PowerColor introduced three versions of the AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics card. If you are simply looking for silence, the TurboDuo R9 290 with a dual-fan cooler is a good choice. However, if you want silence and at the same time more power and overclocking potential, we believe the PCS+ R9 290 with its massive three-fan cooler and factory overclock is a better choice. The third PowerColor R9 290 graphics card is based on the reference design and it is good if you do not care much about noise.
The PCS+ features one of the highest factory overclock among Hawaii Pro cards on the market today. The factory GPU clock stands at 1040MHz, on par with Gigabyte’s Radeon WindForce 3X, but the memory is clocked at 1350MHz, which is 100MHz faster than Gigabyte’s card. Sapphire recently introduced the R9 290 Vapor-X OC which works at 1030MHz, with the memory clock bumped up to 1400MHz. The Vapor-X cooler should be between 5 and 10 degrees cooler than Sapphire’s own Tri-X technology alone (used on the older R9 290 Tri-X OC). This puts the Vapor-X OC opportunity to compete the PCS+ at all levels. Both cards have similar clocks and should provide the same performance in games.
What we especially appreciate on the PCS+ R9 290 card is the powerful and silent cooler which maintains maximum GPU clock at all times. Note the PCS+ cooler is two and half slots wide and with its 29.5cm length it is longer than current reference high-end graphics cards. If you’re interested, make sure your chassis can handle it.
Although the 290X gets all the fame we believe Hawaii Pro products offer a slightly better price/performance ratio and with a nice custom cooler they look even more tempting. Furthermore the PCS+ R9 290 ends up about €50-70 cheaper than the R9 290X and the 290X simply does not justify the premium for many users.
New R9-series cards have better support for multiple displays than old HD 7000-series products. If you are planning to use a three-monitor setup, you no longer have to use DisplayPort for the third display. You can use two DVIs and an HDMI connector.
The PCS+ R9 290 promises excellent gaming performance, the GPU and memory are factory overclocked for additional performance out of the box and the price/performance ratio is still good. The cooler on the PCS+ R9 290 manages to provide superior cooling compared to the reference solution while keeping noise levels at a reasonable level.
To sum up, it’s a non-reference card done right, with significant improvements on all fronts, hence we’re happy to recommend it.