Is custom air cooling enough for the R9 290X?

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 23, 2014 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: amd, asus, R9 290X DC2 OC, overclocking

[H]ard|OCP has had a chance to take the time to really see how well the R9 290X can overclock, as frequencies get lower as heat increases a quick gaming session is not enough to truly represent the performance of this new GPU.  The ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II OC offers a custom cooler which demonstrated the overclocking potential of this GPU on air cooling, or at least this specific GPU as we have seen solid evidence of performance variability with 28nm Hawaii GPUs.  You should read the full review to truly understand what they saw when overclocking but the good news is that once they found a sweet spot for fan speed and voltage the GPU remained at the frequency they chose.  Unfortunately at 1115MHz the overclock they managed was only 75MHz higher than the cards default speed and while that could beat a stock GTX 780 Ti, the NVIDIA product overclocked higher and proved the superior card. 

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"We will take the ASUS R9 290X DC2 OC custom AMD R9 290X based video card and for the first time see how well the 290X can overclock. We will also for the first time compare it to an overclocked GeForce GTX 780 Ti video card head-to-head and see who wins when overclocking is accounted for."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

January 23, 2014 | 07:01 PM - Posted by JaguarSaloon (not verified)

You base your comment as if these cards are equal in price; they're not. Despite the artificial spiked value of these cards due to mining - dollar for dollar the AMD solution is superior. It has full hardware support for the current DX revision, a higher frame buffer and vastly superior OpenCL performance to the tune of 300 percent faster. No doubt the 780Ti is a sweet card, but it's not a better card for the money. Not by a long shot.

January 23, 2014 | 11:03 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I bought a R9 290 at msrp when they first came out and slapped a Gelid cooler on there and it runs at a constant 1ghz at 55c. I love nvidia cards but for the price I could not be happier.

January 24, 2014 | 03:20 AM - Posted by JohnGR (not verified)

About pricing of 290/290X because of mining.

In Greece 290 refernce is 60 euros cheaper that GTX780. Custom 290's are starting to appear about in the middle, a little closer to 290's reference price.
290X is more than 100 euros cheaper than 780TI and again custom 290X's are starting to appear in the middle being cheaper about 50 euros than 780TI.

The biggest price change I have seen in the past two months is 650TI boost, going from 140 euros the cheapest to over 160 euros. I guess the reason is that these cards are starting to disappear from the market making room for 750TI.

January 24, 2014 | 10:34 AM - Posted by Gregster

I read the whole of the [H] report on overclocking the 290X DCII with great interest. Maybe they got unlucky with the clocks only reaching 1115Mhz or maybe the card is seriously pushed to its limits already. It will be interesting to see what PCPer can achieve and I look forward to a good read, Ryan.

January 24, 2014 | 10:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You get what you pay for!
All these AMD fanboys coming on here justifying their measly purchase how lovely ;)

January 24, 2014 | 12:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I really don't get the issue here. For an over clocker, having the 290x wouldn't make much sense if they have the money. For an enthusiast who is looking at the best possible performance at the lowest price possible, custom AMD Enthusiast class solutions will make sense if they are sold at their MSRP.

For me, I wouldn't care about the overclocking features if I get decent gaming performance with maximum game settings with a single GPU. All the power savings are moot if I can't make back the price difference between the 780Ti and the 290x. I want some one to calculate the cost of power saved by the NVidia GPU over the AMD and tell me that it was worth putting that extra $100 on the 780Ti over, say, 3 years.

I don't really see a point in buying the 780TI for myself. Others might conclude differently. All I care about are the lower temperatures and noise levels at the default state. Price first, then gaming performance for me rather than toying around with the feature set on the GPU.

I can really see a market for the custom AMD GPUs as long as they are available at a significantly lower price than the 780Ti. I guess my priorities are different from the enthusiasts.

My 2 cents.

January 24, 2014 | 01:05 PM - Posted by Silver Sparrow

As it stands currently with the release of the 780ti, the 290x is overpriced for what you get. For those without deep pockets, there is the 290, those with deep pockets or lust for the best will get the 780ti.

Average price I paid for each of my r9 290s being ~£303 (311/295). Can't wait to get them under water, best GPU purchases for me in a long time. 290x is a £100+ 5-10% boost on the 290; much rather have a waterblock, two nights out or spend a bit more and get the 780ti.

The MSI Lightning 290x with the extra power connections, custom pcb and hopefully an EK/XSPC custom waterblock will be the 290x to have for performance and overclocking. That 'should' have a chance against a similar specced up 780ti.

January 24, 2014 | 01:45 PM - Posted by Gregster

Spot on post. The 290 is a good card and performs very well. There is issues with so many black screens and the lack of AMD acknowledging the issue does leave some concerns but those who have the 290 without this issue are very pleased with it and rightly so. The 780Ti is for those who want the fastest single card out and nVidia have certainly delivered with this card but again, the 780 is a great performer and with cards like the EVGA 780 being able to clock up past the 780Ti and at a good deal cheaper, the Classy shouldn't be over looked.

When the 290X Lightning is released, overclockers will be all over this card and with nVidia seemingly putting the clamp firmly on MSI, it doesn't look like we will see the 780Ti variant and only leaving the LN2 aimed vince edition of the Classy Ti or the Classy Ti (which is performing well).

One thing that puzzles me, Ryan is forums and overclocking. The more I look at the forums and owners of both the 290/X, they all seem to clock well and 1150Mhz-1200Mhz seems easily doable. How come a few of the review sites struggle to get 1100Mhz seemingly?

January 24, 2014 | 02:49 PM - Posted by Silver Sparrow

I can't comment on overclocking since both my cards are still using reference cooling (not overclocked), but, with decent airflow I'm very rarely seeing throttling in games like the reviews seem to point at.

As to the black screen issue, I can't say for all but I've had instances of black screen requiring a soft reboot to get back to desktop. Every time was due to me intentionally reducing the fan speeds below <40% [using guru3d afterburner b17] in all but one game, one game even at 40% (Crysis 2). All those instances the vrm temps were through the roof and at 47% (default) playing the same games at the same settings (at the same part of the games) I got no instances at all of black screens (Tested from purchase to present). So in my case, VRM temps/board temp was most possibly to blame.

If I didn't have the intention to watercool my PC, the 780 definitely would be a very strong consideration, in fact I'd have purchased it rather than the 290 since you definitely need to use a headset to block the noise from the reference cooler @47%.

edit: If I'm not playing a demanding game, leaving the fan speeds @25% is fine. Leaves me to think its board temp for black screen issues.

January 24, 2014 | 05:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does this Jeremy guy even read the site he works for ?

Ryan reviewed the ASUS R9 290X DC II back in Dec 18, 2013 saying

""By increasing the voltage to 1.35v I was able to hit a clock speed of 1150 MHz without any stability issues." I did reach the 1.2 GHz mark for about 25 minutes but wasn't able to keep it 100% stable at any voltage settings. I am still playing around with this card in our primary test bed so we'll be looking to find some more ways to really push this card in the next couple of days while we await some more products' arrival.

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%)."

Dec 31, 2013

Ryan reviewed the Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X

"My stable limit (with our sample) was 1225 MHz on the GPU at a 200 mV offset. In GPU-Z, the voltage reported as high as 1.297v which obviously varied depending on the load from the game on the GPU."

Asking a question like.

Is custom air cooling enough for the R9 290X?

Then pointing to another web-site that achieved a lower OC then your own reviews.

Well it makes you look petty, incompetent and just plain dumb to say the least.

January 24, 2014 | 06:27 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Wait, you mean the whole point about the performance of the R9 290X GPU varying from card to card is being pointed out in an obvious manner!  Wow, such proof ... so amaze

January 24, 2014 | 06:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Silicon lottery ring a bell.

You can buy 2 exact same cards from any manufacturer be it AMD or Nvidia and not achieve similar overclocking with in those two cards. That's been happening since people started to overclock.

It's amazing that somehow this is news now.

January 24, 2014 | 07:28 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Seems there is a whole new generation that wouldn't know a golden sample from a golden finger around here lately. 

Somehow I just can't stop tormenting them ... and at the same time pointing out that this is actually a thing that still happens.  ;)

January 25, 2014 | 12:13 PM - Posted by snook

that is an original reference card.

January 24, 2014 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Is this the same idiot who wrote this crap.

I bet he is the really old bald guy that's always drinking in the podcast.

January 25, 2014 | 12:03 PM - Posted by snook

dude, really? you have never watched one podcast? Josh is the old bald guy. Jeremy is the old canadian that is going bald.

January 25, 2014 | 02:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

He is the guy that is still stuck in his high school metal band phase who would go behind the bleachers to smoke a cigarette and tries to grow facial hair to look like the front man of Metallica but looks more like a bad extra in a really bad old western movie.

January 25, 2014 | 07:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

... ?

I have a twin ?

January 25, 2014 | 02:37 AM - Posted by dave (not verified)

I am absolutely sure that these cards are mid to low end on design.
The ram dies regularly after some hard thrashing at 1500 memclock.
GPU is ok but the cards lack a dedicated memory controller and use the /dev/shm ram extensively.
The reference design cooler on the R9 290x is just what it says a gaming machine card. When used on a multicard back plane there is not enough heat transfer to evacuate the heat away from the card and the card gets to 160F on a regular basis. After 40-50 hours the ram is cooked. I have 6 cards in the failed state as of now out of 26 cards in use.

And for the miners the card performs better on at least an 8X physical PCIe with a PCIe 3.0 controller on the CPU.
The ODGC shows 1X on the card at idle.
My card rizer shows the full PCIe being used for scrypt.

January 25, 2014 | 12:09 PM - Posted by snook

you have the memory OCd by 1000Mhz and it cooks itself? NO WAY!

please show me a 780/780Ti that can clock to 8000Mhz and post results re: longevity.

January 28, 2014 | 01:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't really get how a website used to OC like Hard[OCP] can write a conclusion on the Radeon 290X OC based on one very bad sample.

On the other hand, I kinda get why this particular Pcper writer would feel the need to bring it front page :)

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