PowerColor R9 290X PCS+ Review
Published: 4th April 2014 | Source: PowerColor | Price: £399.99 |
The PCS+ is undoubtedly a great card. Like most R9 290X's it has a huge amount of performance from the Hawaii XT GPU and yet comes with probably the best cooler we've seen so far.
Often, as is clear from cards like the Lightning and Matrix, a manufacturer will so specifically target a tiny sector of the marketplace that it can almost become distracted from the majority of users. After all, most of us want a card that could theoretically break world records in the hands of someone with a vat of LN2 and way too much time on their hands, but know we haven't actually got all that gubbins and just want to fit and forget. But preferably fit and forget a card that could be brilliant if we had the time to explore it. The MSI Lightning straddled that line the best, being all things to all people, but with a suitably lofty price-tag to justify its elite status.
The PowerColor PCS+ is the next notch down. It's not the absolute blistering performance behemoth that eats benchmarks for breakfast, but it's damn close. It does, however, have a couple of aces up its sleeve. Firstly by dispensing with the high-power frippery necessary for sub zero shenanigans it's very affordable. The packaging is great, if a little sparse (although a version bundled with Battlefield 4 is available) and the card itself looks the business. The second, and easily the most eye-popping bit, is the cooler. The all metal construction, \m/ , means that the card is as robust as it is attractive. It gives off an air of quality that a plastic shroud just doesn't have. The more obvious benefit is that metal is a better conductor of heat than plastic so nothing restricts the gorgeous heatsink from keeping the Hawaii XT GPU cool. Keeping that thing cool is a herculean task, especially given the AMD waffle about it being designed to run at 95°C. PowerColor have knocked it out of the park it terms of cooling.
The card barely reaches 75°C which has cumulative benefits for the whole of your system and, just as importantly, for the card itself as the fans don't need to spin as fast to disperse the toasty air. So it's pretty quiet too. Sure you hear it spin up when it does, but then it's got three fans. We hardly know of a card that you can't hear spin up. But it wont deafen you and has none of the whine that is so irritating. Performance is excellent out of the box and, despite it needing a lot of coaxing, the card overclocked as well as any we've tested.
It isn't quite the top of the line in raw numbers, but there is a consistency to the performance that, when coupled with the frosty temperatures, low price and fantastic build quality mean that the PowerColor R9 290X PCS+ should be very high on your shortlist of high end cards, and we're happy to award it our OC3D Performance award. If we did a "keeping the GPU much cooler than we were expecting" award it would win that too.