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AMD Radeon R9 290X Video Card Review and Analysis

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We analyse the AMD Radeon 290X Hawaii GPU's design and specs, compare AMD and NVIDIA's current GPU and remember Graphics Cores Past.

R9 290X Benchmarks

Given AMD's lacklustre launch in the eyes of end users/media and limited sampling/availability, we can only go by AMD's own benchmark numbers provided to reviewers.

In the numerous times evaluating AMD products we have found their reference numbers have been somewhat correct and replicable however these cannot be taken as the final word and independent verification is always required.

The purpose of including these reference benchmarks is not for substitution, but to highlight different game titles have has selected for its own 'competitive analysis'.

We would rather have some benchmarks in our launch coverage, which we will analyse anyway rather than nothing at all.

The main issue with how AMD is promoting 290X performance to the media is that it has been inconsistent with its games test suite across different resolutions and tests.

Additionally, Smoothness, Stutter, Frame rate limiting and Frame Pacing were not highlighted as bullet point features; however 290X remains compatible with frame pacing.

3DMark Fire Strike

3dmark firestrike benchmark

3dmark firestrike subscore benchmark

3dmark firestrike extreme benchmark

3dmark firestrike extreme benchmark

Futremark's documentation for the physics tests states "The GPU load is kept as low as possible to ensure that only the CPU is stressed." NVIDIA's drivers are likely better optimised for the bullet physics which the test uses.

4K Single Monitor Gaming Benchmarks

AMD Radeon R9 290X 3840x2160 4K Benchmark

4K is the main focus of the 290X and the usual suite of AMD tests includes some popular titles that AMD typically does not publically highlight as part of its gaming efforts such as Anno 2070, Company of Heroes 2 and Skyrim

Unlike Eyefinity, the deltas between AMD and NVIDIA are a bit more severe at single monitor with 10FPS difference being common and more titles showing 20FPS gain for Radeon.

GTX780 supposedly cannot maintain 30FPS for several popular titles at 4K while 290X does not drop below 30FPS for any title.

4K CrossFire Gaming Benchmarks

AMD Radeon R9 290X 3840x2160 4K Crossfire Benchmark

Although R9 290X is 'built for 4K gaming' and this is what AMD wants to show off, a single card only produces typically 30FPS at 4K and the near 2x scaling of crossfire is needed to approach fluid 60FPS, especially since is supported by SHARP's 4K monitor platform

Of the 13 games AMD used for 4K Crossfire testing:

AvP Benchmark (dating back to the HD5800 days), Bioshock, Crysis3, DIRT Showdown, Far Cry 3, Hitman, SHOGUN 2 and Tomb Raider are AMD Gaming Evolved program titles and heavily associated with AMD Radeon benchmarking and game bundles

Max Payne 3 especially Metro Last Light are associated with NVIDIA and part of The Way Its Meant to be played program.

Based on AMD's scores 290X acheives under 2.0x scaling which is typical of previous DirectX 11 Radeons.290X's new bus based crossfire sysem does not seem to signficantlyl improve crossfire scaling numbers, however we note that these tests are at 4K (8.3megapixels) not 1080p (2.07Megapixels), four times the pixel data.

Three 290X deliver 2.60 to 3 X scaling

AMD has chosen (unfairly) not to compare 4K CrossFire with 4K SLI

Eyefinity/Surround Gaming Benchmarks

AMD Radeon R9 290X 5760x1080 Eyefinity and Surround Benchmark

Of the 12 games AMD selected for surround resolution tests, 8 are under AMD's Gaming Evolved developer relations program being:

Bioshock Infinite, Crysis3, DIRT Showdown, Blood Dragon, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider. All 8 of these games were also bundled with AMD products.

Of the other 4 games being Battlefield 3, GRID 2, Saints Row IV and Splinter Cell Blacklist,

DICE is taking care to optimise for AMD, and claiming Battlefield 4 is highly optimised for AMD.

GRID 2 is an Intel endorsed title which includes support for Iris Graphics specific features

Splinter Cell Blacklist is a NVIDIA The Way Its Meant To Be Played endorsed title.

Apart from the erroneous result for DIRT Showdown, the Deltas between R9 290X and GTX780 are competitive with exception of 10- 20FPS for Battlefield 3, Blood Dragon, Sleeping Dogs and Splinter Cell.

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