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Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition OC 3GB Review

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, although we would imagine the black and yellow colour scheme of the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition will appeal to a wide audience. I think it is one of the sexiest looking video cards available today.

Out of all the graphics cards we have tested this week, the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition is the most impressive solution. Not only does the cooler look stunning in the flesh but the build quality is exemplary throughout. Sapphire have spared no expense in selecting the highest grade components, incorporating double side black Diamond choke capacitors and a 8+2+2 phase digital power phase to ensure rock solid performance under the most extreme load situations.

The Sapphire Toxic Edition is the fastest R9 280X we have tested since launch, with the core clocked at 1,150mhz and the GDDR5 memory at 1,600mhz (6.4 Gbps effective). Thanks to the enhanced power delivery, we managed to squeeze almost 1,300mhz from the core and 1,762mhz from the GDDR5 memory (7.05 Gbps effective). Again, this is the highest manually tuned clock speed from any R9 280X this week. Some credit has to go to the capabilities of the Tri-X cooler which features three high grade aerofoil fans and gargantuan 10mm heat pipes.

We would go as far to say that the new Tri-X cooler is the best AMD cooling solution on the market. Not only did it outperform the triple slot cooler on the Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum, but it did so by a staggering 10c under load. We wouldn’t say the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition was the quietest solution on the market, but the balance of noise to performance is about as good as we could feasibly expect. We would imagine gamers won’t mind a little fan noise under load anyway, and it is certainly much quieter than the HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition of the last generation.

When the core is overclocked to almost 1,300mhz, the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition is within sniffing distance of the reference clocked GTX780. While this might not seem like such a big deal in late 2013, we do need to look at the UK pricing today. A reference GTX780 will still cost £500 inc vat, and this Sapphire Toxic Edition is available on pre-order at Overclockers UK for £269.99 inc vat. That £230 saved could facilitate hardware upgrades, such as funding a new processor, or a memory kit and a quality power supply.

I was an advocate of the Sapphire HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition and have used it frequently in our reviews since it was released. The only downside with the card were the noise levels under load, especially when operating at the higher 1,200mhz core clock speed. The new Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition may have a slightly lower ‘out of the box’ core clock speed, and half the memory, but it does run quieter at all times, consumes less power at the socket… all while running cooler. The Sapphire HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition cost £550 when it was first launched … it is not rocket science to work out that this is exactly twice the price of Sapphire’s latest R9 280X Toxic Edition OC.

If you are in the market for a new high performance AMD graphics card then we have to put the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition at the top of the list. It is not only faster than any other R9 280X we have tested to date, but it is actually very competitively priced at £269.99 inc vat. The GTX780 might still be faster, but the price difference of £230+ means that many gamers will invest the difference into other hardware components and upgrades.

Pros:

  • Beautiful looking design.
  • no expense spared with PCB component selection.
  • very high out of the box overclock (1,150mhz/1600mhz).
  • plenty of additional headroom.
  • quieter than the Sapphire HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition of yesterday.
  • Tri-X cooler is a new class leader.
  • £270 asking price makes it £230 cheaper than a reference GTX780.

Cons:

  • There are quieter competitor cards.

Kitguru says: One of the finest video cards we have ever tested at Kitguru.

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Rating: 9.5.

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