Conclusion

ITX graphics cards are not exactly a huge seller, but they do have a goodly amount of interest in them.  People like creating very small builds that provide a lot of performance.  They cannot always utilize an extra large video card, so they need something with a smaller footprint.  Sapphire and others are hoping to get their business with these quick, small, and cool products.

Four heatpipes are… just enough!

The R9 285 really is an underappreciated chip.  It was released during a tough time and all of its features were perhaps not explained nearly as well as they should have been?  Hard to say, but a lot of reviewers who had R9 285 cards in hand were also testing the GTX 970 and 980 parts at the same time.  In many minds and reviews, the R9 285 was overshadowed by what was about to drop.  I still am not entirely sure what AMD is up to with Tonga and their future plans, but certainly the reception this chip got probably changed those plans at AMD.  For one reason or another, AMD never released a “full” Tonga with 2048 shaders.

Sapphire’s version of this product is really good.  I had a very easy time with this card and it gave me no problems whatsoever.  Performance was more than adequate considering its price point and 2 GB of memory.  It often exceeds the performance of its closest rivals and does not cost significantly more, if at all.  Currently the card sells online for around $219, but it is offered with a $20 to $30 mail in rebate depending on the retailer.  If a user acts soon, they can get a copy of DiRT Rally thrown in for free.  That is a $35 value for what I consider a really good game.

The "S" switch controls which firmware is used with the video card.  Depress it to select the UEFI firmware.

The card stayed very cool, even under load.  The fan stays very quiet throughout operational speeds.  I would imagine that it would become audible in a very hot environment, but in my testing lab of around 70 to 74 F it never became loud at all.  The build quality seems more than adequate for the job and the construction of the card is very solid.  It is a nice, heavy piece of equipment that should last quite some time.

I have been asked how this card would compare to the MSI GTX 760 ITX and Asus GTX 670 ITX.  In my opinion, it is a better card than either of the others.  It may not be as fast as the Asus card, but it is much quieter and cooler running.  It is faster overall than the MSI card and again cooler running and quieter.  I have no problem recommending this card to anyone who is looking for a small form factor GPU that has some extra features that others do not encompass.  I know that TrueAudio has been in a lull lately, but I think the technology will see some better uptake as true VR solutions hit the ground.  In VR the extra audio processing will become MUCH more important.  For AMD’s sake, I hope they are getting that particular word out.

The back is busy, but not terribly so.  It is a small card.  The two large SMTs could potentially get damaged if the card is not handled carefully.

Sapphire has built a nice card, it is just unfortunate that the R9 285 does not get more attention.  It really is a good GPU with a lot of nice features.  Perhaps in its next iteration AMD will allow it to spread its wings a bit?

Speaking of next iteration, why would someone buy this card instead of waiting for the upcoming AMD refresh?  The answer to that one is purely need and focus.  If someone has a specific build that requires a card this size and outstanding 1080P performance, then this is a really good product.  The 2 GB of memory should not hold it back at that resolution and there are plenty of current and older games that are not as demanding when run at 1600P.  The price on this card is not outrageous.  I do not think that buyer’s remorse will play a big part in this as compared to the rebadged versions coming later this summer.

The R9 285 ITX is compared to the Asus GTX 750 Ti STRIX (bottom). Yes, the R9 285 is smaller.

The Sapphire R9 285 ITX OC is a really good card.  It is not overpriced.  It performs as expected and even surprises there and there.  Noise and heat are not an issue with the design.  Connectivity is great and the Freesync support is certainly a positive.  There is a pretty low risk in buying this card, and it looks good to boot.  Sapphire has a really solid product on the market with the R9 285 ITX.

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