Overclocking, Power, Sound and Closing Thoughts
With the stability of the Tahiti core and the additional cooling provided by the MSI Twin Frozr cooler, overclocking the Radeon R9 280 Gaming card was fairly impactful. Using the MSI Afterburner software that MSI has been producing for quite a while, I was able to hit a stable core clock of 1150 MHz without the need to raise voltages. That is a 15% overclock from the out of box specs and a 23% overclock from the reference R9 280 settings.
Very nice! In terms of performance advantages of this overclock, you should see nearly linear scaling with GPU-bound games like Crysis 3 and Metro: Last Light.
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme – Stock
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme – 1150 MHz Overclock
In 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme, the overclocking results in an 11% increase in the graphics score compared to the stock MSI card settings.
The MSI R9 280 graphics card pulls close to the same power levels as the R9 280X which isn't a surprise considering how the performance story played out. At 334 watts total system draw, the MSI Gaming card drew 24 watts less than the R9 280X reference card but 47 watts more than the much lower performing R9 270X.
As I said on the first page of this review, the Twin Frozr cooler on the MSI R9 280 Gaming is able to keep the GPU very cool and can do so without a burden on your ears. Under a full gaming load, at maximum clock speed, the MSI card rated at 33.4 dbA in our sound testing compared to 37.4 dbA on the reference GTX 760 card.
Pricing and Availability
The MSI Radeon R9 280 Gaming card is widely available on Amazon, Newegg, NCIX, Tiger Direct and more.
(UPDATE: It appears that in the 48 hours it took me to complete writing this review the price of the card may have jumped to as high as $270 which drastically changes my opinion of it. Keep an eye on the prices on Amazon.com and Newegg.com as they will change day to day…)
At $230 or so, the MSI Radeon R9 280 Gaming (and other R9 280 offerings at that same price point) are a steal and really become one the best graphics card selections hovering around the $200 mark. Our testing showed that the R9 280 is significantly faster than the R9 270X and also much faster than NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 760 card that sells for the same $220-240 level.
Just as it happened a couple of years ago with the HD 7970 and the HD 7950, we find ourselves loving the R9 280 when compared to the R9 280X and the rest of the GPU lineup from either AMD or NVIDIA. Only this time prices are lower across the board. For gamers that are targeting a 1080p gaming experience and want to be able to max out quality settings in just about any title (with a couple of exceptions like Crysis), the Radeon R9 280 GPU is going to be a fantastic and compelling option for under $250. In particular, the MSI Radeon R9 280 Gaming edition ups the offering by included the Twin Frozr cooler and enough overclocking headroom to easily hit 1100 MHz or 1150 MHz with some luck. PC gamers with a mainstream budget would be hard pressed to do better than this card!