Asus R9 280X DirectCU II TOP 3GB

When it comes to Radeon R9 280X cards, Asus offers not one but three distinct designs, which includes their ROG Matrix version along with the more standard DirectCU II and the larger DirectCU II V2. The ROG Matrix and DirectCU II V2 versions of the R9 280X are massive triple slot cards whereas the original DirectCU II is a more compact dual-slot card.

Confusing the matter further are two DirectCU II cards. The standard Asus R9 290X DirectCU II features a core clock of 1000MHz with 6000MHz GDDR5 memory and these are AMD's standard clock specifications for the R9 280X.

The R9 280X DirectCU II TOP we have for review is the overclocked version. It is essentially the same card but with a 1070MHz core clock and 6400MHz GDDR5 memory.

Compared to the AMD reference cooler, Asus says that its DirectCU II cooler achieves 20% lower temps thanks to its direct-contact copper heatpipes. They also claim that it's three times quieter and six times more powerful with its twin 100mm fans. Bold claims, but then AMD's reference cooler is pretty rubbish.

Something you might notice about this Asus graphics card is that the 100mm fans are not the same. One of them looks quite unusual. The first fan is an exclusive Asus CoolTech fan that is designed to deliver wider airflow to keep critical components cool. It's an interesting design, though as far as we can tell it just blows air over the same heatsink as the standard fan.

Still, Asus has completely redesigned its R9 280X graphics card. Part of that redesign includes a DIGI+ VRM with 12-phase Super Alloy Power. Asus says this design minimizes power noise by 30%, enhances power efficiency by 15%, widens voltage modulation tolerance, and improves overall stability and longevity by 2.5 times over the reference design.

What we liked most about the re-design is that Asus has made the card slightly shorter than the reference design. The R9 280X DirectCU II TOP 3GB measures just 265mm long while Asus has made the card taller at 121mm opposed to the more standard 110mm height. Increasing a cards height rather than length is a smart way to increase its compatibility with mid-towers.

Although the power delivery system has been upgraded, Asus has stuck with the standard 6-pin/8-pin PCIe power connector configuration. The rear I/O bracket also features the standard configuration which includes a DisplayPort, HDMI output and two dual-link DVI outputs.

The Asus R9 280X DirectCU II TOP 3GB is a solid looking Radeon R9 280X graphics card that features decent factory overclocking for the core and memory as well as an impressive redesign of the PCB and cooling system. Moreover, it can be found online for just $310, which prices it very close to the MSRP of $300.