eTeknix 2015 Christmas Buying Guide – Treat Yourself or Someone Else!

The time for holiday festivities is almost upon us and as the modern tradition of consumerism continues to grow, it becomes harder and harder to pick the right gifts for people every year, or perhaps it’s just me who struggles? Either way, we’ve sat around a Christmas fire, or just a general fire in November and December, getting into the gift buying state of mind and picked a range of our favourite products which we’ve reviewed here at eTeknix throughout 2015, as what better products to recommend than the ones we’ve had in our own hands and tested!

We’ve got a huge range of budgets covered here today, although I think it’s fair to assume that given we play around with graphics cards and a lot of enthusiast friendly products, there are some real wallet busters here too. Of course, you can use this guide to find some of the best products of the year to treat your family, friends and more, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t just spoil yourself too!


Rock Band 4 Band in a Box

Get ready to rock out this Christmas and no doubt many other days. Pick up the guitar, drum sticks, or just butcher your favourite song on the microphone. Rock Band 4 – Band in a Box is a fantastic gift and it’s a great thing to deploy at parties too, certainly beats the usual Karaoke chaos! It comes with the guitar, microphone, drums and the game for $249.99. To save costs, the standalone game with the guitar is just $129.99. In the UK, the Band in a Box is £219.99, while the guitar and game is just £109.99.

Check out the full review here.


Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Chassis

The Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Mid-Tower chassis is by far my favourite chassis of 2015, it just oozes high quality inside and out, with capabilities for high-end water and air cooling and so much more. It is available from Overclockers UK for £139.99 and is available in both Gun Metal and black.

Check out the full review here.


Raijintek Styx Micro-ATX Aluminium Chassis

What a fantastic little chassis this is! Built from beautifully finished brushed aluminium and available in a wide range of colours, this would make a great gift for someone building a new gaming system this Christmas. The Raijintek Styx chassis is available from Overclockers UK for just £64.99.

Check out the full review here.


be quiet! Silent Base 800 Chassis

Another expensive chassis on our list, but one of the best we’ve seen this year. If you’re wanting to build someone, or yourself, a gaming PC that not only looks great but is as silent as you could ever hope for, the Silent Base 800 Window is the way to go. It is available from most popular retailers for 149,90EUR/119 GBP/149,90 USD ex. VAT.

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Strafe RGB MX Silent Red Mechanical Keyboard

Featuring the innovative Cherry MX Silent Switches, the Corsair Strafe RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is simply amazing to use. It’s packed full of features and is by far the quietest mech we’ve ever tested. A little expensive, but I’m sure anyone would be happy to unwrap this at Christmas. The Strafe is available for £139.99 from Overclockers UK, while the MX Red and the MX Brown are priced at £129.95. If you want the non-RGB version, you can find the MX Red and the MX Brown at £99.95 each.

Check out the full review here.


Thermaltake Commander Gaming Gear Keyboard and Mouse Combo

The TteSports by Thermaltake Commander Keyboard and Mouse Combo is a great gift for Christmas, it’s affordable, has a nice range of features and you get a keyboard and a mouse in a single nice and tidy (and easy to wrap) box! With prices around £23.99 it’s hard to say no to such a great deal! Readers in the US can pick one of from Newegg for an equally impressive $29.99.

Check out the full review here.


CM Storm Quick Fire XTi Mechanical Keyboard

RGB mechanical keyboards are everywhere this year, but the XTi from Cooler Master is my personal favourite so far. It’s no-fuss and bold design is great for home and office, gaming or work, with the added bonus that it’s incredibly durable and has some of the nicest lighting tones I’ve seen so far, even if it does only allow for a mixture of red and blue! You can pick up the XTi from Box for just £134, although there’s also a deal that includes a free mouse here!

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Scimitar RGB MOBA/MMO Gaming Mouse

The Gaming Scimitar RGB MOBA/MMO Gaming Mouse is packed full of features that will put a smile on any PC gamers face. With RGB lighting, excellent performance and a customisable keypad on the side, it’s one of the best mice we’ve ever tested. better yet, it’s only £69.95 from Overclockers UK.

Check out the full review here.


Logitech G502 Proteus Core Gaming Mouse

The Logitech G502 is a prime example of how great a gaming mouse can truly be. This is without a doubt the best mouse sensor we’ve ever tested and the rest of the mouse isn’t exactly lacking in features either. I’d be tempted to buy this one for myself this Christmas, but you could always treat someone else with it too. It’s available directly from the Logitech website (with free shipping) for just £69.99.

Check out the full review here.


G.Skill MX780

A relatively new entry on the peripherals market, the G.Skills MX780 is a fantastic gaming mouse, with a switchable left or right handed grip that makes it ideal for a wide range of gamers. With a retail price of just $59.99 it is exceptional value for a Christmas gift, and given its spec, it’ll go head to head with many of the best mice on the market.

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Void Headset

We were absolutely blown away by the Corsair Void series, some of the best sounding, most comfortable and best-looking headsets we’ve ever seen! They would make a great gift, but be careful, if you try them out before you give them away, you may want to keep them. The Corsair Void USB 7.1 RGB Headset is available from Overclockers UK for just £79.99. This is £10 cheaper than the Wireless headset which is £89.99, I prefer the wireless and think it’s not much more to pay for the extra tech, but you’re own preferences will obviously determine which model you prefer.

Check out the reviews for the USB 7.1, Wireless 7.1 and 2.0 headsets here.


Astro A40 TR + Mix Amp Pro

Eager to get the best of the best gaming headset for you or your loved one? Then make no exception, the Astro A40 TR Headset with Mix Amp Pro is the way to go. This is one that’s sure to leave a dent in your wallet, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Available from the Astro store for £200, plus around £48 for the optional Mod Kit, the Astro is expensive, but the sound quality, features and comfortable fit are priceless.

Check out the full review here.


Crucial BX200 SSD

SSD prices are dropping constantly and there really has never been a better time to invest. If it’s for your own system, you can give yourself a great upgrade without spending a fortune, but the smaller drive sizes make excellent gifts to those who could do with a performance upgrade on their system. The Crucial BX200 comes with an MSRP of £234.49 ($299.99) for the 960GB model and £66.49 ($84.99) and £116.99 ($149.99) for the smaller 240GB and 480GB models, plus the small boxes are super easy to wrap up as a gift.

Check out the full review here.


QNAP TS-251 2-Bay NAS

Give the gift of a connected home this Christmas, from streaming your movies around the house, to backing up those important files, there are a lot of benefits to owning a NAS. Not the cheapest of gifts, but it’s one of those products where if you buy cheap, you’ll likely regret it in the long run. The QNAP’s TS-251 Turbo NAS can be found at NewEgg for $384.99, at Scan UK for £295.32, or through Geizhals starting at €284.

Check out the full review here.


Sapphire Nitro R9 380X 4GB Graphics Card

AMD have created a mighty powerhouse with the R9 380X and the Sapphire Nitro is one of the finest examples. It’s fast, sleek and affordable, more than enough power for 1080P ultra gaming, or 1440p high gaming, making it a great addition to anyone who wants the latest PC games for Christmas. The Sapphire Nitro R9 380X is currently available from OverclockersUK for £199.99. NeweggUS currently has this card listed for $229.99.

Check out the full review here.


Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 Graphics Card

Spend a little more, get a lot more, the GTX 970 is a superb card, but one that may be getting a little expensive for those looking for a Christmas gift. With enough power to play anything on the market and even delve into high-end resolutions, it’s a strong contender for something to put under the Christmas tree, or even put on your own wish list. The Gainward Phoenix GTX 970 is currently available in the UK from SCAN for £273.56 and for an estimated $360 in the US.

Check out the full review here.


Nvidia GeForce GTX 980ti 6GB Graphics Card

It wouldn’t be Christmas if we couldn’t all hope and dream, but the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 980Ti is currently one of the best cards on the market and we would be crazy not to suggest the best of the best. Available in the UK for the £599.99 it’s certainly not cheap, although we’ve seen some great deals bringing it down below £500, so it’s best to shop around. Just imagine the look on your partners face when they unwrap this monster on Christmas day!

Check out the full review here.


DDR4

Getting a little more back to reality and reasonable prices, DDR4 memory is dropping in price quite nicely now. It was super expensive at launch, but now you’ll often find DDR4 kits at equal or lower prices to their DDR3 equivalents. That makes them a great upgrade for Christmas, but make sure you have a DDR4 motherboard to go with it!

Check out our latest memory reviews here.


Shield Android TV

Snapped up a 4K TV in the Black Friday deals? The Nvidia Shield Console is the most powerful Android device on the market, and it’s the perfect media player for Plex, 4K content on Netflix and more. Even better, it’s also a very powerful gaming system, with many AAA games available to play, as well as game streaming features that will leave you wondering why this device doesn’t cost more than £149.99! You can buy the Shield TV and accessories directly from Nvidia here.

Check out the full review here.


Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S

Think someone could do with a cooling upgrade for their system, or perhaps even parts towards a new system build this Christmas? Treat them to an AIO water cooler and they’ll be able to reduce the noise from their system and unlock its overclocking potential! The Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S is a little expensive, but it’s still a competitively priced AIO at just £81.98 and would make a great gift, especially if you’re just going to treat yourself.

Check out the full review here.


Alpenfohn Atlas

The Atlas is one of the coolest coolers we’ve seen this year, a tiny form factor with big performance and virtually silent acoustics. Building a system for someone or upgrading your own, this is one cooler you’ll want to consider and given that it’s available from Overclockers UK for a very reasonable £42.95, it’s another great addition to our buying guide.

Check out the full review here.


be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim

Need a premium cooler but don’t want to pay a premium price this Christmas? The be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim is more affordable, but still packs some impressive performance figures. It’s available from Scan.co.uk for just £30.52 + shipping here in the UK and from Amazon.com for $49.90 + $9.80 shipping in the US.

Check out the full review here.


Inateck Mercury Box Bluetooth Speaker

Love your music on the go, when you’re out at the park, or anywhere for that matter? The Mercury box offers up a huge sound from such a tiny box. Built from aluminium and featuring a waterproof design, it’s one of the best mobile speakers on the market, great for listening to music wherever you are! Available from Amazon.com for just $48.99 and readers in the UK can get it from Amazon.co.uk for £49.99.

Check out the full review here.


OnePlus 10,000mAh Mobile USB Power Bank

The perfect stocking filler, a 10,000 mAh mobile battery. This has enough juice to charge most mobiles several times, and it’ll even recharge high-end devices such as iPads with ease too. Perfect for travelling, and best of all, it’s super lightweight and affordable. The power bank is £13.99/$14.99/€15.99 and you can order it directly from OnePlus.

Check out the full review here.


Gaming Systems

Nothing says I love you like a kick-ass gaming PC. Of course, budgets vary wildly from hundreds to even thousands of pounds/dollars, but that’s the joy of buying a PC, or building your own, there’s so much to choose from! With so many awesome system integrators around these days, you can’t go far wrong. Chillblast, CyberPower, PC Specialist, Vibox, Freshtech or Overclockers UK.

Gaming in the living room? Why not invest in a CyberPower Syber Steambox! Prices start at £485 and go right up to £1905, giving you a great choice to suit your needs, and your budget.

A whole lot of gaming for not a lot of money from Chillblast, with their very competitive Fusion NightHawk, a great option for those looking for their first gaming PC at just £599.

Got a little more budget to play around with this Christmas? The super fast gaming systems from PC Specialist that feature ASUS Maximus VIII hardware also come with the gorgeous Gladius mouse! Systems in this category start at £890 for the i5 and GTX 960 model, all the way up to £1670 for the i7 and GTX 980 Ti.

Another mid-budget powerhouse, this time from Vibox with their Element X. At just £649, this MSI R9 380 and AMD FX-6300 powered computer is great for gaming and would make a great gift this Christmas.

Time to bring out the big gun’s and really treat yourself? Or perhaps you just want your friend or family member to open a present they’ll never forget? The FreshTech Solutions Stealth Gaming PC is an absolute beast, powered by some of today’s latest and greatest hardware. Of course, it’s not cheap at £1412, but this is not your run of the mill gaming PC.

Overclockers UK offer a range of gaming systems, and general day-to-day PC’s just like another other, but with the big advantage that they’re also a normal PC component retailer. If you want to build your own system, customise a build or pick a pre-built system, you’ll find lots to play around with here.

Check out our full range of system reviews here.

AMD R9 280X, R9 280 and R9 270X Price Cuts Come Into Effect

We heard last week that AMD would be slashing prices on its mid-range GPUs to make way for its new Tonga GPU and now this has started to come into effect. AMD is lowering the pricing of the R9 280X and everything below it in their product stack. The first vendor to implement the price cuts is HIS who have been price cutting on their R9 and R7 series graphics cards. On Newegg HIS have knocked off $20 from the price of their R9 280 and R9 280X graphics cards and in Europe they have done something similar with many R7 series graphics cards. Other manufacturers are expected to follow suit in the coming week or so. The price cuts should see the R9 280X drop to around $280 and the R9 280 to around $230. We also believe the other cards below will get assigned new MSRPs. The R9 270X should drop in price to around $180, the R9 270 to around $160 and so on. A few examples of these price cuts are as follows:

  • Sapphire R9 280 – $220
  • HIS R9 280 – $220
  • VisionTek R9 270X – $180
  • MSI R9 270X – $180

The new round of price cuts should leave a sizeable gap between the R9 280X ($280) and the R9 290 ($400) which gives AMD room to slot in their new Tonga based graphics card. Based on the price gap AMD is leaving we should expect it to MSRP around $350.

Source: WCCFTech

Image courtesy of AMD

 

AMD Will Cut R9 280X and 280 Prices For New “Tonga” GPU Launch

We’ve already heard some new details about AMD’s Tonga GPU and now it emerges that the new graphics chip from AMD could force prices of existing Tahiti based graphics cards down. The R9 280X is AMD’s current $300 offering while the R9 280 is $250. With a round of price cuts after the arrival of the Tonga GPU we could expect to see the R9 280 drop to around $230 and the R9 280X to around $270. The Tonga based graphics card would then slot in above the R9 280X and fetch a $300-330 price tag, depending on its final performance. Such price drops would allow AMD’s R9 280 and R9 280X to better compete with Nvidia equivalents while the new Tonga graphics card should give AMD an edge over Nvidia’s GTX 770 and maybe even force Nvidia to fight back with some price cuts of their own.

For a quick recap Tonga should be based on the new GCN 2.0 design and based on the current 28nm processor. All the improvements of the current generation such as Mantle, TrueAudio and XDMA CrossFire support should be included. The card is yet to have its specifications disclosed but it should have more stream processors than the R9 280X but less than the R9 290, according to general rumours the expected availability is as early as next month.

Source: Sweclockers

Image courtesy of AMD

Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X (Tri-X) OC 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


When the AMD R9 280X launched the first R9 280X we tested was Sapphire’s Vapor-X model. In our review we noted that the while the performance was good and the temperatures were reasonable, the acoustic performance was far from impressive. Here we are 6 months later and Sapphire have revised their R9-280X Vapor-X to include their renowned Tri-X triple fan cooling solution which boasts better cooling performance and quieter operation as well as fantastic aesthetics. We aren’t 100% sure if the old model is going to be discontinued or not, because it is certainly confusing having two R9 280X Vapor-X models in our opinion so discontinuing the older model would make sense. There are some key differences between the old and new models though, such as the new model has a faster GPU core clock speed, a triple fan cooler, is a lot bigger, is more expensive and, strangely, has a lower memory clock speed. Sapphire’s R9 280X Vapor-X Tri-X sits just below the Toxic model (which we reviewed here) as it has  (almost) the same cooling solution but isn’t overclocked as high, hasn’t been speed binned to the same extent and doesn’t have a backplate. Sapphire’s new R9 280X Vapor-X Tri-X currently fetches around $359 meaning it is directly priced up against high performance GTX 770s like EVGA’s SuperClocked ACX GTX 770 and most of the 4GB GTX 770s which cost on average about $30-50 more than the 2GB variants. Does Sapphire’s Tri-X cooler give the R9 280X Vapor-X a new lease of life? Let’s find out!

Specifications Analysis

Sapphire’s new R9 280X Vapor-X comes with a hefty overclock of 1100MHz on the boost clock. It’s also a bit pricier than the baseline R9 280Xs at the moment holding about a $30 premium.

Packaging and Bundle

The packaging predominantly markets this as a Vapor-X graphics card, Tri-X is a secondary element suggesting Sapphire doesn’t want to get its segmentations mixed up.

The back details some features of the product in more detail like Sapphire’s Vapor-X and Tri-X cooling technologies.

Included are two dual molex to 8 pin PCIe adapters, a 1.8m HDMI 1.4 cable and a CrossFireX bridge.

Other accessories include some documentation and a driver install CD.

AMD Radeon R9 Graphics Cards Facing Supply, not Demand, Issues

AMD’s graphics cards have been in short supply for the past 3 months or so. The market has hoovered up the old stock from the HD 7000 series at knock-down prices and most of the stock from the high end R9 series including pretty much every R9 290X, R9 290 and R9 280X. While a lot of these graphics cards have been snapped up by crypto-currency miners looking to mine Scrypt algorithm coins the main reason for the shortage, according to SweClockers, is not high demand but short supply.

Apparently a shortage of components is the primary reason for availability issues, with most GPU manufacturers not having enough ASICs (GPUs), GDDR5 memory and other components. However, other people are blaming AMD for not allocating enough production to TSMC. AMD was apparently cautious about oversupplying a declining PC desktop market and hence under-produced. Either way, whether it is a shortage of components, excessive demand or a combination of both the message is clear – the supply shortage will be with us for a lot longer before the issue is fixed.

AMD graphics card vendor VisionTek recently confirmed on Facebook that it is experiencing a shortage of components for its production. Other vendors and AMD have not commented.

Image courtesy of AMD

Powercolor R9 280X TurboDuo 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


We seem to have been inundated with AMD graphics card of late and the trend isn’t stopping today as we have another AMD graphics card in the office. Today we have a rather swanky looking solution from the guys over at Powercolor as we are putting their R9 280X TurboDuo overclocked graphics card on the test system. The first and most obvious feature about this graphics card is the rather epic looking cooling solution. It boasts a pair of 90mm cooling fans, three large 8mm heat pipes and a massive aluminium heatsink. That’s all enclosed in a rather beautiful looking red and black metal shroud and topped off with a solid metal backplate for good measure. In terms of clock speeds Powercolor haven’t been too adventurous opting for a up to 1030MHz clock speed which is up from the stock R9 280X speed of of up to 1000MHz. This means it is the lowest clocked Radeon R9 280X graphics card we’ve tested, though that doesn’t mean it can’t be pushed a bit further with some overclocking. Powercolor have also left the memory at the default 1500MHz actual, 6GHz effective.

Powercolor’s packaging comes with the usual textured plastic emblem with the product branding which is in this case TurboDuo. It also points out the UEFI compatibility, 4K support and support for up to 4 displays out of the box. Of course if you have an MST Hub then you can support up to six by splitting one of the DisplayPort connections.

The rear of the box has more details about the design and features of the graphics card. You can check more of those out on its product page here.

Powercolor’s accessory package includes a 6 to 8 pin power cable adapter, CrossFire bridge, DVI to VGA adapter, mini DisplayPort to full size DisplayPort adapter, quick installation guide and driver CD.

HIS R9 280X iPower IceQ X² Turbo Boost 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Another day and another AMD R9 280X review. Today we’ve got another custom cooled and overclocked graphics card but this time we’ve got a graphics card vendor that we haven’t taken a look at for ages – HIS Digital. This is the first HIS Digital graphics card I’ve ever looked at some I am quite excited to see what it can offer. Despite the fact this is an AMD R9 280X we won’t recap all the monotonous information about the R9 280X GPU that you’ve probably already heard a million times by now, if you want to read more about the R9 280X you can do so here. We want to focus specifically on this HIS card which is the “HIS R9 280X iPower IceQ X² Turbo Boost” – yes quite a mouthful.

Firstly let’s quickly break down that really long name into what it all means. “iPower” is HIS’ way of saying an improved VRM and power delivery system. This graphics card has a 9 phase VRM, versus 8 phases on the reference design, uses DirectFET MOSFETs compared to your bog standard MOSFETs on the reference design and it has a pair of 8 pins instead of the 6+8 pin reference design meaning there is more power to be delivered to the GPU. Secondly, the “IceQ X²” part means this is using HIS’ IceQ X² cooling solution that features a pair of 89mm fans, two 8mm heat pipes and three 6mm heat pipes. That’s all encased in a large aluminium shroud which features the IceQ X² and Turbo branding on it. Thirdly and finally the “Turbo Boost” part is predictably an overclock. AMD’s reference R9 280X comes with a 850MHz core and 1000MHz boost, aka “up to 1GHz” while the HIS version comes with a 1000MHz core clock and 1050MHz boost clock. You can see those clocks below, the core is up 5% on reference and the memory is identical to reference.

The packaging comes with HIS’ usual frost/ice theme and a tonne of marketing stuff. Included with our sample was just a CrossFire X bridge and DVI-I to VGA adapter but we are informed the retail version also comes with an install CD, multilingual user guide, quick installation guide and HIS Power Up label.

The back of the box has more of those key features but we recommend checking out the product page if you’re interested in knowing more.

Battlefield 4 Graphics Performance Overview With Current Generation GPUs

Introduction


Battlefield 4 has been one of the biggest game releases so far this year for gamers on all gaming platforms. The FPS title from EA and DICE has got off to a relatively shaky start with numerous audio, graphical and gameplay problems across the various platforms it was released on. In fact for many Battlefield 4 owners the game is still in a dysfunctional or buggy state, but you can expect (or hope) that EA and DICE will begin to patch and fix the majority of the problems within the coming weeks as they have said they will. The shaky launch aside, what most PC owners/gamers want to know, if they haven’t already found out, is how do current generation GPUs perform in Battlefield 4 on the PC?

Today we put that question to the test with an extensive, albeit not entirely complete, range of current generation AMD and Nvidia GPUs. On the AMD side we have the R7 260X, R9 270, R9 270X, R9 280X, R9 290 and R9 290X while on the Nvidia side we have a few more offerings with the GTX 650 Ti Boost, GTX 660, GTX 760, GTX 770, GTX 780, GTX 780 Ti and GTX Titan. All of the aforementioned graphics cards are current offerings and to the sharp-minded readers you will notice some graphics cards are missing. Mainly the current generation lower-end graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia are absent, that includes the Nvidia GTX 650, GT 640 GDDR5, GT 640 DDR3 and the AMD R7 250 and R7 240. The main reason for not testing these graphics cards, other than that we didn’t have most of them, is because they simply aren’t that capable of running such a high end gaming title. Of course that’s not to say they can’t but given the nature of the resolutions we test (mainly 1080p or above) and the quality settings our readers like to see (very high or ultra) these GPUs simply aren’t cut out for the test. Arguably they are more aimed at gamers with 1366 x 768 monitors tackling medium-high details but I digress. The system requirements for Battlefield 4 reveal a similar picture, if you want a smooth gameplay experience then you need an AMD Radeon HD 7870 or Nvidia GTX 660 or better. However, those system requirements show you very little about what you can expect at different resolutions.  So without any further ado let us show you our results and show you exactly how AMD and Nvidia’s offerings stack up!

Club3D R9 280X royalKing 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Most gamers today still overwhelmingly game on single monitor systems, whether that be at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (FHD) or 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) – the two most popular “high end” gaming resolutions. Of course gamers using 1080p displays are still the most common but both 5760 x 1080 and 2560 x 1440 are gaining more traction with gamers as “only” 1080p starts to become dated (and is often put to shame but high resolution tablets and ultrabooks). 2560 x 1440 is growing in popularity a lot thanks to the affordability of the South Korean WQHD panels and the fact 1440p panels use the same aspect ratio (16:9) as 1080p panels, so are a “direct” upgrade. It just makes sense that most gamers will choose 1440p panels as their next upgrades instead of WXQHD (2560 x 1600) displays which never really took off, just like its predecessor WUXGA (1920 x 1200) didn’t, maybe due to the less popular 16:10 aspect ratio. What relevance does this have to today’s review you may be thinking? Well today we have a GPU that aims to hit the sweet spot of performance and pricing for 2560 x 1440 and 5760 x 1080 gaming resolutions. We’ve managed to get Club3D’s R9 280X royalKing 3GB graphics card in for review. Club 3D’s R9 280X royalKing is based on AMD’s $299 3GB R9 280X GPU, which is essentially a rebranded HD 7970. Offering a hefty amount of GPU horsepower and 3GB of frame buffer it is designed for “more-than-1080p” gaming.

Club 3D’s R9 280X royalKing offers up a 10% core overclock compared to the stock AMD R9 280X design, meaning 1100MHz instead of 1000MHz while, memory retains the stock 6GHz clock speed but the main talking point is of course the core overclock. There is always a danger with the R9 280X that if AMD vendors do not implement proper cooling solutions the noise and temperatures can easily get out of hand, especially when you start adding factory overclocks. Club3D will be hoping to tame both the noise and temperatures with their popular “CoolStream” cooling solution, something that will be necessary with a 10% overclock added to an already hot-running GPU.

The packaging of Club3D’s R9 280X royalKing is quick to point out the CoolStream cooling solution and support for Eyefinity 6 which now only requires a single MST hub thanks to AMD’s recent modifications to the way it’s Eyefinity technology works.

The back of the box details more about the key features of the product, you can see more of those on the product page right here.

Included with the graphics card is a driver CD, quick installation guide and CrossFire cable. Club3D are not messing around with any power supply adapters so make sure you’ve got an 8 pin and 6 pin for this graphics card on your PSU. They also do not include any overclock software on the CD itself but you can download Club3D’s royalFlush GPU overclocking utility from their website here.

Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280X Toxic Edition 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


When it comes to overclocked graphics card with ridiculous speed Sapphire’s Toxic series is one of the most renowned in the “AMD world”. Today we have Sapphire’s Toxic R9 280X which comes with a massive out of the box overclock of 15% – taking it from 1GHz core to 1.15GHz core, on the memory we see a more modest increase of 100MHz (6.67%). The Sapphire Toxic R9 280X features the respected Tri-X triple fan cooler with a huge 10mm heat pipe and a dense aluminium heatsink. From what I’ve heard and read about this graphics card already the main selling point of this GPU is its ability to offer near-GTX 780 levels of performance for a substantially lower price.

This graphics card from Sapphire showcases the versatility of AMD’s Tahiti family of GPUs which have formed the basis of the HD 7950, HD 7970, HD 7970 GHz Edition and now the R9 280X. This isn’t the first R9 280X we’ve taken for a spin: you can check our review of the Sapphire Vapor-X OC R9 280X here and our review of the XFX Double Dissipation R9 280X here. That said the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition really is in a whole different class to your average R9 280X which has a 50-100MHz overclock, or runs at stock speeds.

Sapphire’s packaging points out most of the key features we have already mentioned such as the Tri-X cooling and Toxic design. There’s also 3GB of GDDR5 capable of Eyefinity and 4K gaming that’s worth pointing out. Sapphire also have dual BIOSes on this card for UEFI and conventional BIOS motherboards.

The back details some more of those key features along with Sapphire’s tagline for the Toxic R9 280X which is “Mad and Dangerous”.

Included in the box is some documentation, a driver CD and a Sapphire sticker.

In terms of physical accessories we have a mini DisplayPort to full size DisplayPort adapter, a HDMI cable, a Crossfire bridge and two dual molex to single 8 pin power supply adapters.

XFX R9 280X Double Dissipation Black Edition OC 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


AMD’s R9 280X was released a couple of weeks ago and for anyone who has followed AMD graphics cards since 2011 the R9 280X is a very familiar card – in effect it is just a HD 7970 rebranded with a reduced price. On launch day we had a review of the R9 280X to bring you and today we’ve got another R9 280X to look at, this time courtesy of XFX. The XFX R9 280X uses XFX’s new Double Dissipation cooling solution with dual 100mm fans but it is also a Black Edition OC card which means the default clock has been raised from 1000MHz on the core to 1100MHz and from 1500/6000MHz to 1650/6600MHz on the memory. The new cooling solution opts for a sleek black aesthetic which contrasts with the sharp silver design of previous Double Dissipation coolers from XFX.

On the packaging XFX is keen to point out the three big features of this graphics card. Two of them are related to the cooling solution, the fact it uses the Double Dissipation cooling and that this is done with a pair of 100mm fans. The last part is interesting for overclockers and that is XFX have unlocked the voltage. This means overclocking should go further than normal, I have heard that the R9 280X is capable of around 1250MHz+ with voltage increases so we will be keen to test if that really is the case.

The back of the box gives a quick summary of the key features about the product.

Included is a bunch of documentation and marketing material as well as some driver CDs.

Accessories are basic and we’ve got a couple of power supply adapters, a CrossFire bridge and a warranty card with all your serial and part numbers on in case you need to claim your warranty for whatever reason.

4K Gaming Showdown – AMD R9 290X & R9 280X Vs Nvidia GTX Titan & GTX 780

Introduction


***Please see our latest 4K Gaming article here which adds GTX 780 Ti, GTX 780 Ti SLI and R9 290X CFX to the mix***

With GPUs getting more and more powerful and 4K monitors becoming available for consumer purchase we thought we’d use AMD’s R9 290X launch as a spring-board to look at the 4K Gaming performance of AMD and Nvidia’s top 2 single GPU graphics cards. Of course since writing this article Nvidia have revealed their intentions to release a GTX 780 Ti graphics card which is worth considering when looking at these benchmarks. AMD are also expected to reveal an R9 290 graphics card at some stage this year too. So this is by no means a comprehensive or complete look at 4K performance on high end AMD and Nvidia GPUs, but we think it is an interesting place to start.

Firstly let’s recap the graphics cards we’re using, all four are pictured above and they are:

  • AMD R9 290X – read our review here.
  • Nvidia GTX Titan – read our review here.
  • Nvidia GTX 780 – read our review here.
  • Sapphire Vapor-X OC AMD R9 280X –  read our review here.

Next we’ve managed to get a hold of a 4K monitor for this testing as AMD were kind enough to provide us with the Sharp PN-K321 4K monitor.

The Sharp PN-K321 uses a 32 inch IGZO panel providing a resolution of 3840 x 2160. Being a first generation 4K panel it uses two 1920 x 2160 displays stitched together with an advanced display controller chip. The 4K monitor is able to stream 4K at up to 60Hz which is best done through DisplayPort.

We’ve used the usual selection of games that we’d normally do in our graphics card reviews so we’ve got a selection of 7 games and one synthetic benchmark to show you: Alien vs Predator, Bioshock Infinite, Hitman Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, Unigine Heaven 4, Tomb Raider, Dirt Showdown and Metro Last Light. Without any further ado let’s see exactly how these AMD and Nvidia GPUs got on at some 4K gaming.

AMD R9 280X And HD 7970 Can Be “CrossFired”

Technology publication Hardware Canucks report that it is possible to CrossFire the AMD R9 280X and the AMD HD 7970 GHz Edition graphics cards using the latest Catalyst 13.11 AMD drivers. What this basically means is very little has changed between most of the R9 2XX series and the HD 7XXX series so CrossFire will be a real possibility with older HD 7XXX series cards. In this case the R9 280X works just fine with the HD 7970 – for optimal performance it is ideal that you match clock speeds but that isn’t essential as the higher card will automatically downclock to pair with the lower clocked card when running 3D loads.

This also paves the way to other R9 2XX cards being used with their HD 7XXX counter-parts. Of course these other combinations aren’t verified yet but they probably will be soon. The R9 270X (Pitcairn) should work with the HD 7870 (Pitcairn not Tahiti LE) in CrossFire, the R7 260X should work with the HD 7790 in CrossFire and so on. This is great news for anyone who may want to upgrade their current HD 7XXX series card to a CrossFire set up in the future. It is also nice that AMD drivers let you do it because AMD could easily have altered the RX 2XX series so that this isn’t possible. Of course that doesn’t mean they won’t do that in future, but here’s to hoping they do not.

Image courtesy of Hardware Canucks

Nvidia Cut GTX 660 And GTX 650 Ti Prices In Response To AMD Launches

If you’re wondering why AMD’s R7 260X received such lacklustre reception both here at eTeknix and at many other review sites, well it is down to the fact that Nvidia have aggressively cut the prices of their cards which compete with the R7 260X – namely the GTX 650 Ti Boost but also to an extent the GTX 660.

Anandtech reports that the GTX 660 has been given a price cut from $200 MSRP to $179 meaning it can better compete with the R9 270X and the R7 260X by sitting in the middle of the two. Next the GTX 650 Ti Boost 1GB has been cut to $129 and the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB has been cut to $149. This means Nvidia now has the GTX 650 Ti Boost available for cheaper than the AMD R7 260X, which costs $139, if you need less VRAM and only $10 more if you need 2GB of VRAM. Of course the GTX 650 Ti Boost is clearly a better card and these price cuts have made AMD’s R7 260X even more obsolete as our review showed.

If you were hoping for price cuts on other cards then you will disappointed. Nvidia thinks its GTX 760, GTX 770 and GTX 780 graphics cards are all priced competitively enough to compete at $249, $399 and $649 respectively – I would be inclined to agree with them and I think Nvidia’s line up is still very strong indeed. Though AMD’s new R9 280X does put some serious pressure on Nvidia’s GTX 770 which costs $100 more without delivering much more performance while the $199 R9 270X is capable of keeping pace with the $50 more expensive GTX 760.

Image courtesy of Nvidia

AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X, R7 250 and R7 240 Launch Details

Introduction


Launch day is finally among us for AMD’s hotly anticipated RX 2XX series. Today AMD unveils the R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X, R7 250 and R7 240. That’s two cards from the enthusiast R9 series, shown above, and three from the entry R7 series, shown below. We’ve already got reviews ready for you to read of the R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X so be sure to click those links and check those out.

All the cards you see here today aren’t strictly new but are based on technology from the HD 7000 series. The only hardware difference is we’ve got higher performance from raised clocks and that is at lower price points. AMD have also introduced an updated feature set that includes Direct X 11.2 support, OpenGL 4.3 support, support for AMD’s new low-level Mantle API, improved audio with AMD TrueAudio and improved Eyefinity compatibility for Eyefinity 6 off most cards. This is only just the scratching the surface though so read on as we detail more about AMD’s new launches.

Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280X Vapor-X OC 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


AMD’s new series of graphics cards, the RX 2XX series, is split up into the R9 Enthusiast class and the R7 mainstream class. Both segmentations feature impressive levels of value for money and top end performance at each price point but today we are looking at one of the higher end models. We have with us the Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280X Vapor-X OC Graphics card in this review but we’ve also reviewed the AMD R7 260X and AMD R9 270X for today’s launch. While this is a Sapphire branded card we are using this as an opportunity to to also look at AMD’s Radeon R9 280X as AMD were not able to provide us with a reference design. The reference design of course is identical to Sapphire’s model other than the cooler is different and Sapphire have added a mild factory overclock taking the clock speed up from 1GHz to 1.07GHz, and the memory from 6GHz to 6.2GHz.

The Radeon R9 280X card we received from Sapphire and AMD is simply an OEM graphics card so it comes with nothing other than the card which is pictured above. Below you can see a GPU-Z screenshot of the new AMD graphics card which reveals those overclocks I mentioned earlier. A couple of other things to point out are that this card supports Direct X 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and AMD’s new “Mantle” technology.

Looking at the AMD R9 280X more broadly it should have the following specifications:

Of course for those who don’t know, the AMD Radeon R9 280X is based on an optimised version of the AMD HD 7970 GPU. It features increased clock speeds and uses a more refined 28nm process as well as a redesigned cooling solution for the reference cards. The main advantage is that AMD is shipping the new R9 280X with a price of $299 compared to the HD 7970 which when it first shipped had an MSRP of $549. With the R9 280X, AMD hopes to take on Nvidia by offering a card that is faster than the GTX 760 and on par with the GTX 770 but costs $299 instead of the $249 of the GTX 760 or $399 of the GTX 770. Of course Nvidia will undoubtedly respond with price cuts but as things stand the R9 280X is seeking to be the GTX 770 killer by offering equivalent performance for a staggering $100 less. Let us proceed with this review and see if the R9 280X delivers.

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum Graphics Card Pictured

VideoCardz have managed to get some exclusive pictures of the upcoming ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum graphics card. It’s no surprise that ASUS have the Matrix Platinum variant of the R9 280X ready so early on because the R9 280X is simply a rehashed version of the HD 7970 GPU with a higher core clock from the production line. As a result the ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum uses an identical PCB to the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum that it is based on.

The card uses a 20 phase VRM solution with TweakIT,  ProbeIT, a 100% fan switch and a dual BIOS. The card will ship with an 1100MHz core clock and 6GHz on the memory.

The card uses the same dual 80mm fans, backplate and triple slot cooling solution as the original ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum.

ASUS is expected to launch the R9 280X Matrix Platinum alongside the AMD R9 280X when the official launch date arrives. If you believe the latest rumours circulating then these are coming on October 8th.

Images courtesy of VideoCardz

MSI R9 280X Gaming And R9 270X Hawk Graphics Cards Pictured

On its German Facebook Page MSI recently showed off pictures of two upcoming cards which will be part of AMD’s new R9 2XX series. VideoCardz claims that these are the R9 280X Gaming at the front, and the R9 270X HAWK at the back. According to VideoCardz The MSI R9 270X Hawk has 2GB of memory, a $199 price, the Curacao XT GPU (Pitcairn renamed) and a 256 bit interface.

The MSI R9 280X Gaming GPU is based on AMD’s old HD 7970. VideoCardz say it features the same clocks as the HD 7970 GHz Edition graphics card on the core and turbo but features a slightly slower 5.5GHz on the memory, compared to 6GHz on the HD 7970 GHz.  Both cards are using MSI’s dual 10cm Twin Frozr IV cooler that makes use of MSI’s propeller blade technology. Military Class 4 components are also equipped. On the MSI R9 280X there are apparently two 8 pins and a TDP of 253W with two mini-DP, HDMI and DVI-I outputs.

Image courtesy of MSI (Facebook)

Rumour: Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X Launching On October 8th

VideoCardz reports that the NDA of the AMD R9 280X, pictured above, lifts on October 8th meaning we should see reviews published on that day next week. Apparently AMD will also allow after-market cooling solution based cards to be shown a few days later – ensuring that the launch is reserved for the AMD cards only. The embargo date for the AMD R9 270X and R7 260X is apparently also October the 8th according to TechPowerUp. Reviews for those are expected to go live on the same day and all three cards are reported to have both reference and non-reference models available.

VideoCardz also cited Chinese sources stating that a mysterious announcement from AMD is happening between October 12th and 20th in Beijing, China. It is supposedly going to be the official showcase of the R9 and R7 graphics cards from China’s main AMD graphics card vendors – Onda, Sapphire, PowerColor, HIS Digital, XFX or Unika.

Image courtesy of AMD

Nvidia Preparing Two Sub-$250 SKUs And Price Cuts For GTX 700 Series

Digitimes reports that Nvidia is planning new GPUs and price cuts in its GTX 700 series to combat the launch of AMD’s R9 and R7 series of graphics cards. Firstly Nvidia is expected to provide price cuts across the whole range of GTX 700 series GPUs in order to compete with the new AMD graphics cards. Secondly, Nvidia is expected to released 1 to 2 new GPUs to defend the USD $149-249 market segment according to industry sources. That potentially means two new cards below the GTX 760 which comes in at around $249.

“The R7 250 is priced below US$89, the R7 260X is US$139, the R9 270X US$199 and the R9 280X US$299. The highest-end R9 290X is also expected to be at a competitive price point.”

The report also states that AMD’s highly competitive pricing should see them regain market share, that’s if Nvidia doesn’t respond well enough to prevent consumers jumping ship to AMD. AMD’s Matt Skynner believes AMD can regain 50% share in the graphics card market.

Image courtesy of eTeknix

XFX Radeon R9 280X Double Dissipation Graphics Card Spotted

While AMD’s new R9 280X is pretty much based on the HD 7970 GHz Edition AMD is still expecting its AIB partners to come up with fresh looking designs so that consumers feel they are getting something new and different. The XFX R9 280X pictured above, via VideoCardz, is a prime example of this and even though it uses what is essentially a HD 7970 GHz Edition GPU, XFX have still outfitted a totally new cooling design to it. XFX will probably recycle the same PCB design of the previous HD 7970 GHz Edition they made though the unlocked voltage specified by the box could suggest a more advanced PCB VRM.
The card uses a dual 100mm fan cooler with your standard choice of copper heat pipes and aluminium heatsinks underneath an outer shroud.

At the core of the XFX R9 280X DD is a Tahiti XTL GPU based on the 28nm process. This, like the HD 7970 GHz Edition, uses 2048 GCN stream processors, 128 TMUs, 32 ROPs and a 384 bit memory interface that supports 3GB of memory. Like the HD 7970 GHz Edition it is also expected to be clocked above 1GHz though the memory is boosted from the 6GHz we saw on the  HD 7970 GHz Edition to 6.4GHz.

Pricing will be between $299 and $329.

Images courtesy of VideoCardz

AMD Details Improved 4K Support For RX 2XX Series GPUs

AMD has revealed at its GPU 14 LiveStream event that the new RX 2XX series will bring improved compatibility and support for 4K monitors.

AMD claims that in most cases there will be “out of the box” compatibility for 4K monitors with their new series of GPUs.

The new drivers for the AMD RX 2XX series will come with hardware level support for new 4K monitors. The RX 2XX series will also implement a new AMD proposed VESA standard that automatically stitches the two separate panels on a 4K monitor (as most 60Hz 4K monitors are formed from two 2K panels stitched together as current generation display controllers cannot run a single 4K display at 60Hz natively so two are required with two separate panels).

Images courtesy of eTeknix via AMD LiveStream

AMD Announce R9 2XX And R7 2XX Series Graphics Cards

At the GPU 14 event (which you can watch live coverage of here) AMD announced its newest series of graphics cards with the R9 290X, R9 280X and R9 270X all forming the R9 series and the R7 260X and R7 250 forming the R7 series.

AMD briefly details the amount of GDDR5 memory, the price point and the estimated 3DMark Firestrike score of all the new GPUs.

However, the star of the show is AMD’s Radeon R9 290X – the newest addition to the AMD Graphics card family based off a brand new GCN 2.0 architecture. This beast from AMD is revealed but sadly very few details have been disclosed so far. We will of course bring you those A.S.A.P, if AMD reveal them, as we continue our coverage.

Images courtesy of eTeknix via AMD LiveStream

HIS Website Leaks Details Of Upcoming AMD GPUs

The guys over at WCCFTech have managed to grab some details of AMD’s upcoming Volcanic Islands GPU family via the HIS website. We tried to explain the new GPU naming system a while back but now we can bring you the exact naming of these new graphics cards from AMD. The new naming system will be as follows:

  • AMD R9-290 (Replacing HD 7990 Flagship)
  • AMD R9-280 (Replacing HD 7900 Series)
  • AMD R9-270 (Replacing HD 7800/7700 Series)
  • AMD R7-260 (Replacing HD 7770 Series)
  • AMD R7-250 (Replacing HD 7700 Series)
  • AMD R7-240 (Replacing HD 7600 Series)

Based on currently available information the new graphics card line up is believed to look something like this:

Apparently the majority of the graphics cards from the new R-200 series are to be refreshed or rebadged versions of current AMD HD 7000 series graphics cards. These include the R9-270X and below. As you can see from the above table, if this is true, then AMD have knocked to HD 7970 (Tahiti XT) down 3 places in the product stack essentially meaning the HD 7850’s successor is a HD 7970. Nvidia’s rebranding exercise only saw products knocked down by a single place in the product stack, as the GTX 680 became the GTX 770.

AMD’s Hawaii GPU will be for the top three fastest single GPU cards while Vesuvius/Tonga will be the dual GPU graphics card to replace the HD 7990. This will probably be based on a pair of Hawaii GPUs.

WCCFTech also noted that the HIS 280X iPower IceQ X² graphics card was listed with the following specifications:

  • 3GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • 384 Bit interface
  •  Dual LinkDVI-I/HDMI/2xMini DP

The R9-280X is said to be based on the Hawaii XT GPU.

Check out more details right here.

Image courtesy of WCCFTech