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

Clock Rates, Temperature, And Sound Level

Achievable Clock Rates under Load

Subjected to a gaming load, PowerColor's card exhibits brief dips in its clock rate. They're typically pretty minor, though, and have little effect on performance.

Temperature Transients

During the same gaming load, PowerColor's PCS+ R9 290X hits a peak temperature of 74 °C (165 °F) after approximately eight minutes. Beyond, the board's thermal solution spins up to maintain a stable ceiling that doesn't get anywhere close to the 95 °C we're forced to endure by AMD's reference cooler.

The following table compares PowerColor's board to previously-tested competitors.

ModelsIdleGaming, Open Test 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
MSI R9 290X Lightning35 °C70 °C80 °C68-70 °C
PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X34 °C74 °C82 °C74 °C

Sound Level

Next, we measure the sound level of all cards in various use cases with a calibrated studio microphone positioned perpendicular to the center of the card 20 inches away.

How does PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X stack up? Its good cooling performance is achieved at the cost of increased fan noise, though it isn't as blatant as some of the other Radeon R9 290Xes we've tested.

ModelsIdleGaming, Open Test BenchGaming, Closed Case
Asus R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 R9 290X DirectCU II OC32.5 dB(A)42.3 dB(A)44.3 dB(A)
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290X32.1 dB(A)40.9 dB(A)42.8 dB(A)
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OCPress Sample30.9 dB(A)41.5 dB(A)43.6 dB(A)
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD R9 290X Windforce OCMass Production30.9 dB(A)39.6 dB(A)43.2 dB(A)
HIS R9 290X IceQ X² Turbo31.2 dB(A)46.2 dB(A)48.8 dB(A)
MSI R9 290X Gaming 4G30.9 dB(A)41.2 dB(A)43.9 dB(A)
MSI R9 290X Lightning31.1 dB(A)38.5 dB(A)42.2 dB(A)
PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X31.3 dB(A)39.3 dB(A)43.3 dB(A)

With that said, the sound levels are fairly close, so we encourage you to watch the videos and compare them yourself. After all, the spectral composition of the fan noise may differ from card to card, and personal preferences may vary as well.

MSI's R9 290X Lightning is slightly quieter than PowerColor's card, though the PCS+ R9 290X is tolerable enough.

PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X

MSI R9 290X Lightning

Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290X

  • combine1237
    For some reason I thought the pcs+ used hynix.
    Reply
  • CaptainTom
    I just want to point out that this and most 290X's beat a stock 780 Ti. The fact is both 780 Ti and the 290X are trade blows and belong on the same GPU tier. However only one does cost $150 less and come with 4GB VRAM...
    Reply
  • Memnarchon
    13232466 said:
    I just want to point out that this and most 290X's beat a stock 780 Ti. The fact is both 780 Ti and the 290X are trade blows and belong on the same GPU tier. However only one does cost $150 less and come with 4GB VRAM...

    Well, since you are comparing a non reference GPU, you should take also a non-reference GPU to compare.
    Tom's using Gigabyte's 780ti OC which costs the same as the reference card...

    So even the non-reference models are on a different tier as well as their reference...
    Reply
  • bemused_fred
    Any chance of measurements in metric as well as imperial?
    Reply
  • FormatC
    13232896 said:
    Any chance of measurements in metric as well as imperial?

    Typical translation errors, the original is in metric ;)
    http://www.tomshardware.de/powercolor-r9-290x-pcs-review,testberichte-241519-3.html4

    I will clearify with Chris, that we use both in the future. Metric is worldwide more common :D
    Reply
  • dave_trimble
    Surprised the benchmark graph show performance at 1080p. Aren't the 290 series kind of wasted at that resolution? I would love to see the results at 1440p or even 4k. I have a feeling the 780ti might not look quite as good in comparison at higher resolution.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    A stock GTX780Ti is 7% faster at 2560x1440, and 8% faster at 1920x1080 (18 games averaged):
    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/EVGA/GTX_780_Ti_SC_ACX_Cooler/26.html

    With such a HUGE difference in prices, quality, and performance on all top-end cards you really have to do your research.

    The R9-290X prices vary from $550 to $780 USD!
    Reply
  • dave_trimble
    13233877 said:
    A stock GTX780Ti is 7% faster at 2560x1440, and 8% faster at 1920x1080 (18 games averaged):
    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/EVGA/GTX_780_Ti_SC_ACX_Cooler/26.html

    With such a HUGE difference in prices, quality, and performance on all top-end cards you really have to do your research.

    The R9-290X prices vary from $550 to $780 USD!

    Thanks for the response! I thought I had seen reviews elsewhere that showed the 290 series really closing the gap, or even surpassing the 780ti at higher resolutions, but perhaps I was remembering wrong. I recently decided to upgrade to a dual-290 setup, but if I had gone with a single card, the 780ti was at or near the top of my list (until the 290x prices came crashing down, that is).

    Reply
  • That_Guy88
    So is the difference between 290x's almost entirely due to cooling (and some OC)? I have someone who wants to sell me a reference 290x for $350, but I have a gtx 770, so it would seem that I would need to buy an after market cooler as well to make it worth my while. Thoughts?
    Reply
  • vertexx
    13234604 said:
    So is the difference between 290x's almost entirely due to cooling (and some OC)? I have someone who wants to sell me a reference 290x for $350, but I have a gtx 770, so it would seem that I would need to buy an after market cooler as well to make it worth my while. Thoughts?
    See these articles for after-market cooling options:
    Air cooling:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/r9-290-accelero-xtreme-290,3671.html

    Liquid Cooling:
    How to:
    http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/Using-NZXT-Kraken-G10-Watercool-Radeon-R9-290
    And results:
    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/radeon-r9-290-and-290x,review-32872.html
    Reply