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

Clock Rates, Temperature, And Sound Level

Achievable Clock Rates under Load

Subjected to a gaming load, PowerColor's card exhibits brief dips in its clock rate. They're typically pretty minor, though, and have little effect on performance.

Temperature Transients

During the same gaming load, PowerColor's PCS+ R9 290X hits a peak temperature of 74 °C (165 °F) after approximately eight minutes. Beyond, the board's thermal solution spins up to maintain a stable ceiling that doesn't get anywhere close to the 95 °C we're forced to endure by AMD's reference cooler.

The following table compares PowerColor's board to previously-tested competitors.

ModelsIdleGaming, Open Test BenchVRMGaming, Closed Case
Asus R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 R9 290X DirectCU II OC34 °C76 °C92 °C84-85 °C
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290X35 °C73 °C85 °C70-72 °C
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OCPress Sample34 °C84 °C86 °C83 °C
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OCMass Production34 °C83 °C87 °C81 °C
HIS R9 290X IceQ X² Turbo35 °C78 °C70 °C81-82 °C
MSI R9 290X Gaming 4G34 °C76 °C73 °C75-76 °C
MSI R9 290X Lightning35 °C70 °C80 °C68-70 °C
PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X34 °C74 °C82 °C74 °C

Sound Level

Next, we measure the sound level of all cards in various use cases with a calibrated studio microphone positioned perpendicular to the center of the card 20 inches away.

How does PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X stack up? Its good cooling performance is achieved at the cost of increased fan noise, though it isn't as blatant as some of the other Radeon R9 290Xes we've tested.

ModelsIdleGaming, Open Test BenchGaming, Closed Case
Asus R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 R9 290X DirectCU II OC32.5 dB(A)42.3 dB(A)44.3 dB(A)
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290X32.1 dB(A)40.9 dB(A)42.8 dB(A)
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OCPress Sample30.9 dB(A)41.5 dB(A)43.6 dB(A)
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OCMass Production30.9 dB(A)39.6 dB(A)43.2 dB(A)
HIS R9 290X IceQ X² Turbo31.2 dB(A)46.2 dB(A)48.8 dB(A)
MSI R9 290X Gaming 4G30.9 dB(A)41.2 dB(A)43.9 dB(A)
MSI R9 290X Lightning31.1 dB(A)38.5 dB(A)42.2 dB(A)
PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X31.3 dB(A)39.3 dB(A)43.3 dB(A)

With that said, the sound levels are fairly close, so we encourage you to watch the videos and compare them yourself. After all, the spectral composition of the fan noise may differ from card to card, and personal preferences may vary as well.

MSI's R9 290X Lightning is slightly quieter than PowerColor's card, though the PCS+ R9 290X is tolerable enough.

PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X

MSI R9 290X Lightning

Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290X