The Radeon R9 285 has only just been announced by AMD and already several specialist versions of it have been revealed. The R9 285 itself only launches on 2 September, so there’s enough time for AMD’s partners to steal the limelight before the launch to show off what they’ve been working on. Sapphire was the first out of the gate with a mini-ITX variant of the Tonga-based GPU and it’s called the R9 285 Compact.
The card is a diminutive 17cm in length, barely longer than a PCI-Express slot. It’s also 11cm tall and consumes two PCI slots because it’s a dual-slot cooler. Sapphire stuck a giant heatsink onto the card as well, helping to keep it cool with two big copper heatpipes and a single 90mm fan. The card requires two 6-pin PEG power connectors but it’ll be drawing less than 150W of power, so Sapphire also bundles in an adapter to switch a single 8-pin connector into the two 6-pin ones.
It has one DVI-D port, HDMI 1.4a and two mini-Displayport 1.2a connectors, the first of their kind for AMD or at least the first advertised instance of it. DP 1.2a is required to support Adaptive Sync over Displayport, a method of using the GPU to control the refresh rate of the monitor it’s connected to, to smooth out frame delivery and eliminate some common graphical glitches such as tearing and mismatched frames. The DVI-D port supports older VGA monitors through the use of a passive adapter.
The port layout means that anyone wishing to get an Eyefinity triple-monitor setup going needs to use either HDMI+DVI+DP, or DP+DP+DVI or HDMI+DP+DP to make it work. The card otherwise supports the operation of four monitors connected to all ports and can optionally run up to eight 1080p monitors through the use of two Displayport hubs.
The card is based on the Tonga family, with the R9 285 shipping with 1792 stream processors from the Graphics Core Next architecture, 112 TMUs, 32 ROPs and 2GB or 4GB of memory on a 256-bit memory bus. It’ll be the performance-equivalent of the outgoing Radeon R9 280, but with a lower amount of stock video memory (2GB vs 3GB) and a smaller memory bus (256-bit vs 384-bit) which will hurt the card’s performance in super-high resolutions.
The Sapphire Radeon R9 285 Compact will compete against mini-ITX variants of the Geforce GTX760 and GTX770 from the likes of ASUS and MSI. The card will qualify for AMD’s Radeon Rewards program, where you can choose up to three free games or game bundles with the Never Settle Forever campaign.