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PowerColor Radeon R9 295X2 Review

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PowerColor Radeon R9 295X2 Closer Look:

The PowerColor R9 295X2 is a pure reference design card. As such, there are no tweaks to the PCB or power systems to enhance the performance or longevity; but then again, pretty much every R9 295X2 out is a reference design card. Measuring just over twelve inches long and just over four inches tall, the card will take up two physical slots on the motherboard and quite a lot of horizonal space as well. A cast vented aluminum cover is used as a shroud over the VRM and memory heatsinks. A centrally located 90mm red LED fan is used to feed cool air into the cover to provide the airflow needed to keep the the VRM and 8GB of memory from cooking under the thermal load. A back plate is used to eliminate flex in the PCB, completing the robust industrial look. Along the top side of the cover is a RADEON logo that lights up a brilliant red when in operation. A pair of coolant lines exit the top of the card and feed straight into a 120mm radiator.

AMD and PowerColor have packed in a pair of AMD Hawaii cores onto this single PCB. Each of the cores is a fully equipped with the entire compliment of stream processors, texture units, and ROPs for a total of 5632 stream processors, 352 texture units, and 128 ROPs. Usually on dual-GPU cards, the clock speeds have been massaged a little lower to meet both thermal and power limits, but AMD chose to push the cores a little bit up to a 1018MHz rating from a standard 1000MHz on the core. Each core has access to its own 4GB stash of VRAM running through a 512-bit bus. Unlike the GPU clock speeds, the memory speed is static at 1250MHz, matching the speed on the R9 290X.

 

 

 

 

Those coolant tubes on the R9 295X2's Asetek cooling solution run out to a 120mm radiator with a single 120mm fan attached. Based on the thermal load generated by the R9 295X2, this single radiator, single pump, dual-plate design may be a bit undersized for the application. Time will tell though. The flexible rubber tubes are long enough to get to the top and certainly the rear of the chassis in most mid to full size towers. The fan is connected directly to the card's power supply so that an additional connection is not needed to power the fan, and it can be controlled via the PWM controls on the card. The warning label seen as soon as the box is opened states that the airflow should go out of the chassis. Based on my testing, this is the only viable installation option.

 

 

Asetek, a company well known for building a large cross section of the all-in-one (AIO) market's cooling solutions, built this cooling solution for AMD on the R9 295X2. As an AIO solution, it uses a pair of micro channel-equipped cooling plates, a single liquid pump to move the fluid through the system, and a radiator to exhaust all the thermal load out of the chassis.

 

 

Display connectivity includes a single DVI-D port and a quartet of mini DisplayPort ports to support up to five displays out of the box. If you use an MST hub and/or daisy chain monitors that have DisplayPort connectivity, you can increase the number of attached displays. At the back end of the PCB is more cover ventilation, as well as a look at how robust the VRM and memory cooling solution is under the cover.

 

 

Each of the 8-pin PCIe power plugs is covered from the factory with a yellow warning label. This label states you must read the manual before connecting the card to the power supply. The reason for this is due to the very specific power requirements of a card that has a board power rating of 500W. That alone is more than most systems will pull under load; yes, systems! The requirement is that the power supply be able to consistently deliver 28A of current to the card to eliminate stability concerns. If the power supply doesn't fit the bill, then your system is gonna quit. At the front of the card, there is no longer a need for any CrossFire Bridge connections with the implementation of an XDMA interface. Additional venting is used wherever possible in the aluminum cover.

 

 

Yes, it looks good, has some special cooling, and is built to dominate the landscape, but the real test is to see if the R9 295X2 can live up to the performance hype and deliver truly epic FPS performance levels.




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