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


We're using Metro: Last Light for our thermal benchmarks. This should be a good representation of a high-end graphics workload. As a bonus, it's incredibly repeatable and easy to loop over and over through the built-in tool.

After publishing Does Radeon R9 290X Behave Any Differently In A Closed Case?, we decided to test these cards on an open bench table and in a closed case, since we found that dropping them into the right enclosure helped lower temperatures thanks to optimized airflow.

ModelIdleGaming, Open-Air BenchVRMGaming, Closed Case
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 29032 °C72 °C78 °C60-71 °C
Gigabyte GV-R929OC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OC34 °C72 °C77 °C73-74 °C
Radeon R9 290 Reference + Arctic Accelero Extreme III30 °C68 °C90 °C72 °C
Radeon R9 290 Reference + NZXT Kraken G10 + X4028 °C49 °C66 °C49 °C
ModelIdleGaming, Open-Air 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

Temperature Graphs

These graphs slow how the temperatures change over time, influenced by the heat sink, the fan, and the firmware's fan profile. 

Asus' R9 290X DirectCU II OC has a bit of a problem; its cooler was actually designed for the larger GK110 GPU on its GeForce GTX 780 Ti board. 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.

Sapphire solves this with a group of three heat pipes that better fit AMD's GPU. The result is made clear in our testing.

Radeon R9 290 Temperatures

Radeon R9 290X Temperatures

  • 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.
  • FormatC
    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.
  • 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!
  • rdc85
    It's here!! I'm been waiting for this review... going to read (twice) now..
  • 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) :)
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • hytecgowthaman
    Sapphire wins in this competition now !!!
  • 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.