PowerColor R9 290X PCS+ Reviewccokeman - March 17, 2014
Category: Video Cards
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PowerColor R9 290X PCS+ Introduction:
Over the years, PowerColor has started really delivering some high performance video cards that are not in the mold of the rest of the crowd. Just about every AMD partner has their own custom card with enhanced cooling and special power circuits. PowerColor currently is the only one to push a factory overclocked and liquid cooling equipped card out the door as the LCS cooling solution. Having looked at a few of these in the past I can say the cards' cores are highly binned to get the highest performing parts under the water blocks. Most recently the HD 7970 LCS showed great overclocking results that put many a card to shame.
The LCS cards are great, but the vast majority of users are going to look for an air cooled solution and that's where the PCS+, or Professional Cooling System, comes into its own. Over the past year I have seen PowerColor really expand its high performance air cooling solutions on cards like the Devil 13 and most recently the Devil R9 270X. By creating a quiet cooling solution that effectively discharges the thermal load from the cores, you get a cooler running card that lasts longer. On top of the cooling solution you get all the benefits of an all-digital 5+1+1 phase power circuit and PowerColor's own Gold Power Kit components.
Priced at $649, the R9 290X PCS+ is a factory overclocked beast that is sure to deliver the gaming FPS you need with the visual quality you want. How will it fare when compared to a couple of other R9 290X cards, as well as the best from the green team? Let's find out.
PowerColor R9 290X PCS+ Closer Look:
The external packaging for the R9 290X PCS+ is all-black, with the PCS+ logo highlighted in metallic red across the center of the front panel. The upper right has a Win 8 UEFI ready logo, while along the bottom edge you get a few of the specifications and the GCN feature set. The back side goes into detail on the Gold Power Kit, showing that PowerColor uses a digital PWM and 5+1+1 phase power circuit using DirectFET technology. Additionally you get information on the PCS+ cooling solution with a breakaway view of the cooler. PowerColor states we should see a 24% improvement in cooling performance with a 17% reduction in noise level when compared to the reference design. Seen on a store shelf, the PCS+ logo stands out as a simple yet effective design.
Right out of the sleeve the inner package is filled with a foam insert that holds the R9 290X PCS+ and the included accessory bundle. The foam is rigid enough to prevent movement, but not so rigid as to cause damage during transit. The accessory bundle is slim with only the driver and software disc, installation manual, and a 6-pin PCIe to 8-pin PCIe power adapter.
On paper the R9 290X PCS+ should deliver best in class cooling and FPS performance with the big factory overclock straight from PowerColor. Before we get to the performance numbers, let's look at what makes the PowerColor PCS+ tick.