AMD Radeon R9 380X Review: Fastest GPU Under $250

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Radeon R9 380X Wrap Up

Performance Summary: AMD made summarizing the Radeon R9 380X’s performance about as simple as could be. With the exception of a single test at 1080p, the Radeon R9 380X – or more specifically, the factory overclocked Sapphire Nitro R9 380X we tested – performed significantly better than the Radeon R9 285 and GeForce GTX 960 across the board. The 380X, however, could not catch the more powerful, and more expensive, cards like the GeForce GTX 970 or Radeon R9 390.

We'd also like to note two things.  First, though we kept the naming in our charts simple and clean, we used factory overclocked, retail cards for all of the models listed to keep the playing field level. The GTX 960 came from EVGA, the GTX 970 from Asus, the R9 390 from PowerColor, and the R9 285 from Sapphire. All of our testing was also done using the latest drivers available from AMD and NVIDIA, on the latest build of Windows 10 that just hit this week. Normally, when testing GPUs, we'd notice some sort of anomalous behavior, either during testing or when compiling numbers, whether it be a game crash that requires a reboot or lower-than expected minimum framerates, among other things. This time around, however, it was smooth sailing throughout. AMD, NVIDIA, and Microsoft deserve some kudos for that. Although, the forced Windows update to 10586 that required us to re-test everything mid-stream, was a bit of a pain.

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AMD Radeon R9 380X Reference Card

AMD’s suggested pricing for the Radeon R9 380X starts at $229, but factory overclocked, custom cards like the Sapphire Nitro R9 380X we’ve shown you here will be a touch more expensive. We’re told the custom cards should arrive at about $239 and up.

Looking back through the numbers, those prices are about what we’d expect from the Radeon R9 380X. 4GB GeForce GTX 960s can be had for roughly $200 - $220 at the moment, while Radeon R9 285s have dropped into the $160 – $190 range. With that in mind, the approximate 10% price premium for a Radeon R9 380X is easily justified considering the card’s relatively strong performance.
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The Sapphire Nitro R9 380X
With that said, as is typically the case with this class of graphics card, there is a lot more performance to be had for a slightly larger investment. Prices on GeForce GTX 970 and Radeon R9 390 cards, for example, have fallen into the $295 – 320 range, and as we’ve shown, those cards offer significantly higher performance than a 380X.

Of course, not everyone has the bank roll for a higher-end card, in which case the Radeon R9 380X is an excellent choice if it fits your budget. It is clearly a higher performing product than the Radeon R9 285 and GeForce GTX 960. The Sapphire model we took a look at was nice and quiet, and a relatively good overclocker too. If you’ve got a couple of hundred bucks to spend on a GPU upgrade, you should definitely look into a 380X. It is a clear winner in its price segment.
  • Strong Performance
  • Quiet
  • Good Overclocker
  • 4GB Of Memory
  • Last Year's GPU Tech
  • Relatively Higher Power Consumption

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