PowerColor Devil R9 390X Review

How We Test

Test System

In order for us to compare results between cards reviewed by any of our reviewers, Tom’s Hardware standardized the test bench that we all use for 2015. By doing this, each of our locations can have different sets of cards and still compare from the pool of results that any of us have obtained. Starting with an MSI X99S XPower motherboard, each test bench has an Intel Core i7-5930K overclocked to 4.2GHz, 16GB of Crucial Balistix Sport DDR4, two Crucial 500GB SSDs and an 850W power supply from be quiet!.









Software and Drivers

Our tests on the PowerColor Devil R9 390X took advantage of AMD's 15.7.1 Catalyst drivers. The comparison charts also include Sapphire's Nitro R9 390, which utilized Catalyst 15.7.

Results from the Sapphire R9 Fury Tri-X were pulled from our review earlier this summer. That card was only sent to us temporarily, prior to the publication of 15.7. So, those numbers were generated using the 15.15 driver package that was available back then.

Our GeForce GTX 970 results were taken from the Nitro R9 390 review, and generated using version 353.30 of the company's software. The GTX 980 and 780 Ti results were pulled from our GeForce GTX 980 Ti review from May. We used version 347.25 in that piece.

Noise

Audio measurements are taken in a completely silent room. Typically, we record our readings two inches from each card's rear I/O bracket. But with PowerColor's closed-loop cooling system, two measurements were needed: one at the rear of the card and a second at the radiator exhaust point.

The meter I have at my disposal is only sensitive to 35 dB, so anything lower than that registers as zero. If the card makes an audible noise that the meter does not detect, I mark it as 34 dB. If no audible noise is observed, then it receives a 0 dB result on the graph.

Power

To test power consumption using our reference platform, a bit of creative math is needed. Since Haswell-E processors don’t have integrated GPU cores, we can’t boot the system without a discrete board installed to get a baseline. We are able to estimate consumption based on the approximate power draw of the test bench, though. In our observations, we’ve found that the approximate power draw from everything other than the GPU is 120W. By deducting that from the recorded wattage reported on our in-line power meter, we can calculate the approximate draw of the GPU.

Comparison Graphics Cards

Loading...

MORE: Best Graphics Cards
MORE: All Graphics Content

This thread is closed for comments
22 comments
    Your comment
  • utroz
    Hmm.. So a pre almost max OCed card with watercooling.. Only around 6 months late (or more if you count the 290X 8GB as basically the same as a 390X). At this point if you have a decent card wait for 16nm..
  • BrandonYoung
    An impressive result by AMD and PowerColor! I'm looking forward to future (more modern) released by these companies hoping to bring more competition into the once stagnant GPU realm!

    I'm aware this is a review of the Devil R9, yet I'm curious why the GTX 980 was mentioned in the noise graph, but omitted in the temperature graph, I get the feeling its because it will show the card was throttling based on thermals, helping describe its performance in the earlier tests, this is strictly speculation on my behalf however, and highly bias as I currently own a 980.
  • ryguystye
    Does the pump constantly run? I wish there was a hybrid liquid/air cooler that ran the fan only when idle, then turned on the water pump for more intensive tasks. I don't like the noise of water pumps when the rest of my system is idle
  • fil1p
    Quote:
    Does the pump constantly run? I wish there was a hybrid liquid/air cooler that ran the fan only when idle, then turned on the water pump for more intensive tasks. I don't like the noise of water pumps when the rest of my system is idle


    The pump has to run, even at low RPMs, otherwise the card would overheat. The waterblock itself is generally not enough to dissipate heat. The waterblock simply transfers the heat to the water and the radiator does almost all of the heat dissipation. If the pump is off there is no water flow through the radiator, no water flow will mean heat from the waterblock is not dissipated, causing the water in the waterblock to heat up and the GPU to overheat.
  • elho_cid
    What's the point testing on the windows 8.1? I mean, there was enough time to upgrade to windows 10 already... It was shown several times that the new W10 often provide measurable performance advantage.
  • Sakkura
    To be fair, overclocking headroom varies from GPU to GPU. Maybe you just got a dud, and other cards will overclock better.
  • Cryio
    Why test on 15.7? Seriously, that's like 6 drivers old. AMD stated they will release WHQL just ocasionaly, with more Beta throughout the year. You're doing them a diservice benching only "official" drivers.

    Nvidia's latest ... dunno, 12 drivers in the last 3 months were all official and most of them broke games or destroyed performance in a lot of other games.
  • kcarbotte
    Quote:
    Why test on 15.7? Seriously, that's like 6 drivers old. AMD stated they will release WHQL just ocasionaly, with more Beta throughout the year. You're doing them a diservice benching only "official" drivers. Nvidia's latest ... dunno, 12 drivers in the last 3 months were all official and most of them broke games or destroyed performance in a lot of other games.


    At the time this review was written it was not that old. As mentioned in the article, we first got this card over the summer. The test were done a couple months ago now and at the time they were done with the driver that Power Color suggested after having problems with the first sample.

    Quote:
    An impressive result by AMD and PowerColor! I'm looking forward to future (more modern) released by these companies hoping to bring more competition into the once stagnant GPU realm! I'm aware this is a review of the Devil R9, yet I'm curious why the GTX 980 was mentioned in the noise graph, but omitted in the temperature graph, I get the feeling its because it will show the card was throttling based on thermals, helping describe its performance in the earlier tests, this is strictly speculation on my behalf however, and highly bias as I currently own a 980.


    The temperature of the 980 was omitted because the ambiant temperature of the room was 3 degrees cooler when that card was tested, which affected the results. I didn't have the GTX 980 in the lab to redo the tests with the new sample. I had the card when the defective 390x arrived for the roundup, but when the replacement came back it was loaned to another lab at the time.
    Rather than delay the review even longer, I opted to omit the 980 from the test.

    It had nothing to do with hiding any kind of throttling result. If that were found we wouldn't slip it under the rug.

    Quote:
    What's the point testing on the windows 8.1? I mean, there was enough time to upgrade to windows 10 already... It was shown several times that the new W10 often provide measurable performance advantage.


    We have not made the switch to Windows 10 on any of our test benches yet. I don't make the call about when that happens and I don't know the reasons behind the delay.
  • Cryio
    Well then, sir @kcarbotte, I can't wait until you guys get to review some AMD GPUs on Windows 10 with the new Crimson drivers and some Skylake i7s thrown into the mix !
  • kcarbotte
    414569 said:
    Well then, sir @kcarbotte, I can't wait until you guys get to review some AMD GPUs on Windows 10 with the new Crimson drivers and some Skylake i7s thrown into the mix !


    You and me both!
    I have a feeling that the Crimson drivers have better gains in Win10 than the do in older OS's.
  • monsta
    Quote:
    An impressive result by AMD and PowerColor! I'm looking forward to future (more modern) released by these companies hoping to bring more competition into the once stagnant GPU realm! I'm aware this is a review of the Devil R9, yet I'm curious why the GTX 980 was mentioned in the noise graph, but omitted in the temperature graph, I get the feeling its because it will show the card was throttling based on thermals, helping describe its performance in the earlier tests, this is strictly speculation on my behalf however, and highly bias as I currently own a 980.

    *Face palm*
    How is this impressive? The reviewer could not recommend it and said there are better options available LOL
  • TJClark
    UNTIL SOME KIND OF DRASTIC CHANGE COMES ABOUT.......
    WHEN THE PRICE OF HIGHEST DEF MONITORS COME DOWN TO REALITY......
    I'm happier than a pig in poop because the price per performance gains are MINISCULE......MY XFX R290 / LG 27 inch 1920 X 1080 work beautifully, thank you....VSR makes my display explode with reality ! ! !
    p.s. T.V. 's are cheap....When a monitor is classified as a PC device it's price soars.
    Are we really that stupid ? A HIGH DEF, 4K TV is 100's of dollars cheaper than a " computer monitor " That pertains to ALL definitions and widths.....
  • blazorthon
    2130723 said:
    UNTIL SOME KIND OF DRASTIC CHANGE COMES ABOUT....... WHEN THE PRICE OF HIGHEST DEF MONITORS COME DOWN TO REALITY...... I'm happier than a pig in poop because the price per performance gains are MINISCULE......MY XFX R290 / LG 27 inch 1920 X 1080 work beautifully, thank you....VSR makes my display explode with reality ! ! ! p.s. T.V. 's are cheap....When a monitor is classified as a PC device it's price soars. Are we really that stupid ? A HIGH DEF, 4K TV is 100's of dollars cheaper than a " computer monitor " That pertains to ALL definitions and widths.....


    Are you joking? Neweggs cheapest 4K monitor is $300 and their cheapest 4K TV is $250. Furthermore, many of the 4K monitors are only around $350 whereas the next cheapest 4K TVs are over $400.

    Also, labeling a TV as a computer monitor does not make it the same as a computer monitor. Monitors are generally made to have lower response time and there are other differences like that.
  • BrandonYoung
    135495 said:
    Quote:
    An impressive result by AMD and PowerColor! I'm looking forward to future (more modern) released by these companies hoping to bring more competition into the once stagnant GPU realm! I'm aware this is a review of the Devil R9, yet I'm curious why the GTX 980 was mentioned in the noise graph, but omitted in the temperature graph, I get the feeling its because it will show the card was throttling based on thermals, helping describe its performance in the earlier tests, this is strictly speculation on my behalf however, and highly bias as I currently own a 980.
    *Face palm* How is this impressive? The reviewer could not recommend it and said there are better options available LOL


    Because, it directly competes with Nvidia's higher-end products, which is nice to see once more. Competition promotes advancement which is good for everyone.

    Without competition, advancement slows to a crawl (see Intel).
  • BrandonYoung
    412399 said:
    2130723 said:
    UNTIL SOME KIND OF DRASTIC CHANGE COMES ABOUT....... WHEN THE PRICE OF HIGHEST DEF MONITORS COME DOWN TO REALITY...... I'm happier than a pig in poop because the price per performance gains are MINISCULE......MY XFX R290 / LG 27 inch 1920 X 1080 work beautifully, thank you....VSR makes my display explode with reality ! ! ! p.s. T.V. 's are cheap....When a monitor is classified as a PC device it's price soars. Are we really that stupid ? A HIGH DEF, 4K TV is 100's of dollars cheaper than a " computer monitor " That pertains to ALL definitions and widths.....
    Are you joking? Neweggs cheapest 4K monitor is $300 and their cheapest 4K TV is $250. Furthermore, many of the 4K monitors are only around $350 whereas the next cheapest 4K TVs are over $400. Also, labeling a TV as a computer monitor does not make it the same as a computer monitor. Monitors are generally made to have lower response time and there are other differences like that.


    Not to mention most 4k TV's lack DisplayPort or HDMI 2.0 inputs which enable refresh rates above 30Hz at 4k resolutions. No one wants to use a 30Hz 4k TV as a monitor.
  • wayfarer1
    After spending 400 on a 390x and not getting it to work AMD is done! As far as I'm concerned AMD doesn't exist anymore.
  • TJClark
    1454811 said:
    After spending 400 on a 390x and not getting it to work AMD is done! As far as I'm concerned AMD doesn't exist anymore.
  • TJClark
    Sorry to hear that......
  • cobra5000
    Kind of sad that you don't know how to install a video card, wayfarer. Sounds like it was a p.i.c.n.i.c.
  • m16shooter
    All I can say, is that I'm running two of these in cross fire and couldn't be more happier. It plays every game I throw at it at with Ultra settings on my free sync 2k screen. I'm NOT overclocking them because to me, the extra few frames per second won't be noticeable when I'm already at 100+.
  • TbsToy
    The ole gaming graphics $ chase thing by the marketers to transfer yer dollars to their accounts again!
    Walt Prill
  • Tzn
    Again AMD power consumption is a big no no.