So last week was basically all about budget gaming with our first R7 370 review as well as the launch of the GTX 950. Well this week isn’t going to be any different. Today I’m going to take a look at another R7 370, this time the Asus Strix 4GB model. This gives us a chance to compare the Sapphire that I previously took a look and find out how the cards compare. It also is a good chance to see where the R7 370 sits now that the GTX 950 is out. To sit back and I’m going to see what the Asus R7 370 Strix 4GB has going on and then how it performs.
Product Name: Asus R7 370 Strix 4GB
Review Sample Provided by: AMD
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Amazon Link: HERE
|Graphics Engine||AMD Radeon R7 370|
|Bus Standard||PCI Express 3.0|
|Video Memory||GDDR5 4GB|
1070 MHz (OC Mode)
1050 MHz (Gaming Mode)
|Memory Clock||5600 MHz|
|Resolution||DVI Max Resolution : 2560x1600|
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (Native) (DVI-I), Yes x 1 (Native) (DVI-D)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1 (Native)
Display Port : Yes x 1 (Native) (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
|Power Consumption||up to 150W1 additional 6 pin PCIe power required|
1 x CrossFire cable
1 x STRIX Laser Sticker
|Software||ASUS GPU Tweak II & Driver|
8.43 " x 4.92 " x 1.65 " Inch
21.4 x 12.5 x4.2 Centimeter
Card Layout and Photos
So the Asus R7 370 is available from Asus in both 2GB and 4GB models but today we are taking a look at the 4GB model. We still get the same 1024 stream processors that all R7 370’s have. The Asus is a little higher overclocked than the Sapphire I tested though. The Sapphire has a 985MHz clock speed but this Strix card should run at 1070 MHz in OC Mode or 1050 MHz in Gaming Mode. The Sapphire did have the same 4 gigs of memory though.
At first glance you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this card and the GTX 950 Strix that I reviewed the other day. The reason for this is because this card shares the exact same heatsink and fan shroud that the GTX 950 Strix had. I mean obviously they are both going to have that Strix look, but when I was doing all of my testing I actually had to check the serial number sticker on the back just to make sure I tested the right card. This means we have the same owl styling the red stickers on the two somewhat small fans. The black fan shroud has the rest of the face including the nose all molded into it. Up top we have the two large heatpipes that end up making this a tall card when it isn’t completely needed. I do think with this design that they should use bigger fans for even more cooling if they are going to go ahead and be tall like the cards that pack in huge fans.
From the top and bottom views we can see really well that the entire heatsink attaches around the GPU and other than that contact is up away from the PCB on the other sides. This allows for air flow from the two PCB blowing fans. To help with the cooling this cooler uses two large heatpipes that are direct mounted in the center of the GPU to pull heat out to the outside portion of the heatsink.
The end of the Strix is completely open as well. In fact the PCB is a few inches shorter than the end of the cooler so a lot of the air blowing down in that area has free flow. For the power connection Asus put the six pin power down on the end of the card, facing out. They flipped the connection to have the clip toward the PCB and notched the PCB to fit it. This lets them get closer with the heatsink without clearance for getting your finger in to unplug the connection being an issue.
For display connections the Asus has a similar setup to the Sapphire with the exception of the placement of the DVI connections. You have a full sized DisplayPort connection as well as a full sized HDMI down on the bottom left. Then on the right are two DVI connections stacked. There is also a large amount of ventilation packed in around all of the plugs.
The back of the card gives a much better look at what we are working with. For starters the PCB is considerably shorter than the Sapphire and even shorter than the cooler Asus included. It’s weird to me that the PCB is also taller, especially considering there was more than enough room to add that space to the end of the card. The two heatpipes are still the two highest points on the card, but we can see that overall the card is close to an inch taller than the top of the PCI slot. There isn’t a backplate covering everything up so we do have full view of the all black PCB. There are four main screws on the back holding the cooler on around the GPU. A few years ago it was a big push for Asus to make removing the cooler to reapply thermal paste easy but seeing the warranty sticker on one of those screws tells me they don’t want people doing that anymore. This back view of the PCB also gives us a peak at the notched PCB around the power connection that I mentioned earlier.
Our Test Rig and Procedures
|Our Test Rig|
|CPU||Intel i7-3960X||Live Pricing|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM Quad Channel (4x4GB)||Live Pricing|
|Motherboard||Asus Rampage IV X79 Motherboard||Live Pricing|
|Cooling||Intel Active Thermal Solution RTS2011LC||Live Pricing|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master Gold Series 1200 Watt PSU||Live Pricing|
|Storage||Kingston Hyper X 3K 240GB SSD||Live Pricing|
|Case||High Speed PC Test Bench||Live Pricing|
|Our Testing Procedures|
|3DMark||The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark using the Fire Strike benchmark in normal, extreme, and ultra settings|
|Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0||Using the “Extreme” preset|
|Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0||Using the Extreme HD preset to get an average FPS|
|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. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|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. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|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. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above, except on the “high” setting.|
|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. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|F1 2014||We use the built in benchmark for F1 2014. We use the Ultra setting and then test at 2560x1440 and 1920x1080|
|Total War: ROME II||Ultra setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in forest benchmark|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor||Using the built in benchmark we test with ultra settings at 1440p|
|Sniper Elite 3||Ultra setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in benchmark|
|GRID Autosport||Ultra setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in benchmark|
|Theif||Tested using the “Very High” setting at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440|
|Folding @ Home||Using the Folding @ Home benchmark we test both single and double precision using the explicit result|
|Cinebench R15||OpenGL benchmark|
|Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 heat testing||We run through Unreal Heaven using the “Extreme” preset for 30 minutes to test in game cooling performance.|
|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 50% and 100% and test both speeds as well. 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.|
So to compere the Asus R7 370 Strix to the Sapphire 370 as well as the GTX 950 I ran it through our synthetic benchmark suite. This consists of three different 3DMark Fire Strike benchmarks that cover a ran of resolutions and graphics settings as well as two Unigine engine benchmarks, Heaven Benchmark 4.0 and the newer Valley Benchmark. In 3Dmark the higher overclock speed made a big difference in comparison to the Sapphire Nitro. The jump in performance wasn’t enough to bring the 370 up to match the speed of the GTX 950 on the performance setting but it did help. On the Extreme setting the gap is even less due to the GTX 950’s lower memory bandwidth and memory capacity. In the Ultra benchmark this showed even more when the R7 370 passes the GTX 950. In the two Unigine benchmarks the higher clock speed made no difference, in fact the results came in slightly lower. This is still just a few FPS away from the GTX 950 though.
While it is nice to be able to compare from card to card in the Synthetic benchmark, testing how the R7 370 Strix will perform in game is where it is at. I mean nearly everyone picks up a dedicated GPU to improve their in game performance, not to see who’s card is faster. To make all of our benchmarks a little easier I broke things down into a few categories. I split the FPS results up into below 30 FPS, Above 30 FPS, and Above 60 FPS. That way I can find out if something will play perfectly on the 370 Strix (above 60), not be perfect but still play (above 30), or not be playable at all (under 30). In addition to bringing things down that way I also break it up into 1080p and 1440p. So how did the R7 370 Strix perform? Well at 1080p one game came in over 60 FPS, five over 30 FPS, and two weren’t playable. A lot of the above 30 games were close to 60 FPS but all in all for most games to get the best performance you might have to turn the settings down from the highest possible settings like I test on. That said most were still very playable, even at those settings, just not perfect. With the resolution turned up the R7 370 Strix surprised me by actually having playable results in four games but the other 5 weren’t playable. This isn’t a big surprise given this is a budget video card that is only designed to run at 1080p or lower.
I was a little surprised that in most of the tests the higher clock speed of the Strix didn’t seem to translate to better performance in game. I have seen this happen in the past when things were getting turned down because of higher thermals, we will have to see how the results look in the cooling tests later.
Next in my testing I did run the R7 370 Strix through our Compute benchmarks to see how the card would perform outside of gaming as well. In Folding @ Home the new higher clock speed did make a difference in both results. In the single precision results it was enough to pull a lead on the Sapphire 370. In the double precision test not only did it do that but it also pulled very slightly ahead of the GTX 970 as well. This time around I also included the Cinebench R15 OpenGl benchmark as well. This renders a scene and the result is the average FPS that it rendered at. Here the GTX 950 Strix dominated and oddly enough the Sapphire pulled ahead slightly as well.
Cooling, Noise, and Power
For my last bit of testing I wanted to check out some of the other aspects of a video card beyond just graphical performance. These tests cover the cooling performance, noise output, and total power usage of the R7 370 Strix. These are also a great way to be able to compare similar modeled cards, specifically I’m curious how the Strix will compare to the Sapphire R7 370 and also the GTX 950 that we tested last week that has the same Strix cooler as this card. To start off my testing I ran our peak wattage tests using both the heaven benchmark and the more demanding Valley benchmark. In the Heaven benchmark the Sapphire and Asus R7 370’s came in at the exact same 323 wattage with the GTX 950 just a few watts lower. Valley was similar with all three cards being within just a few watts of each other as well.
Next I tested the overall noise output of the R7 370 Strix. Here I test the fan noise at 100% fan speed and 50% fan speed. I do test at idle as well but all of the recent cards including this one actually turn off the fans completely under low load so it’s not worth graphing out anymore. So how did the R7 370 Strix perform? Well at 100% fan speed it is up in the top portion of our charts making it one of the quieter cards I have tested. It’s not a big surprise that the GTX 950 with the same exact cooler put out nearly the same amount of noise though. This is noticeably quieter than the Sapphire. At 50% fan speed the numbers are quieter of course and also up near the top of the charts as well.
For the last test I heated the R7 370 Strix up using the Valley Benchmark until its temperatures leveled off. The end result was a slightly warm 74 degrees. For comparison the Sapphire R7 370 ran 4 degrees cooler and the GTX 950 with the same cooler ran 5 degrees cooler. What that tells us is that the Sapphire card seems to be a little more efficient at cooling the R7 370 and the GTX 950 as a whole runs a little cooler than the 370 as well.
Overall and Final Verdict
So at the end of the day how does the R7 370 Strix compare to the Sapphire R7 370 Nitro and the recently launched GTX 950? Well the higher overclock over the Sapphire did give a surprisingly good boost in performance in a lot of our benchmarks. Being able to compare the Asus R7 370 Strix to the Asus GTX 950 Strix was also very nice and helped show that with similar overclocks and coolers the performance gap between the two isn’t as big as I thought in our initial review. The GTX 950 is still a faster card when running at 1080p like most would at this budget. The additional memory and larger memory interface on the 4GB 370 Strix is nice and does help when running at higher resolutions, but it isn’t enough to pull the R7 370 ahead overall. The Strix also ran a lot warmer than I would have liked, especially when compared to the 950 and the Sapphire 370.
So is this the card to get when you are building out your new budget gaming rig? Well the GTX 950 does give more performance at a slightly better price. The in game performance of the 370 Strix was still great and more than enough to play nearly anything out right now at medium/high settings. I think if the price on this card came in at the $159 price point it would make it a good deal but currently it is $20 more. Because of that I think it’s really going to come down to preference. If you are leaning AMD this will still be the way to go, but those on the edge who don’t have a preference will most likely look at the slightly better value that the GTX 950 is offering right now. No matter what direction you end up going, you are still getting great performance at a price that makes it really possible to play everything on the market at a near console price for a whole build.
Live Pricing: HERE