Originally Posted by KyadCK
A "ref card", or Reference Card, is one where the PCB is made by AMD themselves, and the vendors just add their own cooler to it (if AMD even lets them do that, which they did this generation). People like to buy these for many reasons, among them being better compatibility with water blocks, better overclockers, better resale value, or unlocked voltage to achieve much higher OCs while in a water cooled rig.
Thing is, this time around, XFX is only giving a 3-year warranty with their ref cards, while their non-ref cards get the full double lifetime warranty that makes XFX special. If you can't get that warranty, there is no reason to pay the premium XFX charges. The DL warranty is pretty cool as it adds a good bit of resale value since the person buying it from you can get warranty coverage too. Helps them sell better.
Ref cards are identifiable by a AMD branding on the PCB between the bottom of the cooler and the PCI-e pins.
Also, if you can afford it, get the 900-series Sabertooth. Best overclocking board you can find, if you can pay the premium for it and don't mind the colors.