AMD promised that its 300-series Radeons would become available today during its "New Era of PC Gaming" event earlier this week. We've already covered cards ranging from the R7 360 to the R9 380, but today marks our first look at the range-topping R9 390 and R9 390X.
As with the rest of the Radeon 300-series cards, the 390 and 390X feature largely similar specs to the Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X before them. That makes sense, since they're all based on the same Hawaii silicon. Boost clocks increase to 1050MHz and 1000MHz, respectively, from 1000MHz and 947MHz on the 200-series cards. The 390 and 390X also get a bump to 8GB of GDDR5 RAM by default, with a faster transfer rate of 6Gbps thanks to higher memory clocks.
Another big difference is in the price tag: we've become used to $350-ish R9 290Xes and sub-$300 R9 290s of late, but these new cards are considerably more expensive. A quick survey of Newegg suggests R9 390Xes will go for about $430 to start, while R9 390s will command about $330.
AMD board partners like Asus and Sapphire are taking this opportunity to introduce fancy new coolers. Asus' new DirectCU III cooler will ship on the company's Strix Radeon R9 390 and R9 390X. This triple-fan design—the first I've seen on an Asus card—features a pair of 10-mm-wide heatpipes that make direct contact with the GPU heat spreader, as well as a fan design that's supposed to reduce noise levels considerably versus reference blowers. These cards can stop their fans under light load for silent operation.
Sapphire is no stranger to triple-fan coolers, either, though its Nitro cards are considerably more restrained-looking than some of its R9 290 and R9 290X designs. The Tri-X cooler features dual-ball-bearing fans, and like the Asus cards above, it can operate in a semi-passive mode under light workloads.
We're working to get an R9 390X of our own into Damage Labs for testing soon. Stay tuned for more info.