Partner Cards: One Radeon R9 290 And Three 290Xes, Reviewed

AMD's reference Radeon R9 290 and 290X cooler earned our disdain once we figured out that it was causing the otherwise-impressive Hawaii GPU to operate at performance levels below the company's specification. Getting the graphics processor to operate at full performance required faster fan speeds, more noise, and ultimately higher power.

Starting last month, the first partner boards with third-party coolers started showing up. No longer was it necessary to make your own modifications, like we did in Fixing The Radeon R9 290 With Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III, to maximize the performance of those once-£320 and -£450 cards.

Our colleagues in Germany began working with the uniquely-tuned offerings, hoping to find that AMD's partners were extracting just as much performance as we were able to, without the hassle (and expense) of adding your own aftermarket cooler. Do they, though? That's the question we want to answer today.

In Germany, this story has been taking shape one card at a time. But now that we have it translated into English, we have a more complete picture of the partner card market, including one Radeon R9 290 card, three R9 290X cards, the reference board with our Arctic Accelero Extreme III modification, and another home-grown configuration with NZXT's Kraken G10 and X40 bracket.

All of the Radeon R9 290X cards are set to their Quiet Mode firmware setting, since the board partners do a suitable job of cooling Hawaii without sacrificing clock rates.

Radeon R9 290 Model Overview

Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290
Radeon R9 290 Reference + Arctic Accelero Extreme III
Radeon R9 290 Reference + NZXT Kraken G10 + X40

Radeon R9 290X Model Overview

Asus R9 290X DirectCU II OC
Sapphire Tri-X OC R9 290X
Gigabyte R9 290X Windforce OC
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  • DragonChase
    Wow sapphire is actually doing pretty good! i was actually waiting for the Direct CU2, but 8 deggree's diffrence in temps is huge.
    2
  • Aphala
    Ahh GOOD! Was wondering when Aftermarket coolers/card where going to be released!Sapphire TRI-OC for me then!! Got myself an ATI 6970 2gb Sapphire and its amazing! Next on the line Sapphire 290X
    0
  • athonline
    I wanted the Sapphire, but it is nowhere to be found! It is selling like crazy, so I settle down to a Gigabyte. Saved 30 pounds, but tempted to send it back for a Sapphire.
    0
  • Aphala
    Anonymous said:
    I wanted the Sapphire, but it is nowhere to be found! It is selling like crazy, so I settle down to a Gigabyte. Saved 30 pounds, but tempted to send it back for a Sapphire.


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-TRI-X-Battlefield-Edition-Graphics/dp/B00HFA44GE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1390932273&sr=8-2&keywords=290x+sapphire

    ^290 Version

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-TRI-X-Graphics-512-Bit-PCI-E/dp/B00HFA45FY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1390932289&sr=8-4&keywords=290x+sapphire

    ^290X version.

    Few in stock!
    0
  • athonline
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I wanted the Sapphire, but it is nowhere to be found! It is selling like crazy, so I settle down to a Gigabyte. Saved 30 pounds, but tempted to send it back for a Sapphire.


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-TRI-X-Battlefield-Edition-Graphics/dp/B00HFA44GE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1390932273&sr=8-2&keywords=290x+sapphire

    ^290 Version

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-TRI-X-Graphics-512-Bit-PCI-E/dp/B00HFA45FY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1390932289&sr=8-4&keywords=290x+sapphire

    ^290X version.

    Few in stock!


    I bought the Gigabyte last week. I saw those and OcUK brought a few back in-stock. But the GB costed me like 440, so we are talking more than 60 quid for a couple of frames from the extra frames. Plus the trouble of sending the other one back
    0
  • Aphala
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I wanted the Sapphire, but it is nowhere to be found! It is selling like crazy, so I settle down to a Gigabyte. Saved 30 pounds, but tempted to send it back for a Sapphire.


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-TRI-X-Battlefield-Edition-Graphics/dp/B00HFA44GE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1390932273&sr=8-2&keywords=290x+sapphire

    ^290 Version

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-TRI-X-Graphics-512-Bit-PCI-E/dp/B00HFA45FY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1390932289&sr=8-4&keywords=290x+sapphire

    ^290X version.

    Few in stock!


    I bought the Gigabyte last week. I saw those and OcUK brought a few back in-stock. But the GB costed me like 440, so we are talking more than 60 quid for a couple of frames from the extra frames. Plus the trouble of sending the other one back


    I suppose some people just have the money to spend, I hopefully will be getting a 290X Sapphire. But I am doing a mass upgrade on the visual department.
    0
  • athonline
    Anonymous said:

    I suppose some people just have the money to spend, I hopefully will be getting a 290X Sapphire. But I am doing a mass upgrade on the visual department.


    If you are from the UK, get it from Dabs. Cheapest one and Dabs' customer service is excellent.

    I am tempted returning the GPU due to its' temps and either trying my luck with the Sapphire from Dabs or 780 (Ti). I just built a mini-ATX rig, I don't mind 80c, but trying to CF them after will be a suicide I guess.
    0
  • Aphala
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:

    I suppose some people just have the money to spend, I hopefully will be getting a 290X Sapphire. But I am doing a mass upgrade on the visual department.


    If you are from the UK, get it from Dabs. Cheapest one and Dabs' customer service is excellent.

    I am tempted returning the GPU due to its' temps and either trying my luck with the Sapphire from Dabs or 780 (Ti). I just built a mini-ATX rig, I don't mind 80c, but trying to CF them after will be a suicide I guess.


    I guess the aftermarket cards don't seem to do much, for temps but still of a lot better than the base card.
    0
  • athonline
    Anonymous said:


    I guess the aftermarket cards don't seem to do much, for temps but still of a lot better than the base card.


    I am wondering if CF is possible. Tempted to get a 2nd one to try and then return it.

    Defientely better than the base card.
    0
  • Aphala
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:


    I guess the aftermarket cards don't seem to do much, for temps but still of a lot better than the base card.


    I am wondering if CF is possible. Tempted to get a 2nd one to try and then return it.

    Defientely better than the base card.


    If you do this, let me know would be interesting to find out of it works.
    0
  • athonline
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:


    I guess the aftermarket cards don't seem to do much, for temps but still of a lot better than the base card.


    I am wondering if CF is possible. Tempted to get a 2nd one to try and then return it.

    Defientely better than the base card.


    If you do this, let me know would be interesting to find out of it works.


    Just run the Tomp Raider benchmark. Got 73 FPS min, 86 average and 103 max! Running on 1080p, maxxed with TressFx. The card is OCed at 1150MHz/6000MHz, with average 85c during it and the fans around 70%.
    0
  • Aphala
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:


    I guess the aftermarket cards don't seem to do much, for temps but still of a lot better than the base card.


    I am wondering if CF is possible. Tempted to get a 2nd one to try and then return it.

    Defientely better than the base card.


    If you do this, let me know would be interesting to find out of it works.


    Just run the Tomp Raider benchmark. Got 73 FPS min, 86 average and 103 max! Running on 1080p, maxxed with TressFx. The card is OCed at 1150MHz/6000MHz, with average 85c during it and the fans around 70%.


    Temps seem pretty mad with all the FX run with the benchmark. I am still on the fence about the R9 290X Gigabyte or Sapphire. Sapphire is around £501 whilst Gb are £380~.
    0
  • athonline
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:


    I guess the aftermarket cards don't seem to do much, for temps but still of a lot better than the base card.


    I am wondering if CF is possible. Tempted to get a 2nd one to try and then return it.

    Defientely better than the base card.


    If you do this, let me know would be interesting to find out of it works.


    Just run the Tomp Raider benchmark. Got 73 FPS min, 86 average and 103 max! Running on 1080p, maxxed with TressFx. The card is OCed at 1150MHz/6000MHz, with average 85c during it and the fans around 70%.


    Temps seem pretty mad with all the FX run with the benchmark. I am still on the fence about the R9 290X Gigabyte or Sapphire. Sapphire is around £501 whilst Gb are £380~.


    Where is it 380? I found it 440 with BF4 (the one I got) and 430 without BF4. Go with the Gigabyte, not worth the extra 120 pounds.

    Hitman Absolution: My 4470K at 4.6GHz, GPU running on stock and I got 73 average on the benchmark. Did it 3 times. Settings were maxed out, expect MSAA set at x2. Based on GPU-Z my average temps were around 75c.
    0
  • Aphala
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:


    I guess the aftermarket cards don't seem to do much, for temps but still of a lot better than the base card.


    I am wondering if CF is possible. Tempted to get a 2nd one to try and then return it.

    Defientely better than the base card.


    Amazon.co.uk was where it was at £380, but not bad!

    If you do this, let me know would be interesting to find out of it works.


    Just run the Tomp Raider benchmark. Got 73 FPS min, 86 average and 103 max! Running on 1080p, maxxed with TressFx. The card is OCed at 1150MHz/6000MHz, with average 85c during it and the fans around 70%.


    Temps seem pretty mad with all the FX run with the benchmark. I am still on the fence about the R9 290X Gigabyte or Sapphire. Sapphire is around £501 whilst Gb are £380~.


    Where is it 380? I found it 440 with BF4 (the one I got) and 430 without BF4. Go with the Gigabyte, not worth the extra 120 pounds.

    Hitman Absolution: My 4470K at 4.6GHz, GPU running on stock and I got 73 average on the benchmark. Did it 3 times. Settings were maxed out, expect MSAA set at x2. Based on GPU-Z my average temps were around 75c.
    0