The Tech Report posted an statement from AMD about the variability that sites have seen when comparing retail 290X's to the press samples sent out to review sites.  At this moment they are citing heat issues and the fact that the performance delta is lessened under Uber mode but will be investigating other possible causes.  With the pending arrival of third party coolers we will be able to get a better sense of the possible contribution insufficient cooling has on these issues it is also possible that the golden sample theory is also at least partially correct.  The big win for consumers is AMD's attitude adjustment and admission that there is an issue worth investigating; if they can get your R9 290X running faster you will be the one who wins after all.

"The range of performance differential is not expected to meaningfully change the user experience but we’ve taken note of recent reports that the degree of variability is higher than expected. Reasonably we would expect the variability to occur both above and below the performance of the press samples, however it appears that most reported performances are biased towards the low side."

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