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

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Crysis 3

crysis3-SS

Like the others, it is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek, using their CryEngine 3. Released in February 2013, it is well known to make even powerful system choke. It has probably the highest graphics requirements of any game available today. Unfortunately, Crytek didn’t include a standardized benchmark with Crysis 3. While the enemies will move about on their own, we will attempt to keep the same testing process for each test.

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Crysis 3 has a reputation for being highly resource intensive. Most graphics cards will have problems running Crysis 3 at maximum settings, so we settled on no AA with the graphics quality mostly set to Very High with 16x AF. We disabled v-sync and left the motion blur amount on medium.

crysis3-cpu-utilization

Crysis 3 appeared to run for the most part on just 3 CPU threads and used up about 15-18% of our Intel Core i7-4960X processor with these settings. Notice that the processor speed was at 3.53GHz and we very seldom, if ever, saw the processor go into turbo mode on Crysis 3.

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Benchmark Results: The XFX Double Dissipation R9 290 averaged 17.68 FPS on Cysis 3 and with the CrossFire setup this jumped up to 33.39 FPS. This is an increase of 88.9%, which is the most that we have seen yet. Having a pair of Radeon R9 290 cards in CrossFire really made Crysis 3 perform well and got us above the 30 FPS mark on average.

crysis3-time

Benchmark Results: It is extremely hard to replicate the same run over and over manually with FRAPs on Crysis 3, but we gave it out best shot. As you can see the XFX DD Radeon R9 290 CrossFire setup had a significant drop below 30 FPS in the middle of the benchmark run, but that was it.

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  • Sean

    how do they crossfire with out the bridge

  • Joseph Spears

    There is no wat 780ti even in SLI touchs a 295×2

  • 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?

      • Eds

        7950/7950 Boost/7970/7970ghz/R9 280 R9 280x are all compatible with each other.

        • Nicholas Alexander

          Yes, if they are the same family chipset. just like what I said. like the R9 280x and the 7970Ghz editon, etc

  • 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.

        • Paul Young

          I got my pair for £480 or $722, when they were on a weekly offer about 4 months ago, what a bargain. I’ve always ran crossfire, mainly due to the extra VRAM, price, and bling factor, as you can’t beat a pair of graphics cards when put under water.