CES 2014: Gigabyte R9 290X and GTX 780 Ti WindForce Enthusiast Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, gigabyte, R9 290X, gtx 780 ti, windforce

While the world still waits for stock of the custom cooled R9 290X and R9 290 cards from AMD's partners to show up in stores, Gigabyte was showcasing its WindForce models on the floor at CES 2014.

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The Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD is an R9 290X graphics cards that includes the company custom designed WindForce, triple fan cooler.  The cooler is rated at 450 watts of dissipation, but hopefully you'll never actually be drawing that from this single GPU graphics card.  The core clock on this model will be slightly overclocked, going from the stock 1000 MHz to 1040 MHz.  Hopefully we'll have a review sample soon so we can verify that it maintains that overclocked clock speed throughout the gaming workloads.

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Using the very same cooler is the GV-N78TGHZ-3GD based on the GeForce GTX 780 Ti GPU.  In fact, without my tell you which card was which, you'd likely have no way to tell them apart without looking at the PCB more closely. Gigabyte will be setting the base clock on this model at 1085 MHz and the Boost clock at 1150 MHz.  

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The cards will also include a back plate on the rear of the PCB to help protect the components and ICs while also strengthening the board during shipping general use.  Gigabyte says these cards will only carry and MSRP that is $20-50 more than the reference cards so look for each of them this month!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2014: MSI Previews the Radeon R9 290X Lightning

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, msi, 290x, radeon, amd, Lightning, R9 290X

The MSI Lightning series of graphics cards continues to be one of the best high end enthusiast lines available as we have seen with our reviews of the MSI GeForce GTX 780 Lightning and the R7970 Lightning.  At CES this week in Las Vegas the company was showcasing the upcoming card in the series based on the latest AMD Hawaii GPU.

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The MSI R9 290X Lightning features an updated triple cooler design and heat pipe cooler that appears to be truly impressive.  If the weight of the card is any indication, this GPU should be running considerably cooler than most of the competition.  

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MSI has included a dual BIOS option, updated Military Class 4 components and hardware but be prepared to sacrifice three slots of your motherboard to this monster.  Power requirements are interesting with a pair of 8-pin power connectors and a single 6-pin connector, though the 6-pin is going to optional.

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The power of the card still comes from AMD's latest R9 290X Hawaii GPU, so you can be sure you'll have enough gaming power for just about any situation.  We implored MSI to make sure that the overclocks of this card, probably in the 1050-1100 MHz range, are maintained consistently through extended game play to avoid any awkward variance discussions. 

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Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

PowerColor at CES 2014: Bigger is Better!

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 8, 2014 - 08:25 PM |
Tagged: triple fans, R9 290X, r9 290, powercolor, liquid cooling, cooling, CES 2014, amd

The nice folks at PowerColor were foolish enough to invite us into their suite full of video cards.  Unhappily, we were unable to abscond with a few items that we will list here.  PowerColor has a smaller US presence than other manufacturers, but they are not afraid to experiment with unique cooling solutions for their cards.

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A sharp looking card that is remarkably heavy.

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Cooling is provided by EKWB.

In their suite they were showing off two new products based on the AMD R9 290X chips.  The first was actually released back in December, 2013.  This is the liquid cooling version of the AMD R9 290X.  This little number comes in at a hefty $799.  When we think about this price, it really is not that out of line.  It features a very high end liquid cooling block that is extremely heavy and well built.  The PCB looks like it mimics the reference design, but the cooling is certainly the unique aspect of this card.  Again, this card is extremely heavy and well built.

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Three fans are too much!

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The display outputs are the same as the reference design, which is not a bad thing.

The second card is probably much more interesting to most users.  This is a new cooling solution from PowerColor that attaches to the AMD R9 290X.  The PCS+ cooler features three fans and is over two slots wide (we can joke about it being 2.5 slots wide, but I doubt anyone can use that extra half slot that is left over).  PCS+ stands for Professional Cooling Systems.  The board again looks like it is based on the reference PCB, but the cooler is really where the magic lies.  This particular product should be able to compete with the other 3rd party coolers that we have seen applied to this particular chip from AMD.  As such, it should be able to not only keep the clockspeed at a steady state throughout testing/gaming, but it should also allow a measure of overclocking to be applied.

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The back is protected/supported by a large and stiff plate.  Cooling holes help maximize performance.

This card will be offered at $679 US and will be available on January 15.  The amount of units shipped will likely be fairly small, so keep a good eye out.  AMD is ultimately in charge of providing partners with chips to integrate into their respective products, and so far I think those numbers have been a little bit more limited than hoped.  It also doesn’t help that the market price has been inflated by all the coin miners that have been purchasing up the latest GCN based AMD cards for the past several months.

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There is no denying that this is a large cooler.  Hopefully cooling performance will match or exced that of products Ryan has already reviewed.

We also expect to see the R9 290 version of this card around the same timeframe.  This is supposed to be released around the same time as the bigger, more expensive R9 290X.  There should be more PowerColor content at PCPer over the next few months, so please stay tuned!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

 

Source: PowerColor
Author:
Manufacturer: Sapphire

Sapphire Triple Fan Hawaii

It was mid-December when the very first custom cooled AMD Radeon R9 290X card hit our offices in the form of the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II.  It was cooler, quieter, and faster than the reference model; this is a combination that is hard to pass up (if you could buy it yet).  More and more of these custom models, both in the R9 290 and R9 290X flavor, are filtering their way into PC Perspective. Next on the chopping block is the Sapphire Tri-X model of the R9 290X.  

Sapphire's triple fan cooler already made quite an impression on me when we tested a version of it on the R9 280X retail round up from October.  It kept the GPU cool but it was also the loudest of the retail cards tested at the time.  For the R9 290X model, Sapphire has made some tweaks to the fan speeds and the design of the cooler which makes it a better overall solution as you will soon see.

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The key tenets for any AMD R9 290/290X custom cooled card is to beat AMD's reference cooler in performance, noise, and variable clock rates.  Does Sapphire meet these goals?

The Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X 4GB

While the ASUS DirectCU II card was taller and more menacing than the reference design, the Sapphire Tri-X cooler is longer and appears to be more sleek than the competition thus far.  The bright yellow and black color scheme is both attractive and unique though it does lack the LED light that the 280X showcased.  

Sapphire has overclocked this model slightly, to 1040 MHz on the GPU clock, which puts it in good company.

  AMD Radeon R9 290X ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X
GPU Cores 2816 2816 2816
Rated Clock 1000 MHz 1050 MHz 1040 MHz
Texture Units 176 176 176
ROP Units 64 64 64
Memory 4GB 4GB 4GB
Memory Clock 5000 MHz 5400 MHz 5200 MHz
Memory Interface 512-bit 512-bit 512-bit
TDP ~300 watts ~300 watts ~300 watts
Peak Compute 5.6 TFLOPS 5.6+ TFLOPS 5.6T TFLOPS
MSRP Price $549 $569 $599

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There are three fans on the Tri-X design, as the name would imply, but each are the same size unlike the smaller central fan design of the R9 280X.

Read our review of the Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X 4GB Graphics Card!!

Another Custom Hawaii: MSI R9 290 & 290X GAMING 4G

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 24, 2013 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: R9 290X, r9 290, msi

MSI just announced their two customized Hawaii GPUs. One of the two new boards will be based on the R9 290 and the other based on the R9 290X. The design is based around the Twin Frozr IV Advanced two-fan model found on previous cards.

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The specifications of the 290X version include three different modes: OC, Gaming and Silent.  The Silent mode will run at 1000 MHz which is the same clock speed as the reference models were set at.  In Gaming mode the card will run at 1030 MHz and in OC mode it will clock at 1040 MHz.  Obviously there will be some slight noise level variances between them but I am pretty sure that the difference between Gaming and OC mode is going to be negligible.  

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The R9 290 version has the same three settings, but the clock speeds are 947 MHz, 977 MHz and 1007 MHz respectively.  

As a final note: MSI's press release claims, "Available Now". It does not appear to be available on either Amazon or Newegg but NCIX claims that it is estimated to arrive February 26th, 2014 for $700. I seriously hope that there are a few typoes... maybe they meant December 26? Maybe they meant not a more-than-$100 premium?

It is, unfortunately, still a wait and see game with these custom AIBs.

Source: MSI
Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

The First Custom R9 290X

It has been a crazy launch for the AMD Radeon R9 series of graphics cards.  When we first reviewed both the R9 290X and the R9 290, we came away very impressed with the GPU and the performance it provided.  Our reviews of both products resulted in awards of the Gold class.  The 290X was a new class of single GPU performance while the R9 290 nearly matched performance at a crazy $399 price tag.

But there were issues.  Big, glaring issues.  Clock speeds had a huge amount of variance depending on the game and we saw a GPU that was rated as "up to 1000 MHz" running at 899 MHz in Skyrim and 821 MHz in Bioshock Infinite.  Those are not insignificant deltas in clock rate that nearly perfectly match deltas in performance.  These speeds also changed based on the "hot" or "cold" status of the graphics card - had it warmed up and been active for 10 minutes prior to testing?  If so, the performance was measurably lower than with a "cold" GPU that was just started. 

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That issue was not necessarily a deal killer; rather, it just made us rethink how we test GPUs. The fact that many people were seeing lower performance on retail purchased cards than with the reference cards sent to press for reviews was a much bigger deal.  In our testing in November the retail card we purchased, that was using the exact same cooler as the reference model, was running 6.5% slower than we expected. 

The obvious hope was the retail cards with custom PCBs and coolers would be released from AMD partners and somehow fix this whole dilemma.  Today we see if that was correct.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II Graphics Card!!

Video Perspective: GPU Shortages and Litecoin Mining Discussion

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 12, 2013 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: video, amd, radeon, hawaii, r9 290, R9 290X, bitcoin, litecoin, mining

If you already listened to this weeks PC Perspective Podcast, then feel free to disregard this post.  For the rest of you - subscribe to our damned weekly podcast would you already?!?

In any event, I thought it might be interesting to extract this 6 minute discussion we had during last nights live streamed podcast about how the emergence of Litecoin mining operations is driving up prices of GPUs, particularly the compute-capable R9 290 and R9 290X Hawaii-based cards from AMD.

Check out these prices currently on Amazon!

The price of the GTX 770 is a bit higher than it should be while the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti are priced in the same range they have been for the last month or so.  The same cannot be said for the AMD cards listed here - the R9 280X is selling for $130 more than its expected MSRP at a minimum but you'll see quite a few going for much higher on Amazon, Ebay (thanks TR) and others.  The Radeon R9 290 has an MSRP of $399 from AMD but the lowest price we found on Amazon was $499 and anything on Newegg.com is showing at the same price, but sold out.  The R9 290X is even more obnoxiously priced when you can find them.

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Do you have any thoughts on this?  Do you think Litecoin mining is really causing these price inflations and what does that mean for AMD, NVIDIA and the gamer?

Podcast #280 - NVIDIA GRID Beta, R9 290X Custom Coolers, 2TB SSDs and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 12, 2013 - 01:35 AM |
Tagged: z87, xfire, video, shield, R9 290X, podcast, pcper, nvidia, litecoin, grid, frame rating, eyefinity, crossfire, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #280 - 12/12/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA GRID Beta, R9 290X Custom Coolers, 2TB SSDs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Scott Michaud

 
Program length: 1:09:46
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Windows 8.1 tweaks at WinAero.com
  4. Closing/outro

 

ASUS Teases R9 290X DirectCU II

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 9, 2013 - 03:03 AM |
Tagged: R9 290X, DirectCU II, asus

The AMD Radeon R9 290X is a very good graphics processor whose reference design is marred with a few famous design choices. AMD specs the GPU to run at a maximum of 95C, perpetually, and will push its frequency up to 1 GHz if it can stay at or under that temperature. Its cooler in the typical, "Quiet", default setting is generally unable to keep this frequency for more than a handful of minutes. This lead to countless discussions about what it means to be a default and what are the components actual specifications.

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All along we note that custom designs from add-in board (AIB) partners could change everything.

ASUS seems to be first to tease their custom solution. This card, based on their DirectCU II design, uses two fans and multiple 10mm nickel plated heatpipes directly atop the processor. The two fans should be able to move more air at a slower rate of rotation and thus be more efficient per decibel. The heatsink itself might also be able to pull heat, quicker, altogether. I am hoping that ASUS provisioned the part to remain at a stable 1GHz under default settings or perhaps even more!

The real test for Hawaii will be when the wave of custom editions washes on shore. We know the processor is capable of some pretty amazing performance figures when it can really open up. This, and other partner boards, would make for possibly the most interesting AIB round-up we have ever had.

No word, yet, on pricing or availability.

AMD responds to the variability issue

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2013 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: amd, R9 290X, leafblower

The Tech Report posted an statement from AMD about the variability that sites have seen when comparing retail 290X's to the press samples sent out to review sites.  At this moment they are citing heat issues and the fact that the performance delta is lessened under Uber mode but will be investigating other possible causes.  With the pending arrival of third party coolers we will be able to get a better sense of the possible contribution insufficient cooling has on these issues it is also possible that the golden sample theory is also at least partially correct.  The big win for consumers is AMD's attitude adjustment and admission that there is an issue worth investigating; if they can get your R9 290X running faster you will be the one who wins after all.

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"The range of performance differential is not expected to meaningfully change the user experience but we’ve taken note of recent reports that the degree of variability is higher than expected. Reasonably we would expect the variability to occur both above and below the performance of the press samples, however it appears that most reported performances are biased towards the low side."

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