Monday, October 14th 2013

Reference Radeon R9 290X Taken Apart

A HIS-branded AMD reference design Radeon R9 290X graphics card was taken apart by Expreview, revealing its cooling solution, the PCB, the VRM, and the star attraction, the company's new 28 nm "Hawaii" silicon. The pictures match with an earlier, blurrier leak from September. The cooling solution is typical AMD fare, with its copper plate covering the GPU, memory, and VRM areas, aluminium channels, and a lateral-flow fan. The PCB features the swanky new 7.08 billion-transistor chip from AMD, sixteen GDDR5 memory chips (all of which are on the obverse side), and the 5+1+1 phase VRM, which uses CPL-made chokes, IR-made DirectFETs, and a new IR-made VRM controller. The first reviews of the Radeon R9 290X should be published later this month. Find more pictures at the source.

Source: Expreview
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61 Comments on Reference Radeon R9 290X Taken Apart

#1
HumanSmoke
by: the54thvoid
What are the screw holes for in the cover? Or is it just where the shroud screws have already been removed...
Support bracket mount. Usually seen on OEM and workstation rigs. Allows options for additional card support and sometimes PCI-E cable routing.
Here's a similar bracket attached to a GTX 690
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#2
LAN_deRf_HA
by: BarbaricSoul
I agree 100%. I'd love to replace my 7970 with a 290X,but if the card has coil whine , I don't care if it gives a bajillion FPS at super ultra very high settings at 25600000*16000000 resolution, I won't buy it. :shadedshu
Well you're screwed then. I bought into that Asus marketing about their silent coils, total bullshit. Every card whines and it's pretty damn annoying.
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#3
The Von Matrices
Ugh, AMD is still using a recessed core like Tahiti. So you can't use a universal cooler on a 290 series card, you have to buy a cooler that is made for a 290 and is compatible with nothing else. It doesn't matter for people who want to use full coverage water blocks, but it basically eliminates the use of aftermarket universal air and water coolers.
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#4
buildzoid
by: The Von Matrices
Ugh, AMD is still using a recessed core like Tahiti. So you can't use a universal cooler on a 290 series card, you have to buy a cooler that is made for a 290 and is compatible with nothing else. It doesn't matter for people who want to use full coverage water blocks, but it basically eliminates the use of aftermarket universal air and water coolers.
EK sells copper shims specifically to solve this issue or you can always just remove the brace by using a knife.
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#5
The Von Matrices
by: buildzoid
EK sells copper shims specifically to solve this issue or you can always just remove the brace by using a knife.
I use a shim in my 7970s, but it's far from a good solution thermally and it's extremely difficult to apply properly.

It's very difficult to keep the shim centered on the core while screwing down the heatsink; the shim wants to move as the thermal paste spreads, and it also moves if you need to shift the heatsink slightly to align with the mounting holes. The shim is only slightly smaller than the brace's opening, so if you are off even a little bit the side of the shim ends up on top of the brace and you end up with a thick paste layer on one side between the core and the shim. It took me about 4 or 5 tries before I got it right the first time I tried it; I'm still not perfect, but I've done it enough times that I'd estimate on any try I have a 50% chance of getting it right now.

The shim adds about 5-10°C over a solution with no shim, but if you don't apply the shim properly (and it ends up slightly overlapping the brace) you can add another 10°C to that. Part of the frustration is that if you applied the shim improperly and it slightly overlaps the brace it's not like the card won't work; it will just run a bit hotter, which makes it hard to tell when you've applied it properly. I'm not that inclined to remove the brace to avoid invalidating the warranty, although that's probably a good solution once the warranty expires.

The shape of the core on the 290 is different, so you need different shims; it might take a while for those to be released.
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#6
Random Murderer
The Anti-Midas
Anyone else notice the top of the display port connector says "1337"?
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#7
TheGuruStud
by: Random Murderer
Anyone else notice the top of the display port connector says "1337"?
And the top of the GPU border shim thingamajig says 1336... :|
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#8
1d10t
by: Random Murderer
Agreed. Coil whine doesn't bother me as long as the hardware works. My case fans drown out the whine anyway, and even if they didn't, I game with headphones on.
Luckily, only one of my 7970s has coil whine and it's the worst ASIC and overclocker of the three.
Nicely put coil whine is suppose to be faulty product not a design fail :toast:

by: The Von Matrices
I use a shim in my 7970s, but it's far from a good solution thermally and it's extremely difficult to apply properly.
You might to try my trick.I'm using copper pad copper shim to deal with gap between GPU die and XSPC rasa universal gpu waterblock.It works better than Ek one :toast:
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#9
Assimilator
by: btarunr
Just like the $1000 Titan.
Fair enough, I didn't realise the Titan and 780 don't come with backplates. Disappointing considering their cost, and how much a small sheet of metal costs.
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