Radeon R9 290 Review: Improved value, same killer performance

Remaining unopposed for months, Nvidia's $1,000 GeForce GTX Titan, $650 GTX 780 and $400 GTX 770 had the high-end market pretty well stitched up earlier this year. Although AMD's Radeon HD 7970 GHz was available at $450, it proved slower than the GTX 770, while the company's dual-GPU HD 7990 was somewhat pointless because two 7970s were faster, cheaper and easier to cool.

With the enthusiast community demanding a response, AMD answered last month by delivering Titan-like performance for nearly half the price. At $550, the new Radeon R9 290X is set at the same rate as the HD 7970 when it debuted two years ago. With its age-old adversary swinging full force, Nvidia's back hit the ropes and it quickly countered by slashing prices across its affected upper-tier products.

Before Nvidia can strike back, however, it'll have to eat another blow in the form of the new Radeon R9 290, a non-X version of the company's flagship GPU that packs fewer SPUs and TAUs, and the same amount of ROPs.

Read: AMD Radeon R9 290 Review

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This card will be good when Gigabyte, Asus, MSI etc get their custom coolers on it. The reference cooler simply doesn't cut it.

I could never get my system running stable with Nvidia cards, don't know why but the drivers would constantly crash and recover. With AMD i had nothing but stable system, and drivers are great.

My rig has a GTX 780 and it's great, except for the driver crashing every other week for a few seconds and recovering. I'm building a rig for my wife to game on soon...nice to finally have more options.

Crisp said,
Oh look, anti-AMD people getting mad again.

Not really... I've had maybe 75% of ATI cards over the past 12 years, but this time, even if performance is there, in terms of acoustics and thermal enveloppe, they have nearly pulled a Geforce FX 5800 Dustbuster Edition© on us... (for those who remember)

Crisp said,
Oh look, anti-AMD people getting mad again.

I wouldn't call myself a fan either way (I've been stung by both), but the reviews are talking about 40dB of noise here. That's pretty loud IMO, and the temperatures are pretty eye watering, and it consumes more power than the 780 as well.

In terms of raw price to performance, the 290 can't be beaten as it stands. We're talking GTX780 performance for GTX770 prices. But there are sacrifices being made. It runs hot and loud, and the increased power consumption will have an effect on your electric bill (depending on where you live it could be non-negligible). But if you're willing to live with that, it's pretty much a no-brainer.

The Nvidia fans always feel threatened whenever a new AMD card comes out that beats their card.

As for the complaints about noise and heat, they also leave out the fact that the custom cards haven't come out yet, which are MUCH quieter and cool better.

I prefer AMD cards.

I'm not really anti-AMD, but I've had a few bad experiences with their cards. I'm more of an Nvidia convert than anti-AMD.

- Sent from my GTX Titan

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 isnt in direct line of my ears.

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.

@Arkos Reed

I've been using a 7970 for a yeah and it runs cooler & smoother than everything I have ever seen. Maybe return your faulty one back or learn how to setup a proper rig????

ValeS said,
@Arkos Reed

I've been using a 7970 for a yeah and it runs cooler & smoother than everything I have ever seen. Maybe return your faulty one back or learn how to setup a proper rig????


My faulty 7970...? Where did you read that..? Mine works perfectly (it never goes above 34% Fan speed), I was talking about the adequacy of the current reference cooling solution on the R9 290 (X) and the resulting noise/heat
Oh and my rig works fine thank you (check my sig for a little primer), I've been building workstations and servers for 16 years now, I guess I have a little experience....

ValeS said,
@Arkos Reed

I've been using a 7970 for a yeah and it runs cooler & smoother than everything I have ever seen. Maybe return your faulty one back or learn how to setup a proper rig????

I suspect maybe you mis-read what they wrote initially (emphasis mine)...

Arkos Reed said,

They've been using the same reference design for the past 5/6 years. It was adequate until now, my 7970 isn't too noisy or hot, however with the R9 290(X) the fan has to operate at least at 55% (very noisy) to cool it properly.

My advice to you would be to avoid raging on people when you can't even read what they said correctly

Arkos Reed said,

My faulty 7970...? Where did you read that..? Mine works perfectly (it never goes above 34% Fan speed), I was talking about the adequacy of the current reference cooling solution on the R9 290 (X) and the resulting noise/heat
Oh and my rig works fine thank you (check my sig for a little primer), I've been building workstations and servers for 16 years now, I guess I have a little experience....

I apologise Arkos I got mixed up while reading the quoted reply. We are in total aggreement my friend!

Majesticmerc said,

My advice to you would be to avoid raging on people when you can't even read what they said correctly

True I messed up there, sorry!

A single card that is several db louder than two 780s in SLI!

It's actually unusable for most people, with noise levels like that.

The third party manufacturers need to pull something amazing off, I've never seen a third party cooler (that isn't water) knock more than 5/6 db off the noise levels. This needs upwards of 10db - in leyman's terms, it needs to be literally half as loud.

That's not doable. That makes the card a non-issue for me.

10dB in layman's terms is a change in a factor of 10, i.e. 10 times less loud.
3dB is what you're looking for as that's a change in a factor of 2, i.e. half as loud.

What are the fans like on these newer ATIs? On my X1600 PRO, X1650 PRO, 9600 PRO and 9800 PRO the fans were all rubbish and throughout the course of a year pretty much all stopped and overheated the GPU and made it stop working...

n_K said,
What are the fans like on these newer ATIs? On my X1600 PRO, X1650 PRO, 9600 PRO and 9800 PRO the fans were all rubbish and throughout the course of a year pretty much all stopped and overheated the GPU and made it stop working...

They've been using the same reference design for the past 5/6 years. It was adequate until now, my 7970 isn't too noisy or hot, however with the R9 290(X) the fan has to operate at least at 55% (very noisy) to cool it properly.

'Tis why I love the GTX Titan. It makes hardly any noise in my case, and I have two of them in there. I'll probably get a third one when they drop the price in response to these new ATIs.