290 Tri-X OC Thermal Management

Before jumping into our benchmarks, due to the significant focus we’re placing on cooling and noise for the 290 Tri-X OC (amidst the reference 290’s weaknesses) we also wanted to spend a moment discussing the card’s thermal management algorithms.

With the 290 series AMD introduced their next generation PowerTune technology, which allows for thermal management based on temperatures, power consumption, and now fan speeds. For the reference 290X in particular this was especially important as AMD used this functionality to keep fan speed noises in check despite the heavy thermal load Hawaii placed on the cooler. At the time we had assumed that everyone would use this technology even if they used different coolers, but as it turns out this isn’t the case.

For the 290 Tri-X OC Sapphire has reverted to traditional power and temperature based throttling, opting not to use the functionality of next generation PowerTune. This means that the 290 Tri-X OC does not offer the ability to throttle based on fan speeds, nor does it offer the ability to adjust the temperature it throttles at, instead throttling at Hawaii’s TjMax. This implementation caught us off guard at first since we had expected everyone to use next generation PowerTune, however as it turns out this is something that board partners get to decide for themselves on their customized cards.

Sapphire for their part has told us that based on the ample cooling performance of the Tri-X cooler that they've opted to use a traditional thermal management implementation in order to better sustain performance. Though we can’t readily test Sapphire’s statements about sustainability, we certainly can’t argue against Sapphire’s statement on the performance of their cooler. We’ll see the full breakdown in our benchmark section, but they are having absolutely no problem balancing noise and temperatures right now without next generation PowerTune.

Realistically we wouldn’t be surprised if this was also chosen because the Tri-X cooler predates the 290 series – and hence it wasn’t necessarily designed to work well with next generation PowerTune – but that’s just speculation on our part. To that end it would have been interesting to see a full next generation PowerTune implementation on this card, however it’s really just an intellectual curiosity. Out of the box the 290 Tri-X OC works just fine with a traditional thermal management implementation.

The Test

CPU: Intel Core i7-4960X @ 4.2GHz
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i
Hard Disk: Samsung SSD 840 EVO (750GB)
Memory: G.Skill RipjawZ DDR3-1866 4 x 8GB (9-10-9-26)
Case: NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition
Monitor: Asus PQ321
Video Cards: AMD Radeon R9 290X
AMD Radeon R9 290
XFX Radeon R9 280X Double Dissipation
Asus Radeon R9 280X DirectCU II TOP
Sapphire Radeon R9 280X Toxic
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
AMD Radeon HD 7970
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
Video Drivers: NVIDIA Release 331.93
AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta v8
AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta v9.5
OS: Windows 8.1 Pro


Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X OC Review Gaming Performance
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  • Drumsticks - Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - link

    More or less exactly! Anandtech can do what they want but I do kind of hate our silly system of measurement. It isn't going anywhere sadly
  • mond0 - Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - link

    From his tone, it's clear that he's not being defensive, but merely pointing out the reasons why AnandTech uses imperial measurements to a person who felt like it was Ryan's *duty* to spoon feed him metric measurements so he wouldn't have to do "calculations in the head" while the majority of the viewerbase would. Calling him "defensive" is the closest thing to "you mad bro" you can say.
  • juhatus - Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - link

    Sorry, I was not trying to be smart ass about this. I bet the split for readers is 50% US and 50% international. I really tried to be as neutral as I can and no I don't help calculating.

    Ryan any comment? Is there any policy about standards?
  • bigboxes - Thursday, December 26, 2013 - link

    Sorry. It's not 50/50. I'm sure that it's >70%, but you've got me curious as to the real numbers. Almost everything on this site is for American buyers. You get the occasional "it's only available in Europe", but usually it's US-centric. So inches it is. You can get an android conversion app if you don't want to google it.
  • bigboxes - Thursday, December 26, 2013 - link

    HA! I was wrong. US only 33.6% of traffic. D'oh!
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - link

    "the majority of the buyers of this level of video card are also in the U.S."

    I'm confused, how would you figure that? The European markets for consumer electronics have overtaken the North-American market in volume about a decade ago, and 2-3 years ago the combined volume of both have become smaller than the Asian market. Even with a relatively high-end card like this, I would be surprised if more than 25% of sales go to the U.S. these days.

    Also, why would a majority of AT readers be American? Funny measurement units and the price comparisons aside, there is nothing on here that is specifically tailored to the US market. As the majority of tech-savy Europeans is rather fluid in English, I'm sure AT gets just as many European readers, keeping in mind the much larger overall population.
  • TheJian - Saturday, December 28, 2013 - link

    I didn't realize Europe was a country...Silly me. This is a USA site, get over it. The site is based in NC, USA last I checked and am unaware of it having any server in another country. You're more than welcome to FUND the development of a FOREIGN soil based expansion.

    Does any single country buy more than your assumed 25% that goes to USA? Germany, Russia, France etc? You're counting europe as one entity and it's not. There is nothing wrong with catering to his OWN audience. If you want to read it from outside, fine. But don't expect anyone to alter their world to suit yours. It's just not this site's job. There are not many other web sites with multi language and I don't know of many USA sites using multi-language or even metric.

    With US traffic being 33%, there is no other larger country coming to read this site correct? I translate chinese/german tech pages all the time. Sure I wish they'd put them up in English for me, but realize that it is cost prohibitive to do so. No point in asking as I'd rather have that cost go to reviewing more products etc. That's what translators are for anyway :)
  • ShieTar - Monday, December 30, 2013 - link

    You seem to be a little confused about my statement. Try reading it again, and point out to me where I demanded that AT change anything? I merely pointed out some weak points in the comment of "wetwareinterface". I also did not pretend Europe was a country, merely an economic entity, which it is. I live in Europe, working for a European company, I can order products from any European shop without having to bother about any customs/tariff, I can move to and work in any other European Union country without any paperwork, etc. The different national governments at this point are merely another level of administration, but not something that seriously affects our everyday life.

    More importantly though, none of that matters to my original point, which was just to point out that an estimated 25% are a far way from "the majority", as the other 75% who come from "metric system nations" would be clearly the majority.
  • mpdugas - Thursday, December 26, 2013 - link

    Since number systems are purely imaginary, what difference does how you measure an object make?

    Some folks find fractions easy, some like decimals better, but they are just fractions, too.

    It really just comes down to which you prefer; the object does not change, no matter which fraction system you use.
  • xTRICKYxx - Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - link

    Wow, that cooler is something else.

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