Graphics, Hardware, Reviews

AMD R9 285 – A Performance Review


The card was very easily overclocked using the Sapphire TriXX application.  The card went up to 1140MHz  core without an issue and the memory topped out at 1500MHz. This core clock increase is up from the 918 MHz stock speed of the R9 285 and up from 965  MHz with this overclocked Sapphire Dual-X OC card.  The card was tested for stability with Unigine Heaven 4.0 to stress the card in between small incremental increases in speed so that it was easier know where the last good speed was.  There were no graphical abnormalities, which was taken as it being stable and working correctly.  The card does experience some throttling issues as when clocked to 1150/1550 the card was stable but yielded results lower than stock.

Test System:
Intel i7 5960X @ 3.5GHz
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme
Asus Rampage V Extreme
Kingston HyperX Predator DDR4 3000 C15 4x4GB
Mushkin Chronos 240GB SSD
MSI 290X Lightning / Sapphire R9 285 Dual-X OC
Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate

3DMark Fire Strike Benchmarks_2

3DMark Skydiver Benchmark_2

3DMark 11 Benchmark - Extreme_2

3DMark Vantage Benchmark - Extreme_2

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0_2

The 3D scores from the 285 is in line with what was expected from it. A 7970 is about 50% of a 290X, and here we are seeing the 285 at about 60-70% across these benchmarks.  This means that the 285 at stock is pretty powerful for its place in the AMD GPU line.  With the very easy OC of 1140/1500 the benchmarks picked up another 10% in performance.  This puts in at about 80% of the performance of a 290X in 3DMark tests, while moving to 70% in Heaven 4.0.   This will be plenty powerful for running todays games at higher resolutions or lower with a bit more eye candy.  For games that are a bit older the 285 will be more than enough to run then at decent frame rates.  The Unigene Heaven 4.0 was run at 2560×1440, with the quality set to high, tessellation disabled, and preset set to custom.  This will be the standard settings for the Heaven 4.0 benchmark in the tests that are done by me.  Overall in the 3D testing I found myself to be impressed with the results since they were about 10% faster than what I was expecting when starting.  I can see this being a good choice for a build that has $250 budgeted for the GPU, and with AMD’s new tech in the mix it is icing on the cake.

Cinebench Benchmarks_2

SiSoft Sandra Media Transcode_2

In the OpenCL tests of Cinebench R11.5 and R15 it was quite a surprise to see the 285 be so close to the 290X. Even more surprising was that the overclocked 285 results in Cinebench bested the 290X.  This would lead me to believe that this would make a wonderful choice for those looking for a card that they can game with and also use to leverage OpenCL in applications.  This would really help boost the workflow speed if using something like a newer version of  adobe photoshop or premier, not to mention countless other applications.  It is very visible in the Sandra Media Transcoding test that the 290X is beaten handily by the 285 which was unexpected and confirmed by replicating the results a few times over with fresh drivers.  The 285’s performance can be attributed to the performance of the Tonga Pro.  There is a possibility that the 290X results are bugged, but having gotten the same results multiple times with fresh drivers might lessen that possibility.  The version that was tested was the Full HD TV transcoding test, run on the GPUs only.  Having the power to churn through transcoding is nice when using programs like Plex or other media servers that can leverage GPU transcoding.  This would be used well if the media files were of higher quality, but to more easily transmit them to clients on other PCs or streaming boxes converting to a lower quality was needed.