ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II and Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X Video Card Reviews

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Temperature & Noise Testing

No video card review would be complete with out looking at GPU temperatures and noise levels!

ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II 4GB Video Card Idle Temperature:

asus-vrm-idle

Sapphire Radeon R9 290X TRi-X 4GB Video Card Idle Temperature:

sapphire-vrm-idle

The ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II and Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X were pretty much identical at idle when it came to cooling performance. The Sapphire 290X Tri-X was 1C cooler at idle though, so if you had to pick a winner that would be it.  The ASUS card was 28C and the Sapphire card was 31C in a room that was 22.0C (72F). The VRM 1 and VRM 2 temperatures were cooler on the Sapphire 290X Tri-X at idle. Note both cards have the fans spinning at 20%, which is 1024RPM on the ASUS dual-fan card and  and 1500 RPM on the Sapphire triple-card.

ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II 4GB Gaming Temperature:

asus-vrm-load

Sapphire Radeon R9 290X TRi-X 4GB Gaming Temperature:

sapphire-vrm-load

When playing Far Cry 3 and Battlefield 3 for about 30 minutes each, we hit 74C on the ASUS 290X DirectCU II and 72C on the Sapphire 290X Tri-X when it comes to GPU temperatures. We were shocked by the difference in the VRM temperatures as on the ASUS 290X DirectCU II the VRM 1 temp was 88C and the VRM 2 temp was 78C. The Sapphire 290X Tri-X  hit 75C on VRM 1 and 48C on VRM 2. Sapphire’s GPU cooler helps keep the VRM 1 temperature 13C cooler and the VRM 2 temperature 30C cooler. The GPU temperature is pretty much identical on these two AMD Radeon R9 290X video cards, but the VRM temperatures are night and day different. It looks like the extra cooling fan on the Sapphire 290X Tri-X GPU cooler really helps keeps the board cooler. 

 

Sound Testing

We recently upgraded our sound meter to an Extech sound level meter with ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with ‘A’ frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

noise-testing

The AMD Radeon R9 290X reference card is pretty loud and hits nearly 64dB on our open air test system. The ASUS and Sapphire cards with their respective custom GPU coolers are much quieter. The ASUS 290X DirectCU II ran at 42.0 dB at idle and 51.7 dB when gaming at full load.  The Sapphire 290X Tri-X was a little louder at idle with a reading of 43.1, but was actually quieter at load, hitting just 48.2dB.  These aren’t the quietest cards that we have ever tested, but they will be tough to hear inside a gaming case with a bunch of cooling fans in it! Both are hands down better than the AMD reference cooler in terms of noise levels and cooling performance.

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  • temp_conscious

    I was wondering the temp differences between the two when mounted in a vertical setting (like Silverstone FT-02), going on the design of heat pipes looks like the ASUS should do better, i’d also rather not buy the sapphire and then find that its temps are poor and have to swap it out.

  • suvam

    is this dc2 or dc2 oc

    • Nathan Kirsch

      The core clock is 1050MHz, so this is the DC2 OC. The part number is on page one, but just in case you can’t find it – R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5

  • thatguy

    This site seriously has the worst graphics card graphs I’ve ever seen – too much information. Try putting the model of the card first, then the brand and whether it’s overclocked after.
    e.g. PowerColor HD 7850 SCS3 1GB 860MHz/4800MHz could just as easily read as HD7850 1GB (PowerColor)

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Thanks for the feedback. I’m building a new GPU test system for the NVIDIA Maxwell launch and will be starting over my charts then!

      • temp_conscious

        Another nice thing would be to highlight the actual card under test to easily spot it within the other ~15 cards in the graph.

  • Veliponteva

    Can any one help me to make my mind.
    I’m on the look out for a new GPU and my system is as follows.
    I7 4770 3.4/3.8Ghz stock cooler
    2x4Gb ribjaw 1600Mhz ram
    Gigabyte z87-hd3 mb
    1x1Tb 7200rpm HDD
    Disc drive
    3x 140mm fans
    650w corsair rm gold certified PSU which at 100%load is supposed to have 89.2% efficiency = 579.8w – just incase 20w =559.8w
    The 290x could have plenty of power when at 80 or 90% load but is there any drawbacks if my PSU can’t supply the peak power usage?

    Powercalculator shows that my setup at 90% usage would need 533w of power and at 100% 586w which’s falls short 7w from the on paper capability of my PSU

    ramblerambleramble.

    Am i better off going for 780 and have that extra power or pushing my system to it’s limits with the r9?

  • http://pokemontactic.blogspot.com/ Kirby9o9

    Does anyone know how loud this card gets?

  • Rax

    Ok I’m still new to GPU’s and what is better than what but can anyone tell where exactly the ASUS card beats the Sapphire card? like how does it beat it in terms of performance.

  • darklyspectre

    essentially this card will probably be 699 USD because of the litecoin miners so the money advantage is gone like what happened with the sapphire.

    seriously fucking litecoin sucks as shit.

    I just got a 780 Ti classified since the sapphire was 700 bucks and I don’t mind the 40 extra bucks I paid for a custom PCB made for overclocking. Yes I know currently the standard bioses suck but the custom bios is enabling people to go to like 1400 on air.

    if AMD didn’t stop the third parties from releasing their cards for so long then I would of probably gotten a AMD again. but I was happy with my 680 anyway

  • john

    Aaand it beats the 780ti… sold! Asus direct cu… it also looks like it will leave less waste heat inside the case then the tri-x.

    • roki977 .

      Where did you saw that? I am looking at the charts and 780Ti is faster in most cases, even 780 SW beats it many times. 780Ti is OC monster much more than any 290x and it beats it with ease when both pushed.

      • john

        Let’s see “it beats it most of the time”… at this msrp difference it should beat it hands down not off and on… plus we have yet to see both pushed to the max. As the ti regularly passes the 1ghz limit sometimes to as high as 1080 from some reports so the ti is overclocking itself. Now to the other facts… powerdraw similar… die size 30% less for hawaii… and it also includes an audio dsp on top of that and to top it all up… it supports freesync, amd’s free answer to g-sync that apparently is already a vesa standard and most panel producers support or can upgrade easily to with no aditional hardware… and if rumors are to be believed the 290x doesn’t even have all compute cores active!!

        But wait there is more… this card does better mining an compute in general… uses extremelly cheap memory compared to 780ti…

        Yet it is still MUCH cheaper then 780ti… so yes beating 780ti shouldn’t even be possible…. yet somehow 290x beats or trades blows c4c… this IS impressive by any standard… and beating the ti in synthetics is huge! It shows the yet untaped potential… that’s what makes this card the asus directxu2 290x THE card to buy – at least for me atm

        • mjolnirxz

          well said!

        • amd Sucks

          There is NO freesynch
          780ti is 15-20% faster when both Oc.

          And this was 780ti Ref.card..

        • mtduong96

          Invalid argument
          *There is NO freesynch: Where is the proff
          *780ti is 15-20% faster when both Oc:again where is the proff

        • Justin Shepherd

          Where is the grammar?

  • Anonymous

    Can you guys measure the dimensions of both cards. I want to know if they can fit in my MicroATX case

    • Tantalum

      It states the lengths in the article.

    • 88rolling thunder

      Dimensions:
      Asus R9 290X DirectcuII – 11.3″ x 5.8″ x 1.6″ (inch)
      Sapphire Tri-X R9 290x – 305mm x 113mm x 38mm (mm Size)
      =))

    • Tirda

      Yeah, I’d like to know that too. 305mm length is from metal bracket to the end of cooler, or including DVI connectors? My case (cm 690 II) supports VGA up to 304mm, so I wonder…

  • Jonas

    Please, can you post also the VRM1 and VRM2 temperaturePlease, can you post also the VRM1 and VRM2 temperature in load? Thanks. in load? Thanks.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Jonas, Certainly will and as soon as we get back from CES that will be updated (Jan 10th).

      • Jonas

        Thanks, and sorry for the garbled question :)

        • anono

          did you guys test the temperature of the VRMs yet?

        • Nathan Kirsch

          Sorry guys, the article has been updated and includes new temperature testing results. We had a hardware failure and had to wait on new hardware to re-test!

  • jak3z

    Very good solutions, if I was on the hunt for one I would really pickup the Asus one, better components overall, maybe a bit hotter and louder but way shorter and with more features :)