The seemingly never-ending onslaught of new graphics cards as of late continues today with the official release of the AMD Radeon R9 270. Like the Radeon R9 270X that came before it, the Radeon R9 270 isn’t a totally new product. This mainstream graphics card actually leverages the same GPU that powered last-year’s Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition. AMD, however, has tweaked the clocks and through software and board level revisions updated the card to allow for more flexible use of its display outputs (using Eyefinity no longer requires the use of a DisplayPort).
Because the Radeon R9 270 isn’t totally new, AMD’s add in board partners are already intimately familiar with the technology as well. And as a result, the majority of Radeon R9 270 cards due to arrive will be custom products that differ from AMD’s reference design. In fact, the Asus Radeon R9 270 Direct CU II, doesn’t resemble AMD’s reference design at all.
Before we give you the full scoop on Asus’ Radeon R9 270 Direct CU II, we wanted to share AMD’s reference specifications (in the chart above).
If you were to compare the Radeon R9 270’s reference specifications to the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, you’d spot a number of similarities, which is to be expected considering the cards are powered by the same piece of silicon. The R9 270’s GPU and memory clocks are somewhat different, however. According to AMD’s reference spec, the Radeon R9 270’s GPU frequency peaks at up to 925MHz (slightly lower than the 7870 GHz Edition), but its memory clock has been increased to an effective 5.6Gbps. Versus the 1GHz (GPU) and 4.8Gbps (memory) of the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, the Radeon R9 270 offers slightly lower compute performance (2.37 TFLOPS vs. 2.56 TFLOPS), but much more memory bandwidth--179.2GB/s vs. 153.6GB/s to be exact. Also note that the Radeon R9 270 is only a 150W card. As such, it requires only a single PCIe 6-pin supplemental power connector. That's something to consider if upgrading an older rig with a middling power supply.
As we’ve mentioned, a large number of Radeon R9 270 cards due to arrive from AMD’s AIB partners are fully custom, like the Asus Radeon R9 270 DirectCU II you see here. The Asus Radeon R9 270 DirectCU II is a custom card from top to bottom. It features a unique PCB design, with a beefed up digital / programmable VRM, and an elaborate dual-slot / dual-fan cooling solution that’s quieter and performs better than reference designs.
There is also a custom VRM on the ASUS Radeon R9 270 DirectCU II, which is designed to last longer and provide more stable power than reference solutions under load. The ASUS Radeon R9 270 DirectCU II also features Asus’ “Super Alloy Power” technology. According to Asus, the Super Alloy components on the card are reinforced with special alloy formula and manufactured under high temperature and pressure to provide more stable power and noise-free operation.
As you may expect, considering its custom design, the Asus Radeon R9 270 Direct CU II is also overclocked from the factory. The card’s GPU is clocked at 975MHz—50MHz higher than the reference spec. Its 2GB of GDDR5 frame buffer memory has the same 5.6Gbps data rate of reference models, though.