Radeon R9 290 Final Thoughts
When I first heard about the ‘Hawaii’ R9 290 and 290X GPU’s I wanted to see if AMD have what it takes to compete with NVIDIA, and really even out the playing field. Now that I have tested the R9 290 first hand I can see that AMD really mean business. The AMD Hawaii GPU’s are beating the GTX GPU’s from NVIDIA but not the Titans. AMD’s next hopes lay with their Mantle Graphics API.
Mantle is a graphics API specification developed by AMD as an alternative to Direct3D and OpenGL, primarily for use on the PC platform. Currently the only implementation is for graphics processing units with AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture. The design goals of Mantle are to allow games and applications to utilize the CPU and GPU more efficiently, eliminate CPU bottlenecks by reducing API validation overhead and allowing more effective scaling on multiple cores, provide faster draw routines, and allow greater control over the graphics pipeline by eliminating certain aspects of hardware abstraction inherent to the current prevailing graphics APIs. Mantle will allow Graphics Core Next GPUs to better utilize the TressFX and TrueAudio programs, both of which are also AMD developed technologies.
HIS Radeon R9 290 IceQ X2 Conclusion
The HIS Radeon R9 290 iPower IceQ X2 OC 4GB video card is priced to perform in comparison to an NVIDIA GTX 770 video card, but in reality performs much better. These new R9 line of video cards are offering an excellent value/performance ratio. This isn’t old stock that AMD needs to move any more so they could be more aggressive with pricing. Overclocking this already overclocked video card saw an average 11.9% increase in benchmark scores (at 1920×1080) and an average 18% increase on the 3DMark11 benchmark scores.
I think the IceQ X2 video card cooler looked absolutely awesome in it’s black/silver color scheme, but this new gold finish doesn’t really do it for me. The stock box designs of the AMD reference video cards has had a snazzy makeover, but these after market designs just blow them out of the water. There is a downside to having a good looking card however. All of the after market designs that I have seen exhaust most of their warm air inside the case rather than straight out the back like the AMD stock design. Sure you get a cooler core but you will also get a warmer interior case temperature to deal with too.
The HIS Radeon R9 290 iPower IceQ X2 OC 4GB is an extremely well constructed video card. The size of the PCB , Backplate and Cooler combined make for a super heavy video card. There is quite a bit of weight to deal with, but HIS have this covered with their integrated component/mosfet/memory cooler that also doubles as a PCB support plate. Overall, the construction of the entire card, and layout of components are infallible.
Functionality wise, the HIS Radeon R9 290 iPower IceQ X2 OC 4GB video card just about has it all. Factory overclocked out of the box, cool and quiet operation, comparatively low power consumption figures and some headroom for overclocking (which could only be improved with voltage adjustments to back it up). The main thing that lets this video card down is its size. At 29.7cm long x 14.3cm tall, it is one of the bigger video card I have handled. Most entry level PC cases (and some more expensive cases) simply won’t be able to house this beast, but I don’t think this video card is aimed at the entry level market anyway.
Priced online for $409.99 (NewEgg), the HIS Radeon R9 290 iPower IceQ X2 OC 4GB video card is in a very nice sweet spot. Priced slightly higher than the average GTX 770 but way below the GTX 780, the performance/price ratio is very positive. The question is whether or not the extra cost (over the GTX 770) is worth the extra performance achieved. These cards are undoubtedly priced to take a dent out of NVIDIA’s profits and this is all good for the PC gaming community.
+ Awesome Price/Performance ratio
+ Great design and construction
+ IceQ X2 Cooler performs brilliant
+ Priced for GTX 770, performs better
+ DirectX 11.2 ready and PCI-e 3.0 Compliant
+ Up to 4-way CrossFire
+ UltraHD 4K display support
+ Multiple outputs – 1x Display Port/1x HDMI/ 2x DVI-D
+ Supports Triple-display and AMD HD3D Technology
+ Excellent power consumption figures
– Very long and tall video card design
– Vents exhaust inside your PC case
– Couldn’t adjust voltages when overclocking
Final Score: 9.05 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: What is your initial impression of these new GPU’s from AMD?