ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC Review

We've got the brand new ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III OC 8G video card to evaluate today. This video card features new DirectCU III cooling technology from ASUS and is based on the new AMD R9 390X GPU with 8GB of VRAM. We'll be comparing this video card to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 to find the best value.

Introduction

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. In 2008, it sold over 24 million motherboards, grossed 8.1 billion U.S., and won 3,056 awards from various enthusiasts and IT related outlets.

On our test bench today is the ASUS R9 390X DirectCU III 8G OC GAMING (STRIX-R9390X-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING) video card.

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The ASUS R9 390X DirectCU III 8G OC video card is the second video care we have evaluated based on the Radeon R9 390X GPU. Our first video card we evaluated based on the R9 390X GPU was the MSI R9 390X GAMING 8G which includes in-depth coverage of the R9 390X launch on June 18th, 2015. You may refer to that evaluation for the lowdown on all AMD Radeon R9 390X information.

The AMD Radeon R9 390X is essentially a re-brand of the Radeon R9 290X GPU. There are some new benefits and improvements made to the 390X, including 8GB of memory as opposed to 4GB on the R9 290X. The memory also operates at 6GHz compared to 5GHz on the R9 290X improving the memory bandwidth to 384GB/sec from 320GB/sec. AMD also raised the core clock from 1000MHz up to 1050MHz on the R9 390X.

The MSRP of the AMD Radeon R9 390X is $429. The MSRP on ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC has a slight MSRP premium of $449.99. Below we will explore what this premium buys you over a reference R9 390X video card.

Right now Newegg has the video card a bit cheaper at $439.99 which is good news. That places the ASUS R9 390X in close competition with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 video cards which ranges in price from $484-$559. While these video cards are price competitive, you will find they are very performance competitive as well.


ASUS R9 390X STRIX DC3 8G Video Card

ASUS offers two models based on the AMD Radeon R9 390X GPU. The first model is the R9390X-DC2-8GD5 which uses the previous DirectCU II cooler found on previous generation video cards. This one does not carry a factory overclock, it runs at reference AMD Radeon R9 390X clock speeds.

The second one, and the one we are evaluating today is the STRIX-R9390X-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING. This one uses the new DirectCU III cooler and has a factory overclock along with STRIX fan stopping technology. If you want the most current, and best version of the R9 390X this is the video card to get. This one will have the most potential for overclocking. The other one above more resembles a simple re-brand of the Radeon R9 290X video card you could get from ASUS. The new STRIX model we are evaluating separates itself apart from that and provides every potential advantage for the R9 390X GPU it can have. If you want something different and new, it is the STRIX model you are after.

The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC contains many features that set it apart from reference models and other customized models. Among the more popular features is a factory overclock. A reference Radeon R9 390X has a core clock speed of 1050MHz. The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC will operate at 1070MHz. This video card of course features 8GB of memory which operates at the reference speed of 6GHz.

ASUS has redesigned and revamped GPU Tweak and made a new version called GPU Tweak II for use with the new R9 300 series video cards. This update includes a new UI that still includes the same features as the previous GPU Tweak, including voltage control, core and memory clocks, and power target. If you install ASUS GPU Tweak II there are a few presets including one to overclock the video card by an additional 20MHz to 1090MHz when choosing OC mode. We will take a more in-depth look at this program on our overclocking page.

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The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC features the latest version of the DirectCU cooling system. The DirectCU III cooling technology begins reducing heat stress with five copper heat pipes that directly contact the GPU. Three of these heat pipes are the standard 8mm size. ASUS is the first company to include dual 10mm heat pipes to complete the set of five.

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These heat pipes allows up to 40% more heat transfer away from the GPU compared to reference designs. The video card is quite large, and the heatsink extends the length of the board, allowing for more dispersion over the finned aluminum array.

The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC pushes the heat off the board with ASUS’ triple wing-blade 0dB fan design. The fan blades are specifically designed to deliver higher air pressure over the heat sink, while still operating three times quieter than reference video cards.

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The cooling system understands which areas of the board needs cooling and can flip on one, two or all three fans depending on this need. The fans are also labeled as 0dB, delivering silent gaming when the GPU temperature remains below a certain temperature. The fans will kick on when necessary to remove heat, and shut off once the temperature has gone back down.

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ASUS also takes great pride in its AUTO-EXTREME technology. This is the first 100% automated board production process constructed around the highest quality video card components to remove human error and build video cards on an even more consistent basis. It uses high quality components like the 8-phase Super Alloy II setup to enhance power efficiency, reduce power loss and help control thermal loads.

The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC video card can be yours for $439.99 at Newegg. This offer includes a 3 year limited parts and labor warranty.


ASUS R9 390X STRIX DC3 8G Pictures

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The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC is packaged well, as all hardware from ASUS generally is. The accessory package that comes with this video card includes a driver installation CD that includes the newest version of ASUS GPU Tweak II, a dual 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe power cable and a STRIX laser sticker.

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The video card is printed on a black PCB which is mounted on a black aluminum backplate. This backplate improves the video cards armor, securing the rear-mounted components and helps prevent PCB bending over time. The backplate has a cool STRIX logo painted on it in glossy black. There is also a STRIX LED located on the top edge of the video card with a pulsating light that adds style to your system.

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ASUS recommends a 750W or greater power supply to ensure it works properly to the best of its abilities. The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC requires a 6-pin and an 8-pin PCIe power connector located at the rear along the top edge of the video card. The I/O panel adds support for a dual-link DVI-I connector, three Display Port connectors and one HDMI port. The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC is rather large, measuring 12 inches in length, 5.5 inches in height and 1.5 inches in width.