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Review: Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card

by Tarinder Sandhu on 13 November 2013, 05:00

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD), Sapphire

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qab43r

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Sapphire's R9 270 Dual-X

Sapphire knows how to cool GPUs equipped with a maximum 150W TDP. The dual-slot heatsink is reminiscent of the one used on the HD 7790 Dual-X version, which is no bad thing as it has hither-to proven to be a sterling performer in the acoustic and thermal departments.

The cooling formula is simple enough: use two high-performance fans bolted on top of a card-wide array of aluminium fins that are used to wick away the heat transferred to super-thick heatpipes - Sapphire employs two of them, and they both run through the base and connect to a copper insert.

Measuring just shy of 8in from tip to toe this can be considered a small card for a mainstream GPU. Component location is such that the single 6-pin power connector is moved to the side.

The PCB's clearly been in use before; there's provision for another 6-pin connector just below the one in service. The card's 2GB framebuffer is all housed on the top side, as well.

Here's a better look at how it fits together. Sapphire covers the eight Elpida GDDR5 memory chips - rated at a nominal 6,000MHz - with thermal pads that make good contact with the base. The premise here, we suppose, is to use the heatsink to indirectly cool the memory chips - there's no obvious airflow being channeled to the memory.

This certainly appears to be an R9 270 designed for performance. As such, it's disappointing that Sapphire has merely inched up the core clock to 945MHz, from 925MHz, and left memory at the default speed. We hear that other AMD partners are running their overclocked versions at up to 975MHz core.

Ports-wise, Sapphire runs with AMD's recommended quartet of single-link DVI, dual-link DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort. Backed by a two-year warranty, think of this £130-£140 card as a Radeon HD 7870 with a different name. Sweetening the deal further, the Radeon R9 270 is included in the latest gaming promotion from AMD, where, if purchased from an authorised retailer, an online-redeemable code for Battlefield 4 is included in the box.