ASUS Strix R9 380X Review
Published: 19th November 2015 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
You need a certain mentality to approach a card such as this. So before we get to some of the negative comparisons or thoughts, let's handle all the good things.
Unquestionably the ASUS Strix take on the R9 380X does the card as much justice as it could possibly get. The DirectCU II cooler is as fantastic here as it is in all our other experiences with it. Excellent build quality, gigantic heatpipe, plenty of fins and two powerful but quiet fans help keep things quiet. The temperatures, although higher than you might expect to find from the nVidia equivalent, are far better than we've seen from almost every other AMD card. It's a real testament to the design team.
If you look at the performance in a vacuum then the R9 380X has more than enough grunt for any gaming you wish to do at the most popular resolution of 1920x1080. We threw a stack of games at it from the elderly to the recent and it handled them all with aplomb. At around £199 you wont be disappointed as long as you keep your expectations realistic and don't attempt to run Fallout 4 on 4K Eyefinity screens. Your modest investment brings a card which runs everything just fine and has the benefits of AMDs Freesync technology too, should you own a monitor which supports it.
The negatives are more a product of the market and some of AMDs past issues than anything inherently wrong with the R9 380X.
Firstly AMD make it clear they are aiming this card to beat the GTX960. Whilst the nVidia offering is £40 or so cheaper it regularly matched and/or beat the R9 380X. nVidia are just a generation ahead of the current AMD GPU designs and thus this massive performance difference at their highest end (GTX980 Ti vs Fury X) trickles down to the lesser models where you have to pay more to AMD for the same performance. Secondly the small time frame between the release of the R9 2x0 range and the R9 3x0 range has limited the opportunities for AMD to rectify this performance deficit. Often in our graphs the R9 280X, a card one would hope wasn't as good as the sequel, found itself to be just that. Even the 270X stole a march in a couple of tests, although to that end so did the significantly cheaper GTX950. There are just too many Radeon cards with too little difference between them for any of them to stand out. A little thinning of the herd wouldn't go amiss.
The HD7970 was a magnificent card that genuinely challenged for the title of best single-GPU offering. Since then AMD have lost their way a little bit. Recovering that lost ground, particularly in the insanely fast development world of graphics cards, is not the job of a moment. However, with the R9 380X it's not a benchmark queen, but equally we don't want it to be. We want good gaming performance in a card that doesn't heat up the Universe or break the bank, and on that score it delivers. Albeit a little too perfectly that if it didn't use quite so much power and came in an nVidia box we would have thought it was the GTX965. ASUS in particular have worked their Strix magic on the card, keeping it quiet and as cool as we could reasonably expect, and so the R9 380X is awarded our OC3D Gamers Choice based purely on the fact that if you have £200 to spend it's not a bad purchase. If it was us with our own money though we would miss a night out or go cheap on Christmas presents and buy a GTX970. Harsh but true.