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Diamond Multimedia R9 270X Review

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Nov 7, 2005
Diamond Multimedia R9 270X Review

Today I will take an in depth look at the all new R9 270X from Diamond Multimedia (DMM). It is no secret that the R9 series has done exceptionally well for AMD; with cards selling out left and right and prices increasing instead of decreasing it is the right time to jump on the bandwagon if you are looking for a great value when it comes to a graphics card, so today I will go over this particular model and share my findings.
Specifications (From DMM):
? Diamond AMD R9 270X PCIE GDDR5 2GB Memory Graphics Video Card
? Bus Type: PCI Express 3.0 x16 | Part Number: R9270XD52GXOCV2
? Memory: 2GB GDDR5
? Memory Interface: 256-bit
? Bus Interface: PCI Express 3.0 x16
? Core Clock: 1030 MHz
? Memory Clock: 1400 MHz x 4 (5600 MHz)
? Video Outputs: DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI and Standard Display Port
? Maximum Simultaneous supported Displays: 3
? Board size: Full Height Dual Slot 8.7 (L) x 5.1 (H) x 1.6 (W) Inches
? Box Dimensions : 11.5 x 9.5 x 2.87 Inches
? Product weight: 1.10 lbs
? Product weight with content: 4.0 lbs
? Direct X Support: 11.2
? Open GL support: 4.3
? AMD Eyefinity: Yes
? AMD App Acceleration: Yes
? AMD HD3D Technology: Yes
? AMD Cross Fire: Yes
? DisplayPort 1.2 HBR: Yes
? HDMI ? : Yes
? Max resolution 4096 x 2160 per display Quad HD/4K video support
? Dual Link DVI: Yes HDCP Support
? Single Link DVI: Yes, Max resolution 2560 x 1600
? VGA: Yes, With DVI to VGA adapterMax resolution 2048 x 1536
? Integrated Audio Controller: Yes
? AMD Power Play: Yes
? AMD Power Tune: Yes
? AMD Zerocore Power: Yes
What is interesting to note is that the standard clock is actually not 1030mhz on the Core, but rather 1050MHz which is the standard clock speed for the 270X.

The card:

The other than the card, the box is the most eventful part of the package. The only accessory other than manuals and a disc is a CrossFireXTM bridge.

The card design is polished and looks finished. It has a little bit of weight to it, which is a good sign of durability and a good cooling system. Two fans (which run very quiet on Auto) blow on a custom heatsink to keep things frosty.

The backside of the card reveals the blue color of the PCB. The heatsink is held on by 4 screws, and is easy to remove and clean if needed. The heatpipes protrude a bit, but that is good thing as this heatsink is an overclocking feature of this card because there is no voltage control for 99% of 270X cards.

The video outputs consist of HDMI, 2*DisplayPort, and DVI. I used HDMI in my testing.

The backside of the card reveals the radiator design of the heatsink which would otherwise be covered by the black aluminum shroud.

This angle reveals the heatpipe distribution.

From this angle we can count 5 heatpipes. The fans are exactly at the same height as the top of the backpanel of the card.

Removing the heatsink reveals very good contact between the GPU core and the copper of the heatsink.

A shot of the bottom of the heatsink for anyone who is curious.

This is the bare PCB of the GPU. Almost all the major components are on this side of the GPU, since everything is now integrated into the GPU except power supplies, memory, and BIOS we will take a look at those elements. What is interesting is the layout of this card is not the AMD reference design, which isn?t a typical thing for Diamond to do; perhaps it was done to facilitate the cooler. Either way the performance gains from the cooler should benefit anyone looking to overclock the card more than the PCB layout.

This is the AMD R9 270X GPU Core which is based off the Pitcairn uArch, which is the same core used on cards such as the HD7870, however the 280X and the 7970 use the Tahiti uArch. What is interesting to note is that the 270X must be a higher yield, since the R9 series run faster by default than the previous HD7XXX series. Although the R9 270X is meant to replace the 77XX series in price, it is only slightly slower than the 79XX series, faster than the 78XX series, and wipes the floor with the 77XX series as we will see later in this article.

The reference AMD R9 270X sent to reviewers uses Hynix GDDR5, however almost all the R9 270X on the market from vendors contain Elpida GDDR5. These Elpida modules are rated for 1500MHz, but only run 1400MHz by default, which makes for easy overclocking.

This is interesting, the switching node (where the power comes out of the inductors), is towards the center of the card instead of towards the GPU. This doesn?t affect performance at all since the distance between the core and the switching node is practically the same, however it is an interesting configuration I have only seen on the HIS R9 270X. The reason for this might be to accommodate the larger cooler on this card. This 5 phase VRM is all of the GPU Core, it is operated by a CHiL Semi(International Rectifier) CHL8225G which is I2C compliant and a fully digital PWM. The PWM powers 5 DrMOS from Fairchild Semiconductor, model FDMF6705B, which are rated at 40A. These are the same parts as the AMD reference model. This is a powerful VRM capable of 200A loads. Considering you can?t change the voltage on 99% of R9 270X, all you are looking for is high current capability in the VRM as the voltages will not go out of range. If you are into modding you can fill up those empty capacitor pads with capacitors, however I don?t it will benefit you much as this VRM is already tuned for max efficiency and performance.

This picture shows off two other switching power supplies for the memory and the pll of the card. The only reason they went with switching regulators instead of linear ones is because the memory and pll voltages must be on turbo as well. This means that the card should use very little power at idle. Two 6-pin VGA power plugs are present as well, they should provide more than enough power since the user cannot increase the voltage.


AMD?s Catalyst Control center gives you all the setting you will need to overclock this card; core and memory frequency control, fan speed control, and power limit control. To increase clock speeds the user can either increase the voltage or reduce the temperature, both of which will increase your overclock. Since you cannot increase the voltage on 99% of R9 270X, your only option is to reduce the temperature, luckily DMM has you covered with a nice aftermarket heatsink.

My overclock was to 1210MHz on the Core and 1550MHz on the memory, I could go higher but not with much stability (aka. I could idle at desktop up to 1250/1590 pretty easily, but not run vantage or furmark). These results are in line with what we have seen for most R9 270X with Elpida memory.

Benchmarks and Conclusion:

On some of these benchmarks it is evident that the CPU is bottlenecking things, however we can still see that in some benchmarks where it isn?t the 7970 isn?t very far ahead of the 270X, and this is in line with what we have seen from other reviews. However when we compare the 270X with the HD7790 we can see that the 270X really blows the HD7790 out of the water even though the 270X is supposed to replace the HD7790 in terms of price point. While the 270X has double the memory when compared to the 7790, it is also clocked higher. What is interesting is that the 270X has 1GB less GDDR3 than the HD7970, however it isn?t too far away from it in terms of performance, and this could be because of the increased clock speed and the matching number of ROPs. The proximity of the Diamond R9 270X to the Diamond HD7970 is impressive to say the least considering the difference in price, which is probably the reason these cards are in such high demand. The HD7970 is on average about ~15% faster than the R9 270X, which isn?t bad. What sets the R9 270X apart in my book is the cooling systems, as the voltage control is basically locked down on almost all models, thus cooling is the only thing that can set most of these cards apart. The DMM R9 270X has a very hefty cooler which provides a nice 24/7 overclock while not sounding like a jet engine. If you are looking for a nice R9 270X at the ~ $200 price point, then check out the Diamond Multimedia R9 270X, it won?t disappoint.