XFX Radeon R9 290 CrossFire Video Card Review at 4K Ultra HD

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Trying out an AMD Radeon R9 290 CrossFire Setup

If you are looking for a graphics card for a high-end gaming system that can push a 4K Ultra HD display or triple panel configuration you have a number of choices from both AMD and NVIDIA. More than likely the AMD Radeon R9 290 series and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 series are going to be the cards that have the horse power to get the performance you need to accelerate all those pixels at a playable frame rate. If you are looking at AMD cards, the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 is pretty sweet, but it carries a rather impressive $1499 price tag when it releases on April 21st, 2014. If you have a high-end gaming rig and a 4K display you can likely afford that, but what about those that don’t want to spend that much money on a graphics card. We recently reviewed the XFX Radeon R9 290 Double Dissipation and had the opportunity to get a second card in for additional thermal testing. Since we had two identical cards sitting on the test bench we figured that we’d flash the BIOS in order for the cards to be identical and run some CrossFire tests with AMD’s latest Catalyst 14.4 Beta drivers. 

 xfx--radeon-290-crossfire

The XFX Double Dissipation Radeon R9 290 4GB graphics card that we have a pair of is sold under part number R9290AEDFD for $439.99 shipped with a Limited Lifetime Warranty if you register within 30 days of purchase. It is powered by a single 28nm AMD Hawaii GPU that has 2,560 stream processors running at 947MHz and the 4GB of GDDR5 memory on a 512-bit wide bus that is clocked at 1250MHz (5000MHz effective). These clock speeds are fairly standard for a Radeon R9 290 from any brand, so we wouldn’t consider this a factory overclocked card. If you were looking for a factory overclocked card there is the XFX Black Edition DD R9 290 that is listed under part number R9290AEDBD for $504.99 shipped. The XFX Radeon R9 290 Black Edition card is factory overclocked up to 980MHz and for that you’ll be paying an extra $65.

We are looking at two of the base models, so you are looking at about $880 shipped for a pair of them. This is $619 less than an AMD Radeon R9 295X2, so it will be interesting to see how a pair of these cards will compare.

dual-radeon-290

The XFX DD R9 290 4GB has two 90mm cooling fans (actual fan blade measurement is ~85mm) that each have 9-blades on them. XFX claims that the Double Dissipation GPU cooler with Ghost2 thermal cooling should offer improved cooling and reduced noise versus the AMD Radeon R9 290 reference card. XFX is uses seven 6mm copper heatpipes on this card that measures 11.125″ in length. The black PCB measures 10.5-inches, but the GPU cooler extends past the end of the card by more than half an inch. This is a fairly long card, so be sure to measure your case before ordering!

xfx-290-crossfire

No AMD CrossFire interconnect or bridge is needed on these cards to get setup, so you literally just plug them into your motherboard and enable AMD CrossFireX in Catalyst Control Center to get the desired multi-GPU performance boost. 

crossfire-system

The XFX logo on the right side of the card has white LED’s behind it that are always on when the system is running. When the system is at idle the second card shuts down in a low power state and the LED light shuts down on that card.

Let’s take a look at the test system real quick before we move along to benchmarking!

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  • marko

    will crossfire work with two different brands (f.e. gigabyte and shapphire)?

    • Nicholas Alexander

      it should work if you have the same chipset like the 7970/R9280x and R9280 would be 7850?

  • Ryan O’Shea

    I just bought 2 of the XFX Radeon 290s because of your awesome review (and because they were on sale), I haven’t received them yet, but I was just wondering how you went about updating the bios (In case they are both running v3.0)

    • Nathan Kirsch

      I use ATI Winflash to update my Hawaii cards and I used the vBIOS from the 3.1 card and flashed it over to the older card. I have no clue how XFX is handling the update or if they even plan on making it readily available to their customers.

      The newer BIOS has been tweaked for memory support as well… XFX said this to me this week: “Yes
      the BIOS’s have been tweaked a bit partly due to AMD using two
      different types of memory Elpida and Hynix which both act differently. It
      is my understanding that moving forward only one brand will be used
      which will make it much easier to fine-tune everything and avoid issues
      like you had originally.”

      From my understanding the memory tweaks were done mostly for the LiteCoin guys and had nothing to do with VRM temps. Not many straight answers on this from XFX I am afraid.

      • Ryan O’Shea

        Thanks for the reply,

        Well here’s hoping that either one or both of my cards runs the update.

  • Greg B

    Once these cards are overclocked they fly. I have a pair running at 1100×1350 24/7 and have been extremely happy. I bought these when they were released and pair $399 each making my purchase even better.
    While the 780Ti SLI solution might be faster, it is more expensive and comes with less Vram.
    I’ll stick with my CF cards for now.

  • fuzznarf

    Why would you compare a 290 in crossfire to 780Ti in SLI? an appropriate comparison would either be 290x vs 780Ti, or 290 vs 780. Dont compare two $475 AMD290 cards to two $730 Nvidia 780Tis.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Fuzznarf – You did look at both charts right? The average FPS chart includes 290, 290 CrossFire, 290X, 295X2 on the AMD side and 780, 780 Ti and 780 Ti SLI on the NVIDIA side.

      I went with 290/290 CrossFire and 780 Ti/780 TI SLI in the FPS over time charts due to the fact it showed dual card scaling of matched identical cards. I could mix and match cards to do other setups, but that basically invalidates the noise/power numbers due to the different designs of the 3rd party AIB cards.

      • jz100

        I would have helped if that stupid Powercolor 290x brand didn’t leave out the crossfire name in it. I’ve never seen a brand labeled like that.

  • dkz

    How does one find out the version of their card?

    • Nathan Kirsch

      On the back of the card there is the serial number sticker and it also lists the version number of the card. I’m not sure where along the lines XFX adjusted the fan profile as they haven’t given me a direct answer on that. If your card won’t go over 45% fan speed, you likely have the original profile.

      • dkz

        Thanks!

        They definitely go higher than 45%. My top card has been hitting 100% regularly. With my Arc Midi R2, and Formula VI board, the gap between two cards is only, 1 PCIE slot, and it’s causing my top card to hit the 95c threshold, and will throttle unless I put some fans on it.