In order to deal with a relatively hot, overclocked GPU, the card comes with a powerful first-generation WindForce cooler which follows the “open air” approach. The cooler comes with a large heatsink, three 8mm thick heatpipes and three 8cm fans. We’ve seen the same cooler on the HD 7970 GHz Edition WindForce. Most AMD partners tried to make the R9 280X a bit more interesting by coming up with more powerful and more elaborate coolers. For some reason Gigabyte chose not to use a second-generation WindForce cooler like the one used in its GTX 780 cards, which features a redesigned heatsink with two 8mm and four 6mm copper heatpipes.
The WindForce used in the R9 280X does an admirable job, but we were hoping that it would end up a bit quieter. The card measures 26.5 x 11.5 cm and installation requires two free slots.
When we removed the GV-R9280XOC-3GD REV:1.0 sticker located next to the PCIe connector, we found that it was placed on top of a familiar designation - GV-R7970OC-3GD Rev:2.1.
Of course, it was AMD’s decision to rebrand the cards and Gigabyte was merely following orders and using an existing design.
The Radeon R9 280X OC WindForce draws power via a 6-pin power connector and another 8-pin power connector.
Note the metal bar at the top. It’s supposed to ensure stability.
R9 280X OC WindForce comes with two Crossfire connectors. This means you can combine up to four R9 280X cards in crossfire mode for improved performance. It is possible to combine R9 280X with the old HD 7970/HD7970GHz Edition cards. Actually you can use any combination of HD 7970 / HD 7970 GHz Edition / R9 280X cards (tip - use the HD 7970 as a primary card).
The card has one dual-link DVI out, one standard HDMI and two mini DisplayPort outs. New R9 280X cards are a bit better compared to the HD 7970 when it comes to using multiple displays thanks to AMD’s firmware updates. If you are using a three-monitor setup, you no longer have to use DisplayPort for the third one; you can use two DVIs and an HDMI connector, or two HDMIs and a single DVI. Sadly Gigabyte didn’t change the layout, so the third monitor will still have to be connected via DisplayPort.
Next generation 4K (4096x2160) and UHD (3840x2160) resolutions are supported. You can use any combination of display connectors, and note that all four video outs can be used simultaneously (triple-monitor surround gaming is possible with just one graphics card). AMD included an HDMI sound device within the GPU, so there is no need to connect the card to your motherboard’s/soundcard’s SPDIF out to get audio and video via HDMI.
The bracket design includes a grille which actually helps boost airflow, however it is not very important for the WindForce cooler because this cooler features an open air cooling design.
The card features a dual BIOS, a feature absent from reference R9 280X cards. Dual-BIOS is extremely handy when a BIOS flash goes wrong. You just flip a switch to recover the other BIOS.