August 25, 2014, 12:00 PM — AMD picked a Saturday to announce a new gaming card, an unusual choice of day to make news, but the news was good none the less. With its 30 Years of Graphics and Gaming celebration as the backdrop, it introduced the Radeon R9 285.
Specs-wise, the card is not very different to AMD's Radeon R9 280, which has been on the market for more than a year. However, it's believed that the 285 has a new GPU. The 280 was built on the "Hawaii" architecture, while the 285 uses "Tonga." The NDA won't lift until September 2, but a few details have trickled out.
The Radeon R9 285 has 1,792 stream processors, 112 texture units, 32 ROPs, 918MHz clock speed, 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 5.5GHz on a 256-bit bus, and a 190W power draw. The only differences from the 280 is the 280 has a faster boost clock speed of 933MHz, a wider memory bus (384-bit vs. 256-bit), and a slower memory clock speed at 5GHz.
Also, the 280 had a TDW of 200 watts, while the 285 is 190 watts. The 285 is also much lower than Hawaii's TDW of 275 to 290 watts. Power efficiency is believed to be one of the hallmarks of the new Tonga architecture, which is more of a bump than a whole new design.
So figure on the 285 coming in at a point slightly below the 280 in terms of performance. It's priced at $50 less than the 280, at $249. There is also rumor of a 285X, a faster version of the card. Considering AMD has a R9 280 and 280X, this would be in line with past behavior. WCCFTech says the 285X would have a 384-bit wide memory bus and 3GB of memory, just like the 280X.
The cards go on sale September 2 and the NDA lifts that day, so figure on reviews by the hobbyist sites then.