AMD's Radeon R9 290 and 290X made a strong case against Nvidia's GTX 780 and Titan late last year, but that position has since weakened with unexpectedly high prices and limited options from board partners. Both issues reportedly stem from a shortage of the Hawaii GPU, and that's at least partly because of how popular the R9 290 series is for Litecoin mining.
Like many enthusiasts, we were mostly impressed by the R9 290 because its $400 MSRP was almost 30% cheaper than the R9 290X while only being 5% slower. In reality, if you can find a R9 290 it costs at least $500, while most are fetching closer to $550 -- 40% more than we were lead to believe they would cost. Unfortunately, the story is similar for AMD's Titan killer.
The R9 290X's $550 MSRP didn't seem crazy compared to Nvidia's $1,000 single-GPU flagship given that both delivered similar performance, but the R9 290X currently costs a minimum of $630 and most are around $700. However, Nvidia's GTX 780 is available for $500 -- in fact, Gigabyte's WindForce version goes for that price -- and the GTX 780 Ti is set at $700ish.
We've finally received some production cards from Gigabyte that are more impressive than the sample Radeons we saw a few months ago. As a bonus, since Gigabyte's GeForce equivalents are already available, it should be easy to compare AMD and Nvidia offerings in terms of third-party performance and retail pricing instead of a reference model and its pre-launch MSRP.
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