AMD Radeon R9 290X Review: Challenging the Titan at half the price

By Julio Franco ยท 123 replies
Oct 24, 2013
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  1. Chazz

    Chazz TS Evangelist Posts: 679   +75

    Nice review and nice card. My gut is telling me to wait for the die shrinks to choose a card, I wonder if I can be strong about it.

    Also, the reds for the AMD cards(sans 290X) and the red for the 290X are so similar on the power consumption charts. I think a lot of people would have a hard time spotting it. Just a little critique.
  2. MrBungle

    MrBungle TS Booster Posts: 151   +67

    As the owner of a pair of GTX 780s in SLI I can say that I hope nVidia saved up enough money with their high prices over the last 6 months to buy a new pair of pants tomorrow when they start reading the R9 290X reviews...
  3. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    Thanks for the review Steve. Very informative and comprehensive as always.

    A few thoughts:
    AMD have done well. The limits imposed by the current process node and Hawaii's possible rejigging as a design maybe intended for 20nm. It looks like they've squeezed the maximum from what they had available.

    AMD's stock cooler woes continues. 95C GPU temps in normal gaming? Keen to see a thermograph of the VRM temps. Would it kill AMD to spend a few bucks and hire a design house to build them a decent vapour chamber cooler? The 50 dBA fan sound level on Uber mode should ensure a steady stream of sales for EKWB's waterblock, and every aftermarket AIB special (XFX's DD excepted)
    Not likely. I could see Nvidia dropping the reference 780 down to $500 to split the difference between the R9-290X and R9-290 and add the GTX 780Ti at the current pricing segment ($625-649). Titan is mostly irrelevant for most people anyway since most factory OC'ed 780's (EVGA FTW/Classified, Galaxy HOF, MSI Lightning, Inno3D iChill, Palit Super Jetstream etc) are already 10% (or more) faster than Titan out of the box.
  4. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    Could the 95 degree temp be the throttle limit? Suggesting that even more performance can be squeezed out of the card, if you customise the profile? [Note: I haven't read whole review yet]

    Page 1 says "Uber mode which sets the default max fan speed to 55%. " 50dBa is insane for 55% fan speed... maybe that's why they limited it. :D
  5. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    I would expect the GTX780 price drop to be less than $100 really.
  6. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    Glad to see my GTX 660 Ti SLI set-up is still hanging with the big boys. I've had that setup for a year now and was probably the best decision I ever made in a custom build.
  7. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    Yes. That is the case. If you manually set a fan profile higher (say 100%), then the cards blower fan will spin up to avoid throttling. Seems to work in instances where the game/app is GPU dependent - you will see further performance increases. In games/apps that are VRAM intensive the further increased fan profile seems negligible which would point to the VRM's becoming overwhelmed thermally. A few sites investigated the thermal characteristics (HardOCP's >>here<<), and here's a comparison of the stock fan sound levels from ComputerBase
  8. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Wow, im actually more impressed as it was starting to sound like the card may not have been a true titan competitor and more had been a GTX 780 competitor. At the price of $550, holy hot &%$* I was not expecting that price honestly. I still count that as high, but that's 100 bucks cheaper than a 780. I do hope we get some aftermarket coolers for these though ive heard that may not happen.

    I may go nuts later on and buy like 4 of these for a liquid cooled setup or wait for the dual GPU variants to come out. 95 degrees is a bit high honestly, I really want to see if I could find a way with a fan or two to improve on it, hmmmmm....

    Great review guys!
  9. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,375   +166

    I like that AMD is putting price pressure on NVIDIA, but I'm not that impressed technically. Putting more transistors on a chip and a wider bus is not that technically impressive. I hope that AMD is developing a more efficient architecture.
  10. Sarcasm

    Sarcasm TS Guru Posts: 367   +46

    I think anyone who considered buying a titan should consider getting two of these instead and be set for the next three years.
  11. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    I'm still happy with my recent change to two 7970 Ghz in crossfire. Although the overclocked 290X has done a lot better in some titles than I thought it might have.
  12. I really don't care what anyone says. If a graphics card is cooking at 95C it's not gonna have the same lifetime as if the chip was kept cooler. 3rd party cooling solutions will be an absolute MUST if I'm going to buy one of these, and those solutions better seriously cut down on the temperature. Any graphics card operating at 85C and above will never see the inside of my PC. Let's hope ASUS does a good job on their presumably upcoming DirectCU II version. Apart from the heat, good job AMD. And as always, I'm a big fan of these types of articles on Techspot. Keep up the good work, guys. :)
  13. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    Outside of pro graphics visualization I don't think anyone has considered buying a Titan since May 23rd....the day the GTX 780 launched.
    Sarcasm, Phillip Seni and Burty117 like this.
  14. The 95C load temp is the GPU temperature target in CCC, and since their was no mention of that in the review, I assume it's 95C by default. So yea, it's safe to run it that hot.
  15. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    I wonder if it can compete against my Radeon 9200 SE... :)
  16. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,144   +911

    FINALLY! Thank you Techspot for a bang on review!
    I literally cannot wait for the 780 to drop in price! I can get another 780 :)
    It definitely performed better than some of the leaks suggested, Very Impressed they managed such decent performance for it's price.

    Only things that disappoints me is the overclock headroom, which is pretty much non existent. As my 780 (with the stock cooler) I can get to 1.1GHz before it bottoms out.
  17. Nice and very throrough review. Although I'm impressed with the performance of the 290X I have to say that this review made want to buy another card actually.
    I already own a 7970 Ghz, and seeing that in CF it outperforms almost everything else. I'm just going to buy another 7970 Ghz. It will cost less than the 290X and outperform it.

    So if anyone already has a 7970 Ghz or a 7950 Boost I definitely recommend that you go with CF setups instead of upgrading to a single 290X.
    Phillip Seni likes this.
  18. Good review, but you sound like giving privilege to Nvidia over AMD. You said GTX 770 is 100$ cheaper than GTX 680. So what about 280x at 299? You made the review to give a message that AMD only releases rebadged cards like Nvidia is not doing it. Even in the end of your review, you mentioned the performance of 2 7950's, 2 7970's, 2 GTX 660's, look like a deliberate attempt to reduce the price/performance value of this R9 290x AMD card against GTX Titan or GTX 780. These things are unnecessary to mention in this review, are you favoring Nvidia?
  19. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    95C isn't necessarily an issue. What is an issue is that the card reaches its thermal limit in a relatively short period of time at stock clocks...which begs the questions
    An extended 1-2 hour gaming session. How far in before the card throttles continuously ?
    If the card reaches its thermal limit at stock then an overclock of any note -especially a stable one during extended gaming is going to problematic ?
    If the cooling is marginal, then you're going to either hold off for AIB non-reference cooling (the best course of action IMO), invest in a third-party cooler (ruining the price point), or be committed to gaming in a cold air environment.
    BTW: Here's a thermograph of the backside of the card (via Hardware France).
  20. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Posts: 683   +253

    2000 million? Isn't there an easier way to say that. :)
    Phillip Seni likes this.
  21. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    Sorry it sounds like that, rather what I was doing was stating facts.

    The fact is the day the GTX 770 arrived the GTX 680 still cost $500 and with its 1GHz faster memory the $400 GTX 770 was faster, noticeably.

    As far as I am award the 7970 already cost $300 before the R9 280X came along, the GTX 770 pushed it there. I could be wrong, though I am sure I am not, the R9 280X came in at the same price point as the 7970 while being slightly slower than the 7970 GHz Edition.

    Both the GTX 770 and R9 280X are re-badged products, we said that. The difference being the GTX 770 tried to hide the fact and it was $100 cheaper on launch day.

    I am sorry you are upset that we compared the R9 290X to cheaper dual-GPU setups from AMD and Nvidia. If you think this review was a deliberate attempt to reduce the price/performance value of the R9 290X then I think we need to make an audio tape version of the review.

    In plain English we said the R9 290X is better value than both the GTX 780 and GTX Titan.

    Finally are we favoring Nvidia you ask, well for some reason you seem to think so though I have absolutely no idea why.

    Kinda, but there isn't a better way.
  22. Phillip Seni

    Phillip Seni TS Rookie Posts: 26

    I think for gamers, to accommodate AMD Radeon R9 290X's high operating temperature, a cpu case with built-in rice cooker (or hamburger grill) is more environment friendly. such high temperature must not go to waste. :D
    kidding set aside, intel's processors are using less and less energy compared to previous generations. I wonder when AMD and Nvidia follow suit.
  23. Phillip Seni

    Phillip Seni TS Rookie Posts: 26

    does your statement means that AMD 7970 in CF mode is more budget friendly than a single AMD 290X?
    some say that to avoid problems when gaming, as much as possible, use one high end card only rather than using two or more mid-range card.
    please correct me if I'm wrong and point me in the right direction on where to read more in order to understand the complexities of CF and SLI gaming.
  24. victor123

    victor123 TS Rookie

    Then sorry for my wrong assumption and Thank you for the clarification. (I am the same person posted as Guest user).
    St1ckM4n likes this.

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