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AMD Radeon R9 380 review: The best US$200 graphics card you can buy for 1080p gaming

Brad Chacos | Sept. 7, 2015
A little bit of extra oomph in the clock speeds help make it the most enticing option for mainstream gamers today.

Note that frame rates look great here, but they’ll drop a bit once you start cranking the details beyond “normal.” That said, both the Radeon R9 380 and GTX 960 hit frame rates north of 60 frames per second with most options set to High or Very High, though we didn’t formally benchmark the games using higher detail settings.

Spoiler alert: GTA V is the only raw gaming benchmark that the GTX 960 wins.

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It manages to keep the race tight in Dragon Age: Inquisition at Ultra settings, though the performance gap widens in the R9 380’s favor once you start to tone things back—which you may be likely to do, as dropping down to High settings lets you crack the fabled 60fps barrier with the R9 380, and flirt with it with the GTX 960.

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Nvidia may claim a place of honor on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s splash screens, but AMD’s cards utterly pound GeForce GPUs in performance. The Radeon R9 380 again flirts with 60fps on Ultra settings—which we test by manually cranking every graphics option to its highest setting, though we do not use the optional memory-gobbling HD Ultra Texture Pack on 1080p cards—and beats the GTX 960 by roughly 15fps at High settings. Whew.

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Every graphics card tested, even the $150 models, easily surpass 60fps on Alien: Isolation’s Ultra setting. Like GTA V, this game scales like a champ—but it’ll scare the crap out of you. Seriously, this is a terrifying, stress-inducing game. It’s wonderful.

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Bioshock Infinite is both our obligatory Unreal Engine 3 title, as well as a popular game that both Nvidia and AMD have had plenty of time to optimize their drivers for. Again, the R9 380 beats the GTX 960 SSC, by almost 5fps.

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Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition’s anti-aliasing options manhandle graphics cards at the Extreme preset. Both $200 graphics cards crack 60fps on High and perform roughly similarly, with the AMD card again holding a slight edge over Nvidia’s.

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Metro: Last Light Redux is a gorgeous HD remaster of an impressive, densely atmospheric game. The song remains the same here: The VisionTek R9 380 holds a slight lead over the EVGA GTX 960 SSC, though both perform well on Ultra settings.

 

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