Meet the ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC

For the launch of the Radeon R9 380X AMD sampled us with ASUS’s STRIX R9 380X OC. Arguably the highest-end of the R9 380X launch cards, the STRIX R9 380X OC  comes with a factory overclock tied for the largest of any R9 380X and a further optional overclock for $259.

Radeon R9 380X Cards
  ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC Reference R9 380X
Boost Clock 1030MHz /
1050MHz (GPUTweak OC)
Memory Clock 5.7Gbps GDDR5 5.7Gbps GDDR5
Length 10.75" N/A
Width Double Slot N/A
Cooler Type Open Air N/A
Price $259 $229

The STRIX R9 380X is the latest entry in ASUS’s popular STRIX family of cards. At one point STRIX was ASUS’s brand for upscale video cards, occupying a slot between their standard cards and their high-end Republic of Gamers cards, but at this point with the majority of ASUS’s cards falling under the STRIX branding, it arguably has transformed into what is their de facto mainstream lineup of video cards.

The STRIX R9 380X OC ships at 1030MHz for the core clock, a 60MHz (6%) boost over the reference R9 380X. On top of that ASUS offers a pre-programmed 1050MHz mode via their GPU Tweak software, though a further 20MHz overclock is going to be pretty small in the long-run. Otherwise ASUS only touches the GPU clockspeed, leaving the memory clock at AMD’s default of 5.7Gbps. Out of the box, the STRIX R9 380X OC is going to be around 4% faster than a reference R9 380X card.

Like the other STRIX cards we’ve looked at this year, ASUS has been focusing on workmanship and a common visual theme for these cards. The STRIX R9 380X OC features a version of one of ASUS’s DirectCU II coolers, combining an oversized fan assembly with a 3 heatpipe heatsink assembly. The fan assembly in turn uses a pair of the company’s “wing-blade” fans, each measuring 94mm in diameter and giving the fan assembly its overall large size.

As is usually the case on ASUS cards, the STRIX R9 380X OC implements ASUS’s variation of zero fan speed idle technology, which the company calls 0dB Fan technology. While ASUS is no longer the only partner shipping zero fan speed idle cards, they are still one of the most consistent users of the technology, and surprisingly we still don’t see this in every open air card released on the market.

Sitting below the fan assembly, the DirectCU heatsink being used in ASUS’s 380X card is a typical tri-pipe configuration. The aluminum heatsink runs virtually the entire length of the card – and past the PCB – with a pair of 8mm heatpipes and a 10mm heatpipe providing additional heat transfer between the Tonga GPU and the rest of the heatsink. ASUS’s design doesn’t make contact with anything other than the GPU – so the GDDR5 RAM chips sit uncovered – with the airflow coming through the heatsink being sufficient to cool those chips.

Moving on to the PCB, ASUS has implemented their standard Super Alloy family of MOSFETs, capacitors, and chokes. ASUS uses an 8 phase VRM system here, taking advantage of the already oversized fan assembly to allow them to use a slightly taller than normal PCB to fit all of the power phases.

Flipping over to the back side of the card, we find a full-size backplate running the length of the card. There are no critical components on the back of the card, so while the backplate doesn’t provide any cooling it does serve to protect the card and reinforce it against bending. To that end a small lip extends past the backplate and meets up with the heatsink, preventing the heatsink from flexing towards the board. Small details such as these are why the STRIX cards have consistently been the most solid of the custom cards to make it through our hands this year, as the card is well-supported and isn't free to warp or bend.

Looking at the back we can also see the two 6-pin power connectors used to supply additional power to the card, along with the red and white power LEDs for each connector. Like some of their other cards, ASUS has flipped the PCIe power connectors so that the clip is on the back side of the card, keeping the clip clear of the heatsink and making it easier to plug and unplug the card. On a side note, I suspect this will be one of the last cards we review with two 6-pin connectors rather than a single 8-pin connector. Though electrically equivalent (150W), we’re already seeing cards like the R9 Nano shipping with the single 8-pin connector, and dual 6-pin connector cards will become increasingly rare.

As for Display I/O, ASUS is using a rather typical 1x DL-DVI-I, 1x DL-DVI-D, 1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI port configuration. Multiple DVI ports, though not in any way petite, have been a common fixture on sub-$250 cards this generation and will likely remain that way for some time to come due to slower adoption of newer display I/O standards in the APAC market, which only recently has finally seen analog VGA phased out.

Finally, on the software front, the STRIX R9 380X OC includes ASUS’s GPU Tweak II software. The software hasn’t significantly changed since we last looked at it in July, offering the basic overclocking and monitoring functions one would expect from a good overclocking software package. GPU Tweak II allows control over clockspeeds, fan speeds, and power targets, while also monitoring all of these features and more.

Wrapping things up, as briefly mentioned earlier the STRIX R9 380X OC is the most expensive of the R9 380X launch cards. ASUS is charging a $30 premium for the card over AMD’s reference MSRP, putting the price at $259. Premium, factory overclocked cards aren’t anything new, but it does mean ASUS is in a bit of a precarious spot since the much more powerful Radeon R9 390 cards start at $289, meaning the premium price further amplifies the spoiler effect of the R9 390.

The AMD Radeon R9 380X Review The Test
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  • Kalessian - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    The Crysis 3 numbers don't make sense to me, vsync get left on or something?
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    Nope. V-sync is off, and I can vouch that the instantaneous framerate does go over 60fps. That's just an amusing case of cards at this performance segment coming very close to averaging 60fps.
  • DanNeely - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    For the price matchup table on the first page, the 4GB 960 starts at $220 vs $180 for the 2gb model. NVidia might not be splitting them apart by model number; but pricewise it has cards at both slots.
  • tviceman - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    Current cheapest 4gb GTX 960 on newegg (USA) is $180 w/o rebates. Next cheapest is $185 w/ additional $20 MIR. Next cheapest is $199 w/o rebate. Next cheapest is $210.

    There are plenty of 4gb GTX 960 cards for much less than $220.
  • nathanddrews - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    So... how much longer is AMD going to pretend that HDMI 2.0 doesn't exist? DP adapters are still MIA.
  • extide - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    Next gen GPU's dude...
  • medi03 - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    Cause dat 4k resolution is golden on card that can barely push 1440p...
  • nathanddrews - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    1. Most 4K TVs that can do 4K60 4:4:4 over HDMI 2.0 can also do 1080p120, native input.
    2. Games like Dota 2, LoL, and nearly all games prior to 2013 can be play 4K no problem by GPUs like this.
    3. 4K60 video (YouTube, GameStream, etc.)
  • SpartyOn - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    This card is no better, and actually probably worse, than my three year old GTX 770 4GB and at best is equal to a GTX 960, which can be had for easily under $200.

    Is AMD even trying anymore?
  • looncraz - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    Did you read the same review I did?

    The 380X is often 15% faster than the 960, and sometimes 30% faster... for average FPS. When it comes to the 99th percentile or minimum framerates there's just no comparison, 380x lays the smackdown on the 960.

    Sometimes the 960 can do quite well, but it usually loses by quite a bit.

    Your 770 is slower than the 960in some games, a bit faster in others. It is not as fast as the 380x, which is the same approximate performance of AMD's old 7970, which is a nearly four year old card.

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