AMD Radeon R9 290X

TI­TAN Killer

HWM (Malaysia) - - LAB TEST - TexT // John laW

Ladies and gen­tle­men, the day we’ve been wait­ing for has fi­nally ar­rived. Months af­ter its an­nounce­ment by AMD in Hawaii, we have fi­nally got­ten our hands on the com­pany’s flag­ship graph­ics card, the Radeon R9 290X. So, with­out fur­ther ado, here’s our re­view of the R9 290X.

Off the bat, let’s start with some of the cur­rent in­for­ma­tion about the card. The R9 290X is ac­tu­ally part of AMD’s new ini­tia­tive to fur­ther its new HSA (Het­ero­ge­neous Sys­tem Ar­chi­tec­ture) pro­gram­ming. The most im­pres­sive as­pect of the R9 290X, how­ever, is that it holds the ti­tle of be­ing the first graph­ics cards ever made with a 512-bit mem­ory band­width. This large band­width im­ple­men­ta­tion means that AMD has given com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the R9 290X’s GPU core and mem­ory core even more breath­ing room be­tween loads, thus elim­i­nat­ing any pos­si­ble mem­ory bot­tle­necks.

While on the sub­ject of cool­ers, we should prob­a­bly men­tion that the R9 290X, by de­sign, peaks at a tem­per­a­ture of 95 de­grees Cel­sius. If you think that that is too high, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that not too long ago, it was NVIDIA who was say­ing that it was per­fectly nor­mal for a graph­ics card to be run­ning at a tem­per­a­ture of 100 de­grees Cel­sius (read: boil­ing point).

Another thing that you will no­tice on the R9 290X is that the card does not have any Cross­Fire X ports. That’s right, the Cross­Fire X ports that are usu­ally found on top of the card are no longer there, as AMD has made dou­bly sure that this card can run with another card in Cross­Fire X mode on a soft­ware level, thus negat­ing the need for a phys­i­cal Cross­Fire X bridge.

No­tably, the R9 290X also comes built with its per­for­mance switch at the top. The card has two modes: Quiet and Uber mode. Quiet mode makes the card’s fan speed sound less ag­gres­sive at a slight cost of per­for­mance, while Uber mode pushes your card to its max­i­mum po­ten­tial, but does so with an au­di­ble and hard­work­ing fan.

In terms of bench­marks, the R9 290X aced 3DMark’s Fire Strike and Fire Strike Ex­treme bench­marks. With­out over­clock­ing, the card scored 9,452 and and 4,894 for Fire Strike and Fire Strike Ex­treme re­spec­tively. While we did try to over­clock the card a lit­tle fur­ther, we should also men­tion that out of the box, the R9 290X ac­tu­ally comes quite ag­gres­sively over­clocked (cour­tesy of AMD) and that there were no real sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in per­for­mance, even af­ter we up’d the GPU clock speed by 10 per­cent.

Real-time per­for­mance was no sweat for the R9 290X. On Cr­y­sis 3, the game hov­ered be­tween 42 and 70 FPS with MSAA maxed out. On Arkham City, the card held its own with an av­er­age of 60 FPS with MSAA maxed out as well.

Say what you will about AMD, but its graph­ics cards aren’t just built to per­form, they are built to im­press. In short: if you’re look­ing for power away and be­yond NVIDIA’s lineup, then this is a card that you want in­side your PC.

The card is clocked to the wall by de­fault.

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