OverclockingOverclocking results listed in this section are achieved with the default fan and voltage settings as defined in the VGA BIOS. We choose this approach as it is the most realistic scenario for the majority of users.
Every sample overclocks differently, which is why our results here can only serve as a guideline for what you can expect from your card.
On NVIDIA cards with Boost, the values discussed here are base clock. Boost will further increase clocks. Boost is already factored into our resulting clocks for AMD cards because of the way their technology works.
Maximum overclock of our sample is 1170 MHz GPU base clock (8% overclock) and 1690 MHz memory (35% overclock).
Overclocking works well and reaches one of the highest GPU clocks we've seen on the R9 290X. Memory overclocks well, too, because of the Samsung memory chips, which handle the clocks much better than Elpida chips. Let's just hope that retail cards also come with Samsung, not Elpida chips.
However, overall overclocking results are not vastly different from any other R9 290X you can buy (with luck of the draw factored in). So there is no reason to spend the premium a MSI R9 290X Lightning costs over other R9 290X cards if you do normal overclocking.
Important: Each GPU (including each GPU of the same make and model) will overclock slightly
|Maximum Overclock Comparison|
|Max. GPU Clock||Max. Memory Clock|
|MSI R9 290X Lightning||1170 MHz||1690 MHz|
|Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X OC||1135 MHz||1555 MHz|
|PowerColor R9 290X PCS+||1180 MHz||1645 MHz|
|ASUS R9 290X DC II||1090 MHz||1480 MHz|
|AMD R9 290X||1125 MHz||1575 MHz|
differently based on random production variances. This table just serves to provide a list of typical
overclocks for similar cards, determined during TPU review.
Overclocked PerformanceUsing these clock frequencies, we ran a quick test of Battlefield 3 to evaluate the gains from overclocking.
Actual 3D performance gained from overclocking is 14.3%.
Voltage TuningIt has been a long-known fact that overclocking headroom increases with more operating voltage. Software voltage control has until recently been rare on graphics cards, and most users were not willing to risk their warranty by performing a soldering voltmod, but almost all current cards use voltage control to lower power consumption by throttling voltage in idle and low load.
In this section, we will increase the GPU operating voltage step by step before recording our maximum possible clock speed. Voltage listed is the value reported by the voltage controller's measurement feature. We left memory at its default frequency for this test.
The following graph shows our sample's overclocking potential. GPU clock is represented by the blue line using the vertical clock scale on the left. The scale starts at the default clock to give a feel for the card's overclocking potential over its base clock. Temperature is plotted in red using the °C scale on the right side of the graph. An additional graph shows full system power draw in orange, measured at the wall socket while running the given voltage, clock, and temperature.
Increasing the GPU voltage yields some very good gains at up to 1190 MHz clock speed. Beyond that, the GPU will clock down in order to not exceed the card's power limit.