AMD Radeon R9 290 4 GB Review 235

AMD Radeon R9 290 4 GB Review

Performance Summary »

Fan Noise

In past years, gamers would accept everything for a little bit more performance. Nowadays, users are more aware of the fan noise and the power consumption of their graphics cards.

In order to properly test the fan noise that a card emits, we use the Bruel & Kjaer 2236 sound-level meter (~$4,000). It has the measurement range and the accuracy we are looking for.

Fan Noise Measurement Setup

The tested graphics card was installed in a system that was completely cooled system passively. That is, passive PSU, passive CPU cooler, and passive cooling on the motherboard and solid state drive. Noise results of other cards on this page are measurements of the respective reference design.

This setup allows us to eliminate secondary noise sources and test only the video card. To be more compliant with standards like DIN 45635 (we are not claiming to be fully DIN 45635 certified), the measurement was conducted at a distance of 100 cm and 160 cm off the floor. Ambient background noise in the room was well below 20 dBA for all measurements. Please note that the dBA scale is not linear but logarithmic. 40 dBA is not twice as loud as 20 dBA, as a 3 dBA increase results in double the sound pressure. The human hearing perception is a bit different, and it is generally accepted that a 10 dBA increase doubles the perceived sound level. 3D load noise levels were tested with a stressful game, not with Furmark.

Idle noise levels are ok, but a few less dBs in that state would be nice since many productivity users prefer a quiet system for work.

As soon as you play any games on the card, though, the experience becomes extremely noisy. The card's noise will overpower any other component and possibly your game's audio; that is, unless you play with headphones or increase the volume.

AMD released a second driver, which we used, after the initial driver provided to reviewers. It yields additional performance to beat the GTX 780 by increasing maximum fan speed from 40% to 47%. The fan is unfortunately also much noisier, so much so that noise output might actually turn into a real dealbreaker for many.

AMD also confirmed that this "new" driver adheres to the way this product is designed to work, and its changes will be included in all future drivers. The driver does not affect the fan speed/performance ratio of any other AMD product.

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May 17th, 2022 01:37 EDT change timezone

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