Can it take on Nvidia’s Titan?

radeon r9 290x 1 665x374 AMD Radeon R9 290X benchmarked

Last month AMD brought the hardware press corps out to Honolulu for #gpu14, where we got the first glimpse of AMD’s card lineup for the next year.

AMD’s card lineup was anchored by the Radeon R9 290X: it’s flagship card designed to take on the GTX 780 and GTX TITAN, while allowing gamers to play demanding titles like Battlefield 4 at their highest settings.

The Radeon R9 290X differs from the other cards AMD launched at #gpu14 — the R9 280X, R9 270X, and the R7 260X — insofar that its a new GPU, albeit one that is very similar to Tahiti found in the 7970/R9 280X cards. The other cards launched in Honolulu were simply rebrands of previous AMD hardware with various tweaks and enhancements.

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AMD also chose to launch the R9 290X at $549, a more competitive price than the $699 it was originally going to be launched at.

Without further ado let’s see how it compares to the competition.

Taking on the green

For our benchmarking VR-Zone put the R9 290X against three Nvidia cards: EVGA’s GeForce GTX 780 Classified with ACX,  the GeForce GTX TITAN, and the GeForce GTX 780.

When put against the EVGA GTX 780 Classified with ACX, the GTX 780 does marginally better in some gaming centric benchmakrs, but the Radeon 290X blows it out of the water in Direct Compute and CineBench tests. In 3D Mark Fire Strike, the cards perform about evenly, but in 3D Mark 11 Nvidia’s card has a 12 percent advantage on Extreme mode.

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Game performance when measured against GTX Titan, arguably the king of the GPUs, put the 290X slightly behind with the exception of Sleeping Dogs.

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Finally with the vanilla version of the GTX 780, things are a bit more evened out.

gtx 780 vs r9 290x 632x1024 AMD Radeon R9 290X benchmarked

Keep in mind this is an early build of the card with early drivers. Customized and overclocked versions of the card are on the way and should be available by Christmas.

Hot hot heat

During testing the R290X got exceptionally hot — to the point of hitting 94 degrees. Without proper cooling it would have easily hit 100 degrees.

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The pride of Taiwan

Taking off the 290X’s cover, we see that it uses a 28nm chip assembled at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s foundry from Taiwan. The card we used was produced during the week of July 29, 2013

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Conclusion: solid footing

AMD’s smartest move with the 290X was to drop the price down to $549. Especially with the Never Settle Forever bundle included, this card looks like a great deal compared to the $649 GTX 780. Despite the fact that the 290X isn’t the Titan slayer as some might have suggested, the price makes up for where it lacks in performance.

However what stops the 290X from being a great card is the heat and noise. Without proper cooling, it gets dangerously hot, and acoustically it’s one of the more noticeable components of the system.

The 290X is a strong showing, and it puts AMD on solid footing going into 2014.

Benchmarking completed by the VR-Zone Chinese team.

8 5 AMD Radeon R9 290X benchmarked



  • Good value for money.
  • Bundle includes top AAA titles.



  • Runs hot and loud.
  • Isn’t quite the Titan slayer as expected.