

The R9 270X we received from AMD was a stock card. As such it comes with the stock clocks of 1050MHz core and 1400MHz (5600MHz effective) memory. There is 2GB of GDDR5 across a 256 bit interface but 4GB versions will be made available by some select AMD partners. Since our R9 270X was a retail OEM unit it came with nothing other than the graphics card in an anti-static bag so we have no accessories or packaging to show you. The AMD Radeon R9 270X is designed to compete with Nvidia’s $200~ offerings which currently consists of the GTX 760 ($249) and the GTX 660 ($180-200) but Nvidia are expected to add a few new models later on this year to combat AMD’s new launches. Without any further ado let us proceed in taking a look at the AMD Radeon R9 270X.

Rumour: Radeon R9 270X Is Faster Than Radeon HD 7870 Tahiti LE

AMD’s Radeon R9 270X will be based on a higher-clocked Tahiti LE HD 7870 GPU according to sources on the Overclockers UK forums, via TechPowerUp. The author of the comments has since redacted all information on the forums (probably due to getting a telling off by AMD) but the details of what was said made for interesting reading and have been republished by various sources.

The R9 270X will use the Tahiti LE GPU but with either higher clock speeds or more stream processors. The original HD 7870 was of course based on Pitcairn but a later version based on Tahiti LE (a cut down HD 7950) was released. It features a narrowed 256 bit GDDR5 memory bus in a more compact package.

The OCUK source (which has now been redacted) states clearly that the R9 270X is based on “a crippled HD 7950” which could indicate a GCN core count of 1792 with the relevant tweaks to ensure it performs well enough (but not too well) within its price segment of $199. More details are expected to emerge when the card is launched.

Image courtesy of AMD

Powercolor Release Devil HD 7870

Powercolor’s Devil line of video cards is well known for its highest end cooling and performance. Powercolor’s latest addition to the Devil series is the Devil HD 7870. The Devil HD 7870 gets a 10% overclock to 1100MHz from 1000MHz while the memory gets a marginal overclock of about 5% from the stock 1200MHz/4.8GHz effective.  Powercolor have equipped their platinum power kit which provides a 7+1+1 digital phase VRM. Additionally there is digital PWM and super capacitors equipped to the design. The triple fan coolr uses a pair of 80mm fans and a larger middle 90mm fan as well as four heat pipes, this is 25% cooler and 18% quieter than the reference design.

As with all Devil cards there are some extra goodies such as a uniquely skinned Powerup Tuner software interface and a bundled Devil Gaming mousepad. Pricing or availability was not revealed by Powercolor but think “standard” HD 7870 price plus 15-20%. Availability will be in the coming few weeks for major markets (such as Europe and the USA) as manufacturers get stock.

Images courtesy of Powercolor

Club 3D Announce ’13Series Graphics Cards With UK Availability

Club 3D have just revealed a new series of graphics cards. The ’13Series of graphics from Club3D is a new product line designed to target a much cheaper and more mainstream price point. These cards all use the premium CoolStream VGA cooler design, except the HD 7790 which uses a rather more modest VGA cooler.

Since Club3D recently made a move recently to be an exclusive AMD-only partner, it comes as no surprise that the ’13Series of graphics cards is comprised of entirely AMD GPUs. The ’13Series includes the following graphics cards:

The new ’13Series is part of Club3D’s “black label/”white label” product segmentation strategy. These new ’13 series cards are part of the white label segment while Club3D’s PokerSeries cards are part of the black label segment. The white label segment is going to be aggressively priced and aimed at value for money, while the black label segment is going to be more feature packed and designed for the more premium market.

Availability should start immediately and UK customers should be able to find these popping up soon across a wide variety of retailers such as Amazon, Ballicom International, Kikatek, LambdaTek and so on.

Image courtesy of Club3D

PC Specialist Vanquish X200 Gaming Rig Review


When it comes to reviews we often see graphics cards, motherboards, chassis and many other components come through the office, but it has been a while since we reviewed all of these things together, which is why today we will be taking a look at something a little special, a £899.00 custom built gaming rig from PC SpecialistPC Specialist have a rock solid reputation behind them, a quick google will find you literally thousands of five star consumer reviews, reports and generally lots of nice things to be said about the team that work there. This is of course a good thing as with any industry, reputation matters and its that reputation that grabbed our attention, we want to see what all the fuss is about!

“Each and every one of the tens of thousands of computers and laptops we have manufactured has been custom built to our customers’ specifications. With our massive economies of scale we scour the world to bring you the best quality components from the biggest brands, such as Intel, AMD, Corsair and ASUS. When using our customer friendly and surprisingly easy-to-use website you’ll see how we concentrate our efforts around you and in turn provide an excellent service, excellent prices and excellent after sales technical support.”

Because they don’t sell off the shelf systems, PC Specialist aim to see you exactly what you need at as fair a price as possible, something that generally just can’t be achieved on sites like Amazon or in retail outlet stores. Given that we are a tech site I know a good percentage of you will be thinking “well, I can build this much cheaper myself!” and that’s great, personally I encourage that, I too build my own systems, but not everyone can, not everyone wants to either. When your buying a hand made system from PC Specialist you’re getting several things that add to the value, such as guaranteed component compatibility, technical support, a warranty, convenience and in the case of this system a professionally applied overclock.

  • Name: Vanquish X200
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 3570K @ 4.4GHz
  • Mobo: ASUS P8Z77-V LX
  • RAM: 8GB Kingston Hyper-X Beast 2400MHz
  • SSD: 120GB Kingston HyperX 3K
  • HDD: 1TB SATA III 6Gb/s
  • GPU: 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7870
  • ODD: 24x DVD-RW
  • PSU: Corsair TX650V2
  • Cooler: Corsair H40 + Arctic MX4 Paste
  • Case: Corsair 200R
  • Price: £899.00 inc VAT & Delivery

As you can see from the specification above, the Vanquish X200 is no slouch, packing a powerful setup and compared to many other retailers it’s still offering good value for only £899.00 given that its pre-built, overclocked and comes with support.

The system comes in a fairly standard box via courier, nothing fancy but certainly enough to get in to you safely, so lets dive right in and see what PC Specialist have hidden within the box.

In box I found a welcome pack, a box about the same size as your average PC keyboard.

In the welcome pack you will find all the individual user guides and setup manuals for the included components, all the required driver back up discs, the spare screws and components from the chassis and the PSU power cable.