Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Video Card Review

The new AMD Radeon R9 295X2 contains two Radeon R9 290X GPUs on a single video card package that utilizes liquid cooling for the best GPU performance. We compare it to NVIDIA's competitive configuration and see just how well it performs at both huge 4K resolutions and in an Eyefinity setup.

Introduction

AMD is announcing a new video card today that consists of two AMD Radeon R9 290X GPUs on a single printed circuit board (PCB) in a single video card format. While this marks the announcement of said video card, actual availability will not come until the week of April 21st. We have the new AMD Radeon R9 295X2 video card for full evaluation right now and will give you a thorough exploration of performance and comparisons in this review.

Let's talk price, AMD is setting the MSRP at $1,499. That's right, a $1500 video card. It sure better perform like $1500 GPU. At $1500 it is several hundred dollars more expensive than two separate AMD Radeon R9 290X video cards in CrossFire. It is also more expensive than the competitions GeForce GTX 780 Ti SLI solution. However, we are going to compare it to both today and see if those hundreds of dollars are worth it.


AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Water Cooling

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The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 is also known as "Project Hydra" internally at AMD. Like the mythical hydra beast, the Radeon R9 295X2 has many heads and relates to water.

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What makes the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 somewhat sui generis in the world of GPUs is the use of an Asetek closed-loop water cooling system with 120mm radiator and fan for its cooling configuration. There are integrated pumps that sit atop each GPU using micro channel cold plates. The tubes are sealed and heat is exchanged to the 120mm radiator with fan. No assembly is required and it is maintenance free like most AIO CPU coolers you are likely familiar with. Simply find a place to mount the radiator in your case and you are good to go. The video card itself does house a copper heatsink and fan which cools the RAM and regulators actively.

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AMD is using an all metal construction for the front shroud. There is also a backplate for added support and cooling. AMD has also illuminated the fan and logo atop the video card for a visually appealing video card inside your case.

This video card supports ZeroCore power control even though it is a dual-GPU video card. This is how it operates.

When both GPU’s on the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 are in ZeroCore Power mode the component fan in the center of the graphics card will stop spinning, however the radiator fan, which when properly set up is being used as a chassis fan, will continue to run to maintain airflow in your system.

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Specifications

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The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 contains two full specification AMD Radeon R9 290X GPUs. These contain the full 2,816 stream processors per GPU, 64 ROPs per GPU and 176 texture units per GPU. Both GPUs are 28nm. There has been a GPU clock speed difference however. AMD has raised the clock speed on each GPU for an up to 1018MHz frequency while gaming. This is versus the up to 1000MHz on the R9 290X. This extra boost to the clock speed should provide a clock speed performance advantage with the R9 295X2.

Each GPU has access to 4GB of GDDR5 on a 512-bit memory bus at 5GHz. This is exactly the same as the Radeon R9 290X. That means AMD has not reduced memory bandwidth, AMD is giving you the full capabilities of Radeon R9 290X performance x2. CrossFire is enabled automatically on the video card and a bridge chip is used to give the proper PCI-Express lanes.

Typical board power for this video card is 500W. Two 8-pin power connectors are required, and there are some stiff PSU requirements you must read below. In addition there are 4 mini-Display Ports and one dual-link DVI port on the video card. This allows 5-display Eyefinity right from the video card without any adapters. If you wish, you can expand this to 6-way Eyefinity with DisplayPort chains.

Strict Power Supply Requirements

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There are some strict power supply requirements in order to operate this video card without issue. You will need not only a high wattage power supply, but a certain amperage per 12V rail, and there is even more. We have made screenshots of the power supply requirements as outlined by the reviewers guide above. Please give these a thorough read to understand how to properly power the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 video card.

System power supply must support two 8-pin PCIe power connectors that are each capable of supplying 28 A of dedicated current. System power supply must support supplying a combined 50A of current over the two 8-pin power connectors, in addition to providing power requirements for other components.


AMD Press Sample Pictures

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These are some pictures provided by AMD to give us a better look inside the video card and how it is constructed.

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Pictures

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The video card is quite lengthy at 12" long, however it only takes up two slots. You will have to measure and attach the radiator in your case. AMD recommends positioning the radiator above the video card if you can. Make sure to properly setup the power.

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The fan and logo light up red giving the area a nice red glow. This would make a great addition for an internally red lit case build.