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PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X 8GB Review

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PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X Closer Look:

PowerColor's Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X is, for all intents and purposes, a non reference version of the R9 295X2, and it is a sight to behold with its tri-fan, 10-heat pipe fin array. Visually, it has more going on than a reference R9 295X2 in more ways than one. PowerColor ditched the all-in-one Asetek-built liquid solution to come up with a purely massive cooling solution that aims to contain the heat generated by a pair of full spec Hawaii cores and 8GB of GDDR5 memory. From the top, you can see the Devil 13 is equipped with a trio of all new double-blade fans to push the airflow through the massive heat sink package. The shroud is an all-metal, two-layer assembly in red and black that ducts the hot air out of the heat sinks with openings on all four sides. The back side of the custom PCB is covered with a robust metal heat sink/brace to help keep the card from bending under its own significant size and weight. Black chrome hex-head bolts are used to secure the cooling plate assembly to the back of the Devil 13.

Under all the pretty hardware is a custom PCB that is fully equipped with PowerColor's own Platinum Power Kit. The card is equipped with a 15 (10+2+3) phase all-digital power circuit that uses Ferrite core chokes, Low ESR Super Caps, and PowerIRStage, to improve power control and efficiency across the board. On the back of the PCB, you can monitor phase loading via a series of LEDs for each core. All this is used to drive the clock speeds to 1000MHz on each of the cores and 1350MHz on the 8GB of memory running through a pair of 512-bit buses. Measuring twelve inches long and close to five inches tall, this card is not for your m-ITX LAN gaming rig and will be a tight fit in many chassis.




Connectivity for the Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X is basically the same as you get on a single R9 290X: a pair of DL DVI-D ports, an HDMI 1.4a port, and a single DisplyPort 1.2 port that supports MST. If you had not guessed it yet, the cooling solution employed by PowerColor makes this card a three slot design. The I/O panel is cut out to allow additional airflow to exhaust out of the chassis. The back end of the Devil 13 is open, allowing airflow out of the shroud. The end view gives you a pretty good look at how robust the two aluminum cooling plates are . If you look closely at the PCB, you can see the voltage measuring points in case one would be so inclined to slap these high leakage cores under LN2 for some spirited sub-zero overclocking. It might be fun watching hell freeze over!



So far we have seen that PowerColor has built a killer card. When you go over the top of the Devil 13, you have some serious points of interest. At the front of the card is a dual BIOS switch that controls two different fan profiles at the touch of a button. One is limited to 80% fan speed once the card hits 90 °C. The second option is set to kill with fan speeds jumping from 20% to 80%, and then to 100% once 95 °C is reached. For the plug-and-play owner, this option works great, but on the enthusiast side you can set a custom profile in any one of the tuning utilities available on the web, including PowerColor's own PowerUp tuner. The button lights up a brilliant blood red when BIOS 2 is activated. The Devil 13 logo lights up and pulses to a steady rhythm in the same blood red hue.

The back end houses four – yes, four – 8-pin PCIe power connections, allowing the card to pull off a 675W inbound feed. There is no doubt that the 500W board power on the R9 295X2 is exceeded here on this card. PowerColor specifies that at a minimum the end user should be using at least a 1000W power supply to run this card. Even so, you should make an effort to load balance your 12V lines if you are using a PSU without a single 12V rail.



Pulling the shroud off the Devil 13 allows us to get in closer and get a detailed look at the dual heat sink assemblies. One assembly covers each core on this design. Each aluminum fin array uses four 8mm and one 6mm heat pipe to transfer the thermal load from the core to the aluminum fins for dispersal via the dual-blade fans. Many times the airflow through an open shroud design goes over the fin array or out the sides, effectively loosing cooling capacity even while more thermally efficient than a reference design at lower fan speeds. To combat this, the fans sit in a trough through the center of the heat sinks to drive more air through them. The aluminum cooling plate on the top side is just massive. It is finned in areas to aid cooling performance for the VRM and memory.



PowerColor needed a new set of fans to really push airflow through the Devil 13 heat sink and shroud package without delivering noise levels that can get out of control on some cards. The dual-blade fan design is made by Apistek and carries part number GA92B2H. These PWM fans are 92x15mm in size running on 12V. This design is said to offer airflow improvements of 20% over a standard VGA fan. A trio of these fans are attached to separate mounting brackets, which include a power distribution block to keep the leads short on the fans with only one lead running back to the PCB.




As a full-on custom design, the Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X is a beast of a card from the PCB on up. Packed onto it are a pair of AMD full spec Hawaii cores and 8GB of GDDR5 memory. Getting all this bandwidth through the available 16X PCIe lanes is most likely a PLX Technologies Bridging chip, possibly the PLX PEX8747 that provides a full 16 lanes to each GPU core. At 1000MHz, the cores do not get a clock speed boost over spec, but the memory gets a full 100MHz boost over reference clocks at 1350MHz. The hardware side is pretty interesting to say the least, but how does it perform when put through its paces? Time to see what it can do at stock speeds and to see if the hardware has a distinct advantage when overclocking.

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