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PCB Design and Features

The new AMD Radeon R9 290X follows the classic dual-slot design where the face side of the PCB is covered by the cooling system with a radial fan. The device’s rather boring brick-like appearance is somewhat enlivened by a few sculpted red lines:

The card measures 275x99x39 mm. Its reverse side is exposed.

The AMD Radeon R9 290X has dual-link DVI-I and DVI-D outputs, one HDMI 1.4a connector and one DisplayPort version 1.2.

There’s a vent grid in the card’s mounting bracket to exhaust the hot air from the cooler out of the computer case.

As opposed to its predecessors, the new AMD Radeon R9 290X lacks CrossFireX connectors. Multi-GPU configurations are now built using the PCI Express bus.

Additional power is delivered to the card via one 6-pin and one 8-pin connector. The peak power draw is specified to be 275 watts, which is a mere 25 watts more than required by the Radeon R9 280X.

A BIOS switch can be found in its traditional location:

It allows booting from a different BIOS chip and choosing between two operation modes for the card’s cooler: Uber Mode and Quiet Mode. We’ll tell you more about them shortly in our description of the cooling system.

The PCB design is overall similar to that of the Radeon R9 280X and of the earlier Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition:

The power system includes 5 phases for the GPU, 1 phase for the memory, and 1 phase for PLL. It uses state-of-the-art DirectFET transistors.

The GPU voltage regulator is based on an International Rectifier 3567B controller:

AMD puts an emphasis on it, claiming that the controller helps improve AMD’s PowerTune technology. The voltage regulator is 6.25 mV accurate now, so there are as many as 255 possible values in the range of 0 to 1.55 volts.

The GPU looks impressive with its 438 sq. mm die which is 20% larger than the Tahiti. Well, it is still smaller than the GK110 (561 sq. mm). Our sample of the GPU was manufactured on the 31st week of 2013 in Taiwan. Its marking is printed around the chip on the protective metal frame:

The GPU incorporates 2816 unified shader processors, 176 texture-mapping units, and 64 raster operators. It is expected to work at clock rates up to 1000 MHz in 3D applications, depending on load and temperature. The clock rate is dropped to 300 MHz in 2D mode while the voltage is lowered from 1.195 to 0.945 volts.

The ASIC quality is rather high for an engineering sample at 76.2%:

The card comes with 4 gigabytes of GDDR5 memory in FCBGA chips soldered to the face side of the PCB. These are H5GQ2H24AFR R0C components from SK Hynix:

The chips are rated for 6000 MHz but clocked at 5000 MHz on the Radeon R9 290X, so we can expect them to overclock well. The memory bandwidth is anyway quite high with the 512-bit bus: 320 GB/s. That’s higher compared to the GeForce GTX 780 but somewhat worse compared to the GeForce GTX 780 Ti.

Thus, the Radeon R9 290X has the following specs:

Now we can check out its cooling system, temperature and noisiness.

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