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I bought a used R9 290X a few years ago that came off a bitcoin mining rig (has Hynix memory), then modded it with AIO cooling. It wouldn't get the lowest temps but it did pretty well for a few years until this year, where I've tried several solutions and the GPU (not any other part--VRMs fine) just eventually overheats even at minimum core & memory clock speeds; right now I'm running on a GTX 560 Ti 2GB I just happened to have. The GPU can even overheat when trying to watch videos, so it's not just the stress test I'm using (OCCT limited to 60 FPS). And when I say "overheat" I mean temperatures 95C and above.

Troubleshooting I've done:
- Replaced 2-pin fan header-to-4-pin Molex connector
- Verified 4-pin Molex adapter is giving ~12v with a multimeter
- Thoroughly cleaned the AIO processor plate and GPU--even using a brand-new toothbrush to get in-between the exposed ICs on the GPU (which don't make contact with the AIO processor plate)--and regeased with MX-4 (trying to keep it on the GPU's top plate this time).
- Verified the radiator and its fan are displacing heat both with my hand and with an optical thermometer.
- Verified that with the AIO pump unplugged--even with the extra fan from the AIO mounting bracket (this fan is primarily for the VRMs)--it just starts to overheat while idle, instead of only when in-use.
- Swore a lot.

The only other cooler I have is the old reference cooler which I don't want to add back on since that didn't sufficiently cool it either, though it may work better than the AIO cooler at this point if the AIO cooler is the problem.

Thankfully right now the gaming I've been able to do can use the GTX 560 Ti fine. I am actually kinda disappointed in using AMD all this time and may switch back to Nvidia anyway with the GTX 1080 when it comes out for mass production (non-Founders), selling this R9 290X for whatever it's worth.
 

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Try remounting. Core overheating without VRMs drawing a lot of power makes no sense, given the chip requires a lot of power to overheat if properly cooled.

edit: ok I guess you did that already. Still makes no sense for it to overheat. Sensor broken?
edit: maybe an issue with the water in the loop? Flow might be inhibited or it might not have enough water to fully use the radiator.

My bet is on the cooling solution for now.
 
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