Earlier this year we decided to dust off the venerable GTX 980 Ti along with the Radeon R9 Fury X to see how they were getting on it modern titles and what, if anything, had changed since we last checked them out. Although I only benchmarked six or so games for that test, we observed competitive results between the GTX 980 Ti and Fury X. Since then we've had loads of requests to create a similar article comparing the Radeon R9 390 and GeForce GTX 970. So that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Lined up I have 22 games, most of which are very recent tiles and all have been tested at 1080p and 1440p. For comparison, we have not just the GTX 970, but also the GTX 1070, 1060, 1050 Ti, RX 480 and RX 470, so we should be able to work out exactly where the R9 390 slots into today’s landscape.
For testing I have taken my old HIS Radeon R9 390 IceQ X2 OC graphics card, benchmarked it in the factory configuration and then again with a custom overclock. Out of the box the card features a core clock speed of 1020 MHz, which is a insignificant 2% boost over the AMD reference clock frequency. I was able to manually raise the core frequency to 1120 MHz which was a further 10% overclock. By default the GDDR5 memory comes clocked at 1500MHz and for our custom overclock I pushed it up to 1700 MHz for a throughput speed of 6.8 Gbps.
Finally, all testing was conducted using our Intel Core i7-7700K test system overclocked to 4.9GHz with 32GB’s of DDR4-3000 memory.
Test System Specs & Memory
- Intel Core i7-7700K @ 4.9 GHz
- Asrock Z270 Extreme4
- 32GB DDR4-3000 RAM
- Samsung SSD 850 Evo 2TB
- Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti G1 Gaming [4GB]
- Gainward GTX 970 Phantom [4GB]
- MSI RX 470 Gaming X [4GB]
- MSI RX 480 Gaming X [4GB]
- MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X [3GB]
- MSI RX 480 Gaming X [8GB]
- HIS R9 390 IceQ X2 OC [8GB]
- Gainward GTX 970 Phantom [4GB] OC
- EVGA GTX 1060 FTW+ [6GB]
- HIS R9 390 IceQ X2 OC [8GB] OC
- Gigabyte GTX 1070 G1 Gaming [8GB]
- Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- GeForce Game Ready Driver 381.89
- Crimson ReLive Edition 17.4.4
The R9 390 performs like a champ in Far Cry Primal, leaving the RX 480 behind and comfortably beating the GTX 970. Even factoring in overclocking, the R9 390 has just enough headroom to stay ahead of the overclocked GTX 970.
Moving to 1440p the R9 390 remains very strong pushing 48 fps while the overclocked GTX 970 does fall away managing just 43 fps. It would seem that the larger memory buffer of the R9 390 is playing to its advantage here, that said both cards did play much better at 1080p.
The Division is a visually demanding game using the ultra quality preset, but even so the 390 makes out very well and once overclocked averaged 58 fps at 1080p. This made it slightly faster than the GTX 970 for good measure. Now at 1440p gamers will want to reduce the quality setting slightly as 43 fps on average with dips below 30fps isn’t ideal. The same will be true for GTX 970 owners.