Choosing a graphics card can be tough, especially if you aren’t up to date with the latest technology. We aim to make that decision easier with our personal pick for the best value graphics card on the market, the VisionTek R9 280. It’s unique blend of performance, price, and customizability are the main reason it’s featured in our BestStuff do it yourself computer build. We’ll get into more detail further into the review, but here are a few quick reasons why we highly recommend this product.
Price vs. Performance
While VisionTek’s R9 280 isn’t the beefiest card on the market, it delivers incredible performance for the money. Priced under $300, It stacks up to to other more expensive gpu’s, leaving you more money to spend on upgrading other pc components. It’s the perfect blend of enough power to last years to come, while not paying an absurd amount for specs that you won’t use.
Complete with a plethora of outputs (2 displayport, 1 hdmi, 1 dvi), it’s easy to mix and match any type of display setup you have. This is a basic but convenient feature since you can essentially pair it with any monitor without the hassle of cable conversion. Below are a few specific examples of how it’s a versatile option for a variety of users.
1) For The PC Gamer – Max out your settings with ease on even the most demanding games. Skyrim, Battlefield, and Crysis are just a few of the games we were able to max out for a true gaming experience.
2) For The Professional Video Editor – Premiere Pro (and other video editing software) runs without a hitch, even with multiple projects/instances.
3) For The Work Space – VisionTek’s R9 280 can easily handle multiple monitor setups (something you will need a GPU for). We tested the GPU with a triple monitor setup and it worked beautifully.
Even though we would classify this a “value card”, don’t mistake that for “cheap” or “under-performing”. It surpassed expectation in the past few months at Beststuff, and our benchmark testing rates VisionTek’s R9 280 as a mid/high end GPU.
Benchmark Testing (Pictures)
As with all GPU reviews, we prefer to use Unigine’s benchmarking program as a baseline. All benchmark tests are run on the highest settings possible. Click the screenshots below for high resolution.
In Depth Performance
Frames per seconds is a highly debated topic among pc gamer’s. The one truism is that anything over 60 fps is undetectable by the human eye, so 60 is the ultimate mark for a gpu. Based on my personal experience, anything under 30 fps is unacceptable, and anything above is considered playable. Ultimately the FPS is decided by more factors than simply the GPU, so it’s important to note this test was run using an overclocked i5-2500k @ 4.3 Ghz paired with an SSD.
With all settings fully maxed out the R9 280 was able to stay above 30 fps with ease, very impressive for a sub-$300 GPU. If you’re a gamer who insists on 60 fps at all times we were able to easily achieve this by slightly decreasing the tessellation. Real-world examples such as Skyrim, Crysis, and Battlefield all ran beautifully on max settings with an average FPS easily above 50.
Any experienced computer builder knows heat is the enemy of performance. During normal usage (3 monitors with youtube, multiple browsers) the GPU did well, staying around 40°C. Extreme benchmark tests had the R9 running just under 70°C. The maximum recommend temperature sits around 78°C, so based on our past few month’s numbers this gpu was very efficient with heat dissipation.
Please note: Heat dissipation and average temperatures will differ greatly based on a variety of factors. These include the unique build, additional fans, and average temperature of the room your tower is in. We highly recommend running your own tests and making sure you’re well within the normal operational temperatures at all times.
One of my personal favorite parts about VisionTek’s R9 280 is the ability to go in depth and customize a variety of settings. While it’s completely optional whether you choose to do this, it comes standard with AMD’s Catalyst Control Center. It’s a great starting point for those inexperienced in overclocking to begin understanding the basics. It allows you to easily adjust a plethora of settings such as fan speed, power flow, allocated memory, and many more.
The most notable feature offered by the R9 280 is the fact that it’s “future-proof”. This is a term we throw around the office that essentially means “will it still be viable in a few years”. We were very happy with the “future-proof” features offered by VisionTek’s GPU, most notably it’s 4k support for high end monitors. Listed below are a few important detailed specifications you may be interested in.
- Video Memory: 3GB GDDR5
- Memory Interface: 384-bit
- DirectX® Support: 11.2
- Bus Standard: PCI Express 3.0
- Core Speed: 850MHz (1000Mhz boost)
- Memory Speed: 1500MHz x 4 (6Gbps)
- VGA Output: (using DVI to VGA adapter)
- DVI Output: DL DVI-I
- HDMI Output: HDMI (video/audio)
- DisplayPort Output: 2 x mini DisplayPort
- UEFI Ready: Support
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime
VisionTek’s R9 280 is the perfect solution for those looking to buy a mig/high end graphics card without breaking the bank. It outperforms it’s price-point and is our featured GPU for the upcoming “Do it yourself” computer build. Whether you’re interested in gaming, video editing, or upgrading to support multiple monitors we couldn’t speak more highly of this GPU. Couple that with a limited lifetime warranty and you can’t go wrong.
If you’re interesting in buying or finding out more about VisionTek’s R9 280 Graphics card click the following link.