Radeon R9 295X2 8 GB Review: Project Hydra Gets Liquid Cooling

Power Consumption: Drawing Some Conclusions

Who Needs +3.3 V? Not The Radeon R9 295X2

Our first interesting discovery was the complete absence of a load on the +3.3 V rail. Although we did observe a minimum draw of .1 W, that's within a margin of error. We can say fairly confidently that all of the R9 295X2's components run at +12 V now.

PCI Express Slot Measurements

The second and third discoveries concern power consumption from the motherboard's PCI Express slot. Even with the GPUs pegged at 100%, the Radeon R9 295X2 doesn't pull more than 28 W from its host platform. However, the card demonstrates unorthodox behavior compared to the other cards not based on Hawaii at idle. In that state, it does draw most of the power it needs from the PCI Express slot, and only 5 W from the auxiliary connectors.

In the past, we noticed graphics cards getting less power from the motherboard. AMD's Radeon R9 295X2 exemplifies this by maxing out at that very conservative 28 W figure. That also means most maximum power consumption calculations based on an assumed 75 W reading from the motherboard are wrong.

CrossFire And SLI With Single-GPU Cards

Because we don't have six current probes at the lab or the ability to store the immense amount of data generated by two cards at the same time, we recorded separate values for each warmed-up graphics card, one after the other.

Power Consumption At Idle

Although a 28.5 W measurement from the Radeon R9 295X2 is far from ideal, it's less power than you'd need for two Radeon R9 290Xes in CrossFire. And that's before ZeroCore Power kicks in. When ZeroCore is active, you only need 13.5 W to keep AMD's latest dual-GPU flagship running.


Presumably due to its effective thermal solution helping reduce leakage current, AMD's Radeon R9 295X2 beats two 290Xes in CrossFire by 40 W. Then again, our experiments with a single Radeon R9 290X suggest you can shave off 30 W and increase performance by using a more powerful cooler. Multiply that out for an array of cards in CrossFire. 

According to our measurements, one Radeon R9 295X2 uses roughly as much power as two GeForce GTX 780 Tis in SLI.

Maximum Load: Compute

The Radeon R9 295X2 finishes well ahead of two GeForce GTX 780 Tis in SLI, though this is attributable to PowerTune intervening to drop the AMD card's peak performance (even though temperatures remained below 66 °C).

If you wanted to really hammer the card hard with a power virus and increase the card's power target, you could certainly push the 295X2 above the 500 W average AMD cites. Compare that to a pair of Radeon R9 290Xes in CrossFire, which approach 600 W before slamming into their speed limiter.

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  • SVMreborn
    The pricing of this beast really impressed me.
  • Marsian Gustrianda
    Many people doubt about Dual GPU Hawaii will be Blow Up. It seems AMD really do well job. Nice Looking Card
  • ohim
    This card is like the Veyron of WV , show the world what you can do (R295x2) but you`ll still relay on the sales of your WV Golf for revenue (270x, 280x)
  • ferooxidan
    Finally the review of this beast! Now continue reading
  • outlw6669
    Impressive performance, temperatures and fairly low noise!
    I would prefer a bit lower price, but this looks like a great card for the gamer that has everything!
  • getochkn
    Surprised you didn't do a mining hashrate test on it to see what it can push out.
  • gunfighter zeck
    the name Dreadnaught originated from Dread Nothing or, fear nothing.
    Boss ship.
  • Maxamus456
    Hope this price stays low and not get bloated from bit con miners like its predecessors.
  • blubbey
    So let me get this straight. It runs pretty cool, quiet, performs well and (for the moment) is able to play a good selection of games at 4k admirably and is priced competitively. Plus if you are going to drop a bit more on watercooling your GPUs (which is a possibility if you're spending $1200+) that gives this card even greater value. Nice work AMD.
  • marciocattini
    Wheres Tom's Hardware seal of approval? =( clearly this card diserves some love!
  • spp85
    Sheeeer muscle power
  • Plusthinking Iq
    this is what i want for all my high end gaming, but i would rather like to see aio water cooling only and a 140mm version that could go silent if needed, full cover water block like the tundra series is some of the best. but single card is the best like a 780ti cooled with a 140mm aio at 500rpm and quiet pump. MAKE IT HAPPEN!
  • ferooxidan
    After reading the article my conclusion is: we need a beefier GPU next year for a truly comfortable 4K gaming experience. OMG games this day really take tolls on our rig. Some games only hit around 40-ish and some even down to 30-ish fps on 4K. Imagine next year AAA titles, even this beast will be tamed.
  • Wisecracker
    Vesuvius erupts !! ... nice job, Toms.

    Conspicuous by their absence are power, temp and noise numbers from the Green Team -- which likely means they got smoked (in a really good way) across the board by dual Hawaii.
  • AMD Radeon
    good guy AMD
  • tristangl
    ok that just prove that 4k gaming for the average joe is still not around the corner
  • chuckydb
    I hope some OEM make the cooler with a double radiator. That card can be cooler and completely silent.
  • JoeArchitect

    "Wheres Tom's Hardware seal of approval..."

    This is addressed in the conclusion of the article:

    "We have an estimated price and an estimated date for availability. The past several launches were peppered by misses on both fronts, and we’ve learned our lesson about recommending gear before you can buy it."
  • St0rm_KILL3r
    Well, at 1440p r9 295x2 = gtx 780ti sli. But at 3840x2160 it totally dominates every gpu. Wondering if gtx 790 will be able to keep up with it.
  • ekagori
    I like what AMD has done, it's good to know they are making a better effort with high end parts. Hopefully all this goodness trickles down to the next generation 20nm consumer friendly products.
  • Steveymoo
    I'm gonna get flamed for this, but AMD still have crossfire issues. A high framerate is cool and all, but micro stutter is still more annoying than a slightly lower fps. I tried Xfire on two r9 290s in BF4, and frankly, you get a less lumpy experience with just one. Granted, Nvidia has their share of SLI issues (like a lack of support for new releases,) but throughout all the years of owning a gtx 460 SLI rig, I'm still convinced Nvidia provides a smoother, more refined overall experience.
  • patrick47018
    It seems like a really good card, good job AMD
  • de5_Roy
    great read, very informative. the card itself looks good, which is a major departure from amd's previous ultra high end cards. :P

    i didn't quite understand if gpu performance and vram capacity was holding back the nvidia cards or vram size and bus-width both, in 4K gaming benches. imo, this might be worth exlporing in a different article.
  • vertexx
    What GPU are the temperature measurements coming from? Given they are connected in series, I would expect one to be hotter than the other.

    Edit: After some additional research on the web, it looks like there is only a 2 degree difference between the two GPUs under load - somewhat surprising.