PROS / This graphics card has a high core clock rate and a very high memory bandwidth.
CONS / The card is fairly loud.
VERDICT / Especially if you don't mind a loud graphics card, the 280X is a good option with enough power to run modern games at their highest settings.
AMD has a history of providing gamers with powerful video cards, and the Radeon R9 280X is no exception. This card uses an updated version of the chipset found on the HD 7970. That is a powerful graphics card in its own right, and the updated Tahiti XT2 that drives the 280X is even better. Combine the strong GPU with AMD's Eyefinity and Mantle API and the 280X is a compelling option.
In our graphics card comparison, we tested each graphics card in a variety of modern games. The 280X achieved an average frame rate of 73 fps across all of the games. Test games included "Battlefield 4," "Metro: Last Light" and "Bioshock Infinite." The 280X compares favorably to most of the graphics cards in our lineup, with its performance ranking as the fourth highest.
The Tahiti XT2 chipset is to thank for the 280X's above-average performance. This AMD graphics card is home to 2,048 stream processors and has 4.3 billion transistors. A graphics card's core clock speed plays a significant role in how quickly the card can process data, and the 280X's core is clocked at 1000MHz. That's a respectable frequency, but it isn't the highest on our lineup.
With a 288GBps memory bandwidth, the 280X is able to push a lot of information very quickly. This helps the graphics card render your games at high fidelity and resolutions. If you plan on gaming at 1080p, the 280X can handle any modern game at the highest settings and give you solid frame rates.
Our biggest complaint with the 280X is how loud it is. The card runs somewhat hot, so the cooling fans need to run high RPMs in order to keep the whole thing cool.
Where AMD cards really shine is with the Mantle API. It gives developers deeper access to the card so that they can better optimize their games. This means that when you play a game that supports Mantle with an AMD card, you see better performance and higher fidelity. The 280X is also compatible with pretty much every other API related to gaming, including DirectX 11.
The AMD Radeon R9 280X is not the best graphics card, but it is still an excellent option. It tends to be somewhat loud, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the high-fidelity visuals it renders. With 288GBps of memory bandwidth and a solid core clock speed, the 280X has the power to render modern games at their highest settings.