AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB Video Card Review

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Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Radeon R9 290 versus GeForce GTX 770

When AMD was preparing to launch the Radeon R9 290 they had it positioned against the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 in the pricing stack, but the performance of the card had it nipping on the heals of the GeForce GTX 780. AMD was supposed to launch the Radeon R9 290 graphics card on October 31st, but pushed the launch back by a week as they wanted to increase the cards performance even more. Some sites reported that AMD held the card due to last-minute driver issues, but they were wrong. Just days ahead of the AMD Radeon R9 290 launch, NVIDIA reduced the price of the GeForce GTX 780 to $499 and announced that the GeForce GTX 780 Ti would be coming out on November 7th at $699.  This announcement directly resulted in AMD delaying the Radeon R9 290.  After seeing the community feedback from the Radeon R9 290X reviews and 4K testing that some sites were doing, AMD wanted to ‘kill’ the GeForce GTX 780. AMD increased told us to scrap all the testing we had done just 48 hours before the launch as they would be rolling out a new driver that would boost performance. The new driver that we were given boosted the fan speed by 7% and had some other tweaks that allowed the card to run game with higher average clocks and therefore have higher performance. AMD hoped this new driver would allow it to beat an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 and even the Titan in some gaming scenarios for far less money since the AMD Radeon R9 290 is priced at just $399. Out testing showed the AMD Radeon R9 290 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference cards were trading blows in the games we tested them. 

 

  Radeon R9 290X Radeon R9 290
Release Date October 2013 November 2013
Original SRP $549 $399
GPU Hawaii Hawaii
Process 28nm 28nm
Transistors 6.2 billion 6.2 billion
Stream Processors 2816 2560
Clock Speed 1000 MHz 947 MHz
Frame Buffer 4GB 4GB
Memory Width 512-bit 512-bit
Memory Clock 1250 MHz 1250 MHz
Memory Bandwidth 320.0 GB/s 320.0 GB/s
Compute Performance 5.6 TFLOPS 4.9 TFLOPS
Texture Units 176 160
Texture Fillrate 176 GT/s 152 GT/s
ROPs 64 64
Typical Board Power ~250W ~250W

 

The AMD Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290 both use AMD’s new Hawaii GPU and are very similar. In fact, we are honestly shocked how similar these cards really are. The AMD Radeon R9 290 has 9% fewer stream processors and 16 texture units as well as a 5% lower core clock.  The latter is laughable as the Radeon R9 290 was found to overclock easily and we were able to take it close to 1100MHz on the GPU core clock. The only real difference between the cards is the reduction in stream processors and texture units. So, a 9% reduction in stream processors and texture units would result in a 9% price cut right? Nope!  AMD slashed the price by $150 or a 27% price reduction from the Radeon R9 290X!  The AMD Radeon R9 290 has such an amazing price point we find it hard to recommend the AMD Radeon R9 290X to most gamers. The AMD Radeon R9 290X is still the best AMD has to offer. So, if there isn’t a budget constraint that is still the card to get, but for everyone else there is the Radeon R9 290! The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 at $499 is priced better than ever, but it is still $100 more than the Radeon R9 290 and the cards are competitive with one another.

The fan noise is still the weak point on the Radeon R9 290 as it can easily be heard over the other fans in your system when gaming.  You can control the maximum fan speed in AMD Overdrive, but by lowering it you will hurt performance. This card begs to be water cooled as that would solve the noise issue and heat concerns that some have with the new Hawaii GPU.

amd-radeon-290x-angle

The AMD Radeon R9 290 gives you more performance than ever at the $399 price point! It is a good thing that NVIDIA dropped the price down to $499 on the GeForce GTX 780 as the Radeon R9 290 would have really made it look bad. For $399 the AMD Radeon R9 290 is the video card to have if you are serious about gaming. It walks all over the GeForce GTX 770 ($335) and is very competitive with the GeForce GTX 780 ($499).  AMD has a huge price gap between the GeForce GTX 770 and the GeForce GTX 780 and the Radeon R9 290 is exploiting it to the fullest. 

Many gamers are also going to be upgrading their systems thanks to game titles like Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, so it looks like AMD has a winner this holiday with the Radeon R9 290!

LR Editors' Choice

 

Legit Bottom Line: The AMD Radeon R9 290 has solid performance, is overclocking friendly and happens to be priced right.  AMD now owns the $399 price point when it comes to desktop gaming graphics cards!

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  • Kif12345

    Just wait for the non-reference cards. They will be released at the end of November.

  • Recon

    Shop runner has mine here by Friday!

  • postie

    Don’t buy a card that games at 94 degC! That’s ridiculous, as is comparing it to Nvidia cards that are not being pushed so insanely. I have nothing against AMD; on the contrary, I dislike NVidia for their underhanded practices. But I bought an AMD card that gamed at 88 decG and it only lasted 18 months. Now, AMD has a good chip which they are overclocking wildly to boost performance. Not only that, but the reference cooler is another cut-rate AMD effort which has to scream just to keep the card from exploding. I wouldn’t reward such shoddy design with my money. And if I were given the card I would down-clock it to where it ought to be.
    If you really want to compare apples to apples, run your test cards at equal GPU temperatures, and then see who puts out more FPS for the dollar.

    • Recon

      XFX comes with lifetime replacement warranty…. Just sayin’

    • Barron

      I would still buy the AMD card which performs better or on par with the GTX Titan and use some of the $600 saved on a good cooling system.
      So that would save me around $550. Not Bad At All!
      Also remember this is just the reference card. I would expect the retail versions will come with better coolers, and be priced around $450 any way.

  • Strider

    This is an amazing deal. That level of performance at $399 is about as sweet as it gets. Especially if you take into account the fact performance will only go up as the drivers mature and the non-reference cards and coolers hit the market, giving more OC headroom. Not only on this 290, but it’s big brother 290X.

    This is going to be a great holiday to be a gamer, great games and great hardware from both sides of the fence.

  • Paul Margettas

    NEEDS MER GIRBABITS!

  • sri_tech

    Wow. Thats great pricing AMD.

    Keep it up.