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PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Review


PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Closer Look:

Without a reference, the card does not look all that large, but when push comes to shove this is a full size ATX form factor card that measures 12 inches in length and will occupy roughly 2.5 slots worth of space on your board. The front view shows that this iteration of the PCS+ ( Professional Cooling System) uses a large tri fan setup with three 80mm fans to push airflow through the large heat sink. An aluminum back plate is installed to help ensure the PCB does not bend under the load of the four heat pipe equipped cooler. At 12 inches long, this is a large card, but the vast majority of chassis on the market are built to handle a card of this size. From the top you get a glimpse of the nickel plated aluminum fins on the cooler. Much like every card out right now, the PCS+ R9 390 8GB is built for use in a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot.




Display connectivity consists of what could be standard for the technology. Display outputs consist of a dual-link DVI port, a single-link DVI port, an HDMI 1.4 port, and a full-size DisplayPort 1.2 port that supports use of an MST hub to increase display connectivity. This multi-monitor support for Eyefinity 2.0 provides the option to use an Eyefinity multi-screen display solution. The back end of the card is open with a vent that helps discharge the thermal load in concert with the large vent on the I/O panel.



Along the spine of the card is the area that once housed the CrossfireX bridge connections. AMD has done away with the need for the CrossfireX bridge assembly thanks to its XDMA interface that pushes all the data transfer through the PCIe 3.0 bus. A small switch that was seen on the R9 290X and early R9 290 cards is on the PCB where the bridge connections used to be. In the past where this switch was used to support different things, its most likely use on this card is when booting with Windows 8 and a UEFI interface. During my testing I found that neither fan or clock speeds were impacted by moving the switch between the "A" and "B" positions. An 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe power connection combo provides up to 300 watts of power when you add in the 75 watts from the PCIe slot. To meet that need, PowerColor recommends the use of at least a 750 watt power supply.



Pulling off the massive tri fan PCS+ cooling solution allows us to see the PCB in its entirety. The layout looks eerily familiar at first glance, but once you start looking at the components placement it's not as familiar as it initially looked when comparing to the R9 290X. The 6+1 phase digital Gold Power Kit power system uses PowerIRSTage MOSFETs rated for 50A to provide a smooth consistent power supply to the card for improved overclocking margins. An aluminim heat sink is used to keep the thermals of the Gold Power Kit in check.



PowerColor's PCS+ cooling system consists of a large by huge design that uses a pair of nickel plated aluminum heat sinks to help shed the thermals. The contact plate is a nickel plated solid copper piece that uses four heat pipes, three 6mm and one large 8mm, to carry the load from the core to the fin array. Small rubber standoffs are used to support the back end of the heat sink. Three 80mm fans are used to push the airflow through the heat sink assembly and, when left controlled by the VBIOS, are relatively silent.



The heart of the PCS+ R9 390 8GB is built on a refined 28nm process, codenamed Grenada, that takes the Hawaii architecture up a notch in terms of clock speed. As a rebuild of the 28nm Hawaii chip, the specs are almost identical with 2560 Unified shaders, 160 texture units, and 64 ROPs. Instead of the 4GB of memory seen on the R9 290 series, we get 8GB of Hynix memory rated at to run at 1500MHz through a 512-bit bus. This gives the end user the memory bandwidth needed to play more texture intensive games at higher resolutions.



While it looks like a page straight out of last year's playbook, the PCS+ R9 390 is tuned and tweaked for a higher level of performance. Its intended target is the GTX 970. Will the boosted clock speed and increase in memory bandwidth be enough to meet and/or exceed that target? Only putting through its paces will give use the answer.

  1. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Closer Look: The Video Card
  3. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB: Specifications & Features
  4. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Metro: Last Light
  6. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: BioShock Infinite
  7. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Crysis 3
  8. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Far Cry 4
  9. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Battlefield 4
  10. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Assassin's Creed Unity
  11. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Batman: Arkham Origins
  12. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Unigine Heaven 4.0
  13. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: 3DMark
  14. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Temperatures
  15. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB Testing: Power Consumption
  16. PowerColor PCS+ R9 390 8GB: Conclusion
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