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Does Radeon R9 290X Behave Any Differently In A Closed Case?

Does Radeon R9 290X Behave Any Differently In A Closed Case?
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We're in the process of testing Radeon R9 290X cards from AMD's board partners, and were curious how they all fare in a closed chassis. Corsair's deluxe Obsidian 900D offers lots of airflow, so we dusted off a more mainstream £70 case to test with.

We received plenty of feedback about our work with AMD's Radeon R9 290X in an open test bed, despite careful attention to maintaining constant room temperatures. After following up with some measurements in Corsair's well-ventilated Obsidian 900D, I found that some cards fared even better inside an enclosure than out. Eager for more information, I sought out a mainstream chassis to continue the collection of data.

I picked Enermax's Fulmo ST, which shows up online for under £70. That seemed like a good price on a practical mid-tower case. Realism was the goal, so I avoided big towers and some of the excessively cheap solutions that show up in our System Builder Marathon (I tend to think if you're buying an expensive graphics card, you're probably putting it into a nice chassis). 

In order to create more of a cooling challenge, I used an overclocked AMD FX-8350 running at 4.4 GHz with a closed-loop liquid cooler and fan running at a constant 800 RPM. Using this set-up, the path warm air from the graphics card would normally take is largely blocked. Adding a second 800 RPM exhaust fan in the back of the case helps with circulation, though.

The platform's fan control was set as conservatively as possible, spinning the coolers around 600 RPM. This configuration should give us an idea of whether AMD's latest is viable in smaller enclosures (or not).

All of the cards are set to Quiet Mode, since the third-party cooling solutions do a much better job of maintaining clock rates than AMD's reference effort.

CPU
AMD FX-8350 (Piledriver) Overclocked to 4.4 GHz
Cooling
Corsair H100i, 2 x 120 mm Fans (800 RPM)
Motherboard
Asus Sabertooth FX990 Rev. 2.0
RAM
2 x 4 GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866
Storage
Adata Premier Pro SP900
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1 TB
Case
Enermax Fulmo ST
Power Supply
Enermax Revolution X't 530 W, 80 PLUS Gold
Operating System
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Drivers
AMD Catalyst 13.12
GeForce 331.82
Benchmarks
Metro: Last Light
Bioshock Infinite
Battlefield 4 (Single-Player)
Crysis 3 (DirectX 11)

Reference card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Windforce OC

Asus R9 290X DirectCU II

Gigabyte GTX 290X Windforce OC

Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X

Let's take a look at how these cards perform in tight confinement.

Display 12 Comments.
  • 0 Hide
    das_stig , 9 January 2014 09:27
    Disagree with the comment that having the card run at 97% of its rated speed is OK. You wouldn't purchase a supercar with a a engine capable of doing 200mph, if it was only really capable of doing 180mph without overheating. They either adjust clock rates down to allow 100% usage, 100% of the time or they improve the cooling solution !!
  • 0 Hide
    AMKANMBA , 9 January 2014 12:24
    waiting for the results of the r9 290 :D 
  • 0 Hide
    Pailin , 9 January 2014 13:26
    @das_stig Right point, wrong example. Igor mentions the 97% is probably due to:"The clock rate fluctuations are likely a result of scene changes in the Metro benchmark."Was interesting to learn from what he said under the "Smoking Gun" section even though the cards seemed to keep their expected clock speeds :"Every change to frequency, power, and fan speed costs a bit of performance."
  • 0 Hide
    Judge888 , 9 January 2014 18:10
    Would be interested to know what idle temps they got in the case, with my 290x that is the real big issue, on the default fan profile it idles at 72c!
  • 0 Hide
    Warlord Zorg , 9 January 2014 19:55
    Interesting reading - but it's a tease... I want the full review, please :-). Remember guys - these results are from quiet mode. Was the verdict in über or performance mode? Does the score change? :-). But great work, finally some benchmarks between these non ref. cards!
  • 0 Hide
    Lizard_of_Bodom , 10 January 2014 08:23
    the curvature of that mounted 780 is exceptional... :/ 
  • -2 Hide
    blowman , 10 January 2014 09:37
    Awful card ,sent mine back for a refund,red hot and noisy as hell.Total load of garbage,got a GTX 780 instead,much better card.
  • 0 Hide
    Warlord Zorg , 10 January 2014 15:37
    @blowman (really..
  • 0 Hide
    AKirby , 10 January 2014 18:03
    I hate it when companies just stick the coolers that worked well on their Nvidea models on AMD cards, but this seems to be common practice: Just look at the benchmarks of MSI's R9 290! They had arguably the best cooler on the Nvidea 700 series but they clearly haven't configured Twin Frozr IV very well for the 290.At least we know that Sapphire have an omptimised cooler on their card, as they only AMD cards anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    Jak_Sparra , 19 January 2014 21:31
    Would just like to add that Sapphire and/or AMD have ran out of BF4 codes. They are continuing to send out the graphics card - BF4 bundles but the code will not get you the Origin code you require to register the game. I mailed both of their customer supports and have been advised they do NOT know when they will be getting any more in stock to send to customers.

    They got codes back in.
  • 0 Hide
    toprock , 21 January 2014 19:13
    Quote:
    I hate it when companies just stick the coolers that worked well on their Nvidea models on AMD cards, but this seems to be common practice: Just look at the benchmarks of MSI's R9 290! They had arguably the best cooler on the Nvidea 700 series but they clearly haven't configured Twin Frozr IV very well for the 290.At least we know that Sapphire have an omptimised cooler on their card, as they only AMD cards anyway.




    r9 290 4g msi gaming edition tops out at 68*c with 44% fan, they've done a damn fine job if you ask me :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Jak_Sparra , 23 January 2014 13:54
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I hate it when companies just stick the coolers that worked well on their Nvidea models on AMD cards, but this seems to be common practice: Just look at the benchmarks of MSI's R9 290! They had arguably the best cooler on the Nvidea 700 series but they clearly haven't configured Twin Frozr IV very well for the 290.At least we know that Sapphire have an omptimised cooler on their card, as they only AMD cards anyway.




    r9 290 4g msi gaming edition tops out at 68*c with 44% fan, they've done a damn fine job if you ask me :) 


    Both the MSI and Sapphire cards have good cooling solutions. With the Sapphire you also get FLeX technology built in.

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