Monday, June 30, 2014

Tempted to buy a second hand R9 290

It seems that the coin miners have moved away from the Graphics cards based on AMD's GCN architectures to something else. There are so many second hand cards available in the wild, that are looking for a new home. If you go on eBay and searched for the terms "R9 290", you'll be presented with search results for a massive number of cheap R9 290/290X graphics cards going for dirt cheap. You could easily have a 290 for $290. 

Unfortunately, if I'm ordering from Japan, I'll have to pay for shipping as well as for duty. For a $300 card, it would be about $60, bringing the total up to $360. And that's without warranty too. That's reaching almost the price of a reference model here in Japan.

There has also been a non-reference model from a local brand (the same brand of my old HD5770 from 4 years ago) for around $360, but it is no better than the reference model. You might think that's OK for the price. But that's not. The reference model at least exhausts all the hot air out of the case through its exhaust vents. This card doesn't. It dumps all the heat back into the case and the case fans will have to do overtime to keep the video cards as well as all the components inside the case reasonably cool. So I should not think about buying this card to begin with.

I digress. Basically, buying a second hand card from eBay is not that appealing as there are safer options for slightly higher price, locally. 

Nevertheless, just to see how it would go down, I bid for a MSI R9 290 Gaming card on eBay. I went up to $260 but there was one guy who was really set on buying the card and I didn't want to challenge him. The card went for just shy of $300. I wasn't feeling bad about it really. I wouldn't take it as a lost opportunity. I should look at the bright side. At least I didn't spend money on something that might even not be working in the first place. There is always that risk when buying second hand stuff. That's why you would always want to buy from a reputed seller. This guy had 100% positive rating however. But if you buying it from a shop here in Japan, you would get a 1 week or 1 month warranty for it. So if it is not working as advertised, you can return it. 

Since then I had been keeping a keen eye on the local second hand market. I can get a second hand top quality (5 stars) R9 290 reference card for like $330. That's reasonably cheap. But I'm never going to use it as it is. I would have to replace the cooler with a proper one. I was looking at the NZXT Kraken G10 adapter for $40 off Amazon. I do have a closed loop water cooler (the Antec Kuhler 620) that is compatible with the adapter. But there is a catch. I'm currently using that cooler on the CPU as I sold my old CPU cooler, which means that I will have to buy another cooler for the CPU. 

Say I decided to buy one. But the problems do not end there. There is the problem of fitting it inside the case. I can easily fit it and even another closed loop water cooler inside the Raven RV-03 case which I currently own. But if you had been following me in the last few months, you would know how much obsessed I am with a tiny PC. The only reason that is stopping me from launching that PC shrinking project is the fact that I haven't been able to get rid of my Raven yet. Once I get rid of it, the project is going to start with no further delays. The largest case that I would get is the Silverstone Sugo SG-10 - which is Micro-ATX. That case has only one exhaust fan mount. The intake fan is a 180mm behemoth I the roof, which I don't want to replace with anything else. Unless I go with a case as large as the Bitfenix Prodigy - that too, the Mini-ITX model - there is no way to fit two radiators in a Small Form Factor case. So I don't think getting a R9 290 is going to work out anyways. Why couldn't AMD just make a decent reference cooler??!!

I should tame my mind not to get this card right now, with the next generation cards from Nvidia right around the corner. I guess a GTX 870 would be the right upgrade for me.

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