HomePC DIYNewsASUS R9 290X DirectCU II Preview

ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II Preview

I have been getting  a lot of questions from the PCDIY community on if or when ASUS would be releasing a non reference version of the R9 290X. I am very excited to report that the wait is almost over. To further this update I have what you are really interested in photos! So with that lets get into it and check out the new ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II.


ASUS graphics RD have been  and continue to be hard at working taking the FPS beast that is the R9 290X and are tweaking it, tuning it and bringing all of our ASUS design magic to this card. What will come out of this process is another DirectCU II monster. A monster in all the right ways. As always you can expect the quality to be top notch while retaining the hallmarks of cool and quiet operation, great build quality and overall attention to detail. The ASUS R9 290X will of course feature all the same cutting edge specifications and technology support featured on current reference R9 290X cards but will be improved upon helping to assure non reference also means superior than reference. This is no easy task as you know the R9 290X is a powerhouse and features no less than 6.2 billion transistors and 2,816 stream processors. When packing this type of power, heat output and effective and efficient dissipation of that is heat is very important. One of the key reasons is temperature performance can affect performance and ultimately the game-play experience. As such ensuring  cool operation ensure stable operation as well as ensures optimal consistent performance under load. The R9 290X is a FPS powerhouse that is a given but along with that power it has high game load temperatures and the acoustics that are reasonable but not quiet. Additionally the choice of quieter or faster performance has to be considered by the user due to reference designs having a switch to enable different operating modes. These modes are quiet operation or uber operation. Our goal as always is to ensure the experience of gaming is improved upon in all the ways that matter. This means giving you a consistent level of performance, lower operating temperatures in game and overall quieter operation. This trifecta when paired with the pure FPS performance afforded by the 290X really enables an outstanding gaming experience. In addition it also means you do not have to decide between quiet or uber.


Design Aesthetic

With that out of the way let’s take a closer look at the upcoming ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II.

R9-290X-DirectCU-II-preview-1     R9-290X-DirectCU-II-preview-2     R9-290X-DirectCU-II-preview-3     R9-290X-DirectCU-II-preview-4

As you can see it is a classic DirectCU II design with aggressive but clean red and black styling. Featuring a metal shroud and an advanced heatsink and fan assembly. The R9 290X DirectCU II is ready to jump into some HqD or QHD gaming glory or even 4K if you want Crossfire this bad boy. The GPU definitely brings performance and IQ to the table and creates a truly immersive and impressive game-play. This is only a preview, so while I will not being going into complete specifics on the card or performance details I can flesh out some points.



Partial feature list of ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II


  • High performance but carefully tuned and optimized dual fan design, ensures outstanding thermal dissipation while offering quieter operation. In addition features two dust proof fans for improved reliability.
  • High quality and high performance non reference power delivery. Featuring Digi+ VRM which includes an advanced digital PWM for power delivery and control. The VRM is also comprised of SAP power components which include 5K SAP Capacitors, SAP ( fully molded ) high amperage chokes, SAP mosfets.
  • A large heatsink assembly with advanced heat dissipation design featuring extensive internal fins and multiple direct contact continuous heatpipes. This includes a large 10MM  heatpipe for further improved thermal dissipation.
  • A VRM heatsink to ensure cooling for the critical VRM components.
  • A backplate in classic high end DirectCU II design that not only offers a clean visual aesthetic but also aides in thermal dissipation.


For those of you not up to speed on some of the features of the R9 series of gpus check out some of the information below.


Taken from AMD specification page.

GCN Architecture

Primed to enable astonishing performance and breathtaking image quality, making it a top choice for gamers who expect the best.


Ultra Resolution Gaming

Leave HD in the dust by gaming on displays much, much larger. Whether using a 4k monitor or combining multiple HD monitors, you’ll get an expansive experience that’s truly out of sight.



There’s optimization, and then there’s Mantle. Games enabled with Mantle speak the language of GCN architecture to unlock revolutionary performance and image quality.


AMD Eyefinity technology

Enjoy the ultimate immersive gaming experience with innovative “wrap around” multidisplay capabilities.


AMD App Acceleration

Improve performance of everyday tasks such as Web browsing, office applications and video rendering.


AMD CrossFire™ technology

With outstanding performance scaling, a system equipped with AMD CrossFire™ technology keeps you fragging while everyone else is reaching for an upgrade.


AMD PowerTune technology

Enables intelligent power monitoring to enable higher clock speeds and better performance in your favorite games.5


AMD ZeroCore technology

Allows your AMD Radeon™ GPU to consume virtually no power when in idle state.


AMD HD3D technology

Play 3D games, watch Blu-ray 3D videos, and edit 3D photos on your 3D monitor, TV or projector.


For those of you that want a quick refresher on where the 290X sits in comparison to the rest of the R series Radeons check out the table below. The specification table below is taken from AMD R9 series specification page. Please keep in mind ASUS non reference DirectCU II solutions like the R9 280X, R9 270X, R9 270 are already all available.

* Specifications for ASUS R9 series may differ please reference the website for more information.

ASUS R9 280X Matrix

ASUS R9 280X DCII TOP V2 – 3 Slot

ASUS R9 280X DCII TOP – 2 Slot



R9 290X R9 290 R9 280X R9 270X R9 270
GPU Architecture 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
API Support DirectX® 11.2, Mantle, OpenGL 4.3 DirectX® 11.2, Mantle, OpenGL 4.3 DirectX® 11.2, Mantle, OpenGL 4.3 DirectX® 11.2, Mantle, OpenGL 4.3 DirectX® 11.2, Mantle, OpenGL 4.3
PCE Express® Version 3.0 3.0 3.0 3.0 3.0
AMD PowerTune Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
4K Resolution Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
DDMA Audio Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
HDMI (With 4K, Stereo 3D, Deep Color & x.v.Color™) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
TrueAudio Technology Yes Yes No No No
AMD Eyefinity Technology (Maximum displays) 3 with DVI/HDMI, 4 using DisplayPort, 6 with an MST hub 3 with DVI/HDMI, 4 using DisplayPort, 6 with an MST hub 3 with DVI/HDMI, 4 using DisplayPort, 6 with an MST hub 3 with DVI/HDMI, 4 using DisplayPort, 6 with an MST hub 3 with DVI/HDMI, 4 using DisplayPort, 6 with an MST hub
Video Codec Engine (VCE) (with H.264, MPEG-4 ASP, MPEG-2, VC-1 & Blu-ray 3D) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
GPU Clock Speed Up to 1GHz Up to 947MHz Up to 1GHz Up to 1.05GHz Up to 925MHz
Memory Bandwidth Up to 320 GB/s Up to 320 GB/s Up to 288 GB/s Up to 104 GB/s Up to 104 GB/s
Memory Amount Up to 4GB GDDR5 Up to 4GB GDDR5 Up to 3GB GDDR5 Up to 4GB GDDR5 Up to 2GB GDDR5
Stream Processing Units Up to 2816 Up to 2560 Up to 2048 Up to 1280 Up to 1280
Required Power Supply Connectors 1 x 6-pin + 1 x 8-pin 1 x 6-pin + 1 x 8-pin 1 x 6-pin + 1 x 8-pin 2 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin
AMD CrossFire® Support (Maximum number of GPUs and CrossFire Bridge Interconnect required) 4, no 4, no 4, yes 2, yes 2, yes
Form Factor Full height, dual slot Full height, dual slot Full height, dual slot Full height, dual slot Full height, dual slot


That wraps up our quick preview on the upcoming R9 290X DirectCU II. Be sure to check back soon for more information on the soon. For those wondering about release time frame mid to late January is the targeted time frame.


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