ASUS R9 390 STRIX DirectCU III Video Card Review

In this evaluation we have a custom built Radeon R9 390 video card, the ASUS R9 390 STRIX DirectCU III 8GB. It features a factory overclock and the DirectCU III cooling system, alongside STRIX technology for silent gaming. We will compare it to a custom NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 video card, both using the highest overclock we achieved.

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 390 STRIX DirectCU III(STRIX-R9390-DC3OC-8GD5-GAMING) video card.

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The ASUS R9 390 STRIX DirectCU III 8GB video card is the second video card we have evaluated based on the Radeon R9 390 GPU. Our first evaluation based on the R9 390 GPU was the XFX R9 390 Double Dissipation 8GB. The R9 390 has an MSRP of $329 and according to PC Hound the street price falls as low as $294. This specific ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII can be yours for $319.99 after $20 MIR at Newegg and Amazon.

The R9 390 video card is basically a re-brand of the Radeon R9 290 video card. It does have some improvements like 8GB of memory by default, compared to only 4GB on the R9 290. The memory also has a higher memory operating speed at 6GHz, compared to 5GHz on the R9 290. There is also a faster base operating frequency at 1GHz compared to 947MHz.

With the price of the ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII at $319 after rebates, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB model is a closest comparison to the R9 390 in terms of pricing. Today we will be using a custom 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 from MSI with a factory overclock for comparison with the ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII 8GB. We will also overclock each of the video cards to their highest possible level to compare each performance.


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The ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII contains several features that set it apart from reference models and other custom video cards. Among the more popular features is a factory overclock. A reference Radeon R9 390 has a core clock speed of 1000MHz. The ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII will operate at 1050MHz out of box, and can be increased to 1070MHz using OC mode with ASUS GPU Tweak II's compatibility. This video card features 8GB of memory which operates at the reference speed of 6GHz.

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ASUS has redesigned GPU Tweak into ASUS GPU Tweak II for use with the R9 300 series. 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 1070MHz when choosing OC mode.

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The ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII 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. This allows ample passage for heat away from the GPU, about 40% more transfer than the reference design. The video card is fairly large and the heatsink spans the entire length of the board, allowing for even more heat dispersion.

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The ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII pushes what heat it can off of 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 the reference model. This cooling system will deliver silent gaming when the GPU temperature remains below a certain temperature, and 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 has the first 100% automated board production system, which takes the human error component out of its builds. The AUTO-EXTREME technology ensures video cards are constructed with extreme precision on a consistent basis. It uses high quality components like the 8-phase Super Alloy 2 setup to enhance power efficiency, reduce power loss and help control thermal loads.

The ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII video card can be purchased for $319.99 after $20 MIR at Newegg. This offer includes a 3 year limited parts and labor warranty.

ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII Pictures

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The ASUS R9 390X STRIX DC3 8G 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 back plate. This back plate improves the video cards armor, securing the rear-mounted components and helps prevent PCB bending over time. The back plate 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, with 300W additional specifically for the video card. The ASUS R9 390 STRIX DCIII 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 390 STRIX DCIII is large, measuring 12 inches in length, 5.5 inches in height and 1.5 inches in width.