MSI Radeon R9 270 Gaming OC Graphics Card Review

Product Name: MSI Radeon R9 270 Gaming OC Edition

Price: Starting at $179.99 – Amazon

AMD has released an onslaught of graphics cards in a short period of time and the “Volcanic Islands” family continues to grow with the release of the AMD Radeon R9 270.

The 270, is similar to that the 270x, but it comes with a more wallet friendly MSPR than the 270x that brings the “Volcanic Island” graphics under the $200 mark – this model retails for just $179. At this price point the 270 can be considered the replacement for the 7850, making its closet competitor the Nvidia GTX 660, which costs around $199. However, there are rebates that bring the price of the 660 down to the $180 range, and it’s conceivable Nvidia will lower the price of the GTX 660 even further after this launch.

If you are familiar with the Gaming series you will know doubt see the familiarity in this card. It uses the signature red and black color scheme along with a TWIN FROZR cooler that features a large Aluminum fin grid array providing a huge amount of surface area for cooling. In addition, the 270 Gaming graphics card uses MSI’s SuperPipe technology, dual cooling fans and it comes with their Military Class 4 power design.


The AMD Radeon R9 290 launch differs from the rest of the “Volcanic Islands” graphics cards in the way that there are no reference AMD graphics cards shipping out to reviewers. Instead the graphics cards we are seeing at the time of launch use a custom design with overclocked frequencies and aftermarket thermal solutions, such as the MSI Radeon R9 290 Gaming graphics card we are looking at today.

The AMD 270, like the 270x before it, is based on the 28nm “Pitcairn” silicon and includes 1280 shaders, 32 Raster units, 80 Texture Mapping units and a 2GB frame buffer that runs on a 256-bit bus. These specs are exactly the same as the 270x and as far as we can tell the only real difference is the clock speeds and power envelope.

When it comes to the GPU the R9 270 uses the fully enabled “Pitcairn” silicon, so instead of having 16 CUs active, as is the case with the 7850 it has 20CUs, giving it a 25% improvement in the amount of shader/texture hardware. The 270 also has a decent boost in the clock speed department, moving the GPU clock up from 860MHz to 925MHz and giving it faster 5.6GHz memory that dials up the memory bandwidth to 179.2GB/s.




At $179 and using all the latest technology in MSI’s arsenal the R9 290 Gaming graphics card could be one hell of a deal for budget gamers, but let’s break it down and runs some benchmarks before drawing any conclusions.

AMD Radeon R9 270X AMD Radeon R9 270 AMD Radeon HD 7870 AMD Radeon HD 7850
Stream Processors 1280 1280 1280 1024
Texture Units 80 80 80 64
ROPs 32 32 32 32
Core Clock 1000MHz 900MHz 1000MHz 860MHz
Boost Clock 1050MHz 925MHz N/A N/A
Memory Clock 5.6GHz GDDR5 5.6GHz GDDR5 4.8GHz GDDR5 4.8GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
FP64 1/16 1/16 1/16 1/16
Transistor Count 2.8B 2.8B 2.8B 2.8B
Typical Board Power 180W 150W 190W 150W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm
Architecture GCN 1.0 GCN 1.0 GCN 1.0 GCN 1.0
GPU Pitcairn Pitcairn Pitcairn Pitcairn
Launch Date 10/08/13 11/13/13 03/05/12 03/05/12
Launch Price $199 $179 $349 $249