AMD Radeon R9 290X Hawaii Review - Taking on the TITANs
The Radeon R9 290X 4GB Graphics Card and Specs
If you were paying attention to the noise that AMD was creating during its GPU14 event then you likely already know what the Hawaii-based Radeon R9 290X looks like. If you are a fan of the black and red color scheme, then prepare to be ecstatic.
At just about 290mm in length, the R9 290X is just a little bit longer than NVIDIA's GeForce GTX TITAN and GTX 780 cards. The plastic housing is well designed and maintains the red/black scheme that has been with AMD for quite a while. The reference card also keeps the pretty standard heatsink and single fan combination we've had since the introduction of the Radeon HD 5000 cards.
Though we touched on most of this on the previous page, it is worth recapping here the specifications of the new R9 290X. It has 2816 stream processors, 37% more than the R9 280X / HD 7970 that came before it. This helps bump up the top theoretical compute power to 5.6 TFLOPS giving it an edge of 36% over the R9 280X. By far the most important architectural change was the increase in primitives / clock; from 2 to 4.
The engine clock of "up to" 1.0 GHz will need some more discussion on another page as we found it to be quite a bit more variable than expected.
With 4GB of GDDR5 memory, the R9 290X should have more than enough space for 4K gaming and even though it runs at a slower clock speed (5.0 Gbps) it increases the bus width up to 512-bit for a massive amount of memory bandwidth; 320 GB/s and 11% faster than the R9 280X.
The R9 290X includes 176 texture units, 64 ROPs and double the Z/Stencil rate of its predecessors. Clearly the R9 290X does not lack in the hardware department.
The fan on the R9 290X is very similar to the fans we have seen on previous Radeon cards which should tell your right away that this product isn't going to be much quieter than previous generations.
Despite the huge 6.2 billion transistor die, the R9 290X only requires an 8+6 power connector config.
We don't need no stinking CrossFire connectors! But clearly, AMD had left that option open as a contingency plan as the solder points are still located on the reference PCB. We'll go over the updated CrossFire technology on the next page and you'll find we have some early CrossFire and 4K benchmark results in a follow up article as well!
You may notice the switch on the right hand side of the image as well; that moves the BIOS from "Quiet" mode to "Uber" mode. All that really means is a shift in the maximum fan speed from 40% to 55% allowing for slightly higher clocks for a slightly longer period of time. See my PowerTune page for details on that.
The back side of the R9 290X is left bare for all to see though there is much to gawk at. There are a lot of pads for that 4GB of memory though...
Just like we saw with the R9 280X launch, AMD has gone with a more intelligent display output configuration that includes a pair of dual link DVI outputs, a full size HDMI port and a full size DisplayPort. Without a doubt this has been the most amicable configuration I have seen in graphics cards in the last several years.