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Tuesday | August 11, 2020
XFX Radeon R9-390X Black Edition Review

XFX Radeon R9-390X Black Edition Review

We’ve spent a bunch of time recently looking at the latest and greatest graphics cards which have been released and that continues today with a product from XFX. They just launched their new card for the high end of the mainstream market, or enthusiasts on a budget and we test it today in our XFX Radeon R9-390X Black Edition Review.

XFX Radeon R9-390X Black Edition Review – Packaging and Bundle

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XFX go with some fairly plain packaging for this card however still manage to fit in some key branding and feature information. Inside the bundle is fairly minimal for an XFX card, for example no case badge, door hanger etc which is a good thing. Less waste, reduced cost. What we do get is product documentation and power cables.

XFX Radeon R9-390X Black Edition Review – The Card

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To give it the full name, this is the XFX Radeon R9-390X Double Dissipation Black Edition, which means that it is factory overclocked and uses XFX’s dual fan enhanced cooler when compared to the reference design. This cooler falls into their Ghost Thermal 3.0 range of coolers which have optimised fin arrays and lengthened electro plated heatpipes for maximum performance. These heatpipes are copper as is the GPU block with the fins being aluminium. XFX also enhance the build quality of the card by applying a sturdy backplate on the card and back round the front they build in enhanced voltage control technology as well as adding enhanced cooling on the VRM and memory.

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The card requires a 6pin and an 8pin power connector from our system and turning round to the outputs we have dual DVI, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a. 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 XFX use a core peaking at 1090MHz 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/Vulkan/Windows 10 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, frame rate target control and AMD Liquid VR along with FreeSync and CrossFire.


XFX Radeon R9-390X Black Edition 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. All testing was performed on a BenQ BL3201 4k Display


NVIDIA Driver: 353.30
AMD Driver: 15.15.1004 Beta/15.7

3dmark-x390x temps-x390x power-x390x

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XFX Radeon R9-390X Black Edition Review – Conclusion

NOTE: As stated in previous content, the 390X is a new revision of the 290X.

Unless it was just our sample, it was interesting to see that XFX have stopped bundling a bunch of useless items with their cards. No door hanger, no case badge etc. Just the essentials. If this is their new approach, great. Looking at the card itself a nice chunky backplate is always appreciated, seven heatpipes is great to see as is memory and power circuitry cooling. We would have liked XFX to go with a metal shroud rather than plastic though, to match the competition. Also worthy of note is that XFX take an “older” approach to the outputs, going with dual DVI, HDMI and a single DisplayPort, rather than single DVI, HDMI and 3x DisplayPort which other manufacturers are using. For those with existing screens that don’t have DisplayPort this could be an advantage for XFX.

As far as value is concerned the card is competitively priced and has a 2-year warranty. A game bundle, free hdmi cable or similar would help the card stand out a little however overall, no complaints. As far as software goes, XFX do not currently have an application to manually overclock the card or monitor it, though one is in development, but we can use well known tools from 3rd parties.

Looking to performance there is one aspect which stood out to us initially. The card shipped with a BIOS which runs the fans at idle. Most cards in this class (and some above it) run with fans disabled nowadays, only kicking in at load, or above certain temperatures. We would like to see XFX adopt this and have requested a BIOS configured for that aspect.  We’ll update the review accordingly if it is provided (or isn’t). As things stand, the card is quiet at idle and decent noise wise at load, though we have tested a quieter 390X. Framerate comparisons with that alternate brand show the two cards to be within 1fps or so of each other and when we look at the 290X comparison we see XFX’s 390X Black Edition is faster in each test than an 8GB OC model of the older branded card. Comparisons with the GTX 970 OC are also good with the Radeon winning some, the GeForce others. Key to the gaming tests though, the 390X is an ideal card for 2560×1440 gaming with high levels of detail.

Summary: A good version of the 390X, impressive factory overclock and some nice build quality/design tweaks.

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Stuart Davidson

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