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Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X OC Review (1600p, Ultra HD 4K)

Rating: 9.5.

AMD fans have been waiting on this for a long time, the eagerly awaited Sapphire custom version of AMD's R9 290X, featuring their cutting edge Tri-X cooling system. Sapphire have not only adopted their impressive three fan cooler, but they have tweaked the core and memory speeds a little, offering higher ‘out of the box' performance. Is this the fastest, most powerful (single GPU) AMD video card that money can buy?

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Today we supplement our tests by analysing performance at 3840×2160 (4k HD) on the Asus PQ321QE. We recently acquired one of these screens for high end graphics card reviews. Sure, the £2999.99 asking price will mean very few can afford the upgrade right now, but in the next year we expect the cost to drop.
Setting up this monitor is simple with both AMD and Nvidia hardware (via DisplayPort cable) and we didn’t experience any issues. To achieve a refresh rate of 60hz after the Forceware or Catalyst drivers were installed we enable the Multi Stream Transport mode within a submenu of the Asus PQ321QE.
On paper there is no doubt that the R9 290X is a monster, clocked at 1GHZ. The Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X core is clocked higher, to 1,040mhz out of the box, and the memory speeds are set at 1,300mhz (5.2Gbps effective), a 50mhz overclock on the reference card (1,250mhz).

The Hawaii GPU is built on the 28nm process and the card comprises 6.2 billion transistors. The R9 290X has 64 ROP’s, 176 TMU’s and 2,816 unifed shaders. The 4GB of GDDR5 memory runs at 1,250mhz (5Gbps effective) and is connected via an ultra wide 512 bit memory interface. We have tested the reference card when it launched and while we were impressed – the cooling solution was woefully inadequate.

The R9 290X, along with the R7 260X features a programmable audio pipeline. The R9 270X and R9 280X don’t. This new TrueAudio technology is designed for game audio artists and engineers, so they can ‘bring their artistic vision beyond sound production into the realm of sound processing’. This technology is intended to transform game audio as programmable shaders transformed graphics in the following ways:

  • Programmable audio pipeline grants artistic freedom to game audio engineers for sound processing.
  • Easy to access through popular audio libraries used by top game developers.
  • Fundamentally redefines the nature of a modern PC graphics card.
  • Spatialization, reverb, mastering limiters and simultaneous voices are only the beginning.

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  1. Ordering one, but I doubt OCUK will get them in on the 27th, will be first week in 2014 I reckon.

  2. Good value really considering the price of GTX780 Ti, which ive seen for £650. AMD have the price right and finally the right card. two months after launch day though? what a complete fuc*ing mess they made of such a good card.

  3. About bloody time, longest wait for a fixed 290X ever.

  4. I have to ask, why the Titan is never overclocked in these tests ?

    Great card, a little power hungry but it’s worth it looking at these results.

  5. OC.uk actually have gigabyte R9 290X windforce in stock now….I bought one this morning….8 left.

  6. “At the price, none”. my first time seeing it. LOL. Nice card, really. Now if only it available in my country i will definitely buy it

  7. Well thats impressive by any stretch of the imagination. 27c cooler than AMDs part and no need to balance fan speeds against noise.

    Im tempted in January now, dont think OCUK will have stock in until the new year anyway

  8. I don’t understand whats with the fuss about the heat on R9 290/x cards. I have been using MSI OC Edition GTX 670 previously, and they run 97c most of the time while I do gaming. It’s not a big deal to me, as I understand that the cards has been designed to run hot because they eventually will with a load on them.

    I can understand the noise issue ONLY if you crank up the fan settings to 100%, but that won’t be necessary. I run the card, with custom fan profie from inside MSI after burner for 55% max fan speed, the card was quite to me. Maybe because of my big case, but really, I don’t see the what’s with the fuss all about.