Strix Radeon R7 370 OC 4GB
₹15,750 + taxes (MSRP)
AMD has been on the back foot since NVIDIA introduced the full range of its Maxwell line-up that has thoroughly outperformed AMD’s offerings across the board. Their reply with the new 3xx series has long been awaited by ardent supporters of the Red team and AMD chose E3 to announce this new line-up. Asus sent us a sample of the Radeon R7 370 from this new line-up. This is an overclocked version of the base card.
Specification of the Strix R7 370 OC
The card has a ROP count of 32 and comes with 4GB of Hynix GDDR5 VRAM which is good given the recent trend with VRAM heavy textures in games. Core clock is set to 1050 MHz (7% over stock clocks) and using the GPU Tweak II utility, one can set it to 1070MHz in overclock mode. The VRAM is clocked at an effective 5600MHz. The VRAM should be able to overclock decently given that it’s Hynix RAM.
The launch price for the Asus Strix R7 370 OC is ₹15,750 excluding taxes.
Build Quality and Packaging
Asus has packaged the Strix R7 370 OC in a cardboard container with Strix branding inside a simple Black and Red box. The box lists all the features of the GPU as well as Asus’ own unique technologies such as the DirectCU II cooling design and Strix 0dB fan technology. The cardboard fits the card quite snugly and there is no Styrofoam used in the packaging. The GPU itself is inside a sealed anti-static bag. Accessories include a single Crossfire bridge, Setup Guide, Driver disc and a Strix sticker for the brag value.
The card has no lighting except for the helpful power connector indicator. It has a black PCB that’s much smaller than the cooler so that the fins are exposed. The heatsink design is based on Asus’ DirectCU II technology that is very efficient at passive heat dissipation. There are a couple of 0dB 70mm fans that use a patented wing-blade design and actuate once the temperature breaches 65°C.
The cooling vents at the back are cut in large rectangles and leave barely enough metal just for the monitor port slots, which makes for an open design. The GDDR5 RAM uses Hynix Chips, which are known for being quality overclockers. The card has dimensions of 21.4cmx12.5cmx4cm, which can make for an easy fit in most cases, but may not be suited for an ITX PC.
We tested the GTX Strix R7 370 OC not only for the average Frames per Second(FPS) but also for the 99th Percentile Frame time which tells us about the performance of the GPU within the second. Within the Second testing is useful to understand micro-stutter which can render a game unplayable despite FPS being high. Fraps 3.5.99 allowed us to calculate both.
Since the card is a Mid-Range GPU, we decided to use medium settings in our benchmark games and compare with other Mid-Range GPUs. We tried to disable CPU dependent settings or minimise their impact where possible. VSync and frame buffering were disabled for testing. All tests were run at 1920×1080 on a single monitor configuration.
CPU: Intel i7-4790k @4GHZ (4.4GHz Turbo)
Motherboard: Asus Maximus VII Hero
RAM: 2x8GB G.Skill TridentX 2666MHz 12-13-13-36
PSU: Corsair TX650 650W
SSD: Samsung 840 Evo 1TB (For OS and Benchmarks)
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB, Seagate Barracuda 2TB, 2xWesten Digital Red 3TB (Storage)
OS: Windows 8.1 x64
AMD Driver: 15.20 custom Asus Beta driver
While this system may not look like a purpose built test rig, we decided to use a normal usage PC so as to better reflect real world scores of the card. The games were also tested with a few applications like Antivirus, Browser, VOIP tool and others running in the background to get a realistic usage scenario. All HDDs were thoroughly defragmented prior to usage and SSDs were optimised for maximum performance. Due to lack of equipment, we were unable to conduct acoustic and power testing. Since this is a new test rig, we are lacking a comparative benchmark database for it, as it will be built up as we get more cards for testing.
3Dmark is an artificial Benchmarking tool whose Firestrike Test is very thorough on DirectX 11cards powering High-end PCs. The full test run for Firestrike includes 2 GPU only tests, a CPU dependent Physics Test and a Combined Graphics and Physics Test. The Tool is also useful for stress testing a GPU when run on loop.
Given that we are looking for the Performance of the Card itself, one should look at the Graphics score and the FPS for Graphics tests 1 and 2. The Physics and Combined tests are CPU dependent, which is the limiting factor of our test rig. We noticed that 3DMark suffers from a bug with AMD GPUs such that it runs the test at a lower clock speed (925Mhz in this case) which leads to a lower than expected score.
Battlefield 4 uses the Frostbite 3 engine to push the visual processing boundaries of current hardware. Since Mantle is only for AMD cards, we ran the DX11 version with the highest possible settings. The game offers no benchmark tool, so we used areas from the first single player campaign mission for the FRAPS run.
While the Strix R7 370 OC easily beats the GTX 750 Ti, the gain over its predecessor, the R9 270 is marginal, which isn’t impressive by any stretch of the imagination.
Barring the FPS spike at the start, the graph is pretty consistent for the rest of the run. While there are a lot of spikes on the Frametime graph, they aren’t significant enough to be noticed in the game.
Company of Heroes 2
Relic’s Company of Heroes 2 is a tough nut to crack for quite a few GPUs, though it’s dependent on CPUs to a great degree as well. We used Medium Settings with Physics turned off and Low AA for the short 45s benchmark run the game offers.
Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4 adds even more visual effects to the DUNIA engine of Far Cry 3 and it has some NVIDIA specific effects like God Rays and realistic Fur as well. This makes for an absolute visual treat when all settings are cranked up to the max, but we had to settle for Ultra in our 2 minute benchmark run.
GRID Autosport is the next game in the GRID series from Codemasters that has specific effects reserved for Intel GPUs, which makes it great to judge the performance of NVIDIA and AMD cards as it provides an even playing field. We used the highest settings and used game’s benchmark in a 2 minute run.
All the GPUs are quite close in this game, though both AMD cards beat the GTX 750 Ti by a noticeable margin. The gap between the R9 270 and the Strix R7 370 is very small with the Strix losing out heavily in the 99th percentile Frame Time and the Minimum FPS.
Metro Last Light Redux
4A Games have really cranked up the eye candy in Metro Last Light, and the Redux version comes with even more improvements to visuals. The game looks beautiful in its cramped corridors as well as its open outdoor environments and cranking up the settings can easily bring a GPU to its knees in the menu screen itself. We used the High settings where available except for SSAA that was turned off. The game has no inbuilt benchmark, so we chose a particular area to conduct out tests run in for a time of 2 minutes.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Monolith have used some fancy effects to add some visual appeal to the dreary land of Mordor. Shadow of Mordor also uses PhysX for particle effects. The rain though doesn’t quite look natural and the game requires up to 6GB VRAM for using its Ultra HD textures. Curiously, it scales the game based on the screen’s natural resolution instead of offering resolution options. We used the very high settings for the inbuilt benchmark, which runs for less than the standard 2 minutes of our other benchmarks.
Ryse: Son of Rome
Ryse pushes the newest iteration of the CryEngine to its limits as claimed by Crytek on the PC. It doesn’t have a benchmark mode, so we ran a fixed scenario for 2 minutes. The settings were set to the normal with SSAA off. This game scales the game as per the resolution of the screen instead of offering resolution options.
CryEngine in Ryse is a good indicator of where each GPU actually stands and while it shows the AMD GPUs pulling way ahead of the GTX 750 Ti, it also highlights the marginal difference between the R9 270 and the Strix R7 370.
Thief (2014) is a game that boasts support for AMD’s Mantle and its TrueAudio tech. It is a graphical showcase and has a built in benchmark, though the run time is less than our standard 2 minutes. We set all settings to High with AF set to 16x.
Tomb Raider (2013)
Tomb Raider (2013) introduced us to a new Lara with fabled TressFX hair that behaves a lot more realistically than the pre-rendered mop we were used to. However, the card does not seem to cope well with this technology and we had to drop it in our test run. We used Ultra settings with TressFX off. The Test run was shorter since the benchmark tool offered by the game runs for less than out 120s target time.
The Strix R7 370 OC is humbled significantly by the R9 270 in this game though both cards easily surpass the GTX 750 Ti. This was quite surprising and might have something to do with the higher shader unit count in the R9 270.
Total War: Rome II
Total War: Rome II is another CPU heavy game that offers significant visual goodness. It offers a benchmark tool that focuses more on GPU power though and that is what we used for our test run of 120s. We set the game to Ultra and Unit Size to Small so as to reduce the impact of the CPU. Unlimited Video Memory was off so the game could scale down visual settings if it reached a bottleneck.
Our acoustics testing consisted of trying to determine how noticeable the noise output from the card was, when kept in a case at 1m distance with the side panel closed, as it might be in a real world scenario. Noise is a very relative characteristic that depends not only on the person hearing, but also on the background noise of their surroundings. During the course of our testing, we found that the card barely went over 50% fan speed even at full load, which was silent to our ears. The fans are very silent and barely audible over the rest of the case’s fans even at 100%, which is quite a feat.
At idle the card hovered in the 41°-43°C range with an ambient temperature of 28°C, which is quite warm, though one must note that this is under passive cooling with the fans stopped. The card easily went to 79°C under load and was held there when the fans kicked in, even when overclocked.
The card comes with a single 6pin power connector and is rated at 110W TDP. The card requires a good PSU for overclocking. From a power efficiency perspective, NVIDIA’s Maxwell design still remains unbeatable, which makes for an interesting dilemma for mid-range card buyers.
Overclocking the Strix R7 370 OC
Using MSI Afterburner, we were able to push the core clock to 1170MHz and the Hynix VRAM chips to 1600MHz (6400MHz effective). This is a total overclock of about 11.43% over stock (20% over reference) for the core clock and about 14.29% for the VRAM. These are impressive figures for overclocking which were stabilised by increasing Power limit to 120%. All our tests however, were conducted in the stock configuration.
We tried to run 3DMark to verify if the overclock was showing any improvements but thanks to the previously mentioned bug, it would not run the card at the overclocked values.
We also ran the benchmark offered by the game Thief to get a real world idea of the performance gains. We used the Very High settings for our runs that concluded in less time than our standard 120 second runs. One must note that Thief is slightly unreliable as a benchmark due to inconsistency in results across various runs. That said we got an improvement of about 2-3 fps on average with a lower 99th percentile frametime, which is not exceptional, but quite decent in this GPU segment.
Asus has overhauled its GPU Tweak utility and it now looks much sleeker and integrates X-split for streaming. It also comes with a 14 day premium trial of X-split. AMD provides gameplay tracking, streaming and in-game overlay services through its AMD Gaming Evolved app that can optimise NVIDIA cards as well, given that it is derived from Raptr.
AMD have gone rather wrong with their recycling of the GCN 1.0 based Pitcairn architecture in the R7 370 and the Strix R7 370 OC suffers as a result, despite packing an excellent cooling solution. Using the old architecture means that the card lacks some of AMD’s newer features like TrueAudio, DX 12 higher level feature support and AMD Freesync support, making it hard to recommend this three year old design. We also found that its predecessor, the R9 270 was very close or slightly ahead of this GPU in our benchmark tests which is not the sort of performance that one expects from a new offering vis-à-vis its predecessor.
Asus have done a superlative job with their cooling design based on the DirectCU II technology which is so efficient at dissipating heat that the 0dB Strix fans can kick in at a much higher temperature threshold of 65-68°C and yet manage to keep the maximum temperature at just 79°C.
When it comes to power consumption, the Strix R7 370 OC does show some improvements over the R9 270, but it just can’t match the efficiency of the Maxwell architecture by NVIDIA. The chip occupies a unique niche in the mid-range market where its direct competitors are older NVIDIA GPUs like the GTX 660 Ti. However, it’s price point is so close to the vastly superior GTX 960 that in makes more sense to go for the latter card by adding a couple of thousand rupees more. This means the Value for Money for this GPU takes quite a dive.
In terms of overclocking, the card proved quite willing to have its core clock boosted by 11% or 20% over the reference clock and the VRAM by 14%. These are quite good figures though the relative gain due to overclocking isn’t really that great. Considering all its flaws and successes, we would be hard pressed to recommend this card.
We are extremely grateful to Asus for providing us with a test sample for reviewing.
+Excellent cooling design
-3 year old architecture
-Does not significantly outperform predecessor
-Not very power efficient