XFX R9 290X Double Dissipation Reviewccokeman - March 13, 2014
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XFX R9 290X Double Dissipation Closer Look:
XFX's R9 290X with Double Dissipation cooling is a departure from the reference design, with a custom cooling solution and Duratec build specifications that start with a 2oz copper PCB. Upon this base is the rest of the Duratec feature set, such as low RDS(on) mosfets and ferrite core chokes. Further components include the IP-5X dust-free fans used to keep the cooling system working for the long term. The two-slot cooling solution featuring Ghost thermal technology is actually thinner than a full two-slot cooling solution.
From the front, we see a very good looking card with rounded edges and the XFX name boldly taking up space at the back end of the card. Looking at the back, you can see evidence of the XFX Secure Tray solution. What this feature does is attaches the PCB to the entire length of the cooling solution rather than just the traditional arrangement of four spring-loaded screws holding the cooling solution onto the PCB. On cards with thin PCBs, you often see a card with a case of the "bends" that can cause cracked traces in the PCB over time. XFX mounts the PCB to the cooling solution over the entire length of the card so you don't end up with a flexi-flyer. Looking at the top and bottom views of the card show off the chrome trim around the exhaust ports.
A 16x PCIe slot is required to use this card. Using a PCIe 3.0 capable slot on a motherboard that supports it, delivers the highest possible bandwidth, but the card is backwards compatible so you can use it on your last-gen motherboard. Measuring 11.16 x 5.63 x 1.65 inches, the card will fit in most chassis on the market.
Display connectivity is standard for the R9 290X, with a pair of DL-DVI-D ports, a single HDMI port, and a full-size DisplayPort 1.2 port, featuring support for resolutions of up to 4096x2160 via HDMI and the DisplayPort. A vent with the XFX logo is used to help shed some of the thermal load outside the chassis. The back end of the card does not show much except the exhaust for the card.
Power requirements from XFX state that the minimum power supply to be used with this card should be 750 watts or greater. The preferred power supply rating comes in at 850 watts. An 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe power connection supply the additional 225 watts worth of power needed over and above the 75 watts used through the 16x PCIe slots. CrossFire bridge connections are not used any longer with the ability to move the data through the PCIe bus. I looked all over, but this card did not have a BIOS switch to choose between Quiet and Uber modes.
The top half of the XFX R9 290X DD comes off by removing four spring-loaded screws like we find on most video cards. Using just these four screws in an X-pattern creates a situation where, without additional bracing, the PCB will bend under the load imposed by the four screws. XFX combats this with its Secure Tray solution, which secures the entire 2oz copper PCB to a brace that runs the length of the PCB. This brace doubles as the cooling solution for the GDDR5 memory and Duratec power solution. Over the Low-RDS(on) mosfets is an additional heat sink used to specifically cool the power circuit with the airflow generated by the dual fans.
Pulled apart, the Double Dissipation cooling solution is impressive in size and configuration. A total of seven 6mm copper heat pipes carry the thermal load from the copper contact surface to the dual fin arrays. The airflow generated by the dual fans is pushed out around the circumference of the fan shroud. The dual 70mm IP-5X dust-free fans are from FirstD and are mounted directly to the fin array. Dust-free fans have been used by most AIB partners as of late, since they provide some added insurance against fan failure. A problem that in the past has taken out a GPU core, when you realize too late that the fan has come to a sudden stop.
AMD's newest GPU features a Hawaii core built on TSMC's 28nm process. The Hawaii core is an improvement to AMD's Graphics Core Next architecture, equipped with up to 44 compute units, four geometry porcessors, and 1MB of shared L2 read/write cache. By using the 28nm process and packing 6.2 billion transistors into the 1.24x bigger, 438mm2 die, you have one seriously big chip. Inside the die are 2816 streaming processors, 176 texture units, 64 ROPs, and a 512-bit memory controller to increase bandwidth up to 320GB/s using the 4GB of GDDR5. The standard clock speed for the this GCN core is 1GHz, which is right where XFX is running this card. The GDDR5 memory on the XFX R9 290X Double Dissipation is rated to run at 1250MHz, or 5000MHz effective. Elpida memory ICs that are rated to run at up to 1500MHz, or 6000MHz effective, are used and should leave some meat on the bone for the enthusiast.
So far we have an awesome looking card with a stylish shroud and light-up logo that only adds to the visually impressive card. The key will be just how well does it perform in stock trim, as well as what kind of overclocking potential we can expect from this card using XFX's Duratec technology and Double Dissipation cooling.