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Review: AMD Radeon R9 290X

by Tarinder Sandhu on 24 October 2013, 05:00


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AMD is really back in the high-end graphics game with the R9 290X's arrival. It's at least as good as Nvidia's best cards... at a lower price

AMD has been playing graphics catchup ever since Nvidia launched the GTX Titan card in February this year. Just like the green team, AMD's best-ever GPU, the Radeon R9 290X, is largely based on existing technology, and it is reasonable to consider it as a wider, faster version of a GPU that has been around for almost two years.

The parallels between Radeon R9 290X and GTX Titan/GTX 780 are striking, so just as the R9 280X is a good match for GeForce GTX 770, AMD's finest stacks up very nicely against Nvidia's best.

A near-two-year gap between genuinely high-end Radeon releases has provided plenty of time for AMD to polish the GCN architecture; the R9 290X is the silicon embodiment of that work. The real question, we suppose, is whether AMD has done enough in that time to stay ahead of the curve? A 30 per cent improvement over Radeon HD 7970, especially with the same power consumption, looks impressive on paper but doesn't represent huge performance strides when time is factored in.

But, let's be fair, AMD is really back in the high-end graphics game with the R9 290X's arrival. It's at least as good as Nvidia's best cards, and with the GPU pregnant with promise of extra performance via the Mantle API on select games engines, the immediate future looks good for the entire Radeon stack.

Pricing, too, is impressive for this ultra-enthusiast card. The $549 (£425?) tag is way, way below that of a performance-equivalent Titan and $100 lower than the GeForce GTX 780 - a card that it beats in almost every benchmark. We feel as if Nvidia will have to resort to dropping the price or bringing the GTX 780 Ti in at a matching price point. All of this spells good news for the consumer looking for a high-quality card.

We wait to see just how far partners push the R9 290X before passing final judgement on just how good the Hawaii architecture can be, but for the time being, AMD has a credible claim in saying that it has the world's fastest GPU.

The Good

A genuine enthusiast-class card
Lays solid claim to 'world's fastest consumer GPU' title
Very competitive pricing
Ideally suited to 2,560x1,440 gaming

The Bad

Low default memory clock
High operating temperature


AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB


The AMD Radeon R9 290X is available from*


At HEXUS, we invite the companies whose products we test to comment on our articles. If any company representatives for the products reviewed choose to respond, we'll publish their commentary here verbatim.

*UK-based HEXUS community members are eligible for free delivery and priority customer service through forum.

HEXUS Forums :: 72 Comments

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*** yeah, go AMD, great card, great price, thank you for not ripping off the gamer. Nvidia how stupid do you look now, your move creep.
WOW Just WOW… DAT Performance And Price…Did I say WOW
Prices seem to be from around 440 quid:

This seems around the same as the HD7970 and does make the Geforce Titan quite expensive looking in comparison.
AMD, three words: SO MUCH WIN!
HEXUS praised AMD like god. Even the load temp is ridiculously high the reviewer is still giving “Designed to run this hot”. ROFL. How about a card that does not throttle that much and runs cool like the 780? 30% constant load performance penalty is just unacceptable.