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.

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Power Testing

We tested the power utilization at the wall of the entire system without a video card, and with each video card at idle and full load. For full load power and temperature testing we used real gaming and recorded the highest value in each game. To measure power consumption we use a P3 International Kill-A-Watt device to measure power consumption from the wall. The entire testing system, excluding the speakers and monitor, are plugged into the Kill-A-Watt device. Therefore, power consumption numbers include all components, not just the video card.

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The power utilization results for the ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC showed it drew 4W more than the GeForce GTX 780 at idle and 5W more at under full load. Overclocking the ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC increased power draw by 54W.

Temperature Testing

To measure temperatures on these video cards we used the sensor information from GPU-Z to find the GPU’s highest temperature during the test run. To get our numbers for the process we played through an entire test run with GPU-Z recording temperature sensor information in the background. We then selected the highest temperature it reported. Idle temperature was recorded after the system idled at the desktop for at least 30 minutes with no other activity happening on the system.

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The fan unit installed on the ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC checked in five degrees Celsius cooler than the GeForce GTX 780 under full load. When we overclocked the ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC, temperatures increased five degrees Celsius and the fans spun slightly faster to maintain the temperature. When 100% fan speed during overclocking, the GPU temperature dropped to 66 degrees Celsius. After finding our maximum overclock at full fan power, we also tested those same settings with the automatic fan control and found that it was also able to support the maximum overclock.

Fan Noise Observations

All of our testing is performed on an open test bench that is about two feet from the reviewer’s head. During the hours that we spend with the card, we become familiar with the amount of noise that it generates during both normal operation and under full fan speeds. While it is possible to measure the number of decibels put out by the fans, it can be very misleading as it does not accurately convey the pitch or tone of the fan noise. Therefore, the below paragraph describes our subjective experiences and opinions after many hours of use with the cards very close to our ears.

The ASUS Radeon R9 290 Direct CU II OC a very quiet video card when running at stock speeds. When using the default fan profiles, we were not able to hear it above the other fans running on the test bench for the water cooling system. When dialing up the fan speed to 100%, the fan became noticeably louder to the extent that we found it to be annoying during game play.

In comparison, the GeForce GTX 780 was equally as quiet at stock configuration. When dialing the fans up to 100%, it becomes quite obnoxious to listen to, however, these typically stay at a quiet level even under full load.