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PowerColor LCS AXR9 290X: Water Makes Hawaii Comfortable

Test System And Benchmark Configuration

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-4770K: 3.5 to 3.9 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, LGA 1150 Overclocked to 4.50 GHz, 1.25 V at 100 MHz BCLK
MotherboardAsus Z87 Pro: Intel Z87 Express, UEFI 1707 (12/13/2013)
Reference GraphicsAsus R9290X-4GD5 Retail Boxed: 1000 MHz GPU, 4 GB GDDR5-5000
RAMMushkin Redline Ridgeback 997121R 16 GB Dual-Channel Kit 2 x 8 GB XMP-2133 CAS 9-11-11-28, 1.65V
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Pro MZ-7PD256, 256 GB SSD
CPU CoolingThermalright MUX-120 w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
System Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 13.12

CPU bottlenecks inhibit proper graphics analysis, and so we're overclocking Intel’s Core i7-4770K to 4.50 GHz to squash any platform-based limitations. Asus’ Z87-Pro gets us there easily, at low voltage, and at a low enough price to win a value award.

With CPU bottlenecks out of the way, RAM becomes the next concern. Though high-density DIMMs usually have trouble hitting aggressive data rates at reasonable timings, Mushkin’s 997121R gives us the best of all three worlds. Yes, that made it another award winner.

Liquid-cooled graphics cards require a separate pump and radiator. Swiftech’s old MCP350 pump still provides the volume and pressure needed for a high-end single device, its MCR220-QP radiator still provides an integrated reservoir to simplify our cooling loop, and a pair of its MCB-120 spacers allow the other parts to be screwed together as a hang-able external unit. Two of Swiftech’s fans complete the package.

Game Benchmarks
Arma 3Version 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase" Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Battlefield 4Version, DirectX 11, 100-Sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset,  4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO
Far Cry 3V. 1.05, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
F1 2012Steam version, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Metro Last LightSteam version, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" SceneTest Set 1: DX11, Med Quality, 4x AF, Low Blur, No SSAA, No Tesselation, No PhysXTest Set 2: DX11, High Quality, 16x AF, Normal Blur, SSAA, Tesselation Normal, No PhysX
Tomb RaiderSteam version, Built-In Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality Preset (8x AF, FXAA), Motion Blur, Screen Effects Test Set 2: Ultimate Quality, (16x AF,  FXAA), Tesselation, TressFX
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark ProfessionalVersion 1.1, SystemInfo, Fire Strike Benchmark (Extreme Off/On)
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.