Bringing its new graphics offerings to bear today is Sapphire, with the launch of its new R9 series of GPUs, featuring cards from the 270x and 280x lines, with each one coming in three different cooling flavours, giving you a chance to buy the one that suits your price point and required overclocking potential.
Of course until the 290x is released sometime later this month, the 280x is the most powerful card of the new line and though it may be a rebranded 7970 GHz edition, the familiarity that partners like Sapphire have with the chip means it's been able to do some extra tweaking to make this card something a bit different. The TOXIC version is the most impressive, using a Tri-X cooler, with 10mm heatpipes and a customised shroud to direct airflow over the internal heatsink. It also features double sided Black Diamond chokes and solid capacitors for increased life span and better stability, which should allow for more overclocking headroom.
Other versions include a Vapor-X edition, which makes use of vapor-chamber cooling to keep the card quiet and cool at the same time. While not as hefty as its TOXIC cousin, this is still a decent card that comes factory overclocked for added performance over the base model.
For the cheapest of the 280x line though, you can look to the Dual-X cooler version, which features two aerofoil fans and standard heatpipes. While it's the cheapest of the bunch, its performance isn't too impacted, and still comes with a nice factory overclock to make it stand out from the previous generation of 7 series GPUs.
The next in the line is the 270x, which is a rebrand and uprated version of the 7870 GHZ edition. It too comes in TOXIC, Vapor-X and Dual-X cooling brands, offering varied levels of performance, cooling and overclock-ability. However all of these and those from the 280x line, feature the Graphics Core Next architecture (like the 7 series before them) that gives access to the recently debuted AMD Mantle API, which could in the future be used by developers to extract extra performance from cards by bypassing DirectX.
However in the meantime, all cards will support DX 11.2, come with big chunks of GDDR5 memory and support HDMI 1.4a. They're all also priced at least £30-40 below recent 7 series GPUs, making them a cost effective upgrade.
Full pricing information, including reviews of these cards are coming very soon.
KitGuru Says: If one of these cards has peaked your interest, keep an eye on KitGuru in the next couple of hours. You may see something you like.