Sapphire Tri-X R9 290X Graphics Card Review

On First Page2. Test System and Methodology

Sapphire Tri-X R9 290X Graphics Card Review

Sapphire Tri-X R9 290X Graphics Card Review

The high end of the GPU market got a bit stagnant a while back but with the release of the R9 290X and GTX 780 Ti both NVIDIA and AMD shook things up quite a bit. That has allowed manufacturers to create their own cards around the new GPUs and one such company is Sapphire. Today we take a look at their current high end model, the overclocked R9 290X with Tri-X cooler… we will be testing some of the latest games such as Battlefield 4 in real world use as well as taking a look at AMD Mantle and gaming at 4K too.

The Tri-X R9 290X

Sapphire go with some stylish packaging on their 290X and in our opinion the new "mascot" is a significant improvement on the last… though a picture of the card itself would be ideal. We get a bit of product info on the box and inside we find the bundled items in their own sub-box. Those extras are power cables, documentation, software CD and an HDMI cable. Consumers will of course also get a free copy of Battlefield 4 with their purchase.

Tri-X R9 290X coolerTri-X R9 290X base

The Tri-X branding should give it away, this is a card where Sapphire feel a 3 fan configuration is best. Given the 290X’s ability to maximise performance when thermals are good, this would seem a wise move which should also minimise noise compared to dual fan configurations which would require a higher (louder) RPM. To accommodate the fans Sapphire use an extended cooler shroud and take the aluminium fins and copper heatpipes the full length, past the end of the black PCB. Also worthy of note is that this card features the dual BIOS switch found on reference based models and there are no Crossfire connectors as that is handled over PCIe on R9 290X cards.

Tri-X R9 290X powerTri-X R9 290X outputs

Power inputs on this card are one 8pin and one 6pin, matching the reference spec and these sit on the top edge of the PCB, assisting the PCIe slot in providing the required 275w. Also following the reference spec is the layout of two Dual-Link DVIs, HDMI 1.4 and then a full size DisplayPort connector. By using a MST hub (a box which takes one DisplayPort output and splits it into 3) we can connect up to six displays to the R9 290X. Alternatively we can take advantage of the latest Eyefinity revision and stick with 3 screens, for example using 2xDVI and HDMI, for resolutions such as 5760×1080. 4k displays are also supported.

For the key specifications Sapphire use a core peaking at 1040MHz and 4GB of Hynix GDDR5 memory running at 1300MHz (5200MHz). The Hawaii GPU is used here and for the Stream processors that means a 2816 "core" design and our memory bus is 512-bit. PCIe 3.0, DirectX 11.2 and DirectCompute are all supported on this card as is acceleration of high definition content and the card can output 7.1 audio over HDMI including DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. AMDs TrueAudio is also present, as is Mantle compatibility, more on that later.

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