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11-09-2014


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Graphics card GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC based on AMD Radeon R9 285: review and testing

At the end of August 2014 was an official announcement of a new family of graphics card AMD Volcanic Islands - AMD Radeon R9 285. Note that this model does not extend the list of AMD solutions supplied to the market. It is used to replace AMD Radeon R9 280. In this review we’ll learn the features of the new graphics chip, and also compare the new item with its main rival NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

As you can see, the recommended retail price of AMD Radeon R9 285 is 249 dollars, which is slightly higher than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, and below the starting price of its predecessor (AMD Radeon R9 280).

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

 

AMD Radeon R9 280X

AMD Radeon R9 280

AMD Radeon R9 285

Code name

Tahiti XT

Tahiti Pro

Tonga Pro

Quantity of thread processors

2048

1792

1792

Texture blocks

128

112

112

ROPs

32

32

32

GPU frequency, MHz

Up to 1000

Up to 933

Up to 918

Video memory capacity, GB

3/6

3/6

2/4

Video memory frequency, MHz

6000

5000

5500

Video memory interface, bit

384

384

256

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Function chart of GPU AMD Radeon R9 285

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Function chart of GPU AMD Radeon R9 290X

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Function chart of GPU AMD Radeon HD 7950

As is well known, the model AMD Radeon R9 280 is only slightly modified option of AMD Radeon HD 7950. In turn, a function chart of AMD Radeon R9 285 is more like GPU of AMD Hawaii than AMD Tahiti. Therefore, the changes are more significant and are consistent to the best practices of AMD engineers.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

First of all its experts drew attention to the improvement in geometry processing. The use of four graphics engines at the core AMD Radeon R9 285 allowed to increase the number of processing primitive elements per clock cycle from two to four. As a result, the tessellation speed is increased from two to four.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Also there is an updated set of instructions to operate with fractional and integer numbers, and for parallel data processing. This improves the queue of computational operations and enhances the speed of their processing.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

The buffer of each frame has information about color in a lossless compressed format. That is, the original data can be restored within to a bit. Moreover, the graphics processor may operate correctly with the archived information that provides at 40% more efficient use of the memory bus. This fact allows us to neutralize the advantage of a 384-bit bus AMD Radeon R9 280 over a 256-bit with AMD Radeon R9 285.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

AMD engineers have improved the display controllers, providing the correct scaling of the image at higher resolution up to 4K Ultra HD, or vice versa, with a decrease of high-quality content to the capabilities of the monitor.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

AMD Radeon R9 285 has the function of rapid processing of 4K Ultra HD-content: playback, editing and recoding. Also significant changes are made to the modules «Unified Video Decoder» and «Video Coding Engine», which provides rapid processing and coding of multimedia data. Also here is technology AMD Fluid Motion for high-quality playback of Blu-ray-movies.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

And due to the technology AMD PowerTune users can configure the optimal operation of the graphics card AMD Radeon R9 285 for different tasks lust using indicators such as power consumption, GPU temperature, effective frequency and fan speed.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

It is not wonder that the developers have positioned AMD Radeon R9 285 as symbiosis which has absorbed a high performance of AMD Radeon R9 280 and advanced technologies of AMD Radeon R9 290: AMD TrueAudio, AMD FreeSync, the next generation of AMD CrossFireX and AMD PowerTune, as well as support of video decoding in format 4K Ultra HD using codec H.264.

Separately we note that the new GPU has a lower TDP (190 W), which is much closer to the same index of its main competitor NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 (170W) than to the AMD Radeon R9 280 (250 W).

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD) GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD) GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

By tradition, during the presentation of the product manufacturer compared it with the main competitor. On this basis, AMD Radeon R9 285 shows a distinct advantage over NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, we'll check in the appropriate section.

And now let's proceed to the review of the graphics card GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC. On this example we will examine all the features of AMD Radeon R9 285.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Model

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC

(GIGABYTE GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Graphics core

AMD Radeon R9 285 (Tonga Pro)

Quantity of universal shader pipelines

1792

Supported API and technologies

DirectX 12, DirectCompute 11, OpenGL 4.4, OpenCL 1.2, AMD Eyefinity, AMD CrossFireX, AMD HD3D, AMD PowerPlay, AMD PowerTune, AMD Eyespeed, AMD ZeroCore, AMD Mantle, AMD TrueAudio, AMD PowerTune

Graphics core frequency, MHz

 

973

Nominal memory frequency (effective), MHz

1375 (5500)

Memory capacity, GB

2

Memory type

GDDR5

Memory bus, bit

256

Memory carrying capacity, GB/s

176

Bus type

PCI Express 3.0 x16

Max resolution

Digital – up to 4096 x 2160

Analog- up to 2048 x 1536

Screening  interfaces

1 x DVI-I

1 x DVI-D

1 x HDMI

1 x DisplayPort

Support of HDCP and HD-video decoding

Yes

Minimal power supply capacity, W

500

Additional power sockets PCIe

2 x 6-pin

Dimensions taken from official website (according measurements in own test lab) , mm

260 х 127

Drivers

Drivers can be downloaded here: GPU

Producer website

GIGABYTE

Since the standard version of AMD Radeon R9 285 does not exist, it is possible to compare the new product with the recommendations of AMD Company. As you can see, the option from GIGABYTE has received factory overclocking of graphics core from 918 to 973 MHz. Also tested model differs due to the original cooling system and a qualitative circuitry chosen in accordance with the original concept of Ultra Durable VGA.

Packaging and content

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Graphics card GIGABYTE GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD is in a stylishly decorated cardboard box. The key information on the front side has the specification of the type and capacity of video memory, support of the cooling system GIGABYTE WINDFORCE, as well as the belonging of the graphics card to the line of factory overclocked solution («OC Version»).

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

On the reverse side of the package is a schematic representation of the cooler GIGABYTE WINDFORCE 2X, mark about the support of interface PCI Express 3.0, as well as mention about the fact that the GPU is made according 28 nm technology process.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

A list of system requirements for the computer also is placed on the back side of the box. Based on the recommendations, the power supply in such a system should have a capacity at least 500 W and maintain two 6-pin power cables PCIe.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Together with GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC, in addition to quick start guide and a CD with drivers and utilities, the set of delivery includes two power adapters: from two 4-pin Molex (PATA) to one 6-pin PCIe. In general, such set can be described as good, because it will help to organize the power of GPU in case of absence the necessary connectors. The only accessory, the existence of which depends on the user, is an adapter to connect an analog monitor.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

To display an image the novelty has quite standard set of interfaces:

  • 1 x DVI-I;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DisplayPort.

The following resolutions are supported:

  • Digital - up to 4096 x 2160;
  • Analog - up to 2048 x 1536.

Design and circuitry

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

For the production of GIGABYTE GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD the manufacturer has used the original circuit board of black color. All the elements are arranged quite standard: power subsystem of graphics core is on the left side, whereas the components of the memory power subsystem are on the right. As we mentioned, the circuitry is collected in accordance with the original concept Ultra Durable VGA, which involves the use of extremely high quality components: Japanese solid capacitors, ferrite chokes, and field-effect transistors with low on-resistance (RDS (on)). Additionally, some of copper layers in the PCB have double thickness, thus reducing the overall electrical resistance and provide more effective heat dissipation.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Power supply of model GIGABYTE GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD is performed according 7-phase scheme (five phases for the GPU and two for memory chips), which is one phase less than in the reference option AMD Radeon R9 280.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

The power subsystem of the graphics core is implemented on a digital PWM controller ON NCP81022 located on the front side of the PCB.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

In addition to slot PCI Express 3.0 x16, power supply is provided via two additional connectors PCIe placed on the side of the graphics card. In accordance with the recommendations of AMD, both are 6-pin. Special attention is given to the care of company GIGABYTE about the users, which very successfully implemented to connect and disconnect cables PCIe.

As you can see, the usual connectors for AMD CrossFireX bridges in this case are not available, because the novelty supports this technology by linking two graphics cards through PCI Express x16 slots.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

The reverse side of a graphics card is notable by the presence of the mounting screws of the cooling system. In this photo you can see that the cooler exceeds the borders of the printed circuit board.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

The basis of GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC is a graphics chip AMD Radeon R9 285 (AMD Tonga Pro). It is produced according 28 nm technology process and consists of 1792 x universal shader pipelines, 32 ROP units (GPU-Z utility version 0.7.9 defined the number 64) and 112 texture units. As we mentioned, the graphics core frequency has been raised with respect to the recommendations of AMD and is 973 MHz.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Total memory capacity of 2 GB is collected with the help of 8 chips ELPIDA with capacity of 256 MB each. According the marking (W2032BBBG-6A-F), and the documentation, their nominal frequency is 6 GHz, although in our case it was reduced to 5500 MHz. This allows us to hope for a good overclocking potential of the used chips. Data exchange between the graphics core and memory is realized via 256-bit bus, which can carry 176 GB of information per second.

Cooling system

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Proprietary cooling system WINDFORCE 2X in addition to very restrained design has a fairly large size. Graphics card with installed cooling system occupies two expansion slots and has a total length of 260 mm (as measured in our lab).

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Cooler consists of a very original three-section radiator assembled from 20, 36 and 32 of aluminum nickel plates, and two fan with blades diameter of 96 mm, mounted on the plastic case which covers the entire structure.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Propellers Power Logic PLD10010S12H are used as fans. They are built on a Sleeve Bearing, which promises low noise level during operation. A traditional disadvantage is smaller bearing life in comparison with other types. However, the inscription «Long life bearing» indicates that the manufacturer has taken into account this moment and took care of their longer term use. Unfortunately, the specific numerical data could not be found.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

To improve the efficiency of heat transfer two copper heat pipes with a diameter of 8 mm are applied. They have a direct contact with the graphics core through a small layer of thermal paste. Unfortunately, they are not covered by a layer of nickel, which prevents the oxidation processes of copper, which in the future could negatively affect the cooling efficiency. In this case, the contact of heat pipes with copper heatsink base and fins is improved by a solder. Also note that the video memory chips are in contact with the main heatsink using thermal interface.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

In turn, the power components are cooled through optional low profile heat sink which is fixed by screws. To improve the contact between them the thermal interface is used.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

During automatic speed control of the fan blades, at maximum load, the graphics core was warmed up to 64 degrees, and cooler, as indicated by the monitoring operated with 50% of its maximum capacity. Noise performances of the cooling system are completely comfortable and can be described as quiet.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

Under the maximum fan speed, the GPU temperature dropped by 5 degrees. Produced noise was below average. In this case it was quite acceptable for everyday use.

GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 WINDFORCE OC (GV-R9285WF2OC-2GD)

In case of load absence, the frequency of the graphics core and memory is automatically reduced, which leads to a lower power consumption and heat dissipation. In this mode cooler operation was quiet, and the temperature of the GPU did not exceed 37 degrees.


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