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CryoVenom R9 290 Review: Water Cooling With A Warranty

Test Hardware And Benchmark Settings

Graphics guru Chris Angelini strongly recommended an upgrade from AMD’s fleshed-out Catalyst 13.12 graphics drivers used in PowerColor LCS AXR9 290X: Water Makes Hawaii Comfortable to a beta version of Catalyst 14.1. A few benchmarks revealed why, as the new driver boosted the performance of the lower-model R9 290 beyond the previous 290X results.

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-4770K (Haswell): 3.5 to 3.9 GHz, 8 MB shared L3 cache, LGA 1150 Overclocked to 4.5 GHz, 1.25 V at 100 MHz BCLK
MotherboardAsus Z87 Pro: Intel Z87 Express, UEFI 1707 (12/13/2013)
Reference GraphicsSapphire R9 290 (100362SR): 947 MHz GPU, 4 GB GDDR5-5000
RAMMushkin Redline Ridgeback 997121R 16 GB Dual-Channel Kit 2 x 8 GB XMP-2133 CAS 9-11-11-28, 1.65 V
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Pro MZ-7PD256, 256 GB SSD
CPU CoolingThermalright MUX-120 w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
CaseNanoxia Deep Silence 1
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
System Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 14.1 beta 1.6

Main system components are carried over from the LCS AXR9 290X review, except for the part that matters most: a retail-purchased Sapphire Radeon R9 290 (with reference cooling) replaces the air-cooled R9 290X in this comparison of VisionTek’s CryoVenom R9 290.

Because AMD’s driver attempts to keep fan speed under 60% and underclocks the GPU when its temperature climbs to 94° Celsius, air-cooled cards are highly impacted by ambient temperature. Unfortunately, it's still super cold here, and I'm unable to keep my lab above 19 °C, which means that the air-cooled card in this comparison will consistently perform better than it would in a more typical 21 to 24 °C gaming room.

3D Game Benchmarks
Arma 3Version 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase" Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Battlefield 4Version, DirectX 11, 100-Sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset,  4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO
Far Cry 3V. 1.05, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
F1 2012Steam version, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Metro: Last LightSteam version, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" SceneTest Set 1: DX11, Med Quality, 4x AF, Low Blur, No SSAA, No Tesselation, No PhysXTest Set 2: DX11, High Quality, 16x AF, Normal Blur, SSAA, Tesselation Normal, No PhysX
Tomb RaiderSteam version, Built-In Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality Preset (8x AF, FXAA), Motion Blur, Screen Effects Test Set 2: Ultimate Quality, (16x AF,  FXAA), Tesselation, TressFX
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark ProfessionalVersion 1.1, SystemInfo, Fire Strike Benchmark (Extreme Off/On)
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.