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Diehard PC Gamer and Hardware Enthusiast.

It seems like a good first month for AMD’s latest Radeon R9 290 graphic cardnot only does it costs less and delivers substantial gaming performance but can also be unlocked into the faster Radeon R9 290X with a simple bios flash. However, it seems like most of the cards cannot be unlocked and those that could be unlocked are diminishing at a fast rate.

AMD Radeon R9 290

New Radeon R9 290 Cards Can Not be Unlocked To R9 290X

Most of us would wait for retailers to fill up with new quantities of these cards but reports from Ocaholic suggest that the new Radeon R9 290 models cannot be unlocked. The first unlocked Radeon R9 290 to Radeon R9 290X was reported by a forum member on PCGamesHardware who successfully unlocked his Powercolor Radeon R9 290 into the full fledged Hawaii XT chip with 2816 Stream processors and 1000 MHz clock speed. Soon after the successful unlocking session, tons of BIOS appeared on the net allowing users to unlock their cards into the XT variants.

Overclockers.Co.Uk is among the first and only retailer who started offering pre-flashed Radeon R9 290 GPUs which had been unlocked to the full Radeon R9 290X model backed by a two year warranty. However, this is about to end as soon as the quantities of the current Radeon R9 290 cards start to decrease and especially those from manufacturer TUL. As noted, only cards from XFX and TUL’s subsidiaries (Powercolor, VTX3D) were able to be fully unlocked in the Radeon R9 290X variant. No other cards from manufacturer’s such as ASUS, Sapphire or MSI supports the BIOS flash thus cannot be unlocked.

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After a few days investigation it looks like only R9 290 graphics cards, which have a chip from before the 38th production week can be unlocked. All cards with chips after production week 38 can’t be unlocked anymore. OCaholic

These models that could be unlocked have the 215-0852000 code chip which is the full Hawaii XT variant but locked. When flashed it can be fully unlocked to the Hawaii XT variant. All of the Radeon R9 290 models which were produced before the 38th week can be flashed, those after week 38 cannot hence this ends the unlocked feature. But this doesn’t mean that AMD’s Radeon R9 290 is a no buy for consumers, its still the best graphic card under the $500 range and it has tons of performance to offer to gamers under its hood.