Review Index:

ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II Graphics Card Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: ASUS

Cooling and Clock Benefits to DirectCU II

The Dual BIOS Switch Effects

Just like the reference models of the R9 290X, the ASUS DirectCU II model has a BIOS switch on the top meant to interchange BIOS settings.  The switch in the default position (away from the output connectors) indicates the card is in Performance Mode while the switch in the opposite position (towards the output connectors) puts the card into a Quiet mode.  Sound familiar?  It might but the behaviors are very different than the first 290X cards.

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Here in performance mode, you'll notice that the AMD Catalyst Control Center doesn't list a target GPU temperature and also defaults to having the maximum fan speed at 50%.  Don't be scared though!  These fans are MUCH more quiet than the reference cards.

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In the quiet mode you have the same settings that we saw previously with a target GPU temperature of 95C and a maximum fan speed of 40%. 

Clock Speed Variance - Is it fixed??

First things first, let's look at how the clock speeds vary on the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II.  To see this over an extended period of time, we are looking at 25 minutes of consistent, looped gameplay in Metro: Last Light.  This is the same testing loop utilized in our discussion of the 290X variance problems from last month.  We'll be compare this new custom R9 290X from ASUS to the reference card we got from AMD initially as well as the Sapphire R9 290X that we purchased ourselves that uses the stock cooler.

For this test, all three cards are in their default state.  That means the sampled and Sapphire R9 290X are in Quiet mode while the R9 290X is in performance mode.  More on that below.

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Well look at that, the ASUS R9 290X is quite the champ!  Throughout our 25 minute session of Metro: Last Light it stays at the 1050 MHz frequency pretty much the whole time with only the occasional dip to something in the 600-700s when the level reloads.

What does this mean?  The custom cooled R9 290X DirectCU II from ASUS is the first R9 290X we have seen to consistently run at its rated frequency and as a result it will be among the fastest cards we have ever tested!

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To put it in a different perspective, the average clock speed of the ASUS card was 1047.57 MHz over the 25 minute period while the sampled reference card was only hitting 930 MHz.  The Sapphire card, at 869 MHz average clock, is 17% slower than the ASUS card.  The press sampled card is 11% slower than the ASUS card.  Those are large, tangible and hard to swallow results for buyers of reference R9 290X models.

I do realize that the default clock of the ASUS DC2 card is 1050 MHz while both the press sampled and Sapphire reference cards are rated at "up to" 1000 MHz and that results in a 5% delta out the gate.  Still, it is clear based on the clock speed comparison graph above that the stock blower cooler was never up to the task of keeping the Hawaii GPU in the thermal envelope it needed to be.

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Keeping mind that these are totally different cooler designs, the ASUS card is able to maintain a 1050 MHz clock speed with a fan speed of just 1600 RPM or so, though we do have TWO fans.  How do that effect sound levels?

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As it turns out, the DirectCU II cooler, in performance mode, is significantly more quiet than the reference cooler in quiet mode.  Think about that for just a second.  Okay, let's move on.

The custom built ASUS R9 290X is 6 full dbA lower in our noise testing than the reference R9 290X and is even able to come in under the sound levels of the GTX 780 Ti.  It's still louder than the original GTX 780 that runs at a lower fan speed, but it's pretty close.

In my testing, the R9 290X provided about as good of a sound experience of any high end graphics card we have tested in the past year.  This is exactly where the AMD R9 290X should have been the whole time.

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Another huge benefit you get with the ASUS DirectCU II is lower temperatures.  Not only does this card run faster than the reference, and quieter, it is doing all of that while keeping the GPU at a temperature 18C lower than the reference cooler.  This is nothing to balk at or just dismiss, this is serious improvement by ASUS.

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Finally, does all of this come at the cost of power consumption?  Not really - the ASUS DC2 was actually drawing a few watts lower power than the reference card in our testing under a full load.

How does the Quiet Mode change things?

Though we did all of our primary testing with the switch in its default state, Performance mode, Quiet mode has some interesting characteristics worth noting. 

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Sound levels in the quiet mode are, well, quieter (as you would expect).  The jump from 37.1 dbA to 34.1 dbA isn't as big as the move from the reference 290X to the ASUS custom card but the noise difference is still noticeable.

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The clock speeds reported over the same 25 minute period are interesting.  For most of the recorded period, the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II in quiet mode is able to maintain the same 1050 MHz clock speed as it does in the performance mode.  Between the 550 and 850 second period though there is some obvious throttling the occurs with clock speeds going to nearly 950 MHz.  Even though that is definitely going to cause performance drops, it is nothing close to the 830 MHz clocks we saw with the Sapphire reference cooler testing last month.

The clock speed does eventually restabilize at 1050 MHz though for reasons you'll see below.

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Even with that clock speed variance above, the average frame rate of the ASUS DC2 card in quiet mode is only 8 MHz lower over the entire 25 minutes testing period.

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In order to hit just 34.1 dbA in quiet mode, the ASUS card only briefing breaches the 1200 RPM mark at about the 950 seconds.  It then drops again and seems to find a stable spot at 1180 RPM or so.

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How can the ASUS card maintain the same performance levels (or close to the same performance levels) with lower noise in quiet mode?  By allowing the GPU to hit higher temperatures.  In performance mode our GPU hits the 76-77C mark towards the end of its 25 minute test run while in quiet mode ASUS allows the GPU to 94C.  It is not a coincidence that it happens in the same 650-850 second window where we saw the clock speed come down and the fan speed quickly ramp up.  The DC2 card then finds the best spot for it to maintain 1050 MHz with a 92C temperature and ~1200 RPM fan speed.  This is AMD PowerTune at work!

This creates an interesting choice for the gamer - you can basically get the same 1050 MHz clock speeds from the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II by either allowing the GPU to hit 94C and getting lower noise levels OR by keeping the GPU cooler (around 77C) with higher noise levels.  The key this time is that performance is nearly identical in both cases and that both the Quiet and Performance defaults have dramatically improved noise levels compared to the AMD R9 290X reference "quiet" mode.

December 18, 2013 | 04:34 PM - Posted by Daniel Meier Nielsen (not verified)

Damn, did not expect it to actually do this well. Nice review Ryan.

December 18, 2013 | 04:35 PM - Posted by Imre (not verified)


December 18, 2013 | 04:36 PM - Posted by Imre (not verified)

Please Jesus:((

December 19, 2013 | 11:07 AM - Posted by StewartGraham (not verified)

Jesus can't help you.

December 18, 2013 | 04:42 PM - Posted by OneAgainstOne (not verified)

Exactly, let's wait til these actually come out and what Nvidia is going to do to counter this cause we it could cause a TI drop to reasonable pricing. Thanks Ryan as always!!

December 21, 2013 | 06:29 AM - Posted by nobodyspecial (not verified)

NV doesn't have to respond with anything. You can buy an MSI 780ti gaming card for $699 that is 1020/1085. So a FREE OC is already priced at REF MSRP. It won all benchmarks at hardwarecanucks review of this 290x card except for Dirt Showdown which nobody plays (I say that because it hasn't sold 100K copies yet according to vgchartz which is what it takes to show up on their charts, total failure). Also it won everything without OCing, which nets another 10% as it runs up to 1225 as they show.

Tried to put a link in to hardwarecanucks but caught for spam. I'm sure anyone can get there on their own anyway (newegg below also).

You should be testing at MSI speeds since you can get an OC card for ref pricing. You are testing an OC card here (290X asus) vs. REF 780ti and asking if they took the crown? NOPE. Because you can get OC 780ti for $699 already that easily wins.

The EVGA REF model is now $680 also on newegg once in the cart. More expensive than 290x maybe, but comes with gsync, 3 AAA games, cooler etc.

December 21, 2013 | 04:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You really are a Nvidia fanboy. This 290x beats the 780 TI through and through. Not only does it run slightly cooler, the frame rate is the exact same. OH wait, its $150 cheaper and if Nvidia fanboys can't realize that Nvidia does need to respond with a price drop, they will be seriously hurting. I know fanboys like you will always keep them in business though because you're paying for an overpriced piece of crap. I don't know where you get that the EVGA Ref card is cooler, but it isn't. Look at the 4 degrees difference. Also AMD comes with the Never Settle Bundles, so you have zero point there with the AAA titles. Gsync is pointless. Drivers are far better on AMD now. What's that? OH wait...Games like BF4 AMD dominates Nvidia in every shape and form and this is all before mantle. Is Nvidia in the PS4 or Xbox? Nope. If Mantle does well, is every game from here on out going to adpot it? Yep. So basically Nvidia has an overpriced card that does the same things as the 290x but for way more money and....No thats pretty much it. Have a nice day.

December 21, 2013 | 06:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

fanboy, lol me think you can't read graphs, only one where it comes out on top. Then you have the 780ti direct cu2 which eats your AMD fanboy ass

December 22, 2013 | 03:18 PM - Posted by snook

This is the first 290X non-reference card out. If you think there aren't going to be faster non-reference 290Xs released, you've lost it.

enjoy the crow when it's served.

December 22, 2013 | 04:10 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes kudos to ASUS for fixing a broken product. Ryan , put it up against the Gigabyte 780ti Ghz Edition or the EVGA SC ACX, would be interested in the results for non ref v non ref

December 22, 2013 | 04:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

>g-sync is pointless
You do know what g-sync does right?

December 24, 2013 | 02:54 AM - Posted by Niabureth (not verified)

I'll second what Snook said. Until G-sync gets mainstream, (meaning it would be fully compatible with most displays out there) which won't happen anytime soon, I don't really see the point of it. Most people won't be able to use it. And it's not exactly cheap. Don't get me wrong, G-sync is great and all, but it will take some time before it's really a valid argument for going green.

December 22, 2013 | 03:29 PM - Posted by snook

it doesn't come with g-sync. it comes with the ability to use g-sync. huge difference. you get to pay extra for an aftermarket kit (per ryan, limited) or buy a g-sync enabled monitor.

last podcast points out the g-sync limits also. many more than I thought it would have.

December 24, 2013 | 02:42 AM - Posted by Niabureth (not verified)

OMG, you are actually getting really upset about this review, and getting into a defensive position for Nvidia? *The fanboy is strong in this one*

December 18, 2013 | 04:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How much more FPS do you get with the sticker ?
Which color combination gives the most FPS ?

December 18, 2013 | 05:19 PM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619

Actually blue stickers run cooler giving you better overclocks, its science and junk. I have a friend in the "know" that says Asus is saving the blue stickers for the Rev. 2 models.

December 18, 2013 | 05:25 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

speed holes, get out that pickaxe, or shotgun, and make some Holes, at least on those refrence SKUs!

December 18, 2013 | 06:53 PM - Posted by N3n0 (not verified)

Shutup Homer.

December 22, 2013 | 04:11 PM - Posted by Homer, the poet (not verified)

Shut up, pleb.

December 24, 2013 | 02:56 AM - Posted by Niabureth (not verified)

Damn! Can't wait for those.

December 18, 2013 | 05:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

how could AMD have not come up with a similarly performing solution for their flagship cards?

AMD have cut their engineering workforce down to almost the bare-bones to stay alive, and maybe AMD should go with a flagship non-refrence design partner, and forgo the costs of thermal engineering to that partner, until AMD rehires/recommits more of its engineering assets towards thermal engineering and cooling/sound design. Yes the parts only cost $20 more, but the engineering costs much more than the materials, and if your engineering workforce is not there, or not available, it is better to get a flagship partner, and utilize that partners engineering workforce.

Alms for the cooling design challenged.

December 18, 2013 | 05:03 PM - Posted by JohnGR (not verified)

Great. But I think most of us knew it for over a month now when many used third party coolers on 290X and had excellent results.
This must be the only time ever that the same gpu that lost the performance crown took it back with just a cooler change.

March 1, 2014 | 06:02 PM - Posted by nashathedog (not verified)

It's shocking how dumb some people are....

December 18, 2013 | 05:49 PM - Posted by Brett from Australia (not verified)

very comprehensive review Ryan, and you have made some good points why AMD could not have done a better job with these cards when they came out of the gate is worrying. These cards do create a lot of heat and as such should have better built in cooling.

December 18, 2013 | 05:59 PM - Posted by envygamer (not verified)

FAWK YEA am selling off my 290 ref!

December 18, 2013 | 06:07 PM - Posted by mikeymike (not verified)

AMD shut up and take my money!!!

December 18, 2013 | 06:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Do you run your Skyrim tests with the official HD Textures DLC?

December 18, 2013 | 07:41 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

It's the DLC textures but no mods.

December 21, 2013 | 07:31 PM - Posted by BattMarn (not verified)

Ryan, I know it makes it harder to compare your results with other websites, but I don't know ANYONE who runs Skyrim on PC with no mods.

If you do what TekSyndicate do and run all their tests on a heavily-modded Skyrim, the game will push the GPU further. And so long as none of the mods are ENBs or anything, (so stick to texture and lighting mods) the performance should scale with texture quality, etc.

Might also make Skyrim more relevant as a benchmark, since in most of your latest reviews you've said how pretty much any new GPU can run Skyrim maxed out.

December 31, 2013 | 08:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing these cards put through their paces with an ENB and DDOF. I noticed on one review - I think an Anandtech review - the AMD cards seemed to react worse to DDOF in Bioshock Infinite than Nvidia ones, and I'd very much like to see if that is a game-specific aberration or a trend.

The beauty of modded Skyrim as a benchmark is that you can test the cards for different kinds of advanced graphics/lighting features from mods and then compare it to vanilla Skyrim as a control.

December 18, 2013 | 06:20 PM - Posted by PapaDragon

OMG OMG..finally. Thanks for the review Ryan, was excited when you announced it on Facebook.

Great to see these cards the way they were meant, Great Performance and consistency...oh and the noise levels!! Great job Asus!

"Maybe the best news is that even with this overclock, running Metro: Last Light for an extended loop, we never saw the GPU temperature exceed 86C. The 1150 MHz clock speed was pretty much fixed (no variance) and the fan speed stayed around the 2000 RPM mark (53%). Yes, it was louder than stock but still not close to what we have seen with the AMD cards in quiet or Uber mode."

I remember your facial expression every time the subject of the 290X and its noise was brought up in the podcast ..You were Like the Captain Picard face Palm meme!! bad these cards wont make it to be under peoples Christmas Trees this Holiday, but At least we know they are ready!!

December 18, 2013 | 06:50 PM - Posted by AnonymousSally (not verified)

The Price there showing doesn't exist anymore 3 weeks ago a 280 was 300 now 420$ I get the B4 280 for 300$ which means I paid only 250$.

December 18, 2013 | 07:01 PM - Posted by AMDBumLover (not verified)

I wanna see ryan complain about these, maybe he will create a new metric to review these, noise? heat? powerdraw? drivers? or he will now recommend it because it is selling too well...not saying he is biased just saying he is a Journalist searching for a story down any BS avenue...

December 18, 2013 | 07:42 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Sweet username bro.

December 18, 2013 | 07:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For the AMD refrence SKUs, these induced clock/thermal feedback variances/oscillations can unnecessarly result in extra thermal wear and tear, and premature failure, and however unnoticeable they may be in game play, are still in need of review and mention, with thorough examples! And if you think AMD's fixing/mitigating the matter as quickly as possable with driver fix, was just beacuse of a few benchmarks pushing them to act quickly, then try paying the warranty, and extended/implied warranty costs, that AMD may have had to, and have incurred, should they have swept the problem under the rug!

December 19, 2013 | 11:23 AM - Posted by Ophelos

That's why i never listen to reviews unless they only talk about stock speeds when running benchmarks. When these reviewers start talking the price is when i get turned off on the cards an go into a different direction.

So AMD has lost my business after 10yrs of only using AMD cards.

December 22, 2013 | 09:22 AM - Posted by Daniel Nielsen (not verified)

Too bad for you i guess, they loose you and gain me. I will switch my 680 our for a 290, if it does as well as the 290x.

So balance is yet again restored.

December 18, 2013 | 09:05 PM - Posted by Myopic

I've seen water cooling reviews and now custom fan solutions and both make this card run as advertised. It seems to me AMD barely made a minimum effort to cool the card. Once again I'm rather disappointed with the efforts by AMD. And I'm a fan......for now

December 18, 2013 | 10:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that the reference cooler performs poorly, but reference coolers are built for maximum compatibility. There are situations where only a blower cooler will work, and it cannot be too large either. There needs to be a bare minimum cooler that works for everyone, even if it's not very good. People who want better cooling and have enough space, airflow, etc can get a custom cooled card.

That said, the delay for custom cards is disappointing, and Nvidia certainly had a better reference cooler, although it likely cost more.

December 18, 2013 | 09:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Ryan writes: "It looks great, overclocks well and ASUS is only asking $20 more than the current MSRP. You can't really demand much more from an enthusiast class GPU today!"

Good Review!

It is not good enough for NVidia fans. Why? Because this card uses AMD chip and its price is very reasonable. NVidia fans wont buy a good AMD product. They love to bash AMD.

December 18, 2013 | 09:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Very nice to see a backplate on a card costing only $20 over reference. Hopefully Asus releases a 3-slot card as well; if any GPU needs it, it's the 290, although this card is certainly enough for anyone who can only spare 2 slot.

December 18, 2013 | 10:37 PM - Posted by daffy (not verified)

But surely you'll need to compare it to cards like the Asus 780 Ti DCUII to be fair, Either way the 290x and no doubt 290 are again very desirable. 290 will be a bargain and a custom version will be faster than stock 290X IMO. I still don't which one I'd buy out fo custom 290X or custom 780 Ti however. Need to wait for more custom 290(X) solutions to compare.

December 19, 2013 | 10:09 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I hope to test these soon!

December 19, 2013 | 01:05 AM - Posted by Holyneo (not verified)

Well, I might not be able to get one this year. I do know I'll be asking for some New Egg gift cards. 8)

December 19, 2013 | 01:11 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What were the clocks of the gtx 780 ti? Were they limited to 876 mhz? Your results seem kind of low for bioshock infinite. Bioshock seems like a game nvidia hardware do better at.

December 19, 2013 | 01:26 AM - Posted by snook

GTX780Ti running at non-boost on a PCper review of an AMD card???? now, that is funny.

December 19, 2013 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

The clocks weren't limited at all.  They were running in their stock functionality.  I don't have the specific clock recorded for Bioshock Infinite though.

EDIT: Actually I do!!  Here is the GPUZ data from our Bioshock testing on the GTX 780 Ti.

The numbers you see there are GPU clock, memory clock, GPU temp, fan %, fan RPM.

December 19, 2013 | 10:55 AM - Posted by snook

thanks, I was right again! woohoo. not so much a knock against you as it was dismay at his question. essentially thermal throttling at 1006.2?
In an ironic twist, the 780Ti would bet the 290X if Nv allowed the gpu a higher thermal limit..say 90c.

December 20, 2013 | 02:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What thermal throttle are you talking about buddy???
The card was between 1006 and 993mhz. That is well above the minimum stock boost specifications of the 780Ti. 7mhz variance is nothing.
At similar clocks the 290x and the 780Ti are very close. Deal with it.
Also the 290x was not running at its thermal limit. It was well below that.

December 20, 2013 | 02:40 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Yah, agreed here.  NVIDIA's ratings and clock speed claims are obviously being met by our results.

December 21, 2013 | 11:27 AM - Posted by snook

my claim isn't against clocks, simply asking why that limit. was it thermal? see, nice and clean.

stated like this: why didn't it boost above 1006.2? that seems the max you got from it.

December 21, 2013 | 11:16 AM - Posted by snook

it was a question buddy???
if it's not thermal (780Ti buddy??), why didn't gpu boost take the clock higher?

again, a question buddy??? seeking information. deal with what? I don't have a dog in this fight other than contempt for Nv.

December 19, 2013 | 01:26 AM - Posted by snook

let it be known, from this day hence. I predicted this result on three separate occasions, on this PCper site. nice being right.

December 19, 2013 | 12:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You shall forever be known as the prophet of thermal/performance results.

Also, since we're on the internet, SS or it didn't happen.

December 22, 2013 | 03:12 PM - Posted by snook

no SS, 24th comment from top:

December 19, 2013 | 01:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Look over there it's SUPER ALLOY POWER MAN to the rescue... He will save us.

December 19, 2013 | 06:15 AM - Posted by LtMatt

Great to see the 290X taking on and often beating the 780TI, not to mention the titan.

Someone above me mentioned about the Bioshock results looking low. I believe i can explain that and maybe Ryan can confirm im correct. Pcper are using the stock Ultra preset settings for Bioshock. This actually favours AMD cards. Most sites, but not all use the custom DDOF preset. This actually adds zero image quality improvement, it actually looks worse. What it does do though is favour Nvidia cards and hits fps quite hard for no improvement. If you see AMD winning in Bioshock, they used Ultra preset. If you see Nvidia winning they used the custom preset, this is assuming the cards are fairly evenly matched ala 770vs7970 or 780vs290 etc.

December 19, 2013 | 10:13 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

You are correct, thank you LtMatt!

December 19, 2013 | 03:21 AM - Posted by Prodeous

I will admit that I do not regret purchasing the reference card. In Quiet mode it is not too annoying, but throttles too much. Seeing tomshardware test reference card with aftermaket cooler showed how much potential was hidden.

Seeing this review just verifies that what AMD did with it's cooling was a shot in the foot, giving some negative feedback on a good card.

One thing I really like about this ASUS design compared to other cooler designs for R9 290x that are floating on the web is that this still blows the air out of the case (at least in part) Gigabyte and MSI do not.

If I was to get another R9 290x this would be the card I get. And most likely will to finally have Dual GPU setup - current GTX 680 + R9 290x don't count

December 19, 2013 | 07:57 AM - Posted by idiot101 (not verified)

Great review. This is what I was expecting. Asus has done a great job. I just wish it was available right now. Nvidia would have been caught out again requiring them to make another price revision.

Oh Well. At least hoping that the card would be available in decent numbers at the quoted price.

December 19, 2013 | 01:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It would be great if you guys could do a review of this card in comparison to the Gigabyte 780 ti GHZ edition once you get your hands on an actual card. There's talk about that version of the ti murdering the performance charts for only a little more than a reference 780 ti.

July 5, 2014 | 04:31 AM - Posted by Sherlyn (not verified)

There are unlimited options for promoting the products.
I am sure there are many more examples and the above can include both ready made
and those crafted by loving owners too. Jo Han Mok is the #1 International bestselling author of the E-code.

Here is my blog post; my site (Sherlyn)

December 19, 2013 | 02:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

why are you still testing on BF3 , next to no one is still playing it. Battlefield 4 has been out for a few months at this stage , any chance you could get some benchmarks with that instead ?

December 19, 2013 | 03:15 PM - Posted by bburnham37 (not verified)

Error in the article.

"To put it in a different perspective, the average frame rate of the ASUS card was 1047.57 MHz over the 25 minute period"

Should be:

To put it in a different perspective, the average CLOCK SPEED of the ASUS card was 1047.57 MHz over the 25 minute period

December 19, 2013 | 04:10 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout


December 19, 2013 | 03:55 PM - Posted by Absolute0 (not verified)

I would still like to see the 780 ti at it's maximum overclocking potential (1200MHz core seems easily achievable, and 1250-1300MHz is possible) compared to the overclocked ASUS R9 290X @1150MHz. Then the benchmarking results will be fair. Maybe Linus will cover this in one of his videos.

I would also like to point out that the AMD cards are selling well above their MSRP's, perhaps due to the bitcoin miners right now. So the $570 R9 290X actually costs $620-$630 (if you can even find it). The 780 ti, MSRP @$700 comes with $170 worth of free games this holiday season. Overall the 780 ti still offers better price/performance ratio.

December 20, 2013 | 02:21 PM - Posted by Niabureth (not verified)

In sweden we have high availability of the R9 290X, and the prices has gone down somewhat.

December 20, 2013 | 02:41 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Interesting, I'll keep an eye on it for sure.

December 20, 2013 | 02:23 PM - Posted by Niabureth (not verified)

Availability of the reference model shouldn't be a problem anymore? Well at least not here in sweden. The prices has gone down to (somewhat).

December 19, 2013 | 05:30 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What monitoring software are you using to record the gpu load differences? I ask since I have a custom cooling solution on my 290x and during gameplay of current games, the hottest the gpu ever gets is 70 degrees but the gpu load goes from 0% to 100% literally hundreds of times during a gaming session (looks like a seismograph). Never do I see a solid line at 1000Mhz. Never! I wonder if it is the software that I am using (MSI Afterburner) to monitor or my card. Please note that my gampeplay is silky smooth but the reporting numbers that concern me. So if I could get some insight on the software you are using, that would be great.

December 20, 2013 | 02:41 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

We use GPU-Z.

December 20, 2013 | 04:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)


The throtteling isn't an issue really. First you have to consider that the fan is only running 59% in Ryan's bench. Second the powertarget and temp target can easily be up'ed by flashing the bios to one of skyn3t's rev's.

I have a 780 Classy running completely stable (with ACX air cooler) @ 1270/1750 with max temp 75C (skyn3t ln2 rev.3).

As from what I have read/seen; the 780Ti (specially the Evga classy/SC versions) hits about the same clock speeds as mine on air.

December 21, 2013 | 11:28 AM - Posted by snook

thanks for the response sans the "buddy???".

those are really good speeds too. my question was just what is happening to limit it to 1006.2? so powertarget seems as good as anything.

thanks again.

December 20, 2013 | 06:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

hmmm.. i wish the price is too good to be true.. in Malaysia all these price are inrease a titan will cost u as much as 1125.79$ and this radeon R9 290x will cost 852.18$.. we do not know even why they cost so much.. i wish they were cheap like other countries.. the price of gtx 770 can buy a gtx 780 in other countries. and a gtx 680 still cost 608.70$ if guys dont believe me just go to any online retail shop pages.. and also gtx 760 is the same price of a gtx 660 ti that is 369$ thats a rip offf!!!!!

December 20, 2013 | 11:35 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why do you compare a non-reference AMD to a reference Nvidia card. Would it not be better to compare non-reference to non-reference? It would make it easier to see which is the better card and by how much.

December 20, 2013 | 02:43 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Yah, we are waiting for some more custom GTX 780 Ti cards to arrive.

December 20, 2013 | 12:31 PM - Posted by Niabureth (not verified)

Good review!

December 20, 2013 | 02:44 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Thank you!

December 20, 2013 | 04:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Its takes a custom cooled overclocked 290x to match a stock reference 780ti. We all know how well a 780ti overclocks so they should of tested with apples against apples. anyway still a fail on Amd part.

December 21, 2013 | 09:03 PM - Posted by snook

with that huge 44Mhz OC :/ yea, them apples. sour apples.
it didn't match it beat it BTW

December 22, 2013 | 04:26 PM - Posted by KrishnanKaoz (not verified)

Exactly. You should be able to hot 1150 mhz without issues so add another 100 mhz on the factory OC. Even if 780 ti hits 1250 stable, it is still 130 dollars more expensive. And as a previous Swede explained, the price gouging is a US-centric issue. And I do not even think it is that related to mining. We have seen a similar mining craze here in Sweden.

Anyway, this card crushes the stock Ti on price/perf ratio. Custom coolers will narrow the gap but unlikely to close it. But Maxwell for desktops is coming in 3 months! Hoprfully AMD can counter faster and prevent Nvidia from taking their customary high prices.

December 22, 2013 | 04:26 PM - Posted by KrishnanKaoz (not verified)

Exactly. You should be able to hot 1150 mhz without issues so add another 100 mhz on the factory OC. Even if 780 ti hits 1250 stable, it is still 130 dollars more expensive. And as a previous Swede explained, the price gouging is a US-centric issue. And I do not even think it is that related to mining. We have seen a similar mining craze here in Sweden.

Anyway, this card crushes the stock Ti on price/perf ratio. Custom coolers will narrow the gap but unlikely to close it. But Maxwell for desktops is coming in 3 months! Hoprfully AMD can counter faster and prevent Nvidia from taking their customary high prices.

December 21, 2013 | 11:04 AM - Posted by Willmore (not verified)

The graph with the temps comparing the Quiet mode and the Performance mode idle and load temps is mislabeled. Idle is labeled as Load.

December 21, 2013 | 11:05 AM - Posted by Willmore (not verified)

Oh, darn, that's the Sound level graph, not the temp one. Sorry!

December 21, 2013 | 11:06 AM - Posted by Willmore (not verified)

Oh, darn, that's the Sound level graph, not the temp one. Sorry!

December 21, 2013 | 02:41 PM - Posted by Marco (not verified)

How many nVidia fanboys here. Here I'am switching from ASUS GTX670 DCII to the Asus 290 (probably not X) when available

December 21, 2013 | 09:52 PM - Posted by Principle (not verified)

What would be really nice is to see how quiet we could get the fans if the target temp was set at say 90C, because the GPU is meant to handle 95C without a hitch, for the life of it. So it seems we are either leaving performance or quietness on the table by limiting the temp under 80C in stock settings.

December 22, 2013 | 03:29 AM - Posted by purple (not verified)

when will this be available?

I was thinking about getting a 780, but this is changing my mind completely for multiple reasons.

December 22, 2013 | 09:22 PM - Posted by darkly (not verified)

I was going to buy a GPU this month since I am in america right now and ofcourse booya euro vs dollar shit.

I might of been interested in this card but eh I am not going to pay 200-300 dollars more just because I live in europe so I think I will be buying a 780 Ti then.

the ONLY 290X non ref that is for sale is on newegg right now and it's the gigabyte one.

and that one is 699 dollars so there is no point to buy it over say a MSI 780Ti or hell a 749 EVGA classified which has been proven to overclock to 1300+ easily on air (with some bios fiddling)

Bluh this sucks. replacing my 680 is turning out to be a pain in the ass.

December 28, 2013 | 05:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

One thing that would really interest me since Sapphire is the biggest contender for Asus in the AMD custom cooling sector:

How does the db(A) of the Asus r9 290x in performance/quiet mode compare to the Sapphire r9 290x or the Asus r9 280x?

Thanks in advance!

January 8, 2014 | 07:56 AM - Posted by Cobra (not verified)

The xfx R9-290A-ENBC is 499.00 at and 539.00 Canadian dollers. The custom 290 price is around 570.00 to 600.00 and that is not even the 290x. I was going to ask do you guys know what the sp is of the fans becuase it is static pressure and a good heatsink on the card that would chill it down good right? I was thinking a blower fan design is the best for static pressure right or wrong ? and what if you just purchased a usb extender 10$ and hmdi extender 10$ and put it in a closet with 80% or more fan speed on a stock 290 blower design. I have seen most custom r9 290s is 70$ or 100$ more and the same if you buy a aftermarket cooler it's around 100$ for it.

February 9, 2014 | 08:08 PM - Posted by gordong11 (not verified)

Newegg just raised the price from $699 to $749. In fact if you search 290x cards, they show $699 but when you open the product page the $749 price appears This is the case for most 290x's.

April 29, 2014 | 06:44 PM - Posted by Sheri (not verified)

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