AMD Radeon R9-290 and 290X preview

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Final words and conclusion

Final words and conclusion

With the release of the Radeon R9 290 series AMD is going to bring very fast products to the market. Having that much raw unadulterated horsepower under the hood should bring options to the table. You play your games at 2560x1440 and flick on every quality setting that you can think of. Even then the cards will do a terrific job. For the few of you that already made the step towards UHD or 4K gaming at 3840 x 2160 that where these card do make sense. Admittedly just one 290X would probably be borderline acceptable when you select the finest image quality settings. So I for-see that the Ultra High Definition games simply will go for two R9-290 cards setup in Crossfire, which would be my recommendation.

Totally weird is to see that the new 290 series don't have Crossfire connectors anymore. Honestly I didn't mind the Crossfire bridges at all, but I can see from an aesthetically point of view that the lack of them looks better. The reality and downside however is that AMD really wants you to use Gen 3.0 PCIE slots as a lot of compositing data will be send over that PCIE slots. That means you'll need a Z77/Z87 motherboard with PCIe gen 3.0 compatible processor (Ivy bridge / Hasswell). An alternative is the X79 platform with the last generation Ivy Bridge-E processors. Make no mistake, Crossfire should also work on gen 2.0 boards but that bus might get flooded. So from my point of view, AMD might have enforced the bruidge-less feature a but too soon.

The cards are rated at as having a 250 Watt TDP. From the top of my head that's the same number as a Geforce GTX Titan. Compared to that product you have roughly the same performance at the same wattage. That 250 Watt TDP also will make running multi-GPU solutions a bit more easy. With two card we think an 800 Watt PSU would be sufficient. So yeah, it's not great to have a GPU consuming 250 Watt, but you'lll agree with us that it could have been a lot worse.

Price and final words 

Much like the GeForce GTX Titan release, we feel that for now the 290 series will be a limited run of cards. The 28nm 6.2 Billion transistor based GPU simply will be a tough cookie to bake. We expect low yields and thus high wafer prices. As such we think the 290 cards will become available in perhaps multiple thousands in the first weeks then maybe 10K~20K in the first batched and we are sure we'll see additional batches fairly soon depending on sales.

Pricing wise you can expect this:

  • AMD Radeon R9 290 to cost 549 USD / 499 EUR
  • AMD Radeon R9 290X to cost 649 USD / 599EUR 

I will not judge on pricing and I have stated this before, we know that if they would be pricing the cards at 1500 EUR they would still sell them, the x-factor factor for 290X is high and its gonna end up at Tier 1 system builders for high-end builds and case mods mostly. The 'regular' 290 is more of a sweet spot for the enthusiast PC aficionado. Albeit, being an expensive card of course. This is all based on MSRP, street/retail and etail prices as such will vary when time passes. Included until stock runs out will be a download coupon for Battlefield 4 Deluxe Edition, including all DLC and I think some extra weapons. Nice !

Overall looking at the specs I am very impressed with the two R9-290 cards . And hey 6.2 Billion transistors baked at a 28nm fabrication daaauuumn, that is an accomplishment all by itself. The end-result will be two products that can compete with the GeForce GTX 780 and Titan, and hey that is what it's all about. If AMD can put some more pressure on the pricing then in the end the entire enthusiast segment will go down a little in pricing. Once the R9 290 reaches sub-400 EUR and the R9 290X sits at sub-500 EUR, that where they'll make a real difference. Realistically though we expect sales volume sizes to be on the low side, and that will have an adverse effect on overall pricing.  Price wise the most interesting product for us guru's will be the R9-290, much like we are seeing with the GTX 780 compared to Titan. It is an attractive product with 4GB of graphics memory that will bring a truckload of gaming performance into your PC. 

This article is a preview, unfortunately due to multiple press-events, time and AMD being inapt to deliver the R9 290 card on time, the final and full in-depth review with performance scores will be launched a few days from now.

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