February 11, 2016

Unboxing & Review: ASUS Strix R9 390X

ASUS's STRIX is no stranger to PC enthusiasts; known for its 0db fan design, ideal for the silent system enthusiasts and it's a mainstream product lineup which ASUS offers. An improvement in both aesthetics and performance introduced last year when ASUS announces its all new DirectCU III design. 

The STRIX R9 390X arrived at our lab not long ago, another great thanks for ASUS Malaysia for supporting our reviews here today! The R9 390X is one of AMD's offering in the R9 Radeon 300 series that performs closely with its equivalent rival from the green camp - NVIDIA GeForce GTX980, at least, that's what we've heard from AMD. With no further adieu, let's find out just how will the STRIX R9 390X perform!

(The ASUS STRIX R9 390X retails at RM2289)



The retail packaging for the STRIX brand graphics card is now the head of the STRIX owl, which gives it a more distinctive appearance compared to the previous generation STRIX brand that still uses the notable ripped metal design. 

The accessories included is a PCIe Y-splitter (in case if you don't have that extra 8-pin PCIe cable on you PSU), a reflective STRIX logo sticker, user's manual and a driver CD.

The all new DirectCU III cooler for the higher end STRIX series graphics card looks nothing like the STRIX we've known. Instead of retaining the distinctive owlish appearance, ASUS ditched that design for more aesthetics by having that ROG like element infused into it. Plus, it would be weird to have a three-eyed owl.

On the side, we can see the STRIX logo that glows according to the current temperature and load, much similar to the ones we've seen on the ROG Matrix Platinum cards.

On the side you'll see a promising amount heat pipes that span from the base of the cooler, we're expecting some extra cooling performance from this cooler for sure.

Powering up the STRIX R9 390X requires an 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe combination with an estimated power consumption of 300W. So make sure that the +12V rail on your power supply is able to deliver that amount of power.

These fancy looking metal piece does not only additional points to the appearance, it also helps to strengthen the PCB of the graphics card so it's less prone to the infamous PCB sagging that happens on graphic cards with a huge and fancy cooler. 

If you're planning to run a crossfire setup with the STRIX R9 390X, you no longer need a Crossfire bridge to make that happen! Kudos to AMD for making this possible! 

For the display output we have 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI and 1 x DVI-D. 

Performance Test
Test Rig Configuration
CPU Cooler
Corsair H100i
I7 4790K @4.6 GHz
ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero
Corsair Vengeance Pro 8GB @2400 MHz
Primary Hard Drive
Crucial M500 120 GB
Power Supply
be quiet! Straight Power 10
Display Monitor
Dell U2312HM

We ran a few graphically demanding games and synthetic benchmark in our possession on 1080p with the highest achievable clock speed for the GPU that is stable enough to be able to complete each benchmark with the following values:
  • Maximum boost clock of 1150MHz from the stock 1070MHz
  • Memory speed 6450MHz from the stock 6000MHz
  • 1.2V on the voltage for GPU

Performance, Overclocking
We ran a few graphically demanding games and synthetic benchmarks in our possession on a selected settings, which is considered as high for much of our test as usual.The final result of each benchmark is presented in the form of the graph below:

We've run the burn-in test on the FurMark GPU stress test utility for 1 hour with the fan operate under normal mode and maximum fan speed mode and the temperature for both test is recorded and populated in the graph below.

In terms of performance wise, the ASUS STRIX R9 390X managed to handle our list of games on the highest settings with more than 30fps, the numbers where some game developers claimed to be the right fps for human eyes. While there's not much headroom for overclocking, the extra fps gained from the minor overclocking that we've done still looks pretty good in overall.

Cooling performance, the ASUS STRIX R9 390X did pretty well in overall. From our past reviews, the DirectCU II cooler couldn't handle an R9 290X well and resulted in an unpleasantly high temperature of 89°C. The DirectCU III got the job done much better with maximum 83°C for our overclocked STRIX R9 390X.

Price wise, the STRIX R9 390X cost about RM2289, which is about RM370 cheaper than the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 priced at RM2659. Despite the lower cost, it doesn't actually beats the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 in every aspect. For what comes close to a GTX980 but at a lower cost, we'd say the ASUS STRIX R9 390X is one powerful card that is worth to consider for.

  • Good out of the box performance
  • Good looking 
  • Good build quality
  • Good cooling performance from the new DirectCU III cooler
  • 8GB worth of GDDR5 graphics memory

  • costly
  • Limited overclocking headroom
  • high power consumption