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In early 2012 AMD rolled out the Radeon HD 7950, the junior cousin to the company’s then-flagship Radeon HD 7970. The release provoked an excitement in the overclocking community because some samples of the card with Tahiti GPU, those with the reference design in the first place, could be unlocked to the level of a Radeon HD 7970 and then overclocked quite a bit, too. So, for the recommended $449 you might get a full-featured Radeon HD 7970 that cost $100 more.

It is no secret that AMD’s new Radeon R9 and R7 product series announced in October 2013 includes a renamed Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition which is now known under the model name of Radeon R9 280X. The Radeon HD 7950, in its turn, was supposed to be replaced by a Radeon R9 280, yet the latter card was delayed although its recommended price was dropped from $279 to $249 almost right after its announcement in March 2014.

Thus, what we are offered now is actually a Radeon HD 7950 that costs only about half as much as in 2012 and comes with much higher clock rates in the pre-overclocked versions. We're going to test one such version today. It is the Radeon R9 280 Gaming 3GB model from MSI.

It must be noted right away that there will be no reference Radeon R9 280 cards available because all manufacturers have developed custom PCBs (or just borrowed them from existing Radeon R9 280X products) and pre-overclocked the GPU. We also have no information about whether the R9 280 can be unlocked to the level of the R9 280X because such cards have begun to sell just recently, so there are yet no reports from the overclocking community.

Specifications and Recommended Price

The specs and price of the MSI Radeon R9 280 Gaming are listed in the table in comparison with the closest products in MSI’s product range: MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming and MSI Radeon R9 270X Gaming.

We’ve got the card in OEM packaging, so let’s get to checking out its PCB right away.

 
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