MSI Radeon R9 270 Gaming OC and Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 OC Video Card Review

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AMD Targets Video Cards At The $179 Price Point

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has been keeping us extremely busy launching new graphics cards and this week is no different. AMD announced the Radeon R9 270 graphics card this morning at the $179.99 price point. This is the sixth video card that AMD has added to the Radeon R7 and R9 series of  video cards since October! This ‘new’ card is interesting as it reduces the entry price into the high-end R9 series down to the $179 price point and uses the same exact Pitcarin GPU found on the AMD Radeon R9 270X!

AMD R9 Series Lineup

The AMD Radeon R9 270 is pretty much the same thing as the Radeon R9 270X, but it features a lower GPU clock speed and power envelope. The AMD Radeon R9 270X had a typical board power of 180 Watts and required two 6-pin PCIe power connectors.  The new AMD Radeon R9 270 has a typical board power of just 150 Watts, which means it can get away with a single 6-pin PCIe power connector.  This is significant as many older systems and the vast majority of store bought systems can only handle a modest discrete graphics card. 

  Radeon R9 270 Radeon R9 270X Radeon HD 7870 GHz
Release Date November 2013 October 2013 March 2012
Original SRP $179 $199 $349
GPU Pitcarin Pitcarin Pitcarin
Process 28nm 28nm 28nm
Transistors 2.8 billion 2.8 billion 2.8 billion
Stream Processors 1280 1280 1280
Clock Speed 925 MHz 1050 MHz 1000 MHz
Frame Buffer 2GB 2GB 2GB
Memory Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Clock 1400 MHz 1400 MHz 1200 MHz
Compute Perf 2.37 TFLOPS 2.69 TFLOPS 2.56 TFLOPS
Texture Units 80 80 80
ROPs 32 32 32
Typical Board Power 150W 180W 175W

The AMD Radeon R9 270X was clocked at 1050 MHz on the core and 1400 MHz on the GDDR5 memory. The new AMD Radeon R9 270 runs at 925 MHz on the core and 1400 MHz on the GDDR5 memory. This means the core clock speed has been lowered 75MHz, which is right around a 7% clock speed reduction from the R9 270X.  The lowered clock speed means that the card has just 2.37 TFLOPS of compute performance versus 2.69TFLOPS before. This is a decrease of 11.9-percent, so it looks like lowering the clock speeds and board power will certainly have an impact on gaming performance and thus the $20 price cut.

Here is a quick table that compared the key specifications for some of the Pitcarin based graphics cards. Now that you know what the key changes are between the ‘old’ AMD Radeon R9 270X and the ‘new’ AMD Radeon R9 270, we can dive into the review! 

msi-sapphire-270

AMD did not send us their Radeon R9 270 reference card, but we were able to get our hands on a pair of retail cards from our friends at MSI and Sapphire!  MSI sent over the Radeon R9 270 Gaming OC 2GB video card (part number R9 270 GAMING 2G) and Sapphire sent the Dual-X R9 270 2G GDDR5 with Boost (Part number 11220-00-40G).

  MSI R9 270 Gaming OC Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 OC
SRP $179 $179
Clock Speed 975 MHz 945 MHz
Memory Clock 1400 MHz 1400 MHz

As you can see from the table above both the MSI and Sapphire Radeon R9 270 cards that we were sent are factory overclocked cards.  The MSI R9 270 Gaming is 50MHz over stock and the Sapphire Dual-X OC is 20MHz over the reference cards speeds set by AMD. This is a modest overclock by all means, but remember we are likely going to be overclocking limited by the power envelope on this card and the single 6-pin PCie power connector. 

sapphire-r9-270oc

Both AMD Raedeon R9 270 video cards feature dual-slot GPU coolers with twin cooling fans and share the same GPU and amount of memory and that is where the similarities end. Both companies made custom PCBs for their Radeon R9 270 cards,  The Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 OC video card measures 7.8-inches in length, but the fan shrouds brings the total length of the card to just uner 8.25-inches.  The MSI R9 270 Gaming is 10-inches long (PCB Measures 8.75-inches, but the fan aluminum cooling fins and fan shroud both extend past the PCB).

amd-r9-270-display

When it comes to video outputs you have a pair of DVI connectors (DVI-I and DVI-D), Display Port and HDMI. Both cards have slots for hot air to exhaust, but it appears that Sapphire has enlarged theirs to reduce noise and improve airflow for better cooling.

sapphire-r9-270

Both cards feature a GPU cooler that has two two copper heatpipes, but the differ in size. The MSI card uses one 6mm and one 8mm, whereas the Sapphire card uses two 8mm heatpipes. The actual fan blade  diameter on the MSI card is 95mm and just 74mm on the Sapphire Dual-X card. It will be interesting to see how these cards keep cool with the different cooler designs as MSI is using larger fans with smaller heatpipes and Sapphire is using larger heatpipes with smaller fans.  Both cards also have one AMD CrossFire interconnect located along the top edge of the card for multi-GPU setups.

amd-r9-270-power

Both cards have a single of 6-pin PCI Express power connector located near the end of the card.  The MSI R9 270 Gaming OC has it located on the top and the Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 has it located at the end of the video card. Both MSI and Sapphire recommend a 500W or greater power supply with one 75W 6-pin power connector for this video card to operate properly. If you wanted to run AMD CrossFire at some point in time, the recommended PSU is a 600W or greater model with two 75 Watt PCIe power connectors.

amd-r9-270-back

Both MSI and Sapphire didn’t use a backplate on their Radeon R9 270 video cards! The MSI Radeon R9 270 Gaming OC and Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 are two good looking cards, but how do they perform? Let’s put them both to the test and see how they do!

 

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  • Brian Blair

    Anyone want to buy my old MSI GTX 650 Ti 1GB $50? And no I will not ship it, You will have to be responsible for shipping it, I can’t understand how some people think you should just buy them a new car just because they are they! LOL get over yourself already! Anyway the Card was used by me for about 10 months, It still looks new and no dust, It still has the box it came in, Has the owners manual and the accessories, Every single thing that originally came in the box is still in the box, The card was even put back in it’s original static bag. The card was never pushed just gamed with, I did overclock it some to see what it could do and it actually overclocks very well, But I mostly just kept it at it’s stock clock speed of 928mhz. The highest I clocked it was 1080mhz and the memory I never really messed with it. But it has Hynix V-Ram so it should do decent. I was going to use it as a physx card with my R9 270, But thanks to fascist Nvidia locking the drivers if it detects a AMD card, I can’t use it, I guess Nvidia thinks they have the right to tell you what to do with your own property.

  • rich

    r wolf

  • Brian Blair

    The Higher the clock speed the higher the G-Flops get, Save money and buy the 270 non X and just set her at 1050 in CCC, And then you have the same 32.8 GPxels and the same 92.0 GTexels and the same 2.69 TFlops. And without having to use the same power draw as the X model. I am sure the X model can ultimately reach a higher clock speed in the end. But lets face it, The moment that a major GPU overclock is needed, is the moment a upgrade is needed. I will not lie I would rather have the X model. But It just did not make sense to me paying $20-$30 more dollars for a higher clock setting. I know $20-$30 dollars is not much to some people. But it is to me. That’s a case of Natural Light and bag of Beer Nuts. And some left over for gas money so I can give MADD a reason to exist! HAHAHAHA!

  • Brian Blair

    Best $179 I ever spent. You will not be disappointed buying the R9 270. It’s friggin power man!

  • Adino

    This is the latest comment,but whatever :P

    If I buy this card now,does they gave me any Battlefield 4?

    I will buy a MSI R9 270 (specifically the Gaming 2G BF4 version. Site : http://www.msi.com/product/vga/R9_270_GAMING_2G_BF4.html#overview)
    According to the site,they will gave me a free copy of BF4.My local store had one left in the stock,however I was unable to see the box.

    I was worried that I wouldn’t get any BF4,as I can buy better card from other brand BUT not getting any BF4.(Please take consideration that this is April 2014)

    What do you guys think,should I get this card or not?

    • Kai

      Don’t get it.

      Remember that the graphics card is permanent until you get a new one, and that it will be used to run any other game. Buying a graphics card because it comes with Battlefield defeats the purpose of buying the graphics card itself.

      Go buy yourself a better GPU and don’t buy one because it comes with a game. Graphics cards are expensive, buy one that you will be happy with, and that will last.

      By the way, I have the Sapphire Radeon R9 270 2GB GDDR5 Duel-X

      and it runs Battlefield 4 @ 60 FPS on High Settings. I recommend the Radeon R9 290 or 290x.

      MSI Radeon R9 290X: http://www.msi.com/product/vga/R9_290X_LIGHTNING.html

      Sapphire Radeon R9 290: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=8866844&SRCCODE=WEBGOOPA&cm_mmc_o=mH4CjC7BBTkwCjCV1-CjCE&gclid=CNuMm7mqk74CFYJqfgodrSgAjQ

      • Ashhong

        The dude is asking if he should get the card so that he can save ~$50 on Battlefield 4, and you recommend a card that is several hundred dollars more expensive? Clearly he wants to save money. Your 270 runs BF4 at 1080p @60FPS and you completely skip all the cards in the middle and go to the 290 lol. Ridiculous.

        • Brian Blair

          Yeah that is kind of a douche recommendation. I have had no problems maxing games with my R9 270. Not to mention he would have to spend more money buying a new PSU to power it. By the way I saw a dual fan Power Color R9 270 for $159.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131545&cm_re=r9_270-_-14-131-545-_-Product

          That should save him money, LOL And he will get 2 free games like I did with my HIS, It won’t be BF4 but you can get Sleeping Dog’s Hitman Absolution, Alan Wake. And many more to choose from, I got Sleeping Dog’s and Alan Wake.

  • realdeal

    This review is very bias toward msi. Msi is not that better like it was represented in this review. Especially overclocking part, Ask yourself why they did not tested sapphire at gpu 1050, mem 1500, and power +20 ??? As you can see memory on sapphire can easily go to 1625, that means that is it BETTER MEMORY CHIP, at that matter most (beside GPU chip).

    This review is FAKE.

    • Matti Alexander Christensen

      most likely not, and no, they both use hynix memory chips, but sapphire uses better vrm. however the hynix memory seems to have a wall at 1500 mhz, meaning that going above that will decrease performance in many cases.
      so what we are seing is that the sapphire card can clock just as high, while using less power, and even go beyond the limits of the memory chips, even though its inefficient.

      • Brian Blair

        Wrong! Thy use E-6 Elpida Chips rated 6 Gbps at 1.6v , So that is why they overclock almost as good as Hynix. My His Model has Elpida and can go to 1500 and 1600, But I do not recommend anyone overclock V-Ram It is pointless anyway. The 270 already has a memory bandwidth of 179.2 GB/s a good number faster than the 7870′s was. And all your FPS gain will be in overclocking the GPU clock anyway. Overclocking the V-ram will just burn them up anyway and then you will get artifacts. So why risk it? Besides why would you need to overclock such a powerful GPU anyway? Makes no sense.

    • Ansau

      Your arguments are the fake:
      1- What we see is SOFTWARE LIMITATION. This is what you can reach with Catalyst. With MSI Afterburner or EVGA Precision X numbers could be higher.
      2- Yes, with Catalist you can push Sapphire much higher, but they also said they let to 1050MHz cause higher was unstable. And that means they reached its cap. We don’t know how much MSI can be pushed, but it’s easy to be higher than Sapphire (normally, higher base clocks allows higher OC clocks).
      3- Better clocks setting doesn’t mean better performance. 3DMark punctuations show you. MSI=5646, Sapphire=5467. MSI performs better with the same GPU clock and slightly slower memory clock.

      That doesn’t mean Sapphire is a bad choice, they have done a good job, just maybe MSI has done a killer.

      PD: Also, there’s a MSI promotion with BF4 for just +10€.

    • Brian Blair

      I don’t rally think it is biased to MSI. Look at PC mag’s review of my HIS R9 270. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2430169,00.asp

      I was actually going to buy the MSI gaming R9 270 for $179.99, But right before I bought it they raised the price to $189.99 LOL, So instead I got the HIS model R9 270 for $179.99, I also liked the way the HIS looked. And it is a smaller length making it a better fit for airflow. The only reason I was going to get the MSI was because my motherboard is a MSI, And my older 650 Ti (Now my Physx Card) is a MSI. So I trusted there products. But I like my HIS GPU, So far So good.

      • Brian Blair

        Then again I forgot you can use afterburner with any GPU so yeah they could have ran it at the same speeds instead of pretending they could only use CCC with the Saphire. So in a way you are right. Ok you are 100% right it is fake!

  • Nerdrage

    Great review. Sapphire need to offer more if they want to better.