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AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Reference Dual GPU Video Card Review

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Reference Dual GPU Video Card Review

They say it's going to be fast, but there's only one way to find out. Let's test the dual GPU, water cooled beast that is called the Radeon R9 295X2 8GB.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Apr 8 2014 7:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction and Package

Introduction of the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB

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For a long time AMD was able to say that they offered the fastest single PCIe video card on their popular Game.AMD website. The release of new models from NVIDIA meant that the company had to remove the comment as it was no longer true. Today, though, AMD no doubt hope to start that count again offering the fastest single PCIe video card on the market with the release of the R9 295X2 8GB.

Like any new video card, the release of the R9 295X2 8GB doesn't come as a surprise to people who follow tech closely. AMD has been rumored of releasing the card for a while now and recently over the past week, we started to see leaks on specifics. Of course, there's always a cloud of doubt overhead when it comes to this information. Today, we get to show you what's really on offer when it comes to the specification side of things. More importantly, though, today we're able to show you just what kind of performance the new model from AMD offers.

While we would normally move from here straight into the card because it's a reference one, AMD did something a little special with the release of this particular model, which we offered a sneak peek of just the other day at our Facebook page.

Let's move forward, though, and take a closer at this very special package from AMD before we take a closer look at the card itself to find out just what AMD is offering with this brand new model, the R9 295X2 8GB.

Package - What comes inside the box

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With the same image that was being teased on the Game.AMD website recently, you can see we've got a very sleek looking approach to the briefcase that AMD shipped the reference model in. Heading over to the handle side you can see we've got a nice AMD plaque which makes the whole setup look like something a Bond villain should be carrying handcuffed to his arm.

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Opening up the briefcase, we get first look of the card itself. You can see the card sitting across the top, while on the right, you can see a small radiator. The left corner shows us the logo that AMD was using for what was labeled as "Project Hydra". Of course we don't have any kind of bundle or that being a reference card.

So, let's not delay any longer and get a closer look at the card itself and see just what exactly we're dealing with here today.

Video Card Details and Specifications

Close up with the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB

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Taking the card out of the briefcase and seeing it for the first time, you can straight away see that AMD has opted for a custom All-In-One liquid cooling system from the good folks over at Asetek. I think the big thing we notice, though, is that while AMD has chosen to cool the GPUs via water cooling, they haven't offered active cooling for the other high-end components on the card, which include the RAM and regulators.

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If we move in a bit closer to just the card itself, you can see we've got an awesome metal shroud which not only looks great, but feels fantastic. The weight and feel of the card itself make for something that really feels high quality. Behind the single fan that is designed to only take care of the items outside of the GPUs, you can see a mean looking copper heat sink.

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If we look at the above layered image from AMD, you can see just how exactly the card looks with each GPU having its own unit and the copper heat sink in the middle. Around each GPU, we have the memory and like most of the high-end AMD offerings, we've got a back plate - the card itself is really put together superbly. We're hoping that AMD is offering the performance to go with the look.

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As for the custom Asetek All-In-One water cooling unit, we've got an integrated pump that sits inside the card, along with micro channels on the copper plates.

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Moving away from the card and following the two tubes coming out the top of the card, we end up at a single 120mm radiator with fan. Here we've also got the reservoir and like other AIO units, all you have to do is mount the radiator to your case to get up and running. This setup is actually slightly easier as it doesn't have its own power or anything like that. Instead we've got a cable that goes down inside the card, which overall makes for a clean setup.

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Moving back to the card and taking the time to quickly move around it, you can see that power comes in the form of two 8-Pin PCIe power connectors. To be completely honest, this is less then I personally thought the card would carry. Considering the water cooling system and two GPUs, a three 8-Pin PCIe power connector setup wouldn't have been a surprise. Saying that, though, the two 8-Pin PCIe power connectors do have to be able to support a combined 50 Amp of current.

This means that we're not just talking about a power supply that can offer the wattage needed to run this card, but one that can also handle the amperage and this is when quality power supplies are separated from the rest. We'll talk a bit more about this in the final thoughts, though.

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Moving away from the back of the card, but staying across the top, you can see we've got a BIOS switch at the front. Like most models we've seen from AMD, while the BIOS switch is offered in this case, we don't have a difference between the two BIOS'. Partners could choose to do something with it, though. Just like other R9 29X cards, we don't have a CrossFire connector, as it's not needed. If you want to make use of a second R9 295X2 8GB, you simply just install it and enable it in the BIOS.

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Flipping the card over, you can see the location of the two GPUs. You can also see the massive back plate that goes over the card, along with some of the other components being shown. From top to bottom and left to right, the R9 295X2 8GB is all class.

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Finishing up our look at the card, I find myself instantly in I/O heaven. Alongside the Dual-Link DVI port, you can see we've got four mini DisplayPort connectors. If you're someone who uses a multi monitor setup and enjoys having all monitors using the same connector, you'll find yourself extremely happy with the large amount of mini DP connectors.

Specifications

Looking below, you can see some of the information regarding the R9 295X2 8GB. For the most part, though, you can see a lot of the main information is not being shown. For what we can see, you can see we're dealing with a GPU clock speed of 1018MHz and memory that comes clocked in at an even 5000MHz QDR.

The 1018MHz core clock is actually slightly up on the 1000MHz clock that the single GPU R9 290X 4GB has. What we can't see is the amount of GDDR5. The R9 295 X2 sports a massive 8GB of GDDR5 that's split into two lots of 4GB sitting on a 512-bit memory bus and not the 64-bit memory bus that GPU-Z tells us at the moment.

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When it comes to the main numbers, we're essentially just dealing with doubled R9 290X 4GB numbers. Stream units come in at 5,632, Texture Units 352, ROPs 128 and memory as we mentioned comes in the form of a dual 512-bit setup. Typical board power is also doubled to 500 watt. All the standard high-end features are also supported with PCIe 3.0, DirectX 11.2 and AMD Mantle.

Test System Setup & FPS Numbers Explained

Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

We've got an absolute bunch of setups in our graphs today. Starting off with the single card solutions, we've got the AMD R9 290X 4GB running in "Uber Mode", alongside the recently looked at MSI R9 290X 4GB Lightning OC overclocked to 1185MHz on the core and 5300MHz QDR on the 4GB of GDDR5.

After those single card solutions, we've got a couple of our higher-end CrossFire setups which include a pair of MSI R9 280X 2GB Twin Frozr Gaming OC, Sapphire R9 290 4GB and HIS R9 290X 4GB cards.

On the NVIDIA side of things we've got the MSI GTX 780 Lightning 3GB overclocked to 1020MHz on the core and 6540MHz QDR on the 3GB of GDDR5. We finish of with the reference GTX 780 Ti 3GB.

We unfortunately don't see the same amount of high-end NVIDIA cards so don't get the chance test high-end SLI setups nearly as often as we'd like too.

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Why are some graphs incomplete?

Adding new game benchmarks is a long, tedious and time consuming task as every video card has to be re-tested in those new benchmarks. Because of that reason we have always just evaluated our benchmark line up every six months. To stay up to date and current with the latest benchmarks and games available, we've changed our approach to adding new benchmarks.

Our benchmark line up will progress and be updated as newer more intensive games with benchmarks comes to light. While this will mean that initially you may only see a single video card in those particular graphs, as the weeks go on and we test more and more video cards, the results will grow quickly. This will help keep our benchmark line up as up to date as possible as we introduce and remove games on a constant basis.

Benchmarks - 3DMark

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

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Starting our benchmark testing with 3DMark 11, you can see that performance of the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB sits around the same area as the R9 290 CrossFire setups. The Performance preset is almost identical to the R9 290 CF setup, while the more intensive Extreme test sits in between the two setups.

3DMark Fire Strike

Version and / or Patch Used: 1

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3DMark Fire Strike numbers are impressive out of the single slot card with them siting similar to what we saw just above. The Performance preset sees the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB performs almost in line with the R9 290 CF setup, while the Extreme preset sees the R9 295X2 sit in between the two setups.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven & Phantasy Star Online 2

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3

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Moving into Heaven, you can see the numbers are really strong here. At 1680 x 1050, you can see that performance sits a little below the R9 290X 4GB CF setup, but a strong 10% ahead of the R9 290 4GB CF setup. At 1920 x 1200, though, you can see the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB manages to outperform all our other setups here with an extremely solid score.

Phantasy Star Online 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

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PSO2 performance can be a little funny when CrossFire is thrown into the mix. Looking above, you can see that the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB performs pretty much in line with the reference R9 290X 4GB in Uber Mode. You can also see that this means it falls behind the NVIDIA offerings. While this isn't great, the near 17,000 score is well into playable territory.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2 & Just Cause 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

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Lost Planet 2 numbers are really strong and you've got playable numbers at all resolutions just as you'd hope and expect. Compared to the R9 290X 4GB setup, you can also see the new AMD video card is ahead of it at all resolutions. At the highest resolution the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB puts out a massive 182 FPS, up on the already strong, but lower than the 157 FPS seen on the R9 290X 4GB CrossFire setup.

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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At both 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, you can see we're hitting a bit of an FPS wall, which means that the R9 290 4GB CF, R9 290X 4GB CF and R9 295X2 8GB all see very similar FPS.

Move to 2560 x 1600, though, when the wall isn't hit, and we see the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB score a massive 202 FPS. Looking above, you can see this is the same average that the R9 290X 4GB gets... at the lower 1680 x 1060 resolution.

Benchmarks - F1 2012 & Metro Last Light

F1 2012

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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F1 2012 continues to have this issue with CrossFire setups that sees an FPS wall hit at around the mid 50 FPS range. This has been happening for a while and seems to only come into effect on dual GPU setups.

Metro Last Light

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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Metro Last Light performance is awesome across the board. At the highest resolution, we see the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB offer an awesome 83 FPS. This is over 10% higher than the R9 290X 4GB CrossFire number.

Benchmarks - Dirt Showdown & Nexuiz

Dirt Showdown

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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Dirt Showdown performance is awesome across the board and you can see that the FPS wall seems to come in at a later point then previously. While it's possible that this is due to the card, it's more likely that the latest driver is what really offers the performance boost. We again see at the highest resolution the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB manages to outpace all our other setups here.

Nexuiz

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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Nexuiz was not being kind to us at all. Not only did we have trouble with it just completing a run, when it did, you can see the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB sits below where it should compared to the other setups here.

An update to Nexuiz at some point saw us run into some problems when it came to benchmarking the game in certain scenarios. We're hoping that it's something that is fixed in the near future as it's a great benchmark based on the Cryengine. Looking above, though, you can see the numbers aren't where they should be, or where they need to be for the game to be playable.

Benchmarks - Sniper Elite V2 & Sleeping Dogs

Sniper Elite V2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

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Sniper Elite V2 just sees massive numbers across the board putting it ahead of everything else here. The decision for AMD to offer a higher core clock than the single R9 290X 4GB means that the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB is consistently faster than a pair of R9 290X 4GB video cards.

Sleeping Dogs

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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Sleeping Dogs numbers are just massive across the board with near 200 FPS seen at all resolutions. This game is already an intensive one and you can see that the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB just makes absolute mincemeat out of the game with awesome performance across the board.

Benchmarks - Hitman Absolution & Tomb Raider

Hitman Absolution

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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Hitman Absolution continues this trend of just awesome FPS across the board. The bad news is you can see we hit an FPS wall at all resolutions. The good news is that the FPS wall comes quite late and offers us extremely playable FPS.

Alongside that, though, you can see the FPS wall seems to come later then our other setups. This is the second time we've seen this here today and it seems like AMD might've put a bit of work into these new drivers.

Tomb Raider

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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Performance under Tomb Raider is exceptional at all resolutions with the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB coming out ahead of our other setups at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050. At 2560 x 1600 you can see it falls just short of what the CrossFire R9 290X 4GB setup is seeing.

Benchmarks - BioShock Infinite & Battlefield 4

BioShock Infinite

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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BioShock Infinite sees massive numbers at all resolutions and you can see that the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB is the only setup that manages to break into the 100 FPS realm at 2560 x 1600.

Battlefield 4

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Origin Update

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Unfortunately we ran into problems benchmarking Battlefield 4. We went through a number of restarts and also tried to install the drivers again. At the moment the driver we had, though, was the only option.

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Looking above you can see the crash error that we received. We can assure you that the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB offers more than 512MB of video card memory that's required. Hopefully this is an issue that is quickly fixed.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF Testing

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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As powerful as the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB is, you can see above that we still fall short of the 60 FPS average we need at the highest resolution. While we manage to sit ahead of our other setups here, Metro Last Light with AA and AF continues to put the hurt on high-end video card setups.

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Just Cause 2 doesn't run into the same problem, though. You can see fantastic numbers at both resolutions and numbers that sit ahead of our other setups here.

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Like Metro Last Light, Sleeping Dogs with AA and AF on is extremely intensive. Fortunately, though, the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB is able to offer us excellent FPS at both resolutions, which sees an extremely playable 72 FPS at 2560 x 1600.

Temperature & Sound Testing

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run of 3DMark Vantage at the Performance preset.

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When it comes to heat levels, you can see the card sits in the bottom half of the graph with a load temperature of 61c on the hottest core. This is great as AMD seemed comfortable with its cards coming in at 90c+.

We'd be disappointed if the custom AIO water cooling setup put the card at heat levels that high. The Asetek unit that AMD has decided on, though, clearly works well.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter, we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels on the other hand are clearly in the northern section of the graph. 66.1dB at load is a good chunk away from the loudest setups, but it's also a very audible number.

Still, we're not really complaining with the power of this card and the overall core temperatures that we saw just above.

Power Consumption Testing

Power Consumption Test

Using our PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01--or "Power Thingy" as it has quickly become known as to our readers--we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated video cards installed. Keep in mind that it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember, though. While our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10 percent more. We test at the exact same stage every time, so tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum--only an SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items will result in a higher draw.

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Power draw at a bit over 700-watts is high, as you'd expect. It's lower than the R9 290X 4GB CrossFire setup, though, thanks to the fact we're only dealing with a single card.

As we mentioned earlier, though, we do need a combined 50 Amp for the dual 8-Pin PCIe connectors. This means that not only do you want a power supply that is around the 900-watt mark at a minimum, but you want a quality one too.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

$1,499. Let's just get it out the way, rip it off like a band aid. At $1,499, the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB is not just an expensive video card, but it's just an expensive piece of hardware or to be honest, an expensive item period. $1,499 is just a lot of money to drop on anything and simply too much for many people when it comes to a video card. Priced at a massive chunk when compared to two R9 290X 4GB cards which can be seen for about $1,200, the cost of more performance then that setup and the water cooled solution is costing you 25% more.

From a pure performance standpoint, the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB doesn't ever offer 25% more performance than a CrossFire R9 290X 4GB setup. What you need to decide, though, is if the premium you're paying is worth the single card solution or the custom water cooling setup.

A quad GPU setup also blows out to near $3,000 compared to $2,400 if you went down the path of four R9 290X 4GB video cards. Most people are more than likely finding themselves giving some weird justifications for spending this much money on a video card. In the end, though, you're not going to find yourself disappointed with what is being offered here from AMD, though.

We love the model for many reasons. First, the performance is fantastic. While historically you would expect it to perform a little under what a pair of R9 290X 4GB cards give because more often than not we see these dual GPU cards be a pair of slightly down clocked top-end GPUs, AMD has instead turned around and chosen to make the core clock on each higher.

So they should have, though. Since they chose to move away from standard air cooling and into AIO water cooling, they should've done more with the core - which is another thing we love about the card. The cooling setup is awesome. We've got this custom AIO Asetek unit cooling the cores. But along with that, AMD hasn't forgot about the other components on the card and have installed a fan on the card itself which looks great glowing in red.

Then we have the quality of the card. Every card at launch you're going to see will follow the reference design, and while that might not always sound glamorous, the reference design AMD is offering on the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB is fantastic. The quality of the shroud is excellent and the feel of the card is great. We hope that companies choose to do something special with the package and really highlight what is being offered here.

Having $1,499 to spend is one thing, but having $1,499 to spend on a video card is another. This card isn't going to be for everybody. It's really going to be for very few people and we don't doubt that the card is going to come in limited numbers and be sold out constantly with people having to have them on back order. In the end, though, it's for good reason - this card is a beast! AMD has done a fantastic job with it and we love it to bits. Dual GPU setups aren't for everyone, nor are $1,500 video cards, but if you're after some serious power, this beast of a video card should have your undivided attention.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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