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.
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
Low default memory clock
High operating temperature
AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB
The AMD Radeon R9 290X is available from Scan.co.uk*
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