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AMD Radeon R9 290X review: AMD's new high-end Hawaii GPU

Better performance, Mantle, TrueAudio and updated Crossfire define new AMD card

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Introduction

Late september AMD announced a new line of graphics cards, and on 8 October the AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X, R7 250 and R7 240 saw the light of day. Those were interesting cards, but today we finally get the new high-end card: the Radeon R9 290X. We put it through our usual gauntlet of benchmarks in Full HD, triple-Full HD and even 4K resolution.


Only the flagship Radeon R9 290X is released today, the slightly slower Radeon R9 290 that was also announced we have yet to test. In terms of performance, AMD is positioning the 290X against the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780. AMD's new card is (significantly) more affordable than Nvidia's card, however, so it will be interesting to see Nvidia's response. For the US market the recommended retail price of the 290X is $549 (£340 excl VAT), for the European market it will be around €483 (£412 incl VAT). That almost seems to good to be true, so we contacted Alternate, AMD's main partner for the Benelux, and they are selling R9 290X cards starting at €539 (£459). The R9 290X cards from Alternate also come with a Battlefield 4 voucher, and that's a title that won't go down in price anytime soon considering it's not even out yet. It's clear that AMD is giving Nvidia a run for its money, if the performance is up to par of its latest flagship card.

The R9 and R7 cards launched last week were based on existing GPUs used in the Radeon HD 7000 series, but the 290X and 290 are based on an entirely new GPU called Hawaii. With more shader units and other changes, it's significantly faster than Tahiti used in the Radeon HD 7970 and the more recent R9 280X. The new chip boasts features such TrueAudio, measures to reduce power usage and an improved implementation of CrossFire. 

AMD Radeon R9 290X (Quiet Mode)


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