Asus' take on the R9 290X improves upon AMD's reference design in many ways, notably in cooling. With better cooling comes improved performance and lifespan. One of the big problems with the reference R9 290X was that its performance was hampered by a mediocre cooler. When the card got too hot it would throttle itself down, thus decreasing clock speeds. It never really met its full potential. A better cooler also solves one of the most noticeable problems of the reference R9 290X, the loud cooler. The Direct CU II cooler isn't silent, but it's much less noisy than the reference board's cooler.