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PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X 8GB Review

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PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X Conclusion:

After running through all the testing on the PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X, I just can't get the song "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" out of my head. For those of you that know the song, you might get the reference, but if not, YouTube is your friend. Going into this review, I knew this is a niche card much like the R9 295X2 is, with a limited audience that is going to have the means to slap down $1500 for a single piece of their system. But for those that are, Hell awaits! Visually, the card is stunning and will fit right in with any of the red and black themed builds that are popular right now as gaming centric builds. The red and black shroud, blood red lighting, and pulsing Devil 13 logo fit just right.

Overclocking on the Devil 13 is much like any of the Hawaii-based GPUs on the market, where you have some give and take as far as memory and core clock speed are concerned. For short duration benchmarks, I could run the Devil 13 at 1130MHz on the core and 1600MHz on the GDDR5 memory, but for long term results I had to drop the core down to 1085MHz to keep the memory speed up. To keep the core speed above 1100MHz, I had to drop the memory speed down below 1500MHz. Overclocking usually results in clock speed throttling on this architecture, but when it came time to bring the heat, the clock speeds were solid and stayed right where they were set. Pretty impressive when running two hot GPUs on a single PCB.

Keeping the thermals in check are a trio of 92mm double-blade fans that push 20% more airflow through the 10-heat pipe, dual-fin array cooling system on the Devil 13. As an air cooled solution, it will never get as cool as the Asetek-built piece on the reference R9 295X2, but the fans and heat sink package do an admirable job of keeping the thermals well below the 95 °C throttle point, even when overclocked. By using a pair of BIOS with different fan algorithms, you get decent cooling when the Devil 13 is presented with a 3D load. The steps up in fan speed as it relates to temperature are pretty big, but one can always set up fan profiles in a video card tuning utility, such as PowerColor's PowerUp Tuner, to smooth out the ramp up in fan speed. With such a large cooling solution, there is a ton of weight to be concerned with even though the cooling plates do a great job of keeping the card from bending. You still get some droop on the back end that can be handled by installing the included PowerJack.

The double-blade fans do help with air pressure and volume, but the noise level from a trio of fans is never going to be as quiet as a single or pair of fans. I found that the noise from the cooling solution was audible when it ramped up, but not objectionable, as the tone was lower. A good compromise between noise level and thermals can be found at around 62-65% fan speed. I was fine even at 75%, but some people may not be. To further define the noise, it is still quieter than a reference-cooled card that is running at an 80% fan speed setting. By keeping the cooling performance in check, the gaming performance was consistent run to run, falling either slightly ahead of or right between the CrossFireX set of R9 290X cards or the R9 295X2. There is not a single game that cannot be played at high settings running 4K resolutions. And if you ever need a little more FPS, you can turn down or off the AA and get a decent performance boost.

PowerColor makes all this happen by putting together a solid design with a high end, all-digital 10+2+3 phase power circuit using its own Platinum Power Kit to feed the power to the cores and memory. To ensure there is an adequate supply of current, there are four 8-pin PCIe power connections. For this reason, PowerColor states the minimum power supply to be 1000 watts. In my testing, I found that the Devil 13-equipped system pulled a steady 850 to 900 watts of current when under load while overclocked, and a peak of just over 800 watts running stock clocks. This is 150 watts higher than the next closest R9 290X combination when overclocked. Using more fans and higher leakage cores may be the reason for the higher power consumption on this card.

At $1500, the Devil 13 is not an inexpensive card, but PowerColor did decide to throw in a pretty interesting bundle of accessories to add value to the package. Everyone I know has heard of Razer products and most have or still use one of the company's gaming mice, keyboards, or headsets. By adding Razer's new 8200 DPI, fully configurable Ouroboros wireless/wired mouse to the package, there is an added $140 value included that you do not get with the R9 295X2. Last but not least, is that PowerColor keeps delivering high end cards that others dare not build because those companies wont step outside the box. By looking at the gaming universe, PowerColor has put together an innovative package that looks and performs good. Hell, it ain't a bad place to be...

 

Pros:

  • Performance
  • Overclocking
  • Build quality
  • Innovative design
  • Accessory bundle
  • Good looks 
  • Cooling performance
  • Pricing

 

Cons:

  • Pricing
  • PowerJack mandatory
  • Power consumption


 

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