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After playing with the common versions of R9 series (Asus R9 280X DirectCU II Top and Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X), it is time to torture a card from the ROG family: Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum. This is the most powerful implementation Asus had made.

Unlike the DCII version, Matrix brings all the overclocking features an enthusiast would care for.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum set

Specs: 

 

R9 280X

Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X

Asus R9 280X DirectCU II Top

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum

GPU clock

1000 MHz

1070 MHz

1070 MHz

1100 MHz

Memory

3GB GDDR5

3GB GDDR5

3GB GDDR5

3GB GDDR5

Memory Clock

1500 MHz

1550 MHz

1600 MHz

1600 MHz

Price

$299

$299

$309

$409

 

Aspect and build

The product comes in the ROG box similar to those for motherboards. No image or specs are disclosed. To sneak peak the card you can flip the box cover.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum box

The back of the package details the integrated technologies and the specs of the card.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum box back

Completely covered by the DirectCU massive cooling system, the R9 280X Matrix Platinum has the aspect you’d expect from an overclocking card.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum

The two 10mm fans are the standard kind, even though I’d expected at least one to be CoolTech made.

For a better cooling, Matrix has a backplate over its back that discloses the ROG chipset, the VGA Hotwire interfaces and the measurement points.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum back

The top side is an interesting view also. The 2x CrossfireX connectors are in the neighborhood of the dual BIOS switch.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum top

 On the other side of the top edge there are 2x 8-pin power connectors. That implies a 375W maximum intake. The Asus Matrix logo will lit in blue when the card is on.

The ‘noise button’ can be spotted at the rear side of the card. Push it and both fans will go to their max rpm and a tornado will start in the room. J

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum rear

TweakIt allows voltage modifications just by pressing the 2 buttons ‘+’ and ‘–‘.

As an extreme gaming card, Matrix has enough interfaces to connect up to 6 monitors for a 4K experience.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum interfaces

There are 2x DVI and 4x DisplayPort connectors available for big screen gaming sessions.

The cooler is tri-slot and pretty heavy. It consists of 2 aluminum radiators cooled by two 10mm fans.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum cooler

The 5 heatpipes are not in direct contact with the GPU, they being served by a copper base.

The naked card shows the GPU surrounded by the memory chips. The front side is covered by a heatsink that cools some of the memory chips.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum no cooler heatsink

Asus installed a DIGI+ VRM with 20 (16+4) power phases to ensure maximum stability and control for extreme overclocking. The RAM is Hynix H5GQ2H24AFR-R0C, meaning GDDR5 @ 1600MHz at 1.5V.

The rear end of the card sports 3 buttons (+, - and Safe Mode) that will be used for modifying the voltage. The Safe Mode will restore the default settings in case the overclocking fails

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum no cooler

The red button provides instant access to 100% fans revolution while the measurement points on the back do just that. The VGA Hotwire interfaces allow the connectivity with a compatible Asus motherboard.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum VGA Hotwire

Asus bundled the card with a Diablo III mouse pad, the manual, the software CD, a DVI-HDMI adapter and, most important, a LN2 Mos Heatsink, for the enthusiasts.

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum accessories

Also, a VGA Hotwire kit and a Crossfire bridge are present.

 

Test setup

 

Model

Details

CPU

Intel Core i7-3770K

@ 3.9GHz

Cooler

EKWB Supreme HF

- Liquid cooling -

Motherboard

Biostar Z77X Hi-Fi

 

RAM

16GB G.SKill Ares DDR3-1600

11-11-11-28-2

Storage

Patriot Pyro 120GB

Intel AHCI

Video cards

Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum

Asus R9 280X DirectCU II Top

Asus R9 270X DirectCU II Top

Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X

AMD R9 270X

Gigabyte GTX 760 Windforce

NVIDIA GTX 760 reference

ASUS GTX 770 DirectCU II OC

Asus GTX 780 DirectCU II OC

NVIDIA GTX 780

MSI GTX 680 Lightning

Asus GTX 670 DirectCU II mini

Asus GTX 660 DCII Top

AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz

Catalyst 13.11 beta for R7 / R9

Catalyst 13.1

Forceware 320.18

Monitor

Dell U2412M

 

PSU

Antec HCP-1200

 

 

Methodology

DirectX 11

Details

3Dmark 11

Extreme

3DMark

Cloud Gate

Fire Strike

Fire Strike Extreme

Unigine Heaven 4.0

1680x1050 High noAA / Extreme 4xAA

1920x1200 High noAA / Extreme 4xAA

Metro 2033

1680x1050 High noAA / Very High 4xAA

1920x1200 High noAA / Very High 4xAA

Dirt Showdown

1680x1050 High noAA / Ultra 4xAA

1920x1200 High noAA / Ultra 4xAA

Sleeping Dogs

1680x1050 High / Extreme

1920x1200 High / Extreme

Tomb Raider

1680x1050 High / Ultimate

1920x1200 High / Ultimate

 

For NVIDIA boards I have used ForceWare 320.18. For Radeon R7 and R9 AMD provided the Catalyst 13.11 beta. The other AMD cards run on Catalyst 13.1.

The temperature was measured as the minimum value for idle state and the maximum value for load conditions. In each case, the noise was listened and interpreted by my very ear, at 1.5m from the opened test bench.

The power consumption was measured for the whole system and for the video card alone.

 

Overclocking

Default GPU frequency is 1100MHz and 1600MHz for the memory. But the important part is the options we have for overclocking.

Asus GPU Tweak can modify the GPU voltage, memory voltage, VDDC, LoadLine value and VRM Clock. This is the best case scenario an overclocker can wish for.

With the VGA Hotwire capability and the proper cables included in the package, you just need an Asus motherboard to have all the overclocking options at your mouse pointer.

The most surprising add-in for GPU Tweak is the Burn button that will write the current values into the card’s BIOS.

Without any voltage settings, the GPU went to 1225MHz, and the memory to 1700MHz. That a % advantage.

Increasing the GPU voltage up to 1.4V pushes the GPU to 1270MHz while 1.6V for the memory assures 1925MHz!! Awesome!

 

Performance

3DMark 11

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review 3DMark 11

 

3DMark

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review 3DMark

 

Unigine Heaven 4.0

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review Unigine

 

Metro 2033

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review Metro 2033

 

Dirt Showdown

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review DiRT Showdown

 

Sleeping Dogs

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review Sleeping Dogs

 

Tomb Raider

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review Tomb Raider

 

Temperature and noise

The massive cooler with big fans has its well-defined role in keeping the card to a lower temperature.  During the tests it hadn’t made any noise. To achieve a better overclock I had to set it manually to 100%, where there is a disturbing sound, but that was only for testing purposes. After all, the card is dedicated to extreme overclocking, so if you buy it, that’s exactly what you want to do, no matter the noise.

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review Temperature

The temperatures are good in stock mode, similar to those from R9 280X DirectCU II Top card. In overclocking, the fans are set to 100% to achieve those values.

 

Power consumption

Here it’s the same principle as above. You want an extreme overclocking card; you assume the penalty of power consumption.

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review Power system

The 467W values is in the range with other 280X cards, but 650W is the result of extreme overclocking, so prepare yourself a very good PSU with minimum 800W power.

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum review Power board

In default mode, Matrix Platinum has an intake similar to other R9 280X boards. The situation changes when you start to modify the voltages. From a default of 369W, the power drawn by the board itself reaches 549W. If you plan to buy the Matrix Platinum, get an 80+ certified PSU with minimum 800W power.

 

Value

Asus values the R9 280X Matrix Platinum to $409 / €409.7 / £325.99. It is more expensive than the DirectCU II Top version, but it can be overclocked much more. After all, if you want the best card you have to pay the price.

 

Conclusion

Asus Matrix Platinum is the choice (and dream) for every overclocker and enthusiast. It’s the best R9 280X implementation I’ve seen so far. If MSI will release the R9 280X Lightning, it will be interesting to see the comparison.

Starting with an excellent performance and best features, the Matrix Platinum climbs the R9 280X podium right to the top. The price is not that big, so I’d say it has an excellent price/performance ratio sustained by the overclocking capabilities.

If you're interested in the CrossfireX setup, please read our review.

 

PROs

CONs

 

- best build

-  best performance

- best features

- best overclocking

- excellent power consumption

- best cooling

- no noise

 

-

 

Evaluation

Build & Features

9.7

8.73

Performance

9.2

Cooling & Noise

9.0

Overclocking

9.8

Power consumption

7.0

Value

7.0

 

Awards

best-performance-9.2 best-overclocking-9.8 best-cooling-9.0 editors-choice

 

 

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