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Appeared on: Thursday, November 19, 2015
ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC review

1. Meet the ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC video card

AMD's new Radeon R9 380X fills a gaping hole in the world of graphics cards. The card is advertised as "a solid for most games at 1080p" and retails for roughly $230, taking the advantage over Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 offering.

The card is based on a full-featured Tonga GPU and it's actually a beefed-up R9 380: more stream processors, more memory, faster memory and core clocks. Where the R9 380 offers GPU clock speeds up to 970MHz and a 4GB memory option, those are both the starting point for the new card. In addition, the Radeon R9 380X has full support for all the latest Radeon software features, like FreeSync, Frame Rate Target Control, and Virtual Super Resolution.

Rather than R9 380’s 28 CUs, all 32 CUs are enabled for R9 380X. Otherwise we’re still looking at the same 32 ROPs backed by a 256-bit memory bus, all clocked at 970MHz.

The R9 380X also sees AMD raise the default memory configuration from 2GB for the R9 380 to 4GB for this card. Otherwise the 5.7Gbps memory clockspeed of the R9 380X is a slight bump from 5.5Gbps of the 2GB R9 380.

From a power perspective the R9 380X’s typical board power remains unchanged at 190W.

Radeon R9 380X Radeon R9 380 Radeon R9 390
Architecture GCN GCN (Tonga) GCN (Hawaii)
Manufacturing process 28nm 28nm 28nm
GPU clock (maximum) 970MHz 970MHz 1,000MHz
Stream Processors 2,048 1,792 2,560
Texture units 128 112 160
Memory 4GB GDDR5 2GB / 4GB GDDR5 8GB GDDR5
Memory Clock 1,425MHz (5.7GHz or equivalent) 1,425MHz (5.7GHz or equivalent) 1,500MHz (6GHz equivalent)
Memory Interface 256bit 256bit 512bit
ROP units 32 32 64
Board Power 190W 190W 275W

AMD's board partners are launching cards today. Today we have the chance to test the ASUS STRIX R9 380X, which is an overclocked version of the Radeon 380X card.

The ASUS STRIX R9 380X is equipped with Asus's "DirectCU II" GPU cooler featuring a semi-fanless design. It and incorporates two 8mm heatpipes and one 10mm heatpipe with two wing-blade 0dB fans installed.

The card ships with its GPU core overclocked at 1,030MHz.hat means it has a nice 60MHz overclock without having to do anything. In addition, if you install GPU Tweak you can hit an "OC" button and instantly overclock this video card to 1050MHz, an addition 20MHz. Of course you can just manually overclock it as well. The memory runs at the default 5.7GHz.

The ASUS STRIX is based on STRIX technology so naturally the fans stop spinning at idle speeds and engage when needed.

For power you will need to plug in two PCIe 6-pin connectors. There are also some LED lights to ensure you have power connected correctly. For output this video card supports DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI (no 2.0) and DisplayPort.

We tested the ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC using the following PC setup:

CPU Core i7-6700K
Motherboard ASUS Z170-A
Memory DDR4-2133 8GB × 2 (15-15-15-35,1.20V)
Storage 256GB SSD
Graphics driver Catalyst 15.11.1Beta / GeForce 358.91 Driver
OS Windows 10 Pro 64bit

The following graphics cards have been also included in the performance charts:

GPU GPU clock Boost clock Memory Clock VRAM
ASUS STRIX-R9380X-OC4G-GAMING 1,030MHz No 1.425GHz (5.7GHz or equivalent) 4GB
ASUS STRIX-R9380-DC2OC-2GD5-GAMING 990MHz 1.375GHz (5.5GHz or equivalent) 2GB
ASUS STRIX-R9390-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING 1,050MHz 1.5GHz (6.0GHz or equivalent) 8GB
ASUS STRIX-R9390X-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING 1,070MHz 1.5GHz (6.0GHz or equivalent) 8GB
ASUS STRIX-GTX960-DC2OC-2GD5 1,228MHz 1,291MHz 1.8GHz (7.2GHz or equivalent) 2GB
ASUS STRIX-GTX970-DC2OC-4GD5 1,114MHz 1,253MHz 1.75GHz (7.0GHz or equivalent) 4GB

2. 3DMark Fire Strike

In 3DMark Fire Strike (2,560 × 1,440 and 1,920 × 1,080,) the ASUS STRIX R9 380X has taken the lead from the Radeon R9 380 by almost 10%, while it also left behind the GeForce GTX 960 by 15-20%.

This difference further expanded and reached about 40% when we set the resolution to 3,840 × 2,160 pixels, mainly due to the fast that the Radeon R9 380 and the GeForce GTX 960 both have 2GB of memory onboard.



3. 3DMark Extreme, MHF benchmark


In 3DMark11, the difference between the Radeon R9 380 and the 380X remained unchanged to about 10%, again in favor of the 380X card. But the situation has changed for the GeForce GTX 960, which approaches the performance of the 380's.

In the MHF benchmark, the Radeon R9 380X still maintains its 10% difference with the Radeon R9 380. Regarding the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960, the 380X has a 3% lead in 1,920 × 1,080 pixels and a 15% performance edge when we boosted the resolution to 3,840 × 2,160.

4. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, Final Fantasy XIV, power consumption

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, benchmark again gave a lead to the 380X over the Geforce GTX 960, mainly in the higher resolution of 3,840 × 2,160 pixels. There both the Radeon R9 380 and the GeForce GTX 960 suffer from memory shortage. But have in mind that the 380X scored an average of 15 FPS at3,840 × 2,160 / Ultra quality settings, meaning the game is unplayable.


In Final Fantasy XIV and the 1,920 × 1,080 resolution, the difference between the Radeon R9 380X and the Radeon R9 380 was less than 10%. The 380X had almost the same performance with the GTX 960 at 1920x1080 DX9 and DX11, and took a 20% lead at 3840 x 2160 DX11.


Power consumption

We measured the power consumption of the system during the benchmarks with each GPU. Both idle and maximum power figures we recorded.

The consumption of the Radeon R9 380X at idle was 51W, which is just 1W more than the 50W idle we recorded for the R9 380. On the other hand, the idle power consumption for the Geforce GTX 960 and GTX 970 was 43W and 47W, respectively. It seems that the GeForce-based cards have a small advantage in terms of power consumption while idle.

With the Radeon R9 380X running benchmarks, we recorded a maximum value of 240W, although lower values of 210 W were also recorded. Those figures remained the same with the Radeon R9 380.

The GeForce GTX 960 draws significantly less power under benchmarks - we measured figures at the 157~190W, depending on the type of benchmark.

5. Final words

The ASUS STRIX-R9380X-OC4G-GAMING card will deliver about 10-12% higher frame rates than its smaller brother, the Radeon R9 380. Considering that we had to do with an overclocked GPU here, the difference is reasonable. AMD has managed to offer this performance boost while keeping the card's power consumption at the same levels.

This performance improvement has also allowed the GTX 980X to have a lead over the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 - alomst 10% faster - mainly at screen resolutions greater than full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). This should attributed to the 256-bit memory interface of the Radeon 980X.

Price-wise, AMD suggests a price of $229 for non-OC models, and $239 for overclocked models. But the ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC model retails at $259.99, putting this video card closer to the realm of AMD Radeon R9 390 and GeForce GTX 970.

We cannot agree that the R9 380X is a "1440p card" as AMD says. But the R9 380X is a great video card for 1080p gaming, one of the best in terms of pricing.

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