PCB Design and Features
The Radeon R9 290 DirectCU II is easily identifiable as an ASUS product. Its face side is covered by the cooler’s stylish casing with two fans of different types. The metallic plate on the reverse side of the card serves to reinforce the PCB and protect its components but doesn't play any role in dissipating their heat.
There’s a 10mm heat pipe sticking out of the heatsink. The card measures 281x137x41 millimeters, which is a mere 5 millimeters longer than the reference Radeon R9 290(X).
It offers dual-link DVI-I and DVI-D outputs, one HDMI 1.4a connector and a DisplayPort 1.2. There's a vent grid in the card's mounting bracket to exhaust the hot air out of the computer case.
AMD's Radeon R9 290 and 290X card have no CrossFireX connectors. As for power connectors, they are turned around on the ASUS card and feature LED highlighting:
The ASUS Radeon R9 290 DirectCU II is specified to consume up to 300 watts, which is 25 watts more than the reference card needs.
Although massive, the cooling system is only secured with four screws around the GPU, so it is very easy to take off:
After unfastening a few more elements, such as a top stiffening rib and a small aluminum heatsink on the power system components, we can take a closer look at the PCB:
The custom-design PCB features ASUS’s Super Alloy Power technology and a 10-phase power system (with 6 phases for the GPU, 2 for memory chips and 2 for PLL).
Like all other ASUS products of this class (including GeForce-based ones), the card employs Japan-made solid-state tantalum capacitors, DrMOS transistors and ferrite-core chokes.
The premium components are supposed to substantially improve the product’s efficiency, stability and service life. The small BIOS switch you can see in the photo selects one of two operation modes: Silent or Performance. They define the regulation algorithm of the cooler's fans.
The GPU voltage regulator is based on an ASP1300 controller.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any information about it.
There are ROG Connector check points on the PCB for measuring voltages.
Judging by the marking, the GPU of our sample of the card was manufactured in Taiwan on the 44th week of 2013:
The GPU is clocked at 1000 MHz in 3D applications, which is 53 MHz (or 5.6%) higher compared to the reference Radeon R9 290. That’s not the best factory overclocking we’ve seen as some manufacturers pre-overclock their R9 290 to 1040 MHz. In 2D applications the ASUS card drops its GPU clock rate to 300 MHz and lowers its voltage. The ASIC quality of our GPU chip is 68.4%:
The graphics card comes with 4 gigabytes of GDDR5 memory in Elpida’s W2032BBBG-6A-F chips.
The chips are rated for 6000 MHz but the reference Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X have a memory frequency of 5000 MHz. ASUS increases it to 5040 MHz, which can hardly be even called overclocking. The peak memory bandwidth is 322.6 GB/s.
The GPU-Z screenshot below summarizes the ASUS Radeon R9 290 DirectCU II specs:
Now we can proceed to testing its cooler.