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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  • ShieTar - Monday, October 14, 2013 - link

    Word of Advice: Also check German shops for new cards, you can get the 280X for 300€ (408$), and delivery to the UK is 13€ (18$) usually. Not a big difference on this card right now, but worth checking whenever you look for a new card. German c't magazine has a nice comparison site that can find the best price all over Europe:


    Of course, sometimes it can make even more sense to import the 309$ card from the US and just pay the VAT at customs (61$).
  • Gunbuster - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Nice to see AMD cars not in that cheap ass ATI happy meal plastic red.
  • AssBall - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Because Tonka Truck yellow is your favorite color?
  • ninjaquick - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Head over to www.bjorn3d if you are curious about what happens when the full 375 are tapped for juice. Nothing anywhere as comprehensive as here, but still pretty interesting :)
  • Impulses - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Given the small price premium, ASUS still has the best combination of warranty/noise vs cooling/stock OC, IMO. Would've liked to see MSI or GB samples.
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Agreed - the cooler on the Asus is most impressive and would decide things for me, if I didn't already have my GTX660Ti.
  • yacoub35 - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Wow, Sapphire finally learned that it's important to cool the VRMs. About time...

    Here's hoping they've also improved the quality of the fans on their cards, too. Every Sapphire card I've owned (3-4 of them over the years) either had the fan die or start to click or buzz within 6-9 months of owning it, one a lot sooner.
  • The Von Matrices - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    I completely disagree with this card being classified as "double slot." The heatsink takes up 2.5 slots, and the backplate renders the slot above useless for any card that needs the full slot width. The only thing "double slot" about this card is the PCI bracket. This needs to be clearly stated in the article.
  • Casecutter - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Not a fan of the Tonka truck color most as it would have folk think I bought a Zotac. ;-)

    Nothing a carbon faux fiber applique wouldn't fix.
  • jenesis33 - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Looking to build a new PC... so considering this card.


    Kitguru has shown a very low noise level for this card.. which is vastly different to test result here?
    Any suggestion of reasons?

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