MSI are finally showing off their vision of the ultimate AMD Radeon R9 290X at CES this year. Taking the form of the R9 290X Lightning, the card looks outwardly similar to their GTX 780 Lightning due to their use of a essentially the same triple-slot/triple-fan cooler design with yellow and black livery, but under the hood it's quite a different beast.
AMD's Hawaii GPU, upon which all of the Radeon R9 290-series is based, is notorious for being hot and power-hungry; partner versions with improved cooling than the reference design have been eagerly awaited by enthusiasts, and none more so than MSI's. The Lightning models go one step further than most however by greatly improving power management, component quality and cooling to a greater extent than even MSI's own GAMING series. Great things are therefore expected of this new card.
There's no current news on what sort of factory overclock the card will be running, but one should anticipate in excess of 1.05GHz and more importantly the capability to run at high loads for extended periods without throttling the GPU. A key weakness of reference designs, even in UBER mode with the blower cooler running at a breakneck pace, freeing the Hawaii core from thermal limits is going to be key for it to break records and go up against NVIDIA's high end designs.
Power is supplied by two 8-pin and one optional 6-pin PCI-E power connector. The later should be only necessary when undergoing extreme overclocking and hunting records, but it nonetheless will be of particular interest to professional overclockers with easy access to LN2. Their Military Class IV components should also improve reliability, and a rear heatspreader will help to cool the memory on the rear and hold the card rigid even when being weighed down by all that copper and aluminium.
Expect to see the card soon, and although there's no news yet on pricing it's probably safe to anticipate it retailing for over £500 at launch. R9 290 and 290X GAMING Edition cards with decidedly solid TwinFrozr cooler will also be available for enthusiast gamers if that's closer to your needs, and there's no news yet on a Radeon R9 290 Lightning.
Source: MSI On Facebook, PC Perspective