MSI launches tweaked versions of the R9 290X and R9 290 video cards with higher clocks and a custom cooling solution.
After launching the Nvidia GTX 780-based GTX 780 Ti Gaming 3G, MSI has shifted its attention to bringing custom versions of AMD’s latest video cards. The MSI R9 290X Gaming 4G and R9 290 Gaming 4G bring MSI’s Twin Frozr IV advanced cooling solution to AMD’s offerings. The Twin Frozr design allows the card to stay cool even under heavy loads.
The R9 290 and R9 290X feature AMD’s controversial low-level API called Mantle. Mantle, first announced at #gpu14 in Honolulu has had something of a schizophrenic existence: it was first a tool to aid in cross-platform GCN development as well as aiding developers in “close to metal programming” then, when console makers denied it would be compatible with their devices, it was just a “close to metal” programming aid. Oculus Rift CTO John Carmack is a vocal critic of Mantle, saying at an Nvidia event in Montreal that he believes one can do the same thing Mantle promises with existing OpenGL extensions.
Coming over MSI’s offerings, the R9 290 Gaming 4G is an overclocked version of AMD’s reference card, and features clocks of 947 MHz in silent mode, 977 MHz in gaming mode and 1007 MHz in OC mode. The card has a 512-bit memory interface, and comes with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory at 5 GHz. The card has two DVI, one HDMI and one DisplayPort connectors.
The R9 290X Gaming 4G shares similar features to the R9 290, with the difference being that the R9 290X has more stream processors, 2816 to the 290’s 2560. The R9 290X is also clocked higher, with clocks of 1000 MHz in silent mode, 1030 MHz in gaming mode and 1040 MHz in OC mode.
Both cards come MSI-exclusive technologies that allow users to overclock the cards even further, monitor settings and even record videos and images from live gaming sessions. These cards should be available shortly.
Other manufacturers have also launched their tweaked versions of the R9 290X and R9 290, which offer custom cooling solutions. The availability of the R9 290 and R9 290X has caused Nvidia to slash prices of the GTX 780 and the GTX 770, with the GTX 780 now available for $500 and the 770 for $350.
These cards will likely be the last high-end offerings to be built on the 28nm manufacturing process. Nvidia is shifting to the 20nm process in 2014 with its Maxwell line of cards, and AMD will look to do the same.