DirectCU II R9 280X TOP
The DCII R9 280X is a bit more of an upgrade to the reference model than the previous 270X. Asus did a lot of work to really make this board shine, and it does not disappoint. The board is based on the same Tahiti chip as the previous HD 7970 series of cards. The board is overclocked from stock and runs at 1070 MHz (stock boards run at 1 GHz with a 50 MHz boost over that). Memory runs at a very brisk 6400 MHz on a 384 bit bus giving it a pretty monstrous 300 GB/sec of bandwidth. The chip still sports 2048 stream processors.
Note the monstrous 10 mm heatpipe directly attached to the GPU.
Asus increases the power phases for the GPU from 5 to 8 with this card. It again relies upon the improved component choices to increase power handling and response. The memory keeps with the 2 phases. The board retains the 8+6 pin PCI-E power connections, so it is not gaining any extra power over a reference board.
The board mirrors the 270X in terms of outputs, and the addition of the extra dual-link DVI output is again quite welcome. The board features two CrossFire connectors, so it can be used in Tri and Quad-Fire configurations. This board also does not integrate the DMI based CrossFire functionality of the R9 290 series. It also does not include the TrueAudio functionality.
The MSI Lightning features the GPU Reactor on the back to provide more power directly to the GPU. Asus forgoes such an extreme design to save a bit of money.
The biggest upgrade from the previous DirectCU II HD 7970 GHz edition is that of cooling. Gone is the monster 3-slot cooler that kept the card under control. The redesigned unit is better in every way. It is a more compact cooler (2 slots). The dual 80 mm fans keep it nice and cool, while one of the fans is the new CoolTech unit. Asus also helped to develop a 10 mm heatpipe that it uses in this design. Asus is one of the first to actually use this large heatpipe. The other heatpipes are 8 mm affairs and there are a total of 5 with this design. The board does not feature the full-sized backplate that previous models had, but it does have a metal spine along the top that helps support the cooler and PCB when installed in a case.