Of course, if you're smart, you are not buying this card and then running it at stock speed! At least, I hope not. What can you expect from the MSI R9 290X Lightning when overclocking?

Using MSI's Afterburner software we were able to set the clock speed to 1180 MHz, 100 MHz higher than the default clock at 180 MHz faster than the reference design. That results in a solid 18% increase in performance over the initial 290X cards. I was honestly expecting a bit more, and I was initially comfortable with a 1200 MHz OC result we had, but a couple of instances of distortion on the screen result in me pulling back to the 1180 MHz you see here.

It is worth noting that our 1180 MHz overclock is 30 MHz higher than the result we were able to reach on the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II card, but is 30 MHz lower than the overclock reached with the Sapphire Tri-X R9 290X.

The good news is, that even though we appear to be at the limits of the GPU itself, clock speed consistency is solid! When running games and benchmarks after 30 minutes of looped gaming, the cooler on the MSI R9 290X Lightning was able to keep the clock speed steady at the 1180 MHz rate.

3DMark – Stock Speed

3DMark – Overclocked Speed

The 3DMark results show a 6-7% performance in GPU performance, but you'll see closer to the 9% increase over the stock Lightning results when playing games that are fully GPU bound.

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