AMD Radeon R9 285 GPU Review: Tonga Arrives

Article Index

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The new Radeon R9 285’s performance was good overall, but it is a bit if a mixed bag. Let’s get the easy comparison out of the way first—The Radeon R9 285 offered superior performance to the similarly priced GeForce GTX 760 across the board. There wasn’t a single instance in our tests where the GeForce GTX 760 came out on top. Versus the existing Radeon R9 series cards that sandwich the R9 285, the comparison is somewhat more complex. Generally speaking the Radeon R9 280X offers higher performance than the R9 285, but there were a couple of instances (like in Unigine Heaven and Bioshock) where the R9 285 was faster. Conversely, there were also a few of instances where the Radeon R9 280 was faster than the R9 285, namely Hitman and Metro Last Light. Overall though, the Radeon R9 285’s performance was strong at its intended price point.


The Sapphire Radeon R9 285 Dual-X -- Find It @ Amazon

AMD is expecting Radeon R9 285 cards with 2GB of memory to be available immediately at price points started at $249. The custom Sapphire model we tested is already available for about $259 and cards with 4GB of memory are slated to arrive as well. Looking at the current landscape, the Radeon R9 285 seems to be positioned well. GeForce GTX 760 and Radeon R9 280 series cards are available for roughly $220 to $259. Considering the Radeon R9 285’s performance it is clearly a better choice than the 760. Versus the R9 280, it’s going to depend on what games you play, but expect R9 280 series cards to eventually disappear as inventory is depleted.


AMD New High-End GPU Line-Up

Further enhancing the Radeon R9 285’s value is a new Never Settle Space Edition game bundle. Instead of trying to explain all the nuances of the promo, however, we’ll use AMD’s words directly:


Games, Games, and More Games...

“We’ve also announced that Never Settle: Space Edition will be available on September 2nd. With this offer, customers will have access to:

  • Star Citizen – An exclusive ship design, called the Mustang Omega-variant (manufactured Accelerated Mass Design), as well as access to Arena Commander and Murray Cup Race Series modules
  • Alien: Isolation - Brand new AAA game from Creative Assembly
  • Habitat
  • Space Run

As well as the rest of the Never Settle game catalog. You’ll find more information at www.amd.com/neversettlespace after 9/2. On top of this, customers with an unredeemed Gold or Silver Never Settle Forever coupon will have an opportunity to upgrade to the Never Settle: Space Edition, if they redeem their ticket between 9/2 - 9/8."

All things considered, the Radeon R9 285 seems like a winner. It’s not an unequivocal improvement over the existing Radeon R9 280, but it does compete very favorably with its NVIDIA-based opposition and the new features integrated into the Tonga GPU are welcome additions as well. Now we just have to sit back and wait to see what AMD can do with a fully functional Tonga GPU, but we suspect NVIDIA will have to make the next move before that’ll happen.

  • Very Good Performance
  • Game Bundle
  • New Features
  • Relatively Power Friendly
  • Quiet
  • Not Always Faster Than R9 280
  • Tonga GPU Not Fully Enabled


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