XFX R9 390X Double Dissipation Core Edition Review

On our test bench today is the XFX R9 390X Double Dissipation Core Edition Video Card which we will pit against its green team competition of a reference GTX 980 and a massively overclocked GTX 970 to determine whether it earns its place at a price point that lies between its two foes.

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Evaluation Method

We evaluate what each video card configuration can supply us in terms of a playable gaming experience while supplying the best culmination of resolution and "eye candy" graphical settings. We focus on quality and immersion of the gameplay experience rather than how many frames per second the card can get in a canned benchmark or prerecorded timedemo situation that often do not represent real gameplay like you would experience at home. Then we will follow with apples-to-apples testing in with minimum, maximum, and average framerates.

Test System Setup

We will be using a ASUS Sabertooth Z77 motherboard, an Intel Core i7 3770K Overclocked at 4.6GHz, and 16GB of Corsair RAM.

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Video Card Setup on Pricing

The pricing of the XFX R9 390X Double Dissipation Core Edition makes it difficult to find the most appropriate cards to compare it to for this evaluation. We typically select our cards based upon the market price of each at the time that we start an evaluation. When performing our initial analysis for this evaluation, we found there was not a good head to head comparison to put the XFX R9 390X Double Dissipation Core Edition up against as it is priced at about the midpoint between NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 video cards, making it about $100 more expensive than the former and $100 less expensive than the latter.

To try to bridge some of the price gap, we decided to use a reference GeForce GTX 980 at stock clocks and a massively overclocked GeForce GTX 970, namely the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II Video Card that we reviewed previously. We dialed in a 200MHz base overclock on the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II allowing it to achieve an in-game frequency of 1478MHz, a 25% boost over the stock GTX 970 boost clock. We additionally upped the memory from an effective 7.0GHz clock to 7.8GHz, an 11.5% overclock from stock. In this way you get a picture of performance from an overclocked GTX 970 and reference GTX 980 since the XFX card sits in-between these on pricing. It covers all bases.

Therefore, the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II is overclocked to: 1478MHz/7.8GHz for this entire review.

Drivers

For the XFX R9 390X Double Dissipation Core Edition, we are using the Catalyst 15.9.1 Beta drivers.

For the GeForce GTX 980 and ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II, we are using the GeForce 358.50 WHQL driver.

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