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Radeon R9 290 Review: Kick-*** value, same top notch performance

By Julio Franco · 56 replies
Nov 5, 2013
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  1. AMD has already made the 290X useless when the 290 is within 3fps of it across the board. Damn noobs working at AMD now. G-Sync better be good because I want off the red team.
  2. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,262

    Thanks for another excellent review Steve.

    An awesome bang-for-buck card.
    I think there are more than a few that lament the fact that AMD don't let the AIB's off the leash faster with proprietary coolers. With a quieter and more effective (lower incidence of throttling) solution this card seems like a home run. There will be queue forming for the non-reference varieties.
  3. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,232   +229

    Wow, awesome performance at an awesome price (albeit at higher temps).
    maybe nvidia will drop prices again before thanksgiving and another drop before the holidays.
    hopefully, the price drop will cascade from the west into the eastern hemisphere (including the philippines).
    in this current price war, the consumers win again.
    Logixx likes this.
  4. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 2,405   +875

    I think they were forced to price this card so low because nvidia also dropped prices lower than expected. Competition at work guys! Now if only AMD was this good at making CPU's ^_^
    Julio Franco likes this.
  5. jeffz6

    jeffz6 TS Rookie Posts: 79

    95 degs is insane, if you are like me and run a compact mitx unit, 95 deg heats up hdd's, ram, etc. My 780 sits at 70 deg and already heats up my hdd's etc. Put these things in crossfire and you have a fusion plant.
  6. Chazz

    Chazz TS Evangelist Posts: 679   +74

    What? Mini-ITX? Crossfire? Why?
  7. Sarcasm

    Sarcasm TS Guru Posts: 354   +40

    This is great, but surprised you guys didn't touch on how loud the thing is at full load. Then again that's the trade off for the price/performance, you get heat/noise.
  8. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,946   +200

    The Radeon R9 290X has a target temp of 95°C
    And in "quiet mode" the fanspeed has a limit of 40%
    In "Uber" mode the fanspeed limit is increased to 55%
    The regular 290 has only a fanspeed limit of 47%, otherwise it's the same

    What this means is that if the fan is unable to keep the card cool it will reduce the voltage & clockspeed to the GPU, reducing performance.
    Anandtech has some numbers on this page for the 290X: http://anandtech.com/show/7457/the-radeon-r9-290x-review/19
    Phillip Seni likes this.
  9. Twixtea

    Twixtea TS Rookie Posts: 86

    I heard the 290X will drop performance levels if playing for hours non-stop, given the heat temps and possible throttling in clocks, is that true?
    If yes is it the same with the 290?
  10. backo

    backo TS Enthusiast Posts: 59   +8

    Really want to see a Gigabyte Windforce version ot this card. Pretty sure that will be my new GPU.
    misor likes this.
  11. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,946   +200

    Twixtea yea the 290X drops, as can be seen in Sweclockers graphs here:
    Uber mode: http://www.sweclockers.com/image/red/2013/10/23/Uber.png?t=original&k=74063933
    Quiet mode: http://www.sweclockers.com/image/red/2013/10/23/Quiet.png?t=original&k=d2466848
    As can be seen the performance in Uber mode is a flat line, so it is maxed, while in quiet mode the clockspeed drops over time and stabilizes below 900Mhz in their open bench test...

    The regular 290 seems to have just enough fanspeed (remember it is fixed at 47%) to not throttle.
    But then again all reviews I've seen run an open bench test, so it's not very representative.
    Of course the rooms ambient temperature plays a big role aswell...

    Tom's hardware slapped a Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III cooler on their 290, made a very big difference in noise...
    "Even at 7 V, the upgraded Radeon R9 290 is barely louder at prolonged full load than the stock versions are at idle"
  12. Fantabulous card and incredible price to perf ratio.Very well done and the heating issue will be resolved by AIB partners with better coolers,np :)
  13. Twixtea

    Twixtea TS Rookie Posts: 86

    The stock cooler at 47% is pretty much unbearable to my ears.
    The custom coolers seems pretty nice though.
    This card + the custom cooler seems to be a way better deal than the 290X, even at stock clocks the performance difference isn't that much and with the custom cooler you can OC the 290 even higher.
    The cooler's listed as 75$ on newegg, would make a total of 475$, still beats a 780 in price and also the 290X.
  14. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,358   +1,517

    Some updated info guys. I took the IceQ X2 cooler off the HIS Radeon R9 280X and stuck it on our R9 290 sample. Cooling was dramatically improved. The FurMark stress test maxed out at 76 degrees while the card never exceeded 63 degrees in Crysis 3 and Battlefield 4. So it seems as expected the board partners will be able to solve the heat issues of the reference card.
    misor, Boilerhog146, St1ckM4n and 6 others like this.
  15. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,685   +1,081

    Bring on the Vapor-X, Saphire.

    One thing that I still don't get, however: with over half the PC games now being console ports, why are they nearly always optimized for Nividia when the consoles all run AMD?
    Phillip Seni likes this.
  16. GhostRyder

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

    Steve so wait, that worked just slapping that on, I had not noticed the board design was so similar to the 7970/R80X. That's cool to note because now it seals the aftermarket cooler market because modifications are not really needed to make their coolers work. Cool thing to note, with such a huge difference with just that, it makes you wonder why they didn't put something with better cooling if just that cooler dropped the temps to the mid 70's.

    A lot of that has to do with the game engines, many for years have already been optimized for NVidia and even with changes to make them more optimized to AMD, they are still going to have some of the NVidia optimization still on board. Honestly in the case of recent game from what ive been seeing in performance, the current scenarios are the way I think it should be because of how close all the games are starting to get. It really is nice that gamers no matter what their card choice is can play a game on par with the other side, its not longer a choice that can harm your experience with other game companies.

    On the R9 290, wow the performance is so close to the 780 and 290X is shocking to say the least, I actually did not expect them to be within 5FPS of eachother like that. Im still waiting on the 290X, but I noticed that the 290's are in stock on newegg and that's very tempting. Still think ill hold off and try for the X versions.

    Great review.
  17. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Posts: 669   +245

    According to this article:
    one of the most popular games in recent days will be implementing the Mantle API into their game engines. And 3 more big names will more than likely follow. NVidias days could be numbered. Of course, I wouldn't want them to be put out of business. We all win when AMD and NVidia play the game of leap-frog.
  18. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,218   +398

    Agreed why the hell would you put one or even two of these cards in a Mini itx case that is a dumb idea and you are just asking for trouble.

    If you are in need of a gaming videocard in a HTPC you will need a bigger box than a mini itx case.
  19. ghasmanjr

    ghasmanjr TS Booster Posts: 363   +86

    This is a stupid move by AMD. I have been trying to get a pair of R9 290x cards for 5970x1080 on Battlefield 4. Those cards are almost impossible to find for near retail price ($550). Now, AMD flooded the market with these $400 cards that are almost the same performance. Most people that don't need that extra 10% (myself sadly excluded) are going to just save $150 and get the 60 fps they need. AMD should have waited a month to release, crank the price for a month, or just resupplied the stock for the R9 290x.
  20. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Posts: 669   +245

    The naming scheme is retarded also in my opinion. Don't extra letters normally correspond with extra features, speed or benefits? I guess AMD used the x to mean "crippled" product this time around.
  21. "one of the most popular games in recent days will be implementing the Mantle API into their game engines. And 3 more big names will more than likely follow. NVidias days could be numbered. Of course, I wouldn't want them to be put out of business. We all win when AMD and NVidia play the game of leap-frog."

    So we haven't seen Mantle in action, but we have seen (people have seen in person) G-Sync and loved it, but you think Mantle is better based on some slides and a keynote?

    OMG LMAO. You silly boy!
  22. You get what you pay for. Invest less in a CPU if you plan on gaming and drop that cash on Nvidia, one thing done right. I've seen people building rigs for gaming and they spent money on a powerful CPU and less for the most important part (for me) the GPU.
  23. My R9 280X is pretty good. But yes, can become loud when the temp increases in BF4. But I play with headphones on so it doesn't bother me. My case is quite small and only has 1 fan in it - could buy a bigger case and stick some fans in it - to cool it down so it doesn't spin up as much... but end of the day, my PC is on the floor, under the desk so it isn't in direct line of my ears.
  24. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Awesome value. Too bad the fan is loud. Bring on the aftermarkets!

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