Partner Cards: Two Radeon R9 290s And Five 290Xs, Updated

AMD's reference Radeon R9 290 and 290X cooler earned our disdain once we figured out that it was causing the otherwise-impressive Hawaii GPU to operate at performance levels below the company's specification. Getting the graphics processor to deliver full performance required faster fan speeds, more noise, and ultimately higher power.

Starting back in December, partner boards with third-party coolers started showing up. No longer was it necessary to make your own modifications, like we did in Fixing The Radeon R9 290 With Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III, to maximize the performance of those once-$400 and -$550 cards. Speaking of, let's take a look at how the cards in today's update are priced now:

Radeon R9 290 (Newegg)
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290$650
Gigabyte GV-R929OC-4GD R9 290 Windforce OC
Out of stock
Radeon R9 290X (Newegg)
Asus R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 R9 290X DirectCU II OC$730
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290XOut of stock
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OC$700
HIS R9 290X IceQ X² Turbo
Not Available
MSI R9 290X Gaming 4G
$700

Our colleagues in Germany began working with the uniquely-tuned offerings, hoping to find that AMD's partners were extracting just as much performance as we were able to, without the hassle of adding your own aftermarket cooler. Do they, though? That's the question we want to answer today.

In Germany, this story has been taking shape one card at a time. But now that we have it translated into English, we have a more complete picture of the partner card market, including two Radeon R9 290 cards, five R9 290X cards, the reference board with our Arctic Accelero Extreme III modification, and another home-grown configuration with NZXT's Kraken G10 and X40 bracket.

All of the Radeon R9 290X cards are set to their Quiet Mode firmware setting, since the board partners do a suitable job of cooling Hawaii without sacrificing clock rates.

Radeon R9 290 Model Overview

Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290
Radeon R9 290 + Arctic Accelero Extreme III
Radeon R9 290 + NZXT Kraken G10 + X40

Gigabyte R9 290 Windforce OC
(Update)

Radeon R9 290X Model Overview

Asus R9 290X DirectCU II OC
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290X
Gigabyte R9 290X Windforce OC
HIS R9 290X IceQ X² Turbo
(Update)
MSI R9 290X Gaming 4G
(Update)

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    Top Comments
  • FormatC
    Quote:
    all that rage against AMD

    I would like to know this more precisely please... I can't found any rage in my articles, only a chip with a very high temperature density and a lot of unusable coolers because the engineers were not able to build a matching cooler for this cards. This high density will be a global problem for all next-gen chips too. Without a vapor chamber this won't work.
    17
  • outlw6669
    Good job on the review Tom's German team and great work from AMD's partners!

    Coupled with other recent reviews, Sapphire's Tri-X OC series looks to be great cards, especially when you make a custom fan curve to further reduce idle and load noise.
    I can not wait to see the 20nm updates, especially if AMD gets around to pulling a Titan with their reference coolers!
    13
  • roymustang
    The main problem with the 290 and 290X isn't the cooling, it's the fact that bitcoin and litecoin miners have driven the price of these cards up by $100-150; to the point where they are no longer a good deal at all.I was waiting for the custom cooled 290s to come out to upgrade my GTX 670 but now I may just wait for the next cards and maybe stick with nVidia.
    11
  • Other Comments
  • yannigr
    You can write as many articles as you want about 290/290X coolers. You can write as many excuses as you want. You can continue reminding us that there was/is a problem with Hawaii every 15 days for the whole 2014. That "victory dance" that "excitement" that you found(?) AMD cheating(?) back then, all that rage against AMD, can not be unwritten.
    0
  • FormatC
    Quote:
    all that rage against AMD

    I would like to know this more precisely please... I can't found any rage in my articles, only a chip with a very high temperature density and a lot of unusable coolers because the engineers were not able to build a matching cooler for this cards. This high density will be a global problem for all next-gen chips too. Without a vapor chamber this won't work.
    17
  • outlw6669
    Good job on the review Tom's German team and great work from AMD's partners!

    Coupled with other recent reviews, Sapphire's Tri-X OC series looks to be great cards, especially when you make a custom fan curve to further reduce idle and load noise.
    I can not wait to see the 20nm updates, especially if AMD gets around to pulling a Titan with their reference coolers!
    13
  • rdc85
    It's here!! I'm been waiting for this review... going to read (twice) now..
    6
  • FormatC
    I will add in the next days more cards like Gigabyte's R9 290 (without X), the MSI R9 290X and something other (secret) :)
    9
  • rdc85
    I think this card is made/means to be WC -ed..... 290 in Kraken looks promising.. (trying imagine how good if in full water block, good radiator)
    1
  • roymustang
    The main problem with the 290 and 290X isn't the cooling, it's the fact that bitcoin and litecoin miners have driven the price of these cards up by $100-150; to the point where they are no longer a good deal at all.I was waiting for the custom cooled 290s to come out to upgrade my GTX 670 but now I may just wait for the next cards and maybe stick with nVidia.
    11
  • Phillip Wager
    i want so badly the 290 to go back to 400 bucks cuz that is like my hard limit on a video card ive been waiting but i don't think i can wait much longer and i guess i'll just get a 770. i'm even willing to put up with the reference coolers bah.
    5
  • hytecgowthaman
    Sapphire wins in this competition now !!!
    4
  • patrick47018
    "You can see this in the image below, where two of the heat pipes don't **tough** Hawaii at all, and two others make partial contact. " Spelling mistake, on topic I like the Sapphire Toxic's design and performance.
    3
  • bustapr
    yes, bitcoin miners made these cards prices skyrocket. its really made these cards non viable upgrade for some compared to the competitions cards. which is a pain since these were the best cards at launch. Either bitcoin prices crash or nvidia comes up with a competitor to GCN. these prices are getting ridiculous.
    4
  • Jan Mortensen
    The Price is still steady here in Denmark...But with 25% VAT this just mean that now you guys are getting to pay European prices for once ;)
    8
  • cpm1984
    The peak power draws on these cards are scary (way over 300 watts!) but they only last 1-2 milliseconds. Does the PSU have to be rated to handle the peak levels or just the average power draw under peak load?
    3
  • FormatC
    Anonymous said:
    The peak power draws on these cards are scary (way over 300 watts!) but they only last 1-2 milliseconds. Does the PSU have to be rated to handle the peak levels or just the average power draw under peak load?


    A good PSU has a lot of primary caps inside to compensate this peaks without any problem. The question should better be: What's about the life-span of this caps under this conditions? This is one of the reasons to buy a PSU with good and not with so-called "bad" caps. If you buy cheap you buy twice... ;)

    But Nvidia is not much better. I've checked this in another article:

    6
  • patrick47018
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    The peak power draws on these cards are scary (way over 300 watts!) but they only last 1-2 milliseconds. Does the PSU have to be rated to handle the peak levels or just the average power draw under peak load?


    A good PSU has a lot of primary caps inside to compensate this peaks without any problem. The question should better be: What's about the life-span of this caps under this conditions?

    But Nvidia is not much better. I've checked this in another article:




    FormatC your avatar gave me cancer...
    0
  • FormatC
    Quote:
    FormatC your avatar gave me cancer...


    Ok, use 8x MSAA to prevent you before edge flares :D
    3
  • cpm1984
    The peak power draws on these cards are scary (way over 300 watts!) but they only last 1-2 milliseconds. Does the PSU have to be rated to handle the peak levels or just the average power draw under peak load?
    -1
  • vmem
    All I can say is "I think NZXT is onto something here with a $30 Kraken add-on"
    4
  • Cirdan87
    The graph for the Asus 290x temperature doesn't appear to match the tables. The graph shows a peak temp for gaming of around 76 degrees, while your table says it was 85 degrees. Is this an error?
    0
  • Gurg
    @ Roymustang" it's the fact that bitcoin and litecoin miners have driven the price of these cards up by $100-150; to the point where they are no longer a good deal at all.I was waiting for the custom cooled 290s to come out to upgrade my GTX 670 but now I may just wait for the next cards and maybe stick with nVidia"The premium at Microcenter for a 290x reference card is now only $50 at Microcenter. and at least in Denver the cards are staying in stock. Most likely the premium will go away in the next month or so.
    -1