Wrap Up: Who Is It For?
Looking at the spec sheet, it seemed clear that the Radeon R9 380X wasn’t going to be an impressive $250 offering as it doesn't stray too far from the R9 380. The official list price is $230 for the R9 380X with factory overclocked cards set to start at $240, which is a small premium over the R9 380.
As expected, in the dozen games tested the R9 380X was never more than 14% faster than the R9 380 and on average was ~10% faster. The R9 380X was also about 21% slower than the R9 390 and 26% slower than the GeForce GTX 970.
At $240 the R9 380X costs 20% more than the R9 380 which is a bit of a head scratcher. It's also 20% cheaper than the R9 390, so at least that makes sense. Still we can’t imagine too many gamers lining up to get their hands on AMD’s new mid-range contender.
The R9 380X also surprised us, and not in a good way, with its power consumption. The R9 380X consumed more power than the R9 280X, and in Assassin's Creed Unity more than the faster R9 390. Power consumption was considerably higher than expected, although this might be specific to the Sapphire Nitro or just a trait of the R9 380X, we won’t know it until we can test more cards.
On the upside, under full gaming load the Sapphire Nitro R9 380X 4GB OC never exceeded 78 degrees which is relatively cool in GPU terms. Even more impressive was that the dual 100mm fans only needed to spin at 60% capacity which is a relatively quiet 1600 RPM. The card never throttled maintaining a constant 1040MHz core clock speed.
We tried squeezing a bit more performance by overclocking but for the most part our effort was hopeless as we could only boost the factory overclock by another 40MHz before running into stability issues.
Overall the Radeon R9 380X fills the price gap between the R9 380 and R9 390 as promised, though it is much closer to the more affordable R9 380 than it is the far more desirable R9 390. Performance-wise the R9 380X makes for the perfect 1080p solution, we just hope AMD decides to price it a little more aggressively in the not too distant future.