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Tuesday | August 11, 2020
Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X Review

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X Review

A few weeks back we took a look at one of the first R9-300 series cards which have been added to AMD’s product stack in the form of the R9-380. Today we take a look at the highest model in the 300 series, this is our Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X Review.

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X Review – Packaging and Bundle

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No shocks when it comes to the box used by Sapphire on their 390X. We get a bit of info about the card on the front, a robot mascot and note of the bundled HDMI cable. Also included is the usual set of product documentation and a software CD. Speaking of software, Sapphire provide their TriXX utility which allows us to monitor and tweak our card as required.


Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X Review – The Card

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With this being the Tri-X version of the 390X we get a card which features 3 fans with dual ball bearings (low noise, durability) and a high efficiency blade design. The card features multiple heatpipes, one 10mm, two 8mm and two 6mm to provide over 300w of cooling potential and of course these run through a block of aluminium fins. Sapphire also configure the card so that at low load/temperatures the fans turn off, making the card silent and only spinning back up as required. Sapphire build their card using long life capacitors and black diamond chokes for enhanced durability and heat spreaders are present on multiple components under the cooler. Turning the card around we see that it uses a black PCB with no significant components, or backplate visible. There is however a dual BIOS switch on the top of the card which allows us to move between legacy and UEFI for benefits such as quicker booting.

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The card requires two 8-pin power connectors from our system and turning round to the outputs we have DVI, three DisplayPorts and one HDMI. These allow us to configure settings such as multi screen 5760×1080 or 4K in addition to 3D and standards like 1920×1080. For the key specifications Sapphire use a core peaking at 1055MHz and 8GB of Hynix GDDR5 memory running at 1500MHz . 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 12 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 and AMD Liquid VR along with FreeSync.


Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X Review – Performance

Testing was performed on the Intel Core i7-5960X running on an X99 board with 16GB of DDR4 and a Samsung 850 Pro SSD. Windows 8.1 was the OS and all games along with the OS were patched.

NVIDIA Driver: 353.30
AMD Driver: 15.7





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Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X Review – Conclusion

For those who haven’t been aware of the R9-300 series it is worth noting that this card is essentially an enhanced version of the R9-290X. And by enhanced we meen slightly tweaked clocks on the memory and core speeds. So for those who have a card of that class, especially the custom/overclocked versions there is not much new to see here. For anyone on a 280 class card, or 960 level and below the 390X becomes a much more desirable product and overall Sapphire have created an impressive version. It runs cool, draws minimal additional power over a 290X OC and has some nice aesthetics.

Pricing is also decent for a card with 8GB of GDDR5 at around £350, a game bundle wouldn’t hurt though so its a shame AMD are not competing with NVIDIA on that front at the moment. For those interested, the next step up in the NVIDIA chain starts with the GTX 980 which retails for around £380/390.

As far as performance goes, the Tri-X 390X raises the performance of the 290X to a level which makes it really competitive with the 970 OC that we tested against it today. There is very little to separate the two cards and the key point to take away is that this card from Sapphire is capable of gaming at 2560×1440 with high detail with ease, often providing very impressive performance at 4K.

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Stuart Davidson

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