The difference in the same GPU, but 'done' by different Companies

Hello fellow syndicates, 

I was building a fairly budget gaming PC with a solid GPU on PartPicker today and I came to a crossroad on picking my card, as to me all these cards are the same but they are manufactured by different companies.                         When looking at the specification for these cards I couldnt recognise the difference between them and I really would like someone to explain to me the difference between these(top 3)  r9 290 cards.

Right now Im leaning towards the powercolour simply because of the extra fan so is there something im missing between these cards, is the plainly a best option?

Thanks to anyone will bother to answer and explain this to me!

Well, lets clear things up. 

When a GPU manufacturer (the people who make the actual chip like AMD or nVIDIA) release a card they publish a "reference design." This is what they believe is the minimum spec for the card. They then release that to OEMs (ASUS, Powercolor, XFX) who make the actual PCB with that company's GPU on it. They have to meet the minimum reference specifications but to make their products stand out they often will add their own flair to a card. This usually means changing the cooler, clock speeds, RAM configurations or even the entire power delivery and PCB to make it perform better, cooler, quieter or overclock better. That is what you have there. Three "non reference" R9 290s. Same basic GPU but tweaked by the OEMs. 

Of those three cards there are some differences. First off is the cooler. Each has a non reference cooler but they are different. Next is clock speed. The XFX is clocked the slowest at 947Mhz while the Powercolor is clocked the fastest at 1,04Ghz with the MSI in the middle at 1.01Ghz. So with all other things being equal the power color should be the fastest card stock. 

Personally, after looking at reviews and my own personal experience, I would go with the MSI. I like the Twin Frozer cooler. It is decently quiet and does a good job of keeping the card cool. The PowerColor card seems to have pretty poor reviews and just because it has another fan doesn't mean it is automatically better. 

Powercolor can be hit and miss, and the amazon reviews say miss.

I would take a Sapphire Tri-X

Or even better, a Vapor-X

Yes they are the same video cards but they are just manufactured by different vendors so they look different but perform more or less the same.  I would personally go with the MSI twin frozr because it is the cheapest and MSI makes nice products.

Thanks for the lesson and the advice! I think Ill go with the MSI, a lot builds use the Twin FROZR even if its not with the R9 290 so hopefully its going to be a good platform. 

Btw sorry if im using the wrong terminology but I think I understand the differences now thanks DerKrieger for your patience.

Well the Powercolor has the highest clock rate out of the box running 40MHz (10%) higher than stock. It also features overclocked RAM, running 100MHz (8%) faster than the other cards. It appears to be a stock AMD board design. There is no information that I can find about whether the voltage is unlocked, so just assume it isn't and be pleasantly surprised if it is. The cooler is a 2.5 slot design, so Crossfire could be difficult if you only have 2 PCI-E x16 that are spaced apart by 2 slots. It includes a full length backplate, but no heat shield under the fin stack, however, the VRM is covered with a dedicated heatsink.

The MSI card has a slightly lower factory OC than the Powercolor. The cooling includes a full backplate, and a heat shield on the front of the card under the fin stack itself. Along with the 100mm fans and 5 heat pipes I'd expect it to be as cool as the Powercolor's triple fan design. It appears this card is also a stock AMD designed board, but it has slightly updated Hynix RAM. Most MSI cards in the GAMING or Twin Frozr category have unlocked voltage tweaking to allow higher overclocks, so there is some room to push the performance a bit.

The XFX card has no factory OC, so would be the slowest out of the box. The cooler is comparable to the other two, with 6 copper heatpipes on a copper contact plate, and a fin stack that exceeds the height and length of the PCB. This makes the card 20MM longer and 15MM taller. Unlike the other two, there is no backplate, but the face of the card has direct contact to the heatsink along the VRM and RAM. Again, this appears to be a stock AMD board design. However, this card does feature unlocked core voltage, so you get some extra headroom for overclocking. 

Hope that helps. 


Edit: I was way too slow getting this written, I started it when the question was only just posted and decided to do a little research on each card before publishing the response. Oh well. :P