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Everybody is anxious to see the performance of the new Radeon R7 and R9 cards, but there are a bunch of crazy geeks that will be ecstatic to read the review of the CrossfireX setup with that boards.

I had the chance to review 2x R9 270X and 4x R9 280X so I put them on the bench to get the numbers!

AMD Radeon R9 280X CrossfireX 4-way

The R9 270Xs were tested at 1050MHz / 1500MHz, while the R9 280X cards ran at 1100MHz / 1600MHz. The cards were from different manufacturers, but that is less important compared to the performance they provide.

As I‘ve already explained the new capabilities brought by the R7 and R9 series, I will skip to the graphs so you can see the CrossfireX performance.

 

Test setup

 

Model

Details

CPU

Intel Core i7-3930K

@ 4.7GHz

Cooler

EKWB Supreme HF

- Liquid cooling -

Motherboard

ASUS Rampage IV Extreme

 

RAM

16GB G.SKill Ares DDR3-2133

10-11-10-24-2

Storage

Patriot Pyro 120GB

Intel AHCI

Video cards

2x AMD Radeon R9 270X

2x AMD Radeon R9 280X

3x AMD Radeon R9 280X

4x AMD Radeon R9 280X

AMD Radeon R9 270X

AMD Radeon R9 280X

NVIDIA GTX 770

NVIDIA GTX 780

AMD Radeon 7990

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

Fire Strike / Fire Strike Extreme

Unigine Heaven 4.0

1920x1200 High noAA / Extreme 8xAA

Metro Last Light

  1920x1200 High noAA / Very High 8xAA

Hitman

  1920x1200 High noAA / Ultra 8xAA

Sleeping Dogs

1920x1200 High / Extreme

Tomb Raider

1920x1200 High / Ultimate

For NVIDIA boards I used ForceWare 327.23 while for the Radeon cards the provided Catalyst 13.11 beta.

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

 

Performance

3DMark

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review 3DMark

3DMark scales very well on multiple GPU configurations. R9 270X Crossfire beats a single R9 280X and the GTX 780, so it can be the next best-buy. We'll see that on the value page.

 

Unigine Heaven

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review Unigine

Unigine Heaven also has a good scaling on multi-GPU systems. R9 270X Crossfire has a serious advantage over R9 280X, being equal to GTX 780.

 

Metro Last Light

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light supports multi-GPU but only the 2-way setup makes a difference. From 3 GPUs and up there is no performance gain. R9 270X CrossfireX beats both the R9 280X and the GTX 780.

 

Hitman Absolution

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review Hitman

Hitman Absolution has similar results with Metro Last Light. Only 2 GPUs scale up, everything more having no impact. R9 270X CrossfireX is equal to R9 280X CrossfireX, so the game has a not-so-good scaling.

 

Sleeping Dogs

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review Sleeping Dogs

In Sleeping Dogs the scaling works best with extreme details, otherwise the performance gain is small.

 

Tomb Raider

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider scales perfectly on multi-GPU configurations, no matter how many graphics processors you throw at it.

 

Power consumption

This was a real surprise as the values exceeded my expectations. Let's start with the board-only consumption.

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review Power board

1326.7W from 4 cards is a big value!! Think about 4x Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum cards overclocked! :P

Taking the whole system consumption we can see this:

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review Power system

How about 1734W from your gaming rig? Fortunately my Antec 1200 HCP did not break a sweat at all at the value.

 

Value

One R9 270X starts from $199, so 2 of them would cost $398. A single R9 280X is $299. For $100 (30%) extra you can have from 25% to over 50% more performance so I would recommend an R9 270X CrossfireX build over a single R9 280X. More so, 2x R9 270X boards beat the GTX 780 which costs over $550, so the choice is obvious.

AMD R9 280X CrossfireX review value

An R9 280X can be bought for $299, so 2x would be $598, 3x would cost $897 and 4x go to $1196. A CrossfireX with 2x R9 280x beats every single-GPU card you can find on the market. I need to check about GTX Titan, but that costs $999 so it hasn't a good price/performance ratio.

I don't think you'd need more than 2x R9 280X cards, but to each his  own, so if you wanna put 4 cards in your PC, nobody's stopping you. ;)

 

Conclusion

Most games are scaling better on multi-GPU configurations, even with 2, 3 or 4 cards plugged in. The advantages are most visible at maximum settings, with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering cranked up to eleven. It will be interesting to see the performance of the R9 290X against the R9 270X Crossfirex and R9 280X CrossfireX. I will update the charts when available.

For a 4-way CrossfireX rig you'd have to spend at least $3500, and something extra for the energy bill. Happy gaming!

READ THIS: AMD R9 290 and 290X Crossfire and combinations

 

 

 

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