Originally Posted by nyxagamemnon
Reference Under water Vs Custom Under water OC potential?
Depends on if you're going for temperature/noise, or pure overclocking. If it's overclocking, like airisom said, you're not going to see too much of a difference. If noise and temperature factors into your purchase, watercooling keeps it extremely cool and quiet in comparison to an air cooler, that alone might be worth the extra money for the water cooling, but again depends on how much you like having a cool quiet system. It certainly won't make the card perform too much better if at all though.
I didn't mention the non reference coolers that haven't been released yet because of availability and pricing. The Tri-X is at a point now where you can find it on sites for near MSRP price but have to wait for it to come in: http://www.shopblt.com/search/order_id=%2521ORDERID%2521&s_max=25&t_all=1&s_all=RADEON+R9+290
To see the lightning or power cooler come in on that site at MSRP price will take at least a month, if not two to actually get the card. The Tri-X was released at the end of December, like the 26th or so, shop.blt didn't even list it on its site to order until Jan 16th or 17th, and the actual card won't arrive at my house until Feb 18th or so, almost two months after the Tri-X was released, but I'm getting it for 470$.
The lightning will have a similar situation where it will be sold out on Newegg, overclockers, amazon etc., they'll ramp up the prices, and stores selling it for cheap won't list them for half a month after the lightning comes out.
Basically if you want to wait out the storm and get the best card, it's probably going to be the Matrix, power cooler card, toxic, or lightning, the Tri-X is the best card you can get your hands on right now.