Sunday 5th October 2014: 2.50am. You might remember I recently installed a new graphics card plus I bought the DLC for Saints Row 4 (I'm going to miss that game, it was fun), so tonight being my sole non-working tomorrow night of freedom I played the DLCs. And wow is that new graphics card astonishing ... it's an XFX R9 280 Black Edition which is the factory overclocked by 17% model, so the very top range R9 280 there is, and normally costing a premium except that all the 280's saw huge price cuts this month as they are clearing the shelves for its replacement the 285, so I picked up the Black Edition for a song (just €30 more than the absolute cheapest) and had it delivered to Ireland for less than €180 ex VAT, a real steal given what those cards used to cost, and they deliver the same performance as cards costing about €250 ex VAT upwards right now.
And apart from having to cut a hole in the case to fit it, it's amazing. I cranked up SR4 to Ultra detail settings at 2560x1440 and it was still buttery smooth - moreover, the fans barely spun up because the card really was being pegged by vsync, so the computer was actually fairly silent!. My previous card an XFX Radeon HD 6870, which is a noisy, expensive card which I splurged on before Canada and I never much cared for over the really excellent 5770 it replaced which was quieter and far better bang for the buck, well the 6870 struggled hard with SR4 at 2560x1440, I had to dial down the settings a bit and turn off vsync, not great to be honest, and it generated so much heat all the fans would be going full belt so it was very noisy.
So, colour me impressed with those fancy XFX Black Editions! The much better cooler and voltage (heat) regulation circuitry you get for the extra money really show. And in the desktop the card is utterly and totally quiet, it's easily drowned out by the cloud node computer which itself is but a whisper. I might actually be tempted to keep buying retiring models of graphics cards if I get these top end models. The quality difference is palpable.