MSI R9 290X Light­ning Edi­tion

MSI R9 290X Light­ning

HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

By the time you read this ar­ti­cle, AMD's cur­rent sin­gle GPU flag­ship graph­ics card, the Radeon R9 290X, will have cel­e­brated its first birth­day since it was re­leased to the world. Since then, the card has been through the hands of many dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers, all of whom have over­clocked the card and built their own heatsinks and cool­ers for the card. MSI, how­ever, may have gone a lit­tle over­board when they cre­ated the Light­ning edi­tion of the R9 290X.

Like the GTX 780 Light­ning, the R9 290X Light­ning sports the same over­sized heatsink and triple fans on top of it, and with good (if not ob­vi­ous) rea­son: it's de­signed to ag­gres­sively keep the card cool from the heat it gen­er­ates. To this ex­tent, the R9 290X Light­ning is a noisy card, both when it is idle and when it's work­ing on a full load, with the em­pha­sis on its idle­ness. Even when we browse the web, the card's three fans were fu­ri­ously spin­ning away.

But for what it is worth, the enor­mous heatsink and three fans ac­tu­ally do their jobs, keep­ing the card's over­all tem­per­a­ture hov­er­ing be­tween 65 and 73 de­grees Cel­sius.

There are draw­backs to this card, and those draw­backs ac­tu­ally boil down to its phys­i­cal de­sign and power con­sump­tion. Once in­stalled, the card takes up two PCIe slots, so if you're look­ing at a Cross­Fire con­fig­u­ra­tion, you'll only be able to do a dual or Tri-Cross­Fire con­fig­u­ra­tion, de­pend­ing on the size of your moth­er­board. Re­gard­ing the power con­sump­tion, the card re­quires two 8-pins and one 6-pin con­nec­tors.

When the orig­i­nal R9 290X first hit the shelves, AMD them­selves ag­gres­sively over­clocked the card all the way from 850MHz to a mas­sive 1,000MHz. MSI's R9 290X Light­ning, how­ever, has been over­clocked to 1,080MHz. Dur­ing our test­ing, we ac­tu­ally man­aged to push past that num­ber and got the card's Boost Clock speed up to 1,150MHz.

To test the card, we ran Unig­ine Heaven 4.0 and 3DMark's main bench­marks for high-end gaming PCs: Fire Strike, Fire Strike Ex­treme, the new Fire Strike Ul­tra, and Sky Diver. On Unig­ine Heaven, the R9 290X Light­ning man­aged an av­er­age of 53 FPS, while the scores for the 3DMark bench­marks were 10,310, 5,192, 2,797, and 28,944 re­spec­tively.

For real-world test­ing, we ran Cr­y­sis 3, Bat­man: Arkham Ori­gins and Hit­man: Ab­so­lu­tion. Cr­y­sis 3 gave us an av­er­age FPS of 42 with the MSAA set at the high­est set­ting, and dou­bled that once we turned off an­tialias­ing. On Bat­man: Arkham Ori­gins, the R9 290X ab­so­lutely out­per­formed the game, av­er­ag­ing 105 FPS through­out the game. Hit­man: Ab­so­lu­tion paced the card at an av­er­age fram­er­ate of 46 FPS with an­tialias­ing on, and close to 60 FPS with anti-alias­ing off.

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