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Pros: Very good for gaming.
Very Overclockable. [Because of low voltage requirements of Ivy Bridge, 6 phase for the CPU is
good enough for moderate overclocking (up to 4.4GHz ~ 4.6GHz), on air with great air flow and room ambient temperature around 72 to 75 degrees F.]
Cons: Almost none.
1st PCIe [16x] slot is too close to my large CPU air cooler. I have to use a "flat tip" screw driver to unlock the video card latch lock.
Other Thoughts: I was in the computer industry for decades, owned my own company, and among other titles was a designer and computer consultant; my field of study was primarily computer hardware. I also used to have a hobby of overclocking until something broke, in order to find limits in components. I have gained a lot of knowledge from those experiments. However, I am now disabled and can no longer afford to break things.
Although I do other work on my computer, my primary requirement is for playing games and helping others with answers to problems in computer forums.
I am old and because of my health I use a great deal of medication, however, I enjoy gaming and even more, the gaming community with the use of TeamSpeak.
On another important note, and that is many people giving negative reviews skip important basic information, for example, do not state that they and the computer were or were not grounded during build or upgrade, or provide system details - for example an inadequate PSU can cause havoc and, in some cases, eventual death of hardware. This lack of information degrades the accuracy of some reviews, and sometimes renders them useless; please keep that in mind, especially when reading negative reviews that do not list basic information about their build.
I ground myself and the computer, the result is, over 30 years+ in the computer field, with the exception of one stick of defective RAM and a few power supplies and hard drives that were made from the same factory batch and arrived in the same shipment, I have experienced almost no hardware problems, especially over the last 10 years.
And, over those past 30 years plus I have built so many systems [and repaired even more - that were built by different companies than ours or mine] that I cannot tell you a number, I built or repaired too many to recall.
I know this is a very long review and I appreciate and want to thank you for your patience to those that have read it completely.
My Computer specs :
Motherboard: Z77X-D3H [version 1.0], BIOS version F16
Power Supply: Corsair TX650M
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
CPU: Intel i5 3570K
Thermal compound: GELID GC-EXTREME [Prolimatech PRO is almost as good]
CPU Cooler: Noctura NH-C14 --- with both fans it clears G.Skill RipJaws X by ~ 3/16 inch [this cooler is good for an overclock up to ~ 4.6GHz continual use [my CPU cruses at 4.4GHz], depending upon CPU quality [luck of the draw] and case air temperature - however, this cooler is large]
Video: Sapphire R9 290 [I use MSI Afterburner to manipulate fan speeds on the reference version.]
RAM: 16GB G.Skill RipJaws X, DDR3 1866 @ CAS 9 [Ripjaws Z also works as both are 40mm tall]
Solid State Drive: Intel 330 Series 180GB SATA 3
HDD: WD 640GB Black, WD 1TB Black
Case: HAF 922 [with an extra 200mm fan in door].
Pros: Outstanding overclocker. Mine went to 4.8GHz with a good air cooler and case.
Other Thoughts: My computer build is over a year and a half old and it still runs better that a "Swiss watch". After this amount of time for benchmarking in summer months I do not push it past 4.6GHz because of high room temperature, and, I want it to live a long life.
For normal operations I drop it down a notch and it cruses through games at 4.5GHz with no problem at just over 1.2 volts.
It obviously holds up over time. Don't be afraid of this CPU, and now prices are as very attractive.
CPU cooler: Noctua NH-C14 140mm x 2 SSO
Case: Cooler Master HAF 922 [with three 200mm fans]
[To Endoz, off topic, your dog needs vitamins. I wanted to help him with his question.]
Pros: Very fast, overclocks well.
Cons: This video card gets too hot, even at non-overclocked speed.
If you can, wait for Sapphire to bring out a better cooler, as they normally do after a period of time after initial release.
Other Thoughts: I do not want to give people a negative feeling about this card, it has great potential.
Unfortunately, the cooler does not perform well. I have turned down some of the eye candy and it eventually still gets too hot.
I have maximum fan speed set to 100% for both non-overclock and overclocked.The fan has NEVER reached 100% and the card gets too hot. This causes the game to run choppy. I keep a running graph using AIDA64, and sometimes use GPU-Z to keep an eye on clocks, temperature and so on.
The primary game I play is World of Tanks. I did not know this game was so demanding, yet it is with all eye candy turned up, and I can't turn up everything unless I overclock my R9 290 and Intel i5 3570K.
Tomshardware had a review [Replacing the Reference Cooler with Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III], and it did very well, even though it is not made for the R9 290 or X and is missing some proper heat sinks at this time. I hope they make a few changes to the Accelero Xtreme III because I will replace this reference cooler.
Tomshardware went so far as to look into claims of replacing the thermal compound on the GPU, this is the title if you want to look it up:
Tuning Radeon R9 290X: Replace The Thermal Paste For More Efficiency
For 2 or 3 hours the card runs well. I you have a weekend or holiday when you want to game more, the reference card simply gets too hot in a GPU demanding game.
My room temperature is about 68 to 72 degrees F this time of year [mid November]. I also have a case with great cooling, a Cooler Master HAF 922 with three 200mm fans, plus the two 140mm fans. So, case cooling is very good.
This upsets me because when I spend $400 for a video card I expect a company to get the least expensive component on the card right.
This is an updated review to give a heads-up to anyone purchasing a R9 290 from any company, even though I purchased this Sapphire, they all use AMD's reference cooler.