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PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X 8 GB Review: Dual Hawaii on Air

PowerColor Cools Two Hawaii GPUs Using Air

To call PowerColor’s air-cooled dual-GPU project daring would be an understatement. We know darned well how hot AMD's Hawaii GPU can get. Just one is enough to push most thermal solutions to their limits. That's why AMD went with liquid cooling for its Radeon R9 295X2 (a card we found to be well-built, by the way).

Now, PowerColor is trying to improve upon the first workable reference design we've seen from AMD in years with a gigantic air cooler. Is this an act of deft engineering or blind ambition?

Since AMD's sampling policy (at least over in Europe where they tested these cards) is best described as weird, we went the extra mile to make this head-to-head comparison and bought our own Radeon R9 295X2. It performs a little worse than the card we have in the U.S., but the difference is small. There's no reason to suspect anything other than normal variance between them. 

Air versus water. A huge chunk of metal versus hoses and a radiator. We can hardly wait.

The three-slot bracket on the back of PowerColor's Devil 13 Dual Core is the first hint that this card means serious business. Picking it up, the thing appears built like a tank, and you have to wonder if your motherboard's PCI Express slot will take all of the weight. This is a graphics card you need to hold with two hands.

PowerColor is asking the same $1500 that AMD wants for its own Radeon R9 295X2. But the Devil 13 board attempts to differentiate itself by including a Razer Ouroboros in its bundle. That's a nearly $140 add-on. And the mouse is extremely comfortable, too. What's more, at least at the time of writing, Newegg is running a special on the Devil 13 that includes a 120 GB Samsung 840 EVO valued at $100.

Before we get started, let’s take a look at the specifications we're dealing with. After all, PowerColor promises us the world’s fastest graphics card, even though the Devil 13 operates at 18 MHz below the peak clock rate of AMD's Radeon R9 295X2. But company representatives are sure they can compensate for this small disadvantage with a higher memory frequency.