AMD Radeon R9 270 Review: Replacing The Radeon HD 7800s

Test Setup And Benchmarks

We've almost completely eliminated mechanical storage in the lab, and instead lean on solid-state drives to alleviate I/O-related bottlenecks. Samsung sent all of our offices 256 GB 840 Pros, so we standardize on these exceptional SSDs.

Naturally, discrete graphics cards require a substantial amount of stable power, so XFX sent along its PRO850W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified power supply. This modular PSU employs a single +12 V rail rated for 70 A. XFX claims that this unit provides 850 W of continuous power (not peak) at 50 degrees Celsius (notably higher than the inside of most enclosures).

The Radeon R9 270 is being tested against three other Pitcairn/Curacao boards: the Radeon HD 7850, Radeon HD 7870, and Radeon R9 270X. We're also including a Bonaire-based Radeon R7 260X to gauge the spread betwen the 270 and the next model down (once the 7850 disappears, that is). Nvidia's portfolio is represented by the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost and GeForce GTX 660.

Test System
Intel Core i5-2550K (Sandy Bridge), Overclocked to 4.2 GHz @ 1.3 V
Asus P8Z77-V LX
LGA 1155, Chipset: Intel Z77M
On-Board Gigabit LAN controller
Corsair Performance Memory, 4 x 4 GB, 1866 MT/s, CL 9-9-9-24-1T
Reference Radeon HD 7850 1GB
860 MHz GPU, 1 GB GDDR5 at 1200 MHz (4800 MT/s)

Reference Radeon HD 7870
1000 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1200 MHz (4800 MT/s)

Sapphire Dual-X R9 270
945 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1400 MHz (5300 MT/s)
*GPU downclocked to reference 925 MHz specification for benchmarking*

Reference Radeon R9 270X
1050 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1400 MHz (5300 MT/s)

Reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost
980/1033 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1502 MHz (6008 MT/s)

Reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 660

980/1033 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1502 MHz (6008 MT/s)
Hard Drive
Samsung 840 Pro, 256 GB SSD, SATA 6Gb/s
Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64
DirectX 11
Graphics Drivers
AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2, Nvidia GeForce 331.65 WHQL
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Metro: Last Light
Version, DirectX 10, Built-in Benchmark
Call Of Duty: Ghosts
Version, Version, 25-Sec. Fraps
Tomb Raider
Version 1.04, Custom THG Benchmark, 60-Sec. Fraps
Battlefield 4
Version 1.2, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark, 60-Sec. Fraps
BioShock Infinite
Version 1.0.1441711, Built-in Benchmark, Fraps
Company Of Heroes 2
Version, Built-in Benchmark, Fraps
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  • 16bit
    Seems like a pretty solid card, but I would like to see benchmarks that include some of the higher end cards. Curious how big the gap between the 280x and the 270 is.
  • CaptainTom
    I actually like this card... Make an overclocking review!
  • esrever
    I feel like they don't need a 270x now since board partners could just have released OCed versions of this to fill the slot. Strange that they don't have a 7850 replacement.
  • m32
    741589 said:
    I actually like this card... Make an overclocking review!

    I doubt this card has too much headroom in that department. The 6-pin is a gift and a curse.
  • wdmfiber
    The chart need a typo fixed. The 7870 is I incorrectly labeled as 40nm, but it's built on the 28nm fab process; just like everything else. .

    Frig... we've been stuck at 28nm for so long it's just "understood". You could get-away with leaving that whole column out.
  • Sakkura
    Wonder if there'll be any versions with two 6-pin power connectors. They could be great value for overclocking.
  • bustapr
    I wonder, how exactly does overclocking work with these cards? Wouldnt it just be varying its fan speeds whenever it hits a certain temperature and sends clockspeeds all over the place?
  • AMD Radeon
    i am waiting for a price cut for R9 series

    the previous version, 7870 GHz edition and 7870 XT is now so cheap
  • tomfreak
    I will not be surprise they gonna release a R9-260X (R9 version of 260X) that is a rebrand of 7850. A curacao chip with a broken CU has to go somewhere.....
  • witcherx
    why not radeon 7850 2gb?
  • Da W
    How about crossfire? tri-crossfire? That would be interesting to see, 3x 270 with one 6pin connector each, instead of buying the monster that 290X is.
  • rolli59
    So are they leaving room for R9 265X? Eventually there must be a card with disabled Shader Cores always has been, that is how they maximize their yields. Unless of course they keep the 7850 in the lineup like they have done with the lower end 6xxx series cards.
  • Onus
    Da, this card only has one Crossfire connector, so tri-Crossfire will not be possible.
    I wonder if it will Crossfire with a HD7870 though.
  • tomc100
    Not sure why tomshardware is using COD Ghosts as a performance test. This game is one of the most poorly optimized game ever made right next to that Jurassic Park game in the 90's called Trespasser. The game is using the same Quake engine and is known to run poorly on SLI and crossfire.
  • TeraMedia
    It looks like they intentionally hamstrung this card against OCing with that single 6-pin. There appears to be a bit of power headroom, but not much. Bumping freq and/or V will eat that up pretty quickly. It makes sense if they don't want to cannibalize 270X, I suppose, but oh well.
  • slomo4sho
    An underclocked 270X that is $20 less. I am sure it can be clocked back up to the speed of the 270X at the very least. Look forward to some OC results.
  • Onus
    That's the reference model. You can bet some board partners are going to either put an 8-pin on it or a pair of 6-pin connectors, just for OCing.
    I'm still looking forward to a review of the R7s...
  • ZEPd3Z
    So will this crossfire with an HD 7870 like the R9 280X with an HD 7970?
  • iceclock
    looking good, hope the prices of the old 7870 goes down as the 270s and 280s come in stock.
  • mapesdhs
    So basically the card is rereleased 20 months after initial launch, with a new
    name and tweaked performance that's slower or little better than the original,
    and pretty much the same price point. Can someone explain where one can
    find Moore's Law in all this? IMO it all looks like a waste of time. I mean, after
    20 months, this is all we get? Not impressed at all. I'd hoped AMD wouldn't
    go down the road of rebranding (it was bad enough with the 8800GT fiasco),
    but I guess they figure enough people will fall for the PR. I foresee yet more
    cards on eBay from disgruntled gamers who upgraded only to observe little
    or no speed gain.

    The 290/290X at least offer something tangible, whether it's solid performance,
    good prices, or both, sans noise issues, but these reissued older GPUs really
    irritate me. Reminds me of the lacklustre improvements we've had in CPU power,
    the halting of price drops for SSDs, the shooting back up of RAM prices since
    Feb, and so on. If the PC market is shrinking, I don't think one can blame it
    entirely on the rise of tablets & suchlike, or the dislike many have of Win8;
    instead, IMO these days there are simply fewer items that are worth buying
    as upgrades. All this stalls demand, people stop buying, or buy less often
    as they wait for something better, which makes it look like the market is
    shrinking when infact users are just waiting for products that are worthy
    of their cash.

    Sometimes I think it's a pity that all the various 3rd-party GPU makers can't
    combine their own talents and come up with a completely separate GPU
    development path to NVIDIA and AMD. Surely there's enough skill & knowledge
    by now at ASUS, Sapphire, Gigabyte, EVGA, HIS, etc., to do this. Oh if only...

  • silicondoc_85
    741589 said:
    I actually like this card... Make an overclocking review!

    You won't like it much when the NDA (or the gigantic bias not mentioning it and pretending the topic doesn't exist here in the review) on the power circuits onboard is released.

    Expect massive vrm blowouts and crashes with sad overclocking.
    Crappy power sucking bins stuffed in the slot by amd, a way to get rid of their junk electromigration gpu's without scrapping them.
  • masmotors
    can you crossfire it with a hd 7850 2 gb
  • iceclock
    no. u cant im pretty shur
  • spp85
    AMD radeon GPUs these days has the lowest frame time variance. They improved their drivers a lot!!