ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB Video Card

  ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX-R9390X-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING 8GB Today we have the pleasure of looking at another AMD Radeon R9 390X 8GB video card that is sold under the part number STRIX-R9390X-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING. This is the flagship Radeon R9 390X by ASUS as they also offer another model with lower clock speeds along with a different PCB design and GPU cooler. You can better see the differences between the two cards in the table below.
 ASUS 390X Cards STRIX-R9390X-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING R9390X-DC2-8GD5
GPU  AMD Hawaii AMD Hawaii
Stream Processors  2816 2816
GPU Clock  1070 MHz (1090 in OC Mode) 1050 MHz
Pixel Fillrate  68.5 GPixel/s  67.2 GPixel/s
Texture Fillrate  188.3 GTexel/s  184.4 GTexel/s
Memory Amount  8GB GDDR5 8GB GDDR5
Memory Bus  512-bit 512-bit
Memory Clock  1500 MHz  1500 MHz
Memory Bandwidth  384.0 GB/s  384.0 GB/s
GPU Cooler DirectCU III DirectCU II
Power Phases 8-Phase 8-Phase
Backplate Yes Yes
Warranty  3-Years 3-Years
Street Price $439.99 shipped $419.99 Shipped
For those that might not know... The Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 390X share the same 28nm GCN Hawaii GPU, so both have 2,816 Stream Processors and the same overall feature set. AMD bumped up the core clock speed on the Radeon R9 390X by 5% and also increased the frame buffer and memory clock speed. The memory went from 4GB to 8GB while increasing the GDDR5 memory clock speed from 1350 MHz all the way up to 1500 MHz, so the biggest changes were certainly on the memory. AMD claims that the R9 390X is 10% faster than the R9 290X, so it should give a nice little performance boost to a GPU that has been around for a number of years and don't dare call it a rebrand as AMD is not calling it that. Now that the AMD Radeon R9 390X has been out for several months, the discontinued Radeon R9 290X is starting to get hard to find! Now, let's take a look at the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB video card! ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX The first thing that you need to know about the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB graphics card is that it was designed from the ground up by the engineers at ASUS and is a fully custom card. ASUS went with the DirectCU III GPU cooler that has triple Wing-Blade 0dB fans sitting above a heatsink that has five heatpipes! Two of those heatpipes are 10mm thick and that is an industry-first! ASUS claims that the DirectCU III GPU cooler is up to 30% cooler and 3x quieter than the AMD reference design. The triple Wing-Blade fans deliver 105% static pressure over the heatsink while you are gaming and are silent at idle or when you are playing not too graphically intensive games like League of Legends, Dota 2 and StarCraft. On this particular card the fans are set to engage once the GPU temperature reaches 65 degrees Celsius. ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Gaming The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB video card features the usual black design with red accents and measures in at 300 x 137 x 40 mm in dimension. That would be just 10.67-inches in length, so this card is fairly long. The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB card features an 8-phase power design with Super Alloy Power II components that should give you plenty of smooth power and minimal choke noise. The last thing any gamer wants when spending over $400 on a video card is component buzzing and choke whine when you are gaming! You can learn more about Super Alloy Power II components on the ASUS landing page for this specific card.
ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Gaming heatpipes
When looking at the bottom of the card you can see the two massive 10mm thick heatpipes in the middle of the smaller 8mm thick heatpipes.   ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Gaming Backplate ASUS went with a full coverage black backplate that is very sturdy on the back of this card. We measured and found that the backplate on this card is spaced about 3.5 mm or 0.14" away from the PCB by metal spacers. This distance is greater that the backplates on most cards and it might be an issued on some primary PCIe x16 slots on motherboards that have the memory that are right next to the graphics card slot. Our test system uses an ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard and this card won’t fit in the primary slot, so we had to run it in the next available  x16 slot! ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Gaming HDMI When it comes to display outputs this particular Radeon R9 390X model has one Dual-Link DVI-D, HDMI 1.4a and  three DisplayPort 1.2 outputs. The DVI outputs support screen resolutions up to 2560x1600 and the DP and HDMI ports support screen resolutions up to 4096x2160. There is a high-flow hot air exhaust bracket, but not much air is exhausted out of a case since the GPU coolers aluminum cooling fins are arranged vertically and not horizontally. ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Gaming Video Card ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Gaming Power Connectors The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX has one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCIe power connector that must be used for proper operation and ASUS recommends using a 750 Watt or larger power supply. Multiple cards can be used for an AMD CrossFire setup and no bridge or interconnect is needed on this card series since all the communication is done over the PCI Express 3.0 bus. If you get a second, third or fourth card you can just enable CrossFire in AMD's Catalyst Control Center and go about your day. ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX LED Power Lights ASUS has LED indicator lights below thje power connector to ensure you connect the power properly. If the LED light is white you have the power cable completely plugged in and it is feeding the card power properly. If the LED indicator light is red it means that you don't have the power connector pressed in tight enough or there is a power supply issue. The image above shows what what happens when one connector is plugged in correctly and the other is not. In this situation we didn't have the connector on the left pushed in far enough. When it comes to the accessory bundle you get a 6-pin PCIe power to 8-pin PCie power adapter, a quick setup guide and the driver/utility disc. You do get a 1-year premium subscription to XSplit though! This is a pretty basic bundle for a high-end card, so let's take a look at the test system and move along to the benchmark results!

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.  There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago. Video Cards & Drivers used for testing: test-system

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard with BIOS 1704 that came out on 05/08/2015. We went with the Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E processor to power this platform as it is PCIe 3.0 certified, so all graphics cards are tested with PCI Express Gen 3 enabled. The Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary 16GB 2400MHz quad channel memory kit was set to XMP Profile #2. This profile defaults to 2133MHz with 1.65v and 11-12-12-30 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD was run with latest firmware available. A Corsair AX860i digital power supply provides clean power to the system and is also silent as the fan hardly ever spins up. This is critical to our testing as it lowers the ambient noise level of the room. Test System Settings Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
The Intel X79 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor Intel Core i7-4960X
Motherboard
ASUS P9X79-E WS
Memory
16GB Kingston 2133MHz
Video Card Various
Solid-State Drive OCZ Vertex 460 240GB
Cooling Intel TS13X (Asetek)
Power Supply Corsair AX860i
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
Monitor Sharp PN-K321 32" 4K
ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB Video Card GPU-Z Info: 390x-strix-gpuz

Battlefield 4

bf4-screenshot Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3 and was released on October 29, 2013 in North America. Battlefield 4's single-player Campaign takes place in 2020, six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have been running at a record high. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China's current government; and, if successful, the Russians will have full support from the Chinese, bringing China into a war with the United States. bf4-settings This game title uses the Frostbite 3 game engine and looks great. We tested Battlefield 4 with the Ultra graphics quality preset as most discrete desktop graphics cards can easily play with this IQ setting at 1080P and we still want to be able to push the higher-end cards down the road. We used FRAPS to benchmark with these settings on the Shanghai level. All tests were done with the DirectX 11 API unless noted in the chart. bf4-cpu-utilization Battlefield 4 is more CPU intensive than any other game that we benchmark with as 25% of the CPU is used up during gameplay. You can see that six threads are being used and that the processor is running in Turbo mode at 3.96GHz more times than not.   bf4-4k Benchmark Results: At 4K Ultra HD settings found that the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX was just a tad slower than the AMD Radeon R9 Nano, but not by too much. The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX was able to play BF4 and averaged just shy of 35 FPS on our benchmark run. When we played the game for about an hour we saw the frame rate dip down to 20 FPS in a couple really tough spots in the game, but had an enjoyable gaming experience. bf4-4k-time Benchmark Results: Here is a look at the performance over time you can really see how close the AMD Radeon R9 390X and AMD Radeon R9 Nano are!

Grand Theft Auto V

GTAV Grand Theft Auto V, currently one of the hottest PC games, was finally released for the PC on April 14, 2015.  Developed by Rockstar, it is set in 2013 and the city of Los Santos.  It utilizes the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) which Rockstar has been using since 2006, with multiple updates for technology improvements. GTA5-settings GTA5-settings2 In Grand Theft Auto V we set the game to run with no MSAA with 16x AF and high image quality settings as we didn't want the GPU to bottleneck the system too bad, but wanted a setup that your average gamer would actually play on. gtav-4k Benchmark Results: In GTA V we ran the games built-in benchmark three times, averaged the numbers and got some pretty interesting results. The ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX video card took the lead here and the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX came in the slowest of the three with these game settings that use about 3.6GB of frame buffer. 

Metro Last Light

 

MetroLL-SS

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013. metroll-settings Metro: Last Light was benchmarked with very high image quality settings with the SSAA set to off and 4x AF. These settings are tough for entry level discrete graphics cards, but are more than playable on high-end gaming graphics cards. We benchmarked this game title on the Theater level. metroll-cpu-utilization

We again found around 20% CPU usage on Metro: Last Light.

metro-4k Benchmark Results: In Metro: Last Light the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX was slightly faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and slower than the AMD Radeon R9 Nano. In fact, it split the performance difference between those two cards rather nicely.  metro-4k-time Benchmark Results: Here is a look at our manual FRAPS benchmark over its entirety!

Thief

thief Thief is a series of stealth video games in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a master thief in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed. Thief is the fourth title in the Thief series, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix on February 25, 2014. thief-settings1 thief-settings2 thief-settings   We ran Thief with the image quality settings set at normal with VSYNC disabled. dayz-cpu-utilization Thief appears to be running on the six physical cores of the Intel Core i7-4960X processor and averages around 17-24% CPU usage from what we were able to tell from the CPU utilization meter that is built into the Windows 8.1 task manager. thief-4k Benchmark Results: The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB video card averaged 48.8 FPS and the AMD Radeon R9 Nano averaged 53.1 FPS. This puts the AMD Radeon R9 Nano up by 8.8%!  thief-4k-time Benchmark Results: Looking at performance over time we see nothing out of the ordinary.

Ashes of the Singularity DX12 Benchmark

Ashes of the Singularity Battle Today we’ll be looking at one of the very first DirectX 12 game benchmarks by using Stardock’s real-time strategy game, Ashes of the Singularity. Ashes of the Singularity was developed with Oxide’s Nitrous game engine and tells the story of an existential war waged on an unprecedented scale across the galaxy. The Ashes of the Singularity Benchmark was never designed as a synthetic stress test, but a real world test that was used internally to measure overall system performance. That internal developer tool was recently released to the public as a DX12 benchmark! ashes-390x We ran the benchmark at 3840x2160 with MSAA disabled and found that ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX did better than the AMD Radeon R9 Nano on the DirectX 11 test, but was just a tenth of a frame per second slower when the DirectX 12 API was used. ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX DX12 Results:  390x ashes ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX DX12 Results:  gtx970-dx12 AMD Radeon R9 Nano DX12 Results:  nano-dx12  

3DMark 2013

3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike

  Fire Strike Benchmark Results:

firestrike

Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark had the AMD Radeon R9 Nano video card coming in with an overall score of 12,127 versus a score of 11,398 on the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX  video card.

Fire Strike Extreme Benchmark Results:

firestrike-extreme

Benchmark Results: In 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme we again show the AMD Radeon R9 Nano in the lead with the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX about 500 points behind.

Temperature & Noise Testing

Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the the ASUS version of the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB video card. ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB Video Card Temps: 390x-temps The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB graphics card had a fan that didn't run at idle. This caused the card to slowly heat up and eventually peak at 59C on the GPU and 50/55C on the two VRM temperature sensors. While gaming for an hour on the card we topped out at 87C on the GPU with the VRM 1 temerature hitting 96C and VRM 2 temperature hitting 77C. This is pretty toasty, considering the large cooler that is being used on this card and the fact that all three fans are running. GPU-Z showed the fans running at ~2000 RPM while gaming. It should be noted that we tested on an open test bench in a room that was 22C.

Sound Testing

We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±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 When it comes to noise level, the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX doesn't make any noise at an idle since the fans aren't spinning, but once the GPU goes over 65C the fans kick on and you'll certainly hear them. We were a bit shocked by how loud and hot this card got with the DirectCU III GPU cooler as we just assumed it would be quiet and cool running due to the size and weight of the cooler. The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB video card is a hefty card that screams of quality, so hitting 87C while gaming and nearly 54 dB was a shock. The only other AMD Radeon R9 390X video card that we've reviewed was the PowerColor Radeon R9 39oX and when we tested it we were running Windows 8.1. This is the same test system with a clean install of Windows 10, so we didn't combine the numbers as the benchmarks results might be slightly off due to very minor OS or driver differences. On that card we topped out at just 67C, but the fans were screaming at 63 dB to keep the temps that low. You can use the ASUS GPU Tweak II utility to go in and customize your own fan curve/profile if you like and we highly suggest doing that. The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX8GB video card will never be a quiet card at full load, but you should be able to bring the temperatures down a bit at idle/load by doing some manual fan adjustments. Running close to 60C at idle and 90C at load might not be ideal to enthuasists, but if you kick the fans on earlier and spin them up higher as the temperatures go up, you'll be able to take the Hawaii XT GPU used on the Radeon R9 390X!

Power Consumption

ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Gaming Power Connectors For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we ran Battlefield 4 at 1920x1080 and recorded the average idle reading and the peak gaming reading on the power meter. power-390x Power Consumption Results: The AMD Radeon R9 Nano used more power than the ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX card, which shouldn't come as a big shock to anyone. In BF4 we found that the Nano used 70 Watts more power in the scene we use to benchmark the cards with FRAPS. At idle the AMD Radeon R9 Nano was found to use 5W more power, which isn't too bad.

ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Overclocking

gpu-tweak2 We overclocked the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX with the ASUS GPU Tweak II Utility. This is a very easy utility to use and is ideal for beginners and experienced overclockers. The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX defaults to 'Gaming Mode' (1070 MHz core and 1500 MHz memory), but you can select 'OC Mode' to bump that up a tad for more performance (1090MHz core and 1500 MHz memory).  If you want to overclock beyond that you'll need to manually adjust the clock settings. 390x-overclock For that you'll want to click on 'Professional Mode' to get to dials that overclockers are used to seeing! Here you can overclock your card manually by setting the various clocks and even the GPU voltage. We left the GPU voltage alone and cranked up the clock speeds as high as we could get them. For some reason this utility limited our overclock to +50 MHz on the core and +1000 MHz on the memory. We ended up using +50 MHz on the core and +800 MHz on the memory with the power target at 120% as our highest stable overclock. When we pushed the 8GB of SKHynix GDDR5 memory beyond 6800 MHz the system become unstable while gaming, so we dialed it back down to get full stability.

390x-oc-gpuz

This means the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX was running at 1020 MHz on the core and 1700 MHz on the memory with no voltage increase needed. ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Stock: 390x-firex-stock ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX Overclocked: 390x-firex-oc By overclocking the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX video card we were able to take the stock score of 5650 on 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme and improve it to 5902. This is a 252 point increase in our overall 3DMark score, which represents a performance gain of 4.3 percent. Not bad and you should be able to get more headroom with regards to the GPU core clock speed if you use another overclocking utility that allows for a higher clock clock frequency.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB was found to be a nicely designed custom Radeon R9 390X graphics card. The performance was right where we expected it to be with these clock speeds, but we were caught a little off guard with the temperature numbers that were a bit higher than we initially expected. The good news is that you can override the default ASUS fan curve and create your own. This means you'll likely make the card a bit louder, but you'll be able to bring the temperatures down to where you'd like to run them 24/7. With regards to pricing, the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX-R9390X-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING 8GB video card is $439.99 shipped from Amazon or $429.99 shipped after a $10 mail-in-rebate at Newegg. The 'standard' ASUS Radeon R9 390X R9390X-DC2-8GD5 video card is priced at $399.99 Shipped after a $20 MIR, so you are looking at about $20-30 extra to get the fully custom card depending on the promotions that are going on any given time. Both ASUS Radeon R9 390X 8GB video cards are backed by a 3-year warranty. The AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB video cards are getting tougher to find, so if you are looking for a video card in the $400 price range from AMD this is it unless you wanted to step up to the ASUS Radeon R9 Fury in the $550-$570 price range. At the end of the day the ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB is a well built graphics card that is capable of gaming at pretty much any resolution out there today. The latest generation DirectCU III cooling solution is beefy, but the default fan speed profile is a little too relaxed for our liking. The good news is that you can manually change that and that is what saved this card from not getting our recommended award! LR Recommended Award
Legit Bottom Line: The ASUS Radeon R9 390X STRIX 8GB puts the AMD Hawaii GPU to work in a fully custom board to maximize performance!