XFX R9 290 Double Dissipation Review
XFXís R9 290 Double Dissipation is supposed to offer gamers a good combination of affordability and performance. While some may debate the ďaffordabilityĒ part of that equation due to the present mark-ups for every AMD graphics card, thereís no doubt about the gaming potential of these new Radeon GPUs.
There has been some heated debate about how the R9 290X and R9 290 react to the reference designís rampant thermal issues since they tend to throttle core frequencies quite drastically. This leads to reduced performance under load or a bit more overhead provided the heatsinkís fan is increased to ear-splitting levels. In short, AMDís PowerTune hates high temperatures. As a result most board partners have moved away from standard coolers and are utilizing their own designs in an effort to tame the extreme heat produced by the Hawaii core and hopefully deliver stable performance. Thatís exactly what XFX has done with the Double Dissipation edition.
For all intents and purposes, the R9 290 Double Dissipation is a reference card with a better heatsink slapped onto the PCB. In keeping with the R9 290X versionís outlay, it operates at stock clocks but is able to hit a consistent Boost clock of 947MHz, narrowly beating the average frequency we saw with AMDís launch day samples. More importantly, as we will see on the next page, it doesnít exhibit any variation from that level so framerates should be considerably more stable over the long term.
Other than the heatsink, thereís really nothing to distinguish this card from those of the competition since XFX has long since done away with its lifetime warranty. Thatís an issue since with a price of $520 ($550 in Canada) it plays with some of the big boys in this industry. Competitors like ASUS, MSI, Sapphire, PowerColor, HIS and Gigabyte all offer comparably priced solutions but come bundled with upgraded components, their own custom cooling solutions and higher clock speeds. XFX does offer the Double Dissipation Black Edition for those who want a higher out-of-box performance threshold but expect to pay another $30 premium for that one. So XFX is fighting an uphill battle right from the start but they have demonstrated a willingness to deeply discount their wares so itís entirely possible that the R9 290 Double Dissipation will be found for less than $520.
For all intents and purposes the design of XFXís 11Ē long R9 290 Double Dissipation mirrors that of their R9 290X version down to the last detail. If you have already read that review, you may as well go on to the next page since thereís really nothing new here.
With that bit of housecleaning out of the way, itís really hard not to fall in love with this cardís exceedingly clean design. The GHOST 2 thermal solution has been covered in a stealth-like shroud that neatly wraps around the PCB and provides a perfect counter-point to its illuminated XFX logo. The width is atypical though; it has been upsized by about ĺĒ to accommodate a more extensive heatsink assembly.
After absorbing the brunt of criticisms about their first generation GHOST designís propensity for relatively high VRM temperatures, XFX went back to the drawing board. Their second iteration uses a number of internal baffles and an expanded footprint to better direct airflow from its two 80mm fans to better address its predecessorís limitations. The end result not only looks good but also allows for better performance and lower acoustics.
The one downside to XFXís newly engineered heatsink is the way its wrap-around section partially blocks the R9 290ís BIOS switch. Instead of being housed in an easily accessible area the switch now has to be accessed with a pencil or pin. This likely wonít be of much concern for most gamers since the Double Dissipation only houses a single default BIOS but enthusiasts who like switching between two profiles may find reason to criticize.
Other than the usual XFX backplate, thereís nothing different going on with this cardís connectors. Since it uses a reference design thereís an 8+6 pin combo for power and DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.
XFX does use their own PCB design but from what we can gather, there arenít any upgraded components. If anything, the layout has been simplified. We can also see that the heatsinkís length has necessitated the inclusion of a small ďlipĒ at the PCBís outer edge in order to maintain a fluid looking design.
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