Cooling, Noise, and Power
In game and compute performance is important, but it is all for nothing if you don’t have enough power to push the R9 380X or if the card overheats. Because of that I make sure to dig into the cooling, power, and noise performance of all cards that come into the office as well. This is also a great way to spot differences between cards that share the same base GPU. In this case this is the first R9 380X that I have tested so I will be focusing on how it compares to the 380 and 390 from AMD and the GTX 960 and GTX 970 from Nvidia. To start things off I ran the card through Valley Benchmark and noted the peak wattage draw of the R9 380X Strix. This isn’t the highest possible power draw, but it is a good idea of what you can expect in the average game. The 380X Strix pulled a peak 404 watts, this is of course including the hard drive, ssd, and 6 core CPU in our test bench. That is just slightly more than the R9 380 pulled and well below the 390 with its light dimming 502 watts. Sadly, with our new power test I haven’t had the chance to retest the 960 and 970. Our old test had the 970 at 389 and the 960 at 327, I would expect them to be a few watts higher in the new test but without a doubt the 960 would still be well below the 380X.
For noise testing I test at both 50% fan speed and 100% fan speed to get a range of what to expect. Typically, Strix cards are very quiet but this time around the 380X Strix was a little noisier than normal with the fan speed turned up. It is rare that I even notice fan noise when testing but I can say that our sample seemed to be louder than any other Strix card tested in the past. Thankfully most of the time the card runs with the fans turns completely off anyhow so this is only an issue when you are pushing things in game.
For temperature testing I ran our standard test where I run Valley Benchmark for up to 30 minutes or until the temperature levels completely off to get a real world in game temperature. The 380X Strix fell right in the middle of the pack with its 68-degree result. This is impressive given the higher power draw I saw in previous tests. The only problem with this test is that it doesn’t give us a true idea of the performance of the DirectCU II cooling as fan profiles to keep noise down have a large impact on the running temperature. So I have added a new benchmark where I run through the same test but with the cards fan turned to 100% the entire time. Here the 380X Strix dropped from 68 down to 53.