The R9 290X GPU is know to become rather hot and cooling this chip with a reference and even a custom aircooler can be quite a challenge. In almost any case you will see thermal throttling. In this article we're going to compare the results of an ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II watercooled versus the same card with ASUS DirectCU II cooler. At this point a little teaser: the differences can be as high as 25 percent!
As we already mentioned, in this article we're going to have a closer look at the
possible differences between a watercooled and an aircooled ASUS R9 290X
DirectCU II. For this purpose EK Water Blocks shipped us one of their brand new
EK-FC R9-290X-DCII fullcover waterblocks. First of all we're going to have a
closer look at both, the water as well as the aircooler and afterwards we will
run both cards through our set of recent games with stock clocks as well as
overclocked to the coolers specific maximum. Apparently we will also show you
ASUS R9 290X Direct CU II -
Watercooling EK-FC R9-290X-DCII
EK Water Blocks is the first company to come up with a custom,
full-cover waterblock for ASUS' R9 290X DirectCU II graphics card. The block
establishes direct contact to GPU, memory as well as VRM area. This way you can
be sure there is going to be best possible cooling whereever it's needed. The
cooler EK Water Blocks provided us with has been made from nickel plated
electrolyte copper. Above the GPU there is a thin channel structure to provide
additional surface area, where it actually makes sense to have it. On top of the
cooper block there is a plexi cover and on the
right hand side you can see a brushed stainless steel plate. Looking for threads
we find G1/4'' inch one's where you can attach a vast majority of fittings. The
threads have been cut into black POM acetal, which is a rather hard plastic
Nevertheless it's enough to tighten fittings by hand to achieve sufficient
sealing and you don't have to use a gripper. In fact by using a gripper you can
break the plastic. Manufacturing quality on EK products
is exceptional. These blocks are just perfectly made and the looks are
breathtaking. The big picture above shows the cooler with blue coolant inside.
In case of an ASUS ROG graphics cards you might certainly want to use red die,
but in order to show the effect blue does the job perfectly well too.
ASUS R9 290X Direct CU II - Aircooling
This version of the DirectCU II cooler comes with no less than five
heatpipes, which feature a GSG shape. There is one heatpipe with a massive
diameter of ten millimeter and other than there are two more with eight
millimeter diameter and another two which measure six millimeters. The heatpipes have been nickel plated and are in direct contact with the GPU core. Soldered to the heatpipes you find the fin stack which is being provided with fresh air via two 95mm fans. The fan closer to the I/O shield is a hybrid axial/radial fan ASUS like to call "CoolTech". They claim that this fan is able to provide a higher airflow than standard axial or radial fans at the same noise level. In case of the second fan you find a standard axial fan. Both fans are being manufactured by Everflow and strangely share the same model name, T129215SU.
Overall the cooler is well made and the finish is on a very reasonable level too.
This cooler definitely plays in another league than the reference cooler from
AMD. But still, even this custom aircooler is just about able to not make the
290X throttle at stock clocks.