The plain specs for the VisionTek R9 285 are 2GB GDDR5, 256-bit memory interface, up to 945MHz core clock, and 1375MHz memory clock.
As said before, VisionTek and AMD emphasize the support of both Mantle and DX12, two game APIs that both appear to be headed for the mainstream. The R9 285 also features TrueAudio -- AMD’s GPU accelerated sound engine -- thanks to it being a new chip based off its larger, Hawaii brother used in the 290X. The R9 285 also features a smaller bit bus for the VRAM than the R9 280, which theoretically would require a faster memory clock to achieve the same bandwidth, but AMD implemented lossless color compression which according to AMD can achieve “40% higher memory bandwidth efficiency.” Hopefully this and other architectural changes will allow the R9 285 to compare better with the R9 280.
To counter nVidia’s Shadowplay, AMD Gaming Evolved added support to record using the H.264 encoder in AMD GPUs with little performance loss. AMD claims to have improved this encoder to be about 40% better than the H.264 encoder on the 760. AMD also claims the R9 285’s tessellation throughput to be 2-4x better than than the R9 280, but as always, I would suggest taking nVidia and AMD internal benchmarks with a grain of salt. VisionTek and AMD also show off FreeSync support, AMD’s G-Sync equivalent, to eliminate screen tearing and stutter. Another item of note is that since the R9 285 uses AMD’s new XMDA Crossfire engine, it doesn’t utilize a Crossfire bridge and instead uses the PCIe lanes.
VisionTek is quick to point out that this GPU supports 4K Ultra HD gaming, which is a bit of a stretch considering even this new GPU will have trouble playing at 4K.
The R9 285 also has 1xDVI-D, 1xDVI-I, 1xHDMI 1.4, and 1xDisplayPort 1.3 ports. Using these ports, up to four monitors are natively supported. The VisionTek version of the 285 includes a lifetime warranty. The R9 285 is certainly an interesting GPU and we will have more information about it soon. VisionTek’s R9 285 appears to hit the nail on the head with a good price ($250), warranty (lifetime), and (hopefully) its cooler.
- Michael "The Bear" Kerns.