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PowerColor R9 290X OC Review


PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing:

Testing of the PowerColor R9 290X OC will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will first test the cards at stock speeds, and then overclocked to see the effects of an increase in clock speed. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. The NVIDIA comparison cards will be using the 330.58 drivers while AMD-based cards will be using the Catalyst 13.11 beta  drivers with the R9 290X running 13.11.Beta 8. The results generated in my testing were reached by utilizing the latest FCAT tools to illustrate the true picture of the gaming experience. To do so will require a second PC setup to capture the data stream generated by the compared video cards. We have tested the R9 290X in Uber mode to eliminate the clock speed inconsistencies we found while running the card in "Quiet" mode to show the best case scenario for this architecture. For a run down of how it performs in Quiet mode see the To Uber or Not page.


Testing Setup:

FCAT Capture Setup:


Comparison Video Cards:




  • PowerColor R9 290X OC : 1125MHz, Memory 1400MHz

Overclocking the R9 290X OC presents some new wrinkles to work out as far as overclocking is concerned. Most of this comes about due to how AMD's new iteration of PowerTune manages the thermals and power consumption on the card. In the latest driver release AMD has included an updated version of AMD Overdrive to take advantage of the capabilities of the R9 290X. With it you can tweak the card to reach some mild overclocking goals. The keys here are running the card in Uber mode with the fan speed left automatically controlled for a maximum of 55% or manually adjust the fan speed to a higher level to combat thermals. This is the route I took to reach the maximum overclock of 1135MHz on the core and 1400MHz on the GDDR5 memory.

The core clock speed saw an increase of 95MHz over the rated 1030MHz rated speed or close to a 10% improvement. The GDDR5 memory speed saw a 150MHz or 12% boost that helps performance with higher throughput. I was expecting more, but the use of a 512-bit bus makes it tough to even hit the rated speed on the memory. Ramping the fan up to 87% allowed the R9 290X OC's clock speeds to stay at the speed set in Afterburner for a period of 25 minutes. Long term these may drop slightly but seemed solid for the time frame I ran them. By running the fan speed higher I was able to keep the thermals in line at between 67 °C and 70 °C thereby keeping the clock speeds consistent rather than seeing fluctuations that will cause a loss in performance. Higher clock speeds should prove helpful for short time frame 3D benchmarks before the card throttles if you use slower fan speeds.


Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were rerun until they passed a full hour of testing.



  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Metro: Last Light
  2. Splinter Cell Blacklist
  3. Bioshock Infinite
  4. Crysis 3
  5. Far Cry 3
  6. Battlefield 3
  7. Batman: Arkham City
  8. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  9. 3DMark


  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption

  1. PowerColor R9 290X OC: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. PowerColor R9 290X OC Closer Look: The Video Card
  3. PowerColor R9 290X OC: Specifications & Features
  4. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Metro: Last Light
  6. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist
  7. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Bioshock Infinite
  8. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Crysis 3
  9. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Far Cry 3
  10. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Battlefield 3
  11. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Batman: Arkham CIty
  12. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Unigine Heaven 4.0
  13. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: 3DMark
  14. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Ultra HD Testing
  15. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Uber or Quiet
  16. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Temperatures
  17. PowerColor R9 290X OC Testing: Power Consumption
  18. PowerColor R9 290X OC Conclusion
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