PowerColor R9 295X2 Review
Published: 21st May 2014 | Source: PowerColor | Price: £1100 |
In many ways a card such as the PowerColor R9 295X2 writes itself. You all know exactly what you're getting before we've put a word down.
So let's run through the basics. It's a dual-GPU card, and based around two full-fat Hawaii XT GPU Cores. Has it got performance? By the bucketload. In nearly every single title we ran it was the next best, just behind the Gainward Phantom GTX780Ti SLI setup, which is even more expensive and exclusive. Some titles, such as Hitman, saw the 295X2 ahead of where we might expect and others, BattleField 4 and Metro Last Light, show either a deficiency in the drivers or the game engine itself. Even so you're guaranteed that the 295X2 has enough power to do whatever you ask. All of our tests were at 2560x1440 so if you're only running on 1080P then, apart from the card being complete overkill, you can add at least a third to our results.
Next up would be the looks and cooling capacity. It's no secret that the latest Radeon GPUs are mind-blowingly toasty things. The decision to use an all-in-one watercooling solution for the 295X2 is a combination of prudence and necessity. It's not without issue though. There is nowhere to control the fan speed, instead you set a desired temperature and the Catalyst drivers adjust the card to suit that. It might as well be a performance slider though. Under water we'd expect maybe 45-50° but the 295X2 is down to walking pace at anything below 60°C. As you increase the heat you get more power, until eventually the slider tops out. It's patently obvious that the 120mm radiator isn't sufficient though. The heat coming out of our test rig was enough to warm the room considerably, and eventually our CPU temperature rose by 10°C just because of the hot air the 295X2 produces. You really have to run the card at 75° to get the best out of it, but there is a steep thermal price to pay. We'd much rather have a 240mm radiator. After all, detuning a £1000 graphics card is pointless.
Lastly, yes your eyes are right. £1000 for the PowerColor R9 295X2. For that money you could get two MSI 290X Lightnings, the best 290X around. Or two bog standard ones and the associated waterblocks to put them in your loop. Like all of these extremely expensive graphics cards you're not buying it with your head, but with your heart. Or perhaps with your desire to have something exclusive. At this price we can't imagine you'll be bumping into too many people who have one. They'll be easy to spot if you do though, they'll be the people sweating profusely at the heat being thrown from their system.
It's a fantastic bit of kit in pure performance terms. It's even able to make a 4K screen seem a worthwhile investment. It's quiet, although the trade off is copious amounts of hot air. We'd have preferred a 240mm radiator especially as it is unlikely to make a dent in the price, and because the amount of extra performance as you are more accepting of higher temperatures means that there is bundles of untapped performance hidden within.
The PowerColor R9 295X2 is blisteringly fast and for that reason, coupled to its natural exclusivity, it wins our OC3D Performance Award.