AMD’s GTX 760 Killer? MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV Review

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by Rob Williams on September 2, 2014 in Graphics & Displays

It may be a year late, but with its Radeon R9 285, AMD claims that it’s come up with the perfect recipe for taking on NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 760 – a card that hasn’t seen much of a price drop since its release. Featuring an updated GCN architecture, the R9 285 is an interesting card even outside of its elected battle, so let’s check it out.

Power & Temperatures, Final Thoughts

To test graphics cards for both their power consumption and temperature at load, we utilize a couple of different tools. On the hardware side, we use a trusty Kill-a-Watt power monitor which our GPU test machine plugs into directly. For software, we use Futuremark’s 3DMark to stress-test the card, and AIDA64 to monitor and record the temperatures.

To test, the general area around the chassis is checked with a temperature gun, with the average temperature recorded. Once that’s established, the PC is turned on and left to site idle for ten minutes. At this point, AIDA64 is opened along with 3DMark. We then kick-off a full suite run, and pay attention to the Kill-a-Watt when the test reaches its most intensive interval (GT 1) to get the load wattage.

MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV - Temperatures

MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV - Power Consumption

As our performance results showed, the R9 285 is quite an impressive card for its going price, and with MSI’s Twin Frozr IV edition, it’s a very “cool” card, as well. Power-wise, all five cards stick pretty close to one another, with NVIDIA’s GTX 760 managing to shave 26W off of the load when compared to the R9 285.

Final Thoughts

It’d be an odd thing for AMD to release an underwhelming card that’s the first to feature its latest GCN architecture, so not surprisingly, what we have is expected. Simply put, the Radeon R9 285 is impressive, and AMD has succeeded in outperforming the card that it sought to take out, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 760.

Of course, it must be said that NVIDIA’s GTX 760 release occurred some fourteen months ago, so it’s not exactly a surprise that AMD has reigned supreme in that match-up. Perhaps making it even less impressive is the fact that the GTX 760 launched at the exact same price point as the R9 285 that’s releasing today: $249.

Nonetheless, the R9 285 impresses, all things considered. In some cases, it actually inches extremely close to NVIDIA’s referenced-clocked GTX 770, a card that starts out at around $335. The Best Playable page showed other ways that the card is great, as well. In Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the R9 285 was the only card of the three (vs. GTX 760 and R9 280) that allowed us to bump up to 1440p, and likewise, it allowed us to use mostly Ultra detail in Battlefield 4 at 1440p, Very High texture detail in Crysis 3 at 1080p, and virtually maxed-out detail in GRID 2 at 1440p.

MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV

As mentioned above, the R9 285 handily beat out the GTX 760 and R9 280 overall, and even given the price differences, the results are enough to cause me to recommend spending a bit more on the R9 285. The exception might be with the R9 280 right now, as because it’s a model that’s being replaced, it can be had for as low as $220, or $200 after mail-in rebate. The pricing of the GTX 760 is less attractive, as it averages out to about $240, or $230 after mail-in rebate.

What I personally find most interesting about the R9 285 is its Tonga core, and what that could mean for future AMD products. The exact codename for this card is Tonga Pro, and it’s been heavily rumored that a Tonga XT is en route, a card that should bump things back up to 3GB, as well as match the 2048 cores of the 280X. These cards, coupled with whatever NVIDIA has en route, is going to make this fall an interesting one.

Before wrapping this up, I have to mention that AMD has issued yet another update to its Never Settle bundle, this time calling it the “Space Edition”. In addition to all of the games that were already offered, new card owners will be able to claim a copy of Alien: Isolation, Habitat, Space Run, or a special Star Citizen pack that includes an exclusive ship design called Mustang Omega-variant and allows access to the Arena Commander and Murray Cup Race Series modules.

AMD Never Settle Space Edition

If you recently purchased an AMD card and have an unused Gold or Silver Never Settle coupon, the company is going to allow you to upgrade to the Space Edition version of the promotion, but only between today and the 8th. For even more information, you can hit up the official promotion page.

MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV 2GB - SmartKevin Editor's Choice
MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV 2GB

Rob Williams

Rob founded SmartKevin in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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