AMD's Radeon R9 290X needs serious cooling to maintain its peak clock speed. Several firms have already introduced versions of the card that trade AMD's stock blower for custom air coolers. Now, PowerColor has raised the stakes with a liquid-cooled variant.
The LCS R9 290X comes with a special cooling plate manufactured by EK Water Blocks. This hunk of metal covers not only the GPU, but also the memory—and it enables higher speeds for both. The LCS card has a 1060MHz "core speed" that's 60MHz higher than the 290X's maximum boost frequency. It also sports 1350MHz memory, a 100MHz boost over the stock card.
Although the water block obscures our view of the card, PowerColor appears to have customized the circuit board. The press release mentions an onboard "Gold Power Kit" designed to "ensure ultimate OC setting with stability." This power circuitry is covered by the water block, as well.
PowerColor claims the LCS R9 290X runs the GPU as cool as 60°C under load, but it's unclear what sort of radiator and pump are needed to reach that temperature. The card only comes with the water block installed, so users have to supply those other components themselves. With both 3/8" and 1/2" hose fittings, the water block should at least be compatible with most DIY setups. Too bad it's not an all-in-one solution, though.
The press release is mum on when this puppy will be available and how much it will cost. Newegg has a bunch of 290X cards back in stock, but they're all selling for $630, which is an $80 premium over AMD's suggested price. I'd expect a hot-clocked, liquid-cooled variant to be even pricier.