ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II - Watercooling EK FC-R9-290X vs. Aircooling

Published by Hiwa Pouri on 04.03.14
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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!

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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 some temperatures.

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 material. 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 DirectCU II


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.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 9 - Call of Duty Black Ops 2
Page 2 - Test Setup Page 10 - Sleeping Dogs
Page 3 - 3DMark Fire Strike Page 11 - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Page 4 - Unigine Heaven 4.0 Page 12 - Metro: Last Light
Page 5 - BattleField 4 Page 13 - Power Consumption
Page 6 - BattleField 3 Page 14 - Temperatures
Page 7 - Bioshock Infinite Page 15 - Index
Page 8 - Crysis 3 Page 16 - Conclusion

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ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II - Watercooling EK FC-R9-290X vs. Aircooling - Graphics cards > Aircooling vs. Watercooling - Reviews - ocaholic