Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8GB GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

Sapphire’s range of new Radeon cards just arrived Malaysian shores less than a week ago and at goldfries’ lab is the much awaited Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card. How does the card fare against the champions of the green camp?

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

Before we explore the match results, let’s have a look at the card. The Being of a Tri-X model, the Tri-X R9 390X sports Sapphire’s signature Tri-fan cooler.

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

From the top you’ll see that the heatsink shroud does not cover the fins and this allows better air movement. On the heatsink shroud are the words Sapphire both from the top and front. Note also that the Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X is powered by 2x 8-pin PCI-E connector and it has Dual-BIOS, just in case we screw up on our experiments like flashing BIOS. 😛

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

Here’s the back view of the Tri-X R9 390X, one of which I’m very disappointed at because it doesn’t come with a back plate. My previous generation Sapphire Vapor-X R9 280X comes with a back plate and I must say I expect every other cards from that range onwards to have one. 🙁

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

The Tri-X R9 390X is also a very long card where the heatsink extends far beyond the PCB.

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

Here’s the bottom (not upskirt!) view of the Tri-X R9 390X.

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

And from the other side, the connection ports.

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

Here’s the GPU-Z capture for the Tri-X R9 390X (No, I didn’t make any mistake in this screen capture. It is as what you see. Even Sapphire’s Trixx and Furmark identified the card as an R9 290X)

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

Additional details available at the official product page.

Test Setup

ProcessorIntel Core i5-4670K
RAMKingston HyperX 2x 4GB DDR3 2400Mhz Kit
MotherboardGigabyte GA-Z97X Gaming 3
CoolerNZXT Kraken X31
MonitorBenQ XL2430T
Power SupplyFSP AURUM S 600W
CasingNZXT S340
Operating SystemWindows 8 Pro 64bit

The Benchmarks

Here we go!

Unigine Heaven 4.0

Heaven 4.0

Card1080p (avg)
Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X86.8
GALAX GTX 980 SOC99.7
ASUS STRIX GTX 97077.2

With such high-end card, I’ve decided to go with MAX settings on Unigine Heaven.

Card1080p (avg)
Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X59.0
GALAX GTX 980 SOC65.4

Metro Last Light

Heaven 4.0

Card1080p (avg)
Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X79.00
GALAX GTX 980 SOC93.5
ASUS STRIX GTX 97078.5

Bioshock Infinite

Settings are at
2 – UltraDX11_DDOF | 2 – Custom | 1 – 16:9 | 4 – 1920×1080

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X114.67
GALAX GTX 980 SOC130.71
ASUS STRIX GTX 970114.07

Shadow of Mordor

Heaven 4.0

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X82.18
GALAX GTX 980 SOC76.56

Temperature

Furmark Burn-in Test was used to stress the card. Fan settings are at Auto. Room set to ~25c.

CardIdle(°C)Load (°C)
Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X4371
Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X Full RPM3761

The fans run sufficiently silent when left at default, hovering at 72% RPM on load. Suffice to say that it’s quite noisy at 100% RPM and doesn’t improve much on the cooling at this point.

Power Consumption

The stress was done with Furmark Burn-in Test. Power consumption reading was taken from the watt-meter, actual power draw by the entire system from the wall point. I’m using an FSP Aurum S 700W with 90% efficiency and the estimated system power draw (CPU, not including GPU) during Furmark test is 60w.

CardTri-X R9 390X
Furmark Burn-in370
Estimated Actual System Draw333
Estimated Card Power Draw273

The Verdict

The Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8GB GDDR5 retails at RM 1,839 Source : IdealTech, not a bad price for a graphic card with 8GB VRAM and it runs quite cool despite having very high power draw. The thing most people felt concerned of is that the R9 390X is basically a souped up R9 290X with improved memory size and speed. Power consumption is pretty much that of an R9 290X and same goes the performance, you can tell based on how it matches the GTX 970 most of the time.

For what it’s worth, there are some tweaks done to the card that it is now able to contend even with the GTX 980 when then R9 290X couldn’t. The 8GB VRAM would prove to be very useful in CrossfireX setup where greater computing capacity is available.

In comparison to what the green camp has to offer, the Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8GB is priced very competitively at around 75% that of a GTX 980 and providing performance that’s very close (around 90%) to a GTX 980 and in some case surpassing that of a GTX 980. What more could you ask for?

goldfries recommended

The GTX 970 cards do give the Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8GB GDDR5 a run for their money but the performance gap largely depends on the clock speed. What GTX 970 cards lack is the memory configuration. R9 390X in Crossfire configuration definitely looks more attractive than a GTX 970 SLI configuration, afterall the GTX 970 SLI is stuck with 4GB (3.5GB + 0.5GB) RAM.

Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8G GDDR5 Graphic Card Review

NOTE : The unit was problematic but sufficient for me to conduct Full HD benchmarks, temperature reading and power draw reading observations. What I did not manage to conduct is the benchmark for GTA V and also the all game benchmarks on 4K resolution. This article will be updated again once I have a proper copy.

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