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PCB Design and Features

The reference Radeon R9 290 looks exactly like the top-end Radeon R9 290X. You can only tell them apart by the stickers on the reverse side of the PCB.

The card measures 276x99x39 millimeters and has the same video outputs as its senior cousin: two dual-link DVI outputs, one HDMI 1.4a, and one DisplayPort version 1.2.

The new Radeon R9 series lack CrossFireX connectors. As for the power supply, there is one 6-pin and one 8-pin connector, just like on the senior Radeon R9 290X.

The Radeon R9 290 is specified to have a peak power draw of 275 watts.

Instead of the missing CrossFireX connectors we have a BIOS switch for choosing the cooler’s operation mode: Uber or Quiet.

The PCBs of the reference Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X are identical.

The GPU voltage regulator incorporates five phases with DirectFET transistors. There are also one power phase for the memory chips and one for PLL.

The power system is based on an IR3567B controller:

The Hawaii XT GPU of our Radeon R9 290 was manufactured on the 20th week of 2013 (in mid-May). Otherwise, this 438 sq. mm chip is identical to the one we saw on our R9 290X.

If you’ve skipped over the Introduction and Specifications, we can remind you that the GPU of the Radeon R9 290 has 2560 unified shader processors, 160 texture-mapping units, and 64 raster operators. In 3D applications it can work at clock rates up to 947 MHz, depending on load and temperature. In 2D applications its clock rate drops down to 300 MHz while the voltage is lowered from 1.148 to 0.977 volts. The latter is only true for our sample of the card and may be different with other samples.

The ASIC quality of our GPU is 83.2%, which is higher than the ASIC quality of the GPU of the reference Radeon R9 290X we tested earlier (76.2%).

Overclockers were interested in the opportunity to unlock the disabled shader processors in the Radeon R9 290 and some did succeed in doing that. To check out the opportunity of unlocking the card to the level of a Radeon R9 290X, you need to download and launch the Hawaii info utility:

If the “Rx1” strings all contain "F8000005", it is highly likely that the card can be unlocked by using the BIOS of the Radeon R9 290X. The detailed instructions can be found here. We are not that lucky with our sample, though. Anyway, that's not a big loss as you’ll see in our performance tests.

The Radeon R9 290 comes with 4 gigabytes of GDDR5 memory in FCBGA chips from SK Hynix (marked as H5GQ2H24AFR R0C):

Rated for 6000 MHz, the chips are clocked at 5000 MHz on the Radeon R9 290, ensuring a peak bandwidth of 320 GB/s. So, the R9 290 is exactly like the senior R9 290X in this respect.

Here is a summary of the Radeon R9 290 specs:

Now we can move on to testing its cooler.

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