AMD Radeon R9 270 2GB Review
In what seems to be becoming a weekly tradition, AMD is once again releasing a new graphics card. This time it’s the R9 270, a product which targets the $179 price point in direct response to NVIDIA’s new cost structure for their GTX 660. According to AMD, this also makes it a prime upgrade candidate for gamers who want a budget-focused GPU that doesn’t necessitate a power supply upgrade as well.
The R9 270’s relative cost proximity to the $199 R9 270X shouldn’t come as any surprise since both use the same Pitcairn XT (now rebranded Curacao) core which was originally incorporated into the HD 7870 GHz Edition. In this iteration Curacao is equipped with 1280 stream processors, 32 ROPs and 80 texture units alongside a 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface which mirrors the R9 270X’s specifications in every way. The only real differences here are core clocks, which have been pushed downwards in order to achieve lower power boundaries and increased yields. In addition, unlike the R9 270X’s fluctuations through PowerTune, the 270 operates at a constant 925MHz.
On paper the R9 270 is supposed to replace AMD’s HD 7850 but from a specifications standpoint, it should actually lineup quite well against the HD 7870 GHz Edition. While it has lower core frequencies, its 2GB of GDDR5 memory operates at 5.6Gbps which is a substantial improvement over the GHz Edition’s 4.8Gbps. That’s a lot of horsepower for just $179 and 150W but like the other mid-range R-series cards, the R9 270 is nothing more than a rebrand with some updated specs to specifically target a given price point and more importantly, take on the GTX 660.
AMD’s positioning here is particularly interesting since even though the R9 270 is supposed to sit between the R7 260X and R9 270X, many will question why it exists at all considering the former’s already-low $199 price. With such close proximity AMD runs the very real risk of either marginalizing their slightly higher-end card or causing potential customers to completely ignore the R9 270 in favor of more performance for just $20 more. As we’ll see, that 125MHz gap really doesn’t translate into
Since this card is based off of AMD’s original GCN architecture, it doesn’t incorporate any of the more advanced features like PowerTune 2.0 and TrueAudio. However, AMD will be bundling a free copy of Battlefield 4 which is quite significant relative to the $179 R9 270. With it gamers can take advantage of Mantle, one of the inclusions that’s sure to define this mid-tier product’s performance in the coming year considering several A-list titles like Thief, Star Citizen and Battlefield 4 will all support it.
The R9 270 will be a board partner centric affair so it doesn’t have a reference design per se and companies have been given a free hand to engineer cards to their own specifications. As a result, many will be pre-overclocked and boast excellent cooling solutions. We received a PowerColor card which has a slight core overclock of 50MHz and a large heatsink with an axial fan. It comes with a single 6-pin power connector alongside AMD’s default backplate layout which includes native support for triple-monitor Eyefinity.
For the purposes of this review and to ensure we’re comparing apples to apples, a reference BIOS was flashed to the sample to replicate stock R9 270 results.
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