Unboxing Video found here

While not as eye catching nor exuding the same sense of elegance as the Asus R9 280X Top’s box, the XFX 280X (as we are going to call it for brevity’s sake) is still a very nice shipping container that puts the likes of PNY to shame.

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Also on the positive side this box also resides in between PNY and ASUS in the form-factor department. Put concisely this box is larger than PNY’s options but not so large that you would mistake it for a mATX motherboard shipping container – like you would an ASUS Top. This will make finding room for the shipping container a lot easier and considering it comes with a 2 year warranty that can easily be extended to lifetime that is good news indeed.

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The rest of the accessory list is a bit disappointing in comparison to the lifetime warranty, but only because a lifetime warranty is so impressive. In grand total you will get a driver disc with outdated drivers on it, a small installation pamphlet, a XFX advertising pamphlet on their other products, a 8-pin PCIe adapter cable, dual 6-pin adapter cable, and a Crossfire cable. Even more impressive is XFX includes dust caps for the PCIe x16 slot, and the I/O ports. Now that is what we call a complete accessory list.

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As we have said in the past the $200-300 range is easily the most hotly contested corner of the video card market and every manufacture worth their salt has at least one card in this market niche – and usually multiple versions. However, this card was not originally a $255 card and it shows. Instead this card when first released was in the $350 range, but thanks to stiff competition it has been pushed – kicking and screaming – downwards in the marketplace. This not may have made XFX all that happy but it certainly is great news for customers.

This higher end mainstream orientation is why this card looks like a million bucks even when sitting on your computer table waiting to be installed. Even enthusiasts who have seen hundreds of video cards will do a double take when they first remove it from the shipping container for the first time. Just be careful you don’t drop it as it is not only drop dead gorgeous it is also rather robust and tips the scales in at nearly 1.5 kilograms. While this makes it heavy for a 280X no one would dare call it chunky looking. In fact anyone who compares it to a black Jaguar E-Type from the 60s would not be far off. Bluntly put this is one sexy card, that looks fast and will easily be the centerpiece of any custom gaming PC.

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This unique look is all thanks to the massive amounts of black fascia XFX uses to hide their Double Dissipation design. The heart and soul of this Double Dissipation design is its dual 90mm fans and that is why they have been nicely highlighted with chrome borders surrounding them. This in combination with the flat black fascia and silver ‘racing stripe’ is certainly a winning one. However this combination is not just for looks.

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Hidden underneath all that aggressive black fascia and fake chrome pin striping is two large aluminum heatsinks that are very impressive and should easily handle massive amounts of heat. To be more precise each 90mm fan cools its own large fin array with a total of six heatpipes sprouting from the main heatsink. Also noteworthy is that the base is copper and not aluminum like found on some mid-tier cards. More importantly XFX has not wasted any space nor made the card larger than it had to be. Instead this heatsink is just that big.

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Unfortunately, one down side to this custom double D heatsink is that it’s oversized. As you can see it not only makes the 280X TDFD a long card but also a rather wide card. Specifically it is 11.61 inches long, 1.65inches (dual slot) high, and a whopping 5.63 inches wide. This last part is the kicker that may make it simply not fit in smaller cases as the usual video card is only approximately 4.4-inches wide. This is fairly par for the course with custom R9 280X’s and most cases will not mind this extra bit of room required but double check that your case will have no issues with its slightly oversized dimensions.

heatsink - XFX R9 280X TDFD 3GB

Before me move on there is one thing that we simply have to talk about. Put simply XFX needs to work on their assembly line as it looks like they used about half a tube of Thermal Interface Material! Quite literally the amount that squished out the sides and over the edge of the Tahiti XTL’s IHS was enough to do at least 3 coolers. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well the above photo is after we scraped off a ton of TIM. Ugh.

board - XFX R9 280X TDFD 3GB

The power subsystem is also very impressive and consists of a 7+2 all digital design, with seven phases ensuring the Tahiti XTL core is fed smooth and stable power – even when overclocked. Opting for a dual phase VRM for the memory should also allow for easy overclocking of the RAM. It just is a shame that XFX does leave both parts at stock levels. Settings of 850MHz (1GHz boost) for the Tahiti XTL and 6,000 (effective) for the RAM is never, ever going to stress that massive heatsink, nor the very good power delivery subsystem.

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It is unfortunate that XFX did not include a backplate for this custom PCB and while we doubt it will flex from the weight of the Double Dissipation it would have nicely finished the overall aesthetics of this sexy card and alleviated consumers concerns over bending cards. On the positive side the black PCB is very nice looking all its own. Also accessing both power connectors is relatively easy as neither are blocked by the heatsink or fascia. The same also holds true of the dual CrossFire connectors.

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Turning the card around we can see that the rear IO panel has been directly copied over from XFX’s own older HD 7970 Double D card. That means you get two DVI ports, one HDMI port, and two mini DisplayPorts. Sadly by opting for two full sized DVI ports the amount of air that will exhaust out the back of your case will be limited – and instead most of the heat will circulate inside your case. On the positive side at least it doesn’t use a mini-HDMI port and instead makes use of the more standard ‘full size’ HDMI port.