Every new launch means new custom PCB designs from the manufactures. The first to hit our office this time around was an R9 270X from Gigabyte with their Windforce cooler design and an overclock. In the past I have been impressed with Gigabytes Windforce designs for their pure cooling power, I’m excited to see what three cooling fans on a large heatsink will do for keeping the R9 270X cool. But first let’s take a look at the card.

Product Name: Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce

Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

To check out more details on the new AMD cards check out our coverage HERE

Specifications

GPU

Radeon R9 270X

Core Clock

1100MHz

Memory Clock

5600 MHz

Memory Size

2048MB GDDR5

Bus Type

PCI Express 3.0

Memory Bus

256bit

Stream Processors

1280

Memory Type

64Mx32

DirectX 11

Yes

DVI Port

DVI-I / DVI-D

DisplayPort

Yes

HDMI

HDMI 1.4a

HDCP

Yes

 

 


Card Layout and Photos

The overall design of the R9 270X Windforce eye catching with its triple fan design in your face. It screams that cooling performance is the top focus of this card. Along with that I love that Gigabyte went with an all-black design from the fans, fan shroud, brackets, and the PCB. I can imagine that if Batman was building a PC (and apparently on a bit of a budget, ha) he would be looking at something like this.

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Before I jump into more photos of the card, here are a couple snaps of part of the packaging, when this card was shipped to me it didn’t have the rest of the packaging with it. I do love how the card comes in its foam shell with its accessories tucked in up under in.

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The top support bracket on the R9 270X Windforce has a look that reminds me of the frame structure of some skyscrapers. It has a support structure while having a mostly open design to give the best airflow from the heatsink it would otherwise cover up. Speaking of that, the overall design of the Windforce cooling focuses on pushing the air through the heatsinks and then down or up out of the card. There is very little air that will be going out of the rear vent.

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For power the G9 270X requires two six pin power connections. Gigabyte made sure to leave a little extra room for the clips by notching their heatsinks.

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For crossfire you get one crossfire bridge connection, Gigabyte also make sure to shape the metal support bracket around the connection to prevent any compatibility issues.

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I mentioned it before, but as you can see with the card flipped over, you get a full black PCB to match the rest of the all black design. Here you can also see that the length of the PCB is shorter than the overall length of the card. I love how there is another shroud here as well to help protect the heatsink fins. That shroud still has ventilation in it for the air coming out of the third fan to blow over the heatsink and out the back.

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On the expansion slot end of the card the R9 270X Windforce has a fairly basic configuration. You get two DVI connections with one of them supporting analog pass-through for DVI to VGA adapters. You also have a full sized DisplayPort as well as a full sized HDMI connection. This is basically what I see on every card anymore. There is a vent as well but as mentioned before this design won’t be venting much if anything out of this direction.

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Our Test Rig and Procedures

Our Test Rig

CPU

Intel i7-3960X

Memory

Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM Quad Channel  (4x4GB)

Motherboard

Asus Rampage IV X79 Motherboard 

Cooling

Intel Active Thermal Solution RTS2011LC

Power Supply

Cooler Master Gold Series 1200 Watt PSU

Storage

Kingston Hyper X 120 SSD

Seagate Constellation 2tb Hard drive 

Case

High Speed PC Test Bench

Our Testing Procedures

Bioshock Infinite

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Bioshock Infinite on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, FXAA turned on, Ultra Texture detail, 16x Aniso Texture Filtering, Ultra Dynamic Shadows, Normal Postprocessing, Light Shafts on, Ambient Occlusion set to ultra, and the Level of Detail set to Ultra as well.

Tomb Raider

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Tomb Raider on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, Exclusive Fullscreen turned on, Anti-Aliasing set to 2xSSAA, Texture Quality set to Ultra, Texture Aniso set to 16x Aniso, Hair Quality set to TressFX, Shadow set to Normal, Shadow Resolution on High, Ultra SSAO, Ultra Depth of Field, High Reflection quality, Ultra LOD scale, Post Processing On, High Precision RT turned on, and Tessellation is also turned on. 

Hitman: Absolution

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Hitman: Absolution on the “Xtreme” quality setting other than the MSAA setting is turned down from 8x to 2x. That setting puts the resolution at 1920x1080, MSAA is set to 2x, Texture Quality is set to High, Texture Aniso is set to 16x, Shadows are on Ultra, SSA is set to high, Global Illumination is turned on, Reflections are set to High, FXAA is on, Level of Detail is set to Ultra, Depth of Field is high, Tessellation is turned on, and Bloom is set to normal.

Sleeping Dogs

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Sleeping Dogs on the “Xtreme” quality setting. That means our resolution is set to 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing is set to Extreme, Texture Quality is set to High-Res, Shadow Quality is High, Shadow Filter is set to high, SSAO is set to High, Motion Blur Level is set to High, and World Density is set to Extreme.

F1 2012

We use the built in benchmark for F1 2012. We set our resolution to 1920x1080 and then use the “Ultra” setting.

Batman Arkham Asylum

We used the built-in benchmark set to 1920 x 1080, Multi Sample AA 16XQ, Detail Level, Very High, Bloom: Yes, Dynamic Shadows: Yes, Motion Blur: Yes, Distortion: Yes, Fog Volumes: Yes, Spherical Harmonic Lighting: Yes, Ambient Occlusion: Yes, PhysX: Off

Total War: Shogun 2

Direct X11 Benchmark High setting

Crysis 2

Using Adrenaline Crysis 2 benchmark.  1080p, 4x Anti-Aliasing, DX11, Laplace Edge Detection Edge AA, on the Times Square map, with hi res textures turned on.

Battlefield 3

Using Fraps with the game set to Ultra settings with 4x MSAA Antialiasing Deferred, 16X Anisotropic Filter, at 1920x1080.

Sniper V2 Elite

1920 x 1080 resolution, graphics detail set to ultra

Dirt Showdown

1920 x 1080 resolution, 4x MSAA multisampling, Vsync off, Shadows: ultra; Post Process: High; Night Lighting: High; Vehicle Reflections: Ultra; Ambient Occlusion: Ultra; Water: high; Objects: Ultra; Trees: Ultra; Crowd: Ultra; Ground Cover: High.

Metro Last Light

Using the included benchmark tool. The settings are set to 1920x1080, DirectX 11, quality is set to very high, Texture filtering is untouched at 4x, and motion blue is set to normal. SSAA is unselected, PhysX is unselected, Tessellation is off. We run through scene D6 three times to get an average score.

Synthetic Benchmarks

For video cards our synthetic benchmarks are limited to 3DMark Vantage 2011, and 3DMark 2013 (AKA 3DMark). In 3DMark Vantage 2011 we run both performance and extreme benchmarks. The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark, we run through Fire Strike on standard and extreme settings.

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0

Using the “Extreme” preset

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 heat testing

We run through Unreal Heaven at 1080p for 30 minutes to test in game heat performance and noise output of the card while under load.

Power Usage

Using Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0, we get our “load” power usage number from the peak power usage during our test. We get our numbers from a Kill-A-Watt connected to the test benches power cord.

Noise Testing

Our Noise testing is done using a decibel meter 3 inches away from the video card on the bottom/fan side of the card. We test an idle noise level and then to get an idea of how loud the card will get if it warms all the way up we also turn the fan speed up to 100% and test again. The 100% test isn’t a representation of typical in game noise levels, but it will show you how loud a card can be if you run it at its highest setting or if it gets very hot.

 

 


Cooling, Noise, and Power

With a card like the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce I love seeing how it performs in our cooling, noise, and power testing. The reason for that is because with each card having a unique cooling design and an overclock you see major differences in performance here while the differences between similar cards in other performance categories are typically much smaller. To start things off, I jumped right into temperature testing, I expected the R9 270X Windforce to perform well with its three cooling fans as well as my past experience with the GTX 760 OC Windforce was impressive as well. This card however managed to impress me even more. My results ended up being the lowest I have tested. This is partly related to how Gigabyte configures their fan speed profiles, but having a giant heatsink with three fans on it must have played a big role as well.

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For noise performance I wasn’t sure what to expect. Typically the more fans on the GPU the higher the noise levels on both idle and 100% load test. In this case the idle results were nearly at the top, but the 100% load results were much better. This means that even with three fans, Gigabyte created a design that has little wind resistance to create noise at speed; I would say that a lot of this can be credited to the open design of the top support bracket for example.

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Power consumption for the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce at idle came in as one of the lowest on our charts, with only a few lower powered cards edging it out. Of course load performance is the most important and at 356 watts under load the R9 270X Windforce did pull a little power. This put it in below the GTX 760 reference card, the same card that AMD suggests be put against the R9 280X. Sadly I didn’t have a GTX 660 in my test results to get a direct comparison to what AMD is putting this card against, but the GTX 650 Ti Boost came in 37 watts less than the R9 270X Windforce.

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Synthetic Benchmarks

Synthetic benchmarks aren’t a good way to find out how well your card will perform in game. But they are a good way to compare different cards against each other because their results are consistent. Because of that I put the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce through our test suite to see how it compares to cards that are both above and below its price range. The end result shows the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce coming in just above the non GHz Edition of the HD 7870 and almost spot on for the GTX 760 in the new 3DMark Fire Strike. The same goes for the 3DMark 11 results, with it beating the GTX 760 in the performance setting but dropping down some in the extreme setting due to the cards smaller memory bus. All in all I found the results to be encouraging compared to the GTX 760 especially.

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In Game Benchmarks

When it comes down to it, in game performance is what it’s all about right? Well the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce does it job and some. Of the 12 games I tested the card on, half of them pulled an FPS of 60 or higher with at least one being .2 below 60 FPS. As for the rest, they all came in over what most would consider playable (30 FPS) or better. This of course is with all of our tests turned all the way up including AA in most cases. Depending on if the benchmark favors AMD or Nvidia the results put the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce just below or just above the GTX 760, impressive!

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Overclocking

When it came down to overclocking the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce, it was a bit of an adjustment for me. I’ve been used to overclocking on the Nvidia side of things with their unique clock speed “offsets”. With that I jumped into overclocking the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce with our standard overclock testing using 3DMark 11 to confirm the overclocks. I started with the GPU clock speed testing. The stock speed was 1100MHz and I quickly jumped up to 120MHz. Sadly past that I ran into issues until I turned it back down to 1225MHz. For memory testing I went about things the same way, but coming from stock speed of 1400MHz it didn’t take long before I reached the limit that AMD’s overclock settings would let me push the memory too. At 1625MHz I was capped without pushing the real limits. With that I combined my results and ran through and confirmed that the card could do both at the same time without any issues as well.

GPU Clock Speed Overclocking

GPU Clock Speed

Pass/Fail

FPS Result

Notes

1200MHz

Pass

44.13

 

1300MHz

Fail

N/A

Blue Screen

1250MHz

Fail

N/A

Blue Screen

1225MHz

Pass

44.92

 

Memory Clock Offset Overclocking

Memory Clock Speed

Pass/Fail

FPS Result

Notes

1500MHz

Pass

41.44

 

1600MHz

Pass

41.29

 

1625MHz

Pass

41.36

 

Combined GPU and Memory overclocks together

GPU Clock Speed

Memory Clock Speed

FPS Result

Notes

1225MHz

1625MHz

45.30

 

 

 


Overall and Final Verdict

Being our first R9 270X here in the LanOC Office I only had a rough idea of what to expect. With that, I was a little surprised when I opened everything up and found what can only be described as a massive card. The Windforce cooling extends the card out almost two inches beyond its already long PCB. Even with that I was impressed right away with the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce’s styling. Gigabyte blacked the entire card out, giving the card a bit of a batman theme that I really dig. After getting into testing I was even more impressed with the card, especially in its cooling performance, but in every test I put it through. I think the only potential downside to the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce is the length issue I previously mentioned, if you have limited space in your build you might run into issues.

When it comes to value, we have to take into account both the performance as well as the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce’s $199 MSRP. At that price, compared to other R9 270X’s it is well priced with its overclock and aftermarket cooler. What about compared to other cards? Well compared to Nvidia’s offerings this is a better value, the GTX 760 is nearly $50 more and in multiple cases the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce matched its performance. But what I was a little concerned with was in comparison to the HD 7870 GHz Edition that the R9 270X is a rebadge of. A quick look on Newegg shows multiple models selling for $20 less or you can get the Windforce edition for the same price as this card; all of those include two games as well. Hopefully AMD bundles games with the R9 270X’s in the future as well. In the end you really have to look to see if you can find an HD 7870 GHz edition cheaper, if not the Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce is a great buy for a card that plays everything with good to great performance. 

fv3tophonors

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld replied the topic: #33110 10 Oct 2013 12:43
Our first AMD R series card review, Check it out! Have a good day everyone

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