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AMD Radeon R9 380 review: The best US$200 graphics card you can buy for 1080p gaming

Brad Chacos | Sept. 7, 2015
A little bit of extra oomph in the clock speeds help make it the most enticing option for mainstream gamers today.

A rigid, black metal backplate—shown above, in the intro—is another nice touch, as is VisionTek’s limited lifetime warranty on the card if you register it within 30 days of purchase. That drops to one year if you don’t register, though.

Connectivity-wise, the VisionTek Radeon R9 380 offers DVI-D, DVI-I, HDMI 1.4a, and DisplayPort, the last of which is a must-have if you’re thinking of investing in a FreeSync monitor to make your PC games super-smooth.

AMD Radeon R9 380 benchmark tests

As ever, we tested the VisionTek Radeon R9 380 on PCWorld’s dedicated graphics card benchmark system. Here are the relevant tidbits:

Our DIY build guide for the machine has every nitty-gritty detail about it if you’re thirsting for even more detail.

We retested several additional graphics cards to get a sense for the Radeon R9 380’s value, including Nvidia’s competing $160 GeForce GTX 950 and $200 GeForce GTX 960, with both being EVGA Super Superclocked models. Read: not stock, though we also downclocked the GTX 950 to reference base clock speeds to represent very roughly stock performance for that card. Note that doing so doesn’t provide a direct simulation of the stock GTX 950’s behavior, however, due to the way Nvidia’s GPU boost works.

We also tossed in an older VisionTek R9 270X. Ideally, it would’ve been nice to test the $150 Radeon R7 370, which performs slightly slower than the 270X, but alas, we don’t have one on hand. And since gamers on a budget may also have or be considering the older GeForce GTX 750 Ti or GTX 650 Ti Boost, we tested EVGA versions of those, as well.

Every game was tested using its in-game benchmark, using the default graphics settings stated unless noted otherwise, with V-Sync and any vendor-specific features disabled. We stuck to 1080p resolution alone, since going any higher is really pushing these cards further than they’re designed to go. The Radeon cards were tested with AMD’s newest Catalyst 15.7 drivers, while the GeForce cards used Nvidia’s 355.65 drivers.

gtx 950 gtav
Click on image to enlarge.

Grand Theft Auto V is notorious for hogging memory at higher resolutions, but it scales well and performs admirably at 1080p. Because the game doesn’t have preset graphic levels, we enabled FXAA, set all configurable detail settings placed to Normal, and cranked all the sliders in the Graphics menu to the max.


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