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

The GeForce GTX Titan blew us all away eight months ago with its mindblowingly fast GPU, cramming 7080 million transistors into a 561mm2 die to provide massive processing power and bandwidth. The catch, of course, was that Nvidia wanted (and still wants) $1,000 for it -- a sum that didn't necessarily seem to prevent cards from flying off shelves even though it's more than our entire entry-level rig.

Although AMD's new series got off to an underwhelming start, we knew better things would eventually follow, and this week's Radeon R9 290X is the first truly new product of its range. In a sense, the R9 290X (codenamed "Hawaii XT") could be considered AMD's Titan, as it takes the Tahiti architecture and stuffs with nearly 2000 million more transistors.

It's the most complex and powerful GPU AMD has created and by no coincidence, it's also the company's most expensive single-GPU product to date matching the Radeon HD 7970. Before you click away, that's "only" $550, which is substantially cheaper than Nvidia's solution.

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

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45 Comments

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I ordered two this morning, can't wait to get them.

I was going to stick with Nvidia because of G-Sync, but Mantle interests me more currently. Besides, there's always a chance that Nvidia might license G-Sync to AMD at some point.

Is this R9 290X the ABSOLUTE best card that AMD offers now? Which brand should I get? MSI, XFX, ASUS, etc..? How would it handle on games that still enforce PhysX (with no way to turn it off, like on Alice).

Izlude said,
Is this R9 290X the ABSOLUTE best card that AMD offers now? Which brand should I get? MSI, XFX, ASUS, etc..? How would it handle on games that still enforce PhysX (with no way to turn it off, like on Alice).

Best single-gpu solution. The 7990 is still better but it's technically crossfire (dual gpus) on one card.

Its the latest card they do the 7990 prolly still beats some what but your getting the new volcanic islands architecture, with true audio built in so its probably the better option and at only £450 its insane i was expecting more like £550, so i guess the 290 will be priced around the £350 range.

It doesnt matter what brand you get as there all the same in terms of clock speeds, just get the prettiest one or the brand you like

Still a little expensive. Better to buy a good second hand card plenty of gamers ditching cards they deam old for the latest model when they are like less than a year old. You can get these so cheap.

I would not buy ATI again anyway nothing but trouble for me with crap customer support / Short Device life cycle.

Vester said,
Still a little expensive. Better to buy a good second hand card plenty of gamers ditching cards they deam old for the latest model when they are like less than a year old. You can get these so cheap.

I would not buy ATI again anyway nothing but trouble for me with crap customer support / Short Device life cycle.

lol, it's a 'bleeding edge' card, best of the best really.. at half the price of the competitor's option. Of course it's a little 'expensive' relative to the $200-300 gpu price point, but it's also inexpensive relative to the Titan.

Well apparently the titan and the R290 are doing worse than the 7990 and worse than the 7970 in some scenarios. I was dazzled by the titan myself but it is not worth it.

dual GPU's will perform better most of the time so its not surprising at all but put dual 290x's in and see the other xfire or sli cards get pummeled

crap looked on a computer site i use you can pick one up for £440... £70-100 cheaper than a 780. absolute bargain i think

Riva said,
Well apparently the titan and the R290 are doing worse than the 7990 and worse than the 7970 in some scenarios. I was dazzled by the titan myself but it is not worth it.

learn to read, dual gpu's dude.

Now put the R290 in crossfire.

yeah 7990 is a dual gpu and its saying it performs worse than it, or sli'ing 780's or crossfiring 7970's will outperform titan and 290x. thats what i said, then again by dual GPU's i was also including dual cards etc in it

psionicinversion said,
yeah 7990 is a dual gpu and its saying it performs worse than it, or sli'ing 780's or crossfiring 7970's will outperform titan and 290x. thats what i said, then again by dual GPU's i was also including dual cards etc in it

In other words you are better off with dual 7970s no point in spending money either on the titan nor the 7990 nor the 290

that also depends if you have a 7970 currently. ive got a 6870 atm but if i was going to get anything id prolly buy a 280x or maybe see how the 290 performs and at what price it is, prolly wont be worth it though as a 280x/7970 should play the titles for the next cpl years without much problem

I'd say it is. It doesn't beat the hell out of it, but it offers very comparable performance (+/- in different situations) at HALF OF THE PRICE.

I'd call that a "Titan killer." Who would pay twice as much for similar performance?

PS: Competition is good for us consumers.

Maybe this card is better than a 780 GTX but I am happy with my 780 GTX ACX which beats the Titan. It is a cool card and quite. Plus I got ****ed at AMD when they dropped support for my cards that were still performing fine. I am glad that AMD is competing again.

My GTX 780 was worth the money for me and there already are games that challenge it and Titan when maxed out. That said, competition is more than welcome, for the obvious reasons. I almost have to stay with nvidia because of Adobe Cuda acceleration, if AMD could get on board with that, it could open up a whole new market aside from gamers.

The Titan is over half a year old now. It needs to be reduced in price anyway, but the quiet operation of the Titan compared to the noisy AMD cards is worth a premium price.

According the Anandtech it's just 4 dB louder than Titan with AMD's reference cooler, so barely noticeable. Titan certainly isn't worth almost twice the price for 4 dB less noise, and there will be 290X's with quieter custom coolers soon.

Damn. It slightly outperforms or matches the Titan in most games at nearly half the cost. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Competition is always good, personally I am a nvidia fan because of several amd card I've owned in the past (5850's) and other that burned me of this company, but it's always great to see one of them pushing the price down. At least they are not like comm price in Canada were everyone increase and there's no real competition lol

I don't know if it has changed, but I had AMD cards twice, and they both had a couple of compatibility issues - so have been using Nvidia since.

joechang said,
I don't know if it has changed, but I had AMD cards twice, and they both had a couple of compatibility issues - so have been using Nvidia since.

Used AMD cards for as far as I can remember, had a couple of issues with some games fixed with patches, mostly no issues though.

No problems at all here, had 3 generations of their cards now (4950, 5770 and 6950) and apart from one driver release on the 6950 causing Hammer (level editor for Portal 2) to crash (and that driver was a beta) had rock solid driver reliability.

joechang said,
I don't know if it has changed, but I had AMD cards twice, and they both had a couple of compatibility issues - so have been using Nvidia since.

I remember having issues back in the ATi 9550 Pro days, very vad issues like overheating, glitches, games that even refused to work at all. I really regretted it as I already had 3 generations of Nvidia cards that didn't give me any issues (Riva TNT2 Pro, Geforce MX440, Geforce FX5700LE which I traded in for the 9550 as a friend was having compat issues)

I just went back to Nvidia after a while and all was great with the 7300GT and 8600GT (both passive Gigabyte cards), but I decided to give AMD/ATi another try on the 4850 and other than small issues that were solved with newer drivers (Neverwinter Nights worked like **** back then) I never had any problems ever since. I'm now running a 7850 2Gb, after having gone through a 6870 1Gb and couldn't be any happier.

My only gripe as of today is that their drivers seem to be growing and growing and growing, and being so heavy on CPU which is once again easily noted on current benchmarks which put the R9 290X behind the Titan at 1080p which for both cards is a CPU-bound scenario.

gonchuki said,

I remember having issues back in the ATi 9550 Pro days, very vad issues like overheating, glitches, games that even refused to work at all. I really regretted it as I already had 3 generations of Nvidia cards that didn't give me any issues (Riva TNT2 Pro, Geforce MX440, Geforce FX5700LE which I traded in for the 9550 as a friend was having compat issues)

I just went back to Nvidia after a while and all was great with the 7300GT and 8600GT (both passive Gigabyte cards), but I decided to give AMD/ATi another try on the 4850 and other than small issues that were solved with newer drivers (Neverwinter Nights worked like **** back then) I never had any problems ever since. I'm now running a 7850 2Gb, after having gone through a 6870 1Gb and couldn't be any happier.

My only gripe as of today is that their drivers seem to be growing and growing and growing, and being so heavy on CPU which is once again easily noted on current benchmarks which put the R9 290X behind the Titan at 1080p which for both cards is a CPU-bound scenario.

Admittedly the stock coolers on most ATI cards are pretty crap, I usually buy cards with custom coolers (My first 2 were HiS cards with IceQ coolers, my current card is an MSI card with a powerful aftermarket cooler). Never seen my current card go above 65c.

Javik said,

Admittedly the stock coolers on most ATI cards are pretty crap, I usually buy cards with custom coolers (My first 2 were HiS cards with IceQ coolers, my current card is an MSI card with a powerful aftermarket cooler). Never seen my current card go above 65c.


Yeah, both the 6870 and my current 7850 are HiS IceQ X cards, pretty solid cooling solution.

Anaron said,
You'd need multiple Titans or R9 290Xs to run games at 4K. The performance requirements are staggering.

considering you can get almost two 290Xs for the price of a Titan... Anand's review shows the results with a 290X Crossfire at 4K and looks like for some titles you could even get away with crossfiring the upcoming less expensive R9 290 and still be above 60fps at 4K.

And we still haven't seen what Mantle can bring along, or the final phase of frame pacing fixes which could actually bring another small performance boost once they start optimizing the new memory controller code for speed (as opposed to optimizing for compat, which is what they are doing right now).

I'm only left wondering if their next PR campaign will be named "Never Settle Ever Again"

gonchuki said,

I'm only left wondering if their next PR campaign will be named "Never Settle Ever Again"

Many years from now… Purchase a new R9-800 series card, and get four new games of your choice with our new bundle, Never Settle Forever and Ever and Ever and Ever and Ever and Ever and Ever and Ever and Ever…

Good news, more competition, maybe some flagship cards might become more affordable to people like me
(too overcommitted and have other bills that take priority)

It's nice to see Radeon really competing again. Nvidia's probably a little worried that their "King of the hill" Titan just got trumped at half the cost to the consumer.

Also, the R9 280X ($300) trumps the GTX 770 (~$400) in most bencharks too. Good stuff, Radeon!

I don't feel the need for these ridiculous monsters like Titan and R9's. My GTX 670 2 GB is playing all games I throw at it at max details at 1080p.

Now if the monitor resolution is more than that, then R9 290X and titans can be justified.
Hope Nvidia brings down Titan's price to earthly levels now.

sanke1 said,
I don't feel the need for these ridiculous monsters like Titan and R9's. My GTX 670 2 GB is playing all games I throw at it at max details at 1080p.

Now if the monitor resolution is more than that, then R9 290X and titans can be justified.
Hope Nvidia brings down Titan's price to earthly levels now.

Exactly, these monsters are for people like me who push 1440 or 1600.

JHBrown said,
Exactly, these monsters are for people like me who push 1440 or 1600.

Yup, my AMD 7770 used to be fine for Max details at 1080. Then I bought a 1440 monitor and it became woefully inadequate.

Or gaming at 120fps. It simply requires twice the power as 60fps. I run 2 GTX 760s in SLI for the purpose. This costs roughly the same price as a 290X.

sanke1 said,
I don't feel the need for these ridiculous monsters like Titan and R9's. My GTX 670 2 GB is playing all games I throw at it at max details at 1080p.

Now if the monitor resolution is more than that, then R9 290X and titans can be justified.
Hope Nvidia brings down Titan's price to earthly levels now.

GL doing the same in BF4

ROFLCOPTERS said,

GL doing the same in BF4

It will still be playable at 1080p on GTX 670. But if the prices of Titan come down to respectable levels, then we can think of an upgrade. But it's not worth blowing all the money on current gen graphic cards. Let's see what Nvidia's 8xx series brings,