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Asus Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC review

Asus addresses the heat issues of the Radeon R9 290X with its DirectCU II cooler.


It would be a nearly impossible task to name the perfect video card.

While some cards are better than others, every card has its flaws. The reference Radeon R9 290X was no exception. While the architecture on board the card is promising, as VR-Zone’s review noted it runs loud and hot.

But it was only a reference card, and shouldn’t serve as a damning condemnation of the entire R9 290X line. For the most part Asus’ version of the R9 290X solves the problems the original reference card had: it runs cool, quiet, and the GPU clock speed stays consistent.

What’s on board?

The Asus R9 290X DirectCU II is the cooler, and it truly is an impressive engineering specimen. The cooler has four 8 millimeter heatpipes and one 10mm pipes pipe that make contact with the silicon. Asus says that this cooling rig will provide an approximate reduction in temperature of 10 degrees celsius, a claim which nearly holds up during testing in VR-Zone’s labs.

On the PCB itself, Asus has paid particular care to using high-quality components to ensure the card has a longer lifespan than the reference design. This is part of Asus’ “Super Alloy Power” program which uses higher-quality components on the board, across everything from the capacitors to the MOSFETS. This also helps keep the board cool, as these components dissipate heat more efficiently. It also ensures that the GPU and other components have a stable supply of power, thus keeping performance constant.



Performance and benchmarks

With the R9 290X DirectCU II, Asus has clocked the board to be slightly faster than the reference R9 290X. Asus’ card runs at a base speed of 1GHz, and has a modest boost that brings it to 1050 MHz.

Here are the benchmarks from Asus’ card, underneath are the benchmarks from the reference board:



As you can see, there is a sizable performance increase with the Asus board.

During temperature testing with Furmark the temperature stabilized at 78 degrees. Power usage fluctuated between 250 and 280 watts.



Asus’ take on the R9 290X improves upon AMD’s reference design in many ways, notably in cooling. With better cooling comes improved performance and lifespan. One of the big problems with the reference R9 290X was that its performance was hampered by a mediocre cooler. When the card got too hot it would throttle itself down, thus decreasing clock speeds. It never really met its full potential. A better cooler also solves one of the most noticeable problems of the reference R9 290X, the loud cooler. The Direct CU II cooler isn’t silent, but it’s much less noisy than the reference board’s cooler.

All things considered, this card gets an eight out of 10.



  • Increased performance due to a much better cooler than the reference design.
  • Good price/performance ratio.


  • Silent mode has too much of a performance hit.

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.
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