With AMD’s Radeon R9 280X being based on the company’s now venerable and battle-tested Tahiti GPU, AMD’s partners have wasted no time in releasing fully customized products for AMD’s new lineup. Whether it’s reusing a tried and true design from the 7970 and 7970 GHz Edtion, or coming out with a new design entirely, everyone is doing something to make their card unique. In fact you won’t even find a reference card for the 280X launch; everything is custom from day one.

Of course it’s not just boards and coolers that can be adjusted. With nearly 2 years knowledge on the performance characteristics and yield curves of the Tahiti GPU, partners aren’t wasting any time in releasing aggressively clocked designs in their first salvo. We’ve already seen Asus make their first move with their R9 280X DirectCU II TOP, and they won’t be alone. But of all the designs being released in the next week for the 280X, none that we’re aware of are quite as aggressive as what Sapphire will be going for with their 280X Toxic.

AMD GPU Specification Comparison
  Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Asus Radeon R9 280X DCU II TOP AMD Radeon HD R9 280X AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
Stream Processors 2048 2048 2048 2048
Texture Units 128 128 128 128
ROPs 32 32 32 32
Core Clock 1100MHz 970MHz 850MHz 1000MHz
Boost Clock 1150MHz 1070MHz 1000MHz 1050MHz
Memory Clock 6.4GHz GDDR5 6.4GHz GDDR5 6GHz GDDR5 6GHz GDDR5
Typical Board Power >250W >250W 250W 250W
Width Double Slot Double Slot Double Slot Double Slot
Length 12.25" 11.25" N/A N/A
Warranty 2 Years 3 Years N/A N/A
MSRP $349 $309 $299 N/A

Meet The Sapphire R9 280X Toxic

Clocked at 1100MHz for the base GPU clock and 1150MHz boost GPU clock, with the their 280X Toxic Sapphire is aiming to have the fastest 280X card on the market. This is 250MHz (29%!) faster than the stock 280X at base clockspeeds, and 150Mhz (15%) faster under full boost. This is a very high and very narrow range of clockspeeds that according to the various 280X card specs we have so far makes the 280X Toxic the highest clocked card on the market, and one that will always be performing very close to its peak clockspeeds thanks to that narrow boost range. To that end 1150MHz is by no means unheard of for a Tahiti overclock, but by our reckoning it is towards the tail end of what a good Tahiti GPU can do under a reasonable voltage and air cooling, so Sapphire dipping well into the tail end of the yield curve to bring this card together. In any case, complementing the GPU overclock is a smaller memory overclock of 400MHz (7%) to keep the GPU fed.

Meanwhile cooling Sapphire’s highly clocked beast is a new cooler design out of Sapphire that is not necessarily the largest of the dual-slot GPU coolers, but certainly among the longest at 12.25 inches. Dubbed the Tri-X cooler, Sapphire is using a 3 fan asymmetrical design that takes a pair of 90mm fans with an 80mm fan in the center to provide all of the airflow the card needs. In that respect this is fairly typical for a triple fan open air cooler, though making Sapphire one of only a couple of companies to use this design in any product in lieu of a dual fan design.

Located below and measuring just a bit shorter than the fan-shroud is the 280X Toxic’s heatsink, a two segment vertical fin design. Sapphire is using 5 copper heatpipes to move heat between the GPU and the heatsink, with two pipes going to the first segment located over the GPU while the other three go to the segment at the tail end of the card, with the largest of these heatpipes measuring 10mm in diameter and tying it for the largest heatpipes we’ve seen yet.

Pulling away the heatsink we can find a couple of other heatsinks and a baseplate to pick up the slack for what the primary heatsink can’t cover alone. A baseplate attached to the larger heatsink segment provides cooling for the Hynix RAM chips and other discrete components around the GPU, while another strip heatsink is attached to the MOSFETs that are part of the card’s voltage regulation equipment. This smaller heatsink isn’t attached to the primary heatsink in any way, so cooling comes off of the airflow from the fans.

On the back side of the card we’ll find a backplate that Sapphire has attached to the card and runs the full length of the PCB. There aren’t any components on the back of the card that the backplate provides direct cooling for, but it does provide another heat outlet for the MOSFETs on the front of the card, with a strip of thermal material connecting the backplate to the location on the PCB where the MOSFETs are. The backplate also provides some protection for the chokes Sapphire has placed on the back of the card, as the backplate sticks out farther than the chokes. Meanwhile for those who like to show off or otherwise have their video card visible, on the back we’ll also find Sapphire’s LED temperature LEDs, a series of 6 LEDs that will light up in accordance with the GPU temperature.

Meet The Sapphire R9 280X Toxic, Cont
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  • marc1000 - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    wow, really nice factory OC there, I liked the cooler performance! still waiting fot 290/290x to show up... I bet we will have "non-X" versions of the smaller cards too, but launched a few months from now.

    anyway, this is mostly just curiosity. I just purchased one GTX660 (non-TI) as it is the fastest card with just 1 PCIe power connector, and I believe this keeps noise and heat manageable with smaller cases for casual gaming.
  • ShieTar - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Technically, the 660Ti has a TDP and should also run perfectly well with a single connector. I think it only comes with 2 connectors to provide a bit of security versus bad PSUs, or in order to give you a little head room for overclocking. But yeah, for casual gaming the 660 gives the best price-performance ratio for anybody who needs more than iGPU performance.

    Of course the fastest card within a 150TDP would be an underclocked and/or undervolted Titan.
  • marc1000 - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    yeah, the hd7870 also seems to eat the same amount of power than gtx660, but also has 2 connectors for "safety". too bad nothing changed in 150wTDP world with this new re-spin of products - we will have to wait for 20 or 14nm for that. not a problem for me :)
  • The Von Matrices - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Since when is having an 80mm fan surrounded by two 90mm fans "asymmetric." That's the very definition of symmetry. Asymmetry would be if the 80mm fan was on one side of the card and the 90mm fans were in the other two places.
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

  • treeroy - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    The Asus is more expensive and is notably slower, and I don't have to worry about overclocking with the Sapphire.

    I wonder which one I'll buy.

    Nice review by the way - glad to see a review of this card at last, this one hasn't got a lot of coverage but it's the one I've been eyeing.
  • Skiddywinks - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    What? The Asus is $40 cheaper.
  • treeroy - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Here in the UK, the Sapphire card is $430 and the Asus one is $440 [USD]
  • Skiddywinks - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    I'm actually in the UK myself and assumed you were a Yank. My bad. Where are those prices btw, cause I am looking to upgrade my GPU and these 280X are tempting as sin itself.
  • treeroy - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Those are on Overclockers UK - http://www.overclockers.co.uk/search_results.php?k...
    I can't find many places selling the cards, but OCUK was the cheapest of what I saw.

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