PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X Review: Cool, Quiet, And Priced Right

Take A Tour Of The PCS+ R9 290X

Front and Rear Views

The front of PowerColor's card is dominated by three commonly-controlled 76 mm fans.

The back plate braces the PCB and ensures it doesn’t flex. However, there is no mounting frame on top of the board, probably to save weight and cut cost.

Heat Sink and PCB

The visually impressive cooler sports a massive copper heat sink, from which four 8 mm heat pipes lead to the cooling fins at the right side of the card. There's a second block of cooling fins on top of the heat sink, and this radiator is attached by a single semi-circular heat pipe.

The DC-DC converters have aluminum heat sinks of their own, while the memory packages make contact with the main heat sink through thermal adhesive.

Side Views

Looking down from the top of the PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X, you mostly see the heat sink's cooling fins, heat pipes, and the 6- and 8-pin power connectors.

The bottom yields a better view of how the heat pipes connect to PowerColor's sink.

Due to the vertical arrangement of the cooling fins, peeking in from the side of the card doesn't reveal much aside from a fan connector and a few board components.

Slot Panel

The card sports a two-slot rear panel, even though the PCS+ R9 290X is thicker than two expansion slots. A three-slot I/O bracket might have been better for the sake of stability.

Display outputs match what you get from pretty much every Hawaii-based board. There are two dual-link DVI-D connectors, one HDMI port, and a full-sized DisplayPort interface. That combination is more than sufficient for any number of multi-screen arrays. Just be aware that the use of DVI-D means analog output is no longer supported.

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    Top Comments
  • CaptainTom
    I just want to point out that this and most 290X's beat a stock 780 Ti. The fact is both 780 Ti and the 290X are trade blows and belong on the same GPU tier. However only one does cost $150 less and come with 4GB VRAM...
    18
  • Other Comments
  • combine1237
    For some reason I thought the pcs+ used hynix.
    0
  • CaptainTom
    I just want to point out that this and most 290X's beat a stock 780 Ti. The fact is both 780 Ti and the 290X are trade blows and belong on the same GPU tier. However only one does cost $150 less and come with 4GB VRAM...
    18
  • Memnarchon
    741589 said:
    I just want to point out that this and most 290X's beat a stock 780 Ti. The fact is both 780 Ti and the 290X are trade blows and belong on the same GPU tier. However only one does cost $150 less and come with 4GB VRAM...


    Well, since you are comparing a non reference GPU, you should take also a non-reference GPU to compare.
    Tom's using Gigabyte's 780ti OC which costs the same as the reference card...

    So even the non-reference models are on a different tier as well as their reference...
    5
  • bemused_fred
    Any chance of measurements in metric as well as imperial?
    -1
  • FormatC
    687157 said:
    Any chance of measurements in metric as well as imperial?


    Typical translation errors, the original is in metric ;)
    http://www.tomshardware.de/powercolor-r9-290x-pcs-review,testberichte-241519-3.html4

    I will clearify with Chris, that we use both in the future. Metric is worldwide more common :D
    4
  • dave_trimble
    Surprised the benchmark graph show performance at 1080p. Aren't the 290 series kind of wasted at that resolution? I would love to see the results at 1440p or even 4k. I have a feeling the 780ti might not look quite as good in comparison at higher resolution.
    3
  • photonboy
    A stock GTX780Ti is 7% faster at 2560x1440, and 8% faster at 1920x1080 (18 games averaged):
    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/EVGA/GTX_780_Ti_SC_ACX_Cooler/26.html

    With such a HUGE difference in prices, quality, and performance on all top-end cards you really have to do your research.

    The R9-290X prices vary from $550 to $780 USD!
    3
  • dave_trimble
    67821 said:
    A stock GTX780Ti is 7% faster at 2560x1440, and 8% faster at 1920x1080 (18 games averaged): http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/EVGA/GTX_780_Ti_SC_ACX_Cooler/26.html With such a HUGE difference in prices, quality, and performance on all top-end cards you really have to do your research. The R9-290X prices vary from $550 to $780 USD!


    Thanks for the response! I thought I had seen reviews elsewhere that showed the 290 series really closing the gap, or even surpassing the 780ti at higher resolutions, but perhaps I was remembering wrong. I recently decided to upgrade to a dual-290 setup, but if I had gone with a single card, the 780ti was at or near the top of my list (until the 290x prices came crashing down, that is).
    0
  • That_Guy88
    So is the difference between 290x's almost entirely due to cooling (and some OC)? I have someone who wants to sell me a reference 290x for $350, but I have a gtx 770, so it would seem that I would need to buy an after market cooler as well to make it worth my while. Thoughts?
    0
  • vertexx
    644653 said:
    So is the difference between 290x's almost entirely due to cooling (and some OC)? I have someone who wants to sell me a reference 290x for $350, but I have a gtx 770, so it would seem that I would need to buy an after market cooler as well to make it worth my while. Thoughts?

    See these articles for after-market cooling options:
    Air cooling:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/r9-290-accelero-xtreme-290,3671.html

    Liquid Cooling:
    How to:
    http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/Using-NZXT-Kraken-G10-Watercool-Radeon-R9-290
    And results:
    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/radeon-r9-290-and-290x,review-32872.html
    1
  • RedJaron
    If nothing else, I'm happy to see Radeon prices returning to normal.
    5
  • Laytonoid
    Get the Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X. This is almost exactly the same thing except that Sapphires card has a LED Sapphire logo that changes color based on heat and looks way cooler. Also, being an owner of the Vapor-X myself, I can tell you that this card has the Hynix Memory. Highly recommend. Also, the temp has never gone over 65C in my small MATX case in a room that is 71F.
    1
  • Laytonoid
    Get the Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X. This is almost exactly the same thing except that Sapphires card has a LED Sapphire logo that changes color based on heat and looks way cooler. Also, being an owner of the Vapor-X myself, I can tell you that this card has the Hynix Memory. Highly recommend. Also, the temp has never gone over 65C in my small MATX case in a room that is 71F.
    -1
  • Laytonoid
    Sorry. Didn't mean to double post.
    0
  • Laytonoid
    Oh also, the Vapor-X card has the same benchmarks as a 290x in Firestrike Extreme, Valley and Heaven. I got it for 460 bucks.
    1
  • That_Guy88
    1523324 said:
    Get the Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X. This is almost exactly the same thing except that Sapphires card has a LED Sapphire logo that changes color based on heat and looks way cooler. Also, being an owner of the Vapor-X myself, I can tell you that this card has the Hynix Memory. Highly recommend. Also, the temp has never gone over 65C in my small MATX case in a room that is 71F.


    I was more wondering about the value of getting the 290x for $350. I could buy an after market cooler for $50-75. I'm just not sure if it is a worth while upgrade.
    0
  • RedJaron
    These types of cards have the benefit of being factory OC'd and cooled. Generally speaking, if you swap the cooler and personally OC your card, you void the warranty. If that's a big deal for you, then the 3rd-party boards might be to your liking.

    For total upgrade worthwhileness ( is that even a word/term? ) what kind of resolution are you going for? Most of the top-end cards are complete overkill if you're not playing above 1080p. If you're not using 1440p or triple displays, I wouldn't bother going above a GTX 770 / R9 280.
    0
  • redgarl
    After buying a pair of those, I can only recommend them. They are quiet as hell and perform incredibly.

    I am questioning Toms review about the temps. Temps on Hardwarecanucks are showing something entirely different giving the PCS+ the best temps of all the 290x cards offered. A wooping 63C... even mines have never reach up 67C...
    0
  • redgarl
    Quote:
    I just want to point out that this and most 290X's beat a stock 780 Ti. The fact is both 780 Ti and the 290X are trade blows and belong on the same GPU tier. However only one does cost $150 less and come with 4GB VRAM...


    Not to forget the only viable 4k option right now in Crossfire.
    1
  • Laytonoid
    Sapphire aftermarket cards = Hynix memory
    0