ASUS Radeon R9 290 DirectCU II OC Video Card Review

On our test bench today is a factory overclocked Radeon R9 290 from ASUS sporting the DirectCU II cooling system. We will compare it to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 to determine which card reins supreme. AMD prices have finally stabilized back to normal, and this pushes one card into an extreme disadvantage from the other.


ASUSTeK Computer Inc. is one of the largest and most successful computer hardware manufacturers in the world. A Taiwan-based company, it manufactures a wide variety of computer hardware, including motherboards, video cards, optical drives, notebooks, networking equipment, barebones desktop, and server systems, among many others.

On our test bench today is the ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC video card.

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Radeon R9 290

The Radeon R9 290 GPU was launched on November 4th, 2013 as the second member of the Hawaii based GPU family, filling in the price point below that of the Radeon R9 290X. While the two GPUs share the same transistor count, the R9 290’s stream processors were reduced from 2,816 to 2,560 and texture units were reduced from 176 to 160, however it maintained all 64 ROPs found in the flagship R9 290X. The Radeon R9 290 is clocked at up to 947MHz by default and is equipped with 4GB of GDDR5 memory at a 5.0GHz effective rate. The MSRP was set at $399 from AMD for the R9 290.

ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC

The ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC comes equipped with a factory GPU clock of up to 1000MHz, a 53MHz increase over stock Radeon R9 290 GPU and features ASUS’s DirectCU II cooling system. It is configured with 4GB GDR5 memory running at a 5.04GHz effective rate.

The cooling system is comprised of four heat pipes that carry heat away from the GPU to an array of aluminum fins that are cooled by a pair of fans. It is sporting two DVI-D, one HDMI and one DisplayPort connector. The card is also equipped with two different BIOSes that offer a silent mode and a performance mode. Silent mode brings the GPU and memory clocks down to the reference Radeon R9 290 speeds of 947MHz and 5.0GHz respectively.

The ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC comes with a 3 year factory warranty and is currently available in etail at Newegg for $399.99 (regular price $439.99). It is also available at Amazon for $439.99 with Prime Shipping.

This shows us that AMD Radeon pricing is stabilizing finally and has come down to MSRP pricing levels. At $439 it is a $40 premium for the factory overclock, custom cooling, and completely custom hardware and design. Newegg is offering a discount, unknown how long it will last, offering it at $399, which is exactly the MSRP for R9 290.

For comparison, GeForce GTX 780 cards can be had as low as $459.99 after rebate. GeForce GTX 770 pricing is way under R9 290 pricing, so the GTX 780, while more expensive, generally up to $499, is still the correct and best performance comparison to the R9 290, especially an overclocked R9 290 such as this.

ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC Images

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The ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC is packaged in a black box that has been clawed by a seemingly impressive animal (or dinosaur) with three claws it also highlights the Radeon R9 290 GPU, the 4GB of GDDR5 memory installed, the DIGI VRM Super Allow Power, GPU Tweak and the fact that it is an OC edition card. Luckily enough, the video card inside the box was unharmed. The back of the box further explains the DirectCU II cooling system, the DIGI+ VRM Super Allow Power system and GPU Tweak.

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The front of the ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC features a black metallic fan shroud that serves to house the fan and direct airflow away from the GPU. The cooling solution utilizes four heat pipes to pull heat way from the GPU to where it can be cooled by the dual fans. The PCIe power connectors are turned 180 degrees from the standard orientation, thus making it far easier to release the latches to remove the cable.

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On the I/O panel there are four ports. These include one DP port, two DVI-D connectors, and one HDMI connector. The power connector is on top of the video card and requires a 8-pin and a 6-pin PCI-e power connection. The video card’s measurements are 11.5 inches in Length, 1.5 inches Wide, and 6 inches in height.

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