CES 2014: VisionTek Unleashes Liquid Cooled R9 290 Graphics Card

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After fading from the enthusiast market over the past few years, VisionTek is back in a big way with the release of a watercooled R9 290 video card. Dubbed the CryoVenom, this GPU is the first and thus the fastest custom-built liquid cooled R9 290 on the market. The waterblock and backplate were custom-designed by EKWB, exclusively for VisionTek.

CryoVenom R9 290 Video Card (Courtesy VisionTek)

CryoVenom R9 290 Video Card (Courtesy VisionTek)

In celebrate the launch, VisionTek and EKWB held a party at the freezing Minus5 Ice Bar (pictured below) where I got a first hand look the CryoVenom in a test system. Although I did not get much time to play with the card, performance details are included in the press release below. We also hope to test one of these in the near future.

Matt Ring (mdcomp), Edvard (from EKWB) and Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote) at the Ice Bar (from left to right)

Matt Ring (mdcomp), Edvard (from EKWB) and Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote) at the Ice Bar (from left to right)

Some highlights include:

  • Up to 38% cooler than reference cards
  • Warranty-certified overclocking of up to 24%
  • $100 less than DIY solutions
  • Better performance than GeForce GTX 780 Ti

Here is the full press release from VisionTek:

January 8, 2014, Las Vegas, NV – VisionTek Products LLC, (VisionTek®http://www.visiontekproducts.com, a leading manufacturer of award-winning, high-performance upgrades and accessories for PC and Apple Macintosh® computers, announced today its CryoVenom R9 290 as the industry’s first and fastest custom-built liquid cooled AMD Radeon™ R9 290 graphics card on the market and available for immediate shipping. The hand-built card delivers lower temperature, near silent operation, and higher performance compared toVisionTek’s stock R9 290 card; as well as better benchmark performance and a $150 lower price than the NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX™780 Ti.

Because VisionTek feels the “coolest” computer hardware product introduction at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show deserves the “coolest” launch event, the $550 MSRP card will be demonstrated during a media invite only event January 8 at the Minus5 Ice Bar.

How The Best Gets Better

The Radeon R9 290 series of graphics cards are rated by many sources as the best graphics cards available today. However, VisionTekengineers discovered that when its R9 290 graphics card was 100% utilized in the testing lab under conditions such as extended game play – the card’s temperature could climb to 201°F. Even with very efficient fan cooling and the latest AMD Catalyst driver that provides a 100% fan speed operation, the card’s built-in thermal safety feature would downclock the GPU from the factory 947MHz speed to as low as 662MHz. Combined with this performance reduction of 30%, the increase in fan noise was measured at 71dB, a sound level considered louder than a normal conversation.

38% Cooler Operation That’s As Quiet As A Pin Drop

To make sure multimedia professionals and gaming enthusiasts would experience maximum performance potential, VisionTek created the CryoVenom R9 290 graphics card. By utilizing a custom designed water block and backplate solution, the CryoVenom R9 290 can run up to 38% cooler (125°F) while being overclocked up to 24% (1.1GHz) all while registering under 10dBof noise, which is the sound level of a pin drop.

Overclock Certified and “Custom Shop” Built

To assure stable overclocked performance, the FurMark GPU stress utility is employed to put a 100% load on each CryoVenom R9 290’s GPU for an extended time period to determine the optimum overclock setting with a 5% safe “headroom”. Those unique, certified overclock specifications are entered onto a build sheet that is personally signed by the VisionTek’s “Custom Shop” team member that built and tested the CryoVenom card. Each card is then extensively pressure tested to ensure leak-free cooling reliability.

Up to 24% Faster Performance Without Voiding Warranty

Obtaining maximum performance from the CryoVenom R9 290 couldn’t be easier. Just enter the specifications from the included build sheet in the Catalyst™ Control Center and in less than a minute, the CryoVenom R9 290 can safely deliver up to 1175MHz GPU speed…a 24% increase from the stock setting of 947MHz. The memory clock speed is also increased up to 1450MHz… 16% faster than the 1250MHz stock setting. And unlike standard cards in which overclocking voids the warranty, the CryoVenom R9 290 comes backed by a one year warranty.

Faster Than EVGA NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti, Yet Costs $150 Less

Not content to just increase its stock R9 290 card performance, VisionTek’s goal was to create the industry’s fastest single GPU graphics card at a lower price than the competition’s fastest comparable card2. In the 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme setting testing, the $550 MSRP CryoVenom R9 290 scored 9330 while the $700 street price NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti recorded an 8816 score.

Highest Quality Components Offer Highest Reliability

The CryoVenom R9 290’s water block provides maximum cooling performance for the GPU, RAM, and Voltage Regulation Module (VRM) even when low power water pumps are utilized. The block’s electrolytic copper base is clad with a chrome appearance-like nickel plating to prevent corrosion while the precision cut acrylic top provides effective and quiet fluid flow. The CNC machined black anodized aluminum backplate protects the card’s sensitive circuit board components during installation handling while also providing additionalpassive cooling for the VRM.

Better Value Than DIY

Even seasoned, hands-on system builders will find the certified ready-to-run3 and fully warrantied CryoVenom R9 290 can save over $100, time, and stress compared to creating a comparable liquid cooled non-warrantied solution for a R9 290 graphics card:

Certified Ready-to-Run CryoVenom R9 290

  • Assembly and Overclocking Verification: none required
  • Total Cost: $550
  • Warranty: One year
  • Hassle Factor: Low

Do-It-Yourself Liquid Cooled R9 290

  • R9 290 card $400.00, Waterblock $140.00, Backplate $36.00
  • Assembly, Pressure Testing, and Overclocking Verification: estimated three hours at a value of $75.00
  • Total cost: $651.00
  • Warranty: None
  • Hassle Factor: High

“The CryoVenom R9 290 is truly a remarkable feat of creative product development that draws upon our two decades of graphics card development experience,” said Mark Bilson, Executive Vice President of VisionTek. “It solves any speed and noise concerns, eliminates overclocking guesswork, sets a new standard in performance, and costs less than the previous fastest Radeon graphics card available. Then, add in that we back its reliability with a one year warranty and we hope our fans will recognize our commitment to their ultimate performance and user experience satisfaction.”

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

The CryoVenom R9 290 is available for immediate ordering at $550 MSRP directly from VisionTek’s graphics card product category at their ecommerce portal, www.visiontekproducts.com. The complete specifications are as follows:

Graphics Engine: RADEON R9 290
Video Memory: 4GB GDDR5
Memory Interface: 512-bit
DirectX® Support: 11.2
Bus Standard: PCI Express 3.0
GPU Core Speed: Up to 1175MHz (stock is 947MHz)
Memory Speed: Up to 1450MHz (stock is 1250MHz)
DVI Output: 2 x Dual Link DVI
HDMI Output:1 x HDMI (video/audio)
DisplayPort Output: 1 x DisplayPort

At the time of publication, the card is out of stock on VisionTek’s website, but we expect that to change soon. Here are some further photos for your viewing pleasure (all courtesy VisionTek):

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We’ll be sure to test these claims when we get the card in our labs. VisionTek also let us know that the test system used at the party will be given away to Facebook fans later this month, so stay tuned for details.

Matt Ring (mdcomp)

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