Cooling, Noise, and Power
As usual, when we have the chance to check out more than one model based on the same GPU architecture the most important round of testing is our cooling, noise, and power testing. This is where we can get a better look at how well each manufactures cooling solutions perform. In the past MSI has done very well with their Twin Frozr cooling, but the R9 290’s can run a little warm so anything can happen. My first test was overall power consumption. In this test I run through Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 and note the peak power load of our test bench. This does include the power usage of our entire testbench, so if you plan on using the R9 290 Gaming on a lower TDP CPU or without water cooling you might see lower wattages. Not surprisingly all three of the R9 290’s that we have had the chance to test came in within just a few watts both at idle and under load. The 290 does still pull a lot of power and is bested only by the GTX 780 Ti so keep that in mind when picking out a power supply.
Moving on to noise testing I was surprised to see that the R9 290 Gaming was higher up on our charts. Typically Twin Frozr cards are down near the bottom when turned up. It is possible that the fans on this specific card are a little noisier, or MSI had to turn things up a little for the R9 290. Our 50% fan speed results were 68 decibels; this was slightly less than the Sapphire card and more than the XFX. So I wouldn’t expect this card to hurt your ears when under normal use, but avoid turning the fans up to 100%.
Our last test is to put the R9 290 Gaming in game and see where the temperature levels off at. Unlike the XFX R9 290 that topped our charts, the 290 Gaming performed well with a temperature of 72 degrees. This is the exact same result that the 290 from Sapphire did with its three fans. I guess the large Twin Frozr cooler pulled its weight.