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

Third-Party Cooling And An Attractive Price?

Recently, we published MSI R9 290X Lightning Review: The Right Way To Cool Hawaii. In that piece, we decided that MSI's cooling solution was among the best we've seen for AMD's Hawaii GPU; it was only a shame that the R9 290X Lightning was selling at such a steep premium. All the while, we had an eye on another graphics card that was bumping around at the bottom of Newegg's price list, and yet topped by what looked like a comparably-capable cooler: PowerColor's PCS+ AXR9 290X.

And now that we have it in our lab, we can compare both 2.5-slot boards to each other. The match-up is an exciting one, for not only is PowerColor's option $100 less expensive (Update: Actually, $150 now), but it's also significantly lighter. Can the PCS+ AXR9 290X really stand up to the flagship R9 290X Lightning for less money?

With prices on all Radeon R9 290Xes coming back down to more palatable levels, it's time to get a little more excited about the quickest Hawaii-based boards. Better still, a lot of them rectify AMD's hot, noisy reference cooler with competent third-party thermal solutions.

Technical Specs in Comparison

First, let’s take a look at this card's most important specs. Its GPU is set to a factory-overclocked ceiling of 1050 MHz. As with other Hawaii-based implementations, this number is an "up to" rating, meaning it can be made to drop if the chip doesn't get enough cooling under load. That 1050 MHz peak puts PowerColor's PCS+ in the upper-mid-range of 290X cards, though; its core and memory clock rates match Asus' R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5.

In the pages to come, we'll measure the PCS+ AXR9 290X's power consumption and determine whether its theoretical performance translates to the real world. But first, have a look at its specs:

ModelGPU Clock (MHz)Memory Clock (MHz)Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)Pixel Fillrate (GPixel/s)Texture Fillrate (GTexel/s)
Asus R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 R9 290X DirectCU II OC10501350345.667.2184.8
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290X10401300332.866.6183.0
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OC10401250320.066.6183.0
HIS R9 290X IceQ X² Turbo10601350345.667.8186.6
MSI R9 290X Gaming 4G1040125032066.6183
MSI R9 290X Lightning1080125032069.1190.1
PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X10501350345.667.2184.4