Review Index:

Radeon R9 295X2 CrossFire at 4K - Quad Hawaii GPU Powerhouse

Manufacturer: AMD

You need a bit of power for this

PC gamers. We do some dumb shit sometimes. Those on the outside looking in, forced to play on static hardware with fixed image quality and low expandability, turn up their noses and question why we do the things we do. It’s not an unfair reaction, they just don’t know what they are missing out on.

For example, what if you decided to upgrade your graphics hardware to improve performance and allow you to up the image quality on your games to unheard of levels? Rather than using a graphics configuration with performance found in a modern APU you could decide to run not one but FOUR discrete GPUs in a single machine. You could water cool them for optimal temperature and sound levels. This allows you to power not 1920x1080 (or 900p), not 2560x1400 but 4K gaming – 3840x2160.

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All for the low, low price of $3000. Well, crap, I guess those console gamers have a right to question the sanity of SOME enthusiasts.

After the release of AMD’s latest flagship graphics card, the Radeon R9 295X2 8GB dual-GPU beast, our mind immediately started to wander to what magic could happen (and what might go wrong) if you combined a pair of them in a single system. Sure, two Hawaii GPUs running in tandem produced the “fastest gaming graphics card you can buy” but surely four GPUs would be even better.

The truth is though, that isn’t always the case. Multi-GPU is hard, just ask AMD or NVIDIA. The software and hardware demands placed on the driver team to coordinate data sharing, timing control, etc. are extremely high even when you are working with just two GPUs in series. Moving to three or four GPUs complicates the story even further and as a result it has been typical for us to note low performance scaling, increased frame time jitter and stutter and sometimes even complete incompatibility.

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During our initial briefing covering the Radeon R9 295X2 with AMD there was a system photo that showed a pair of the cards inside a MAINGEAR box. As one of AMD’s biggest system builder partners, MAINGEAR and AMD were clearly insinuating that these configurations would be made available for those with the financial resources to pay for it. Even though we are talking about a very small subset of the PC gaming enthusiast base, these kinds of halo products are what bring PC gamers together to look and drool.

As it happens I was able to get a second R9 295X2 sample in our offices for a couple of quick days of testing.

Working with Kyle and Brent over at HardOCP, we decided to do some hardware sharing in order to give both outlets the ability to judge and measure Quad CrossFire independently. The results are impressive and awe inspiring.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 CrossFire at 4K!!

Specifications of Performance

Let’s talk quickly about the specifications and raw power found in this kind of setup. With a total of four Hawaii GPUs amongst the two R9 295X2 graphics cards, we have a total of 11,264 stream processors at work capable of 23 TFLOPS of theoretical compute power! Between all GPUs there is 16GB of addressable GPU memory, more than most enthusiasts’ desktop system memory capacity.

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With each R9 295X2 claiming a 500 watt TDP, we are looking at 1000 watts of power draw from the GPUs alone in this machine and in my testing it actually exceeds that.

Setup Concerns

Moving past the concerns of cost, which is plenty large enough on its own, power consumption issues cropped up. Our standard GPU test bed uses a Corsair AX1200i power supply that has been more than enough for our single, dual and triple graphics card testing over the last year or so. As we quickly found out though, the pair of Radeon R9 295X2 cards were able to bust past the limits of this PSU requiring us to be more creative.

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Since we did not have any power supply available above 1200 watts (yet), we went with the ol’ double power supply trick. The Corsair AX1200i powered the motherboard, platform, SSD and primary graphics card while we attached a secondary Antec 750 watt High Current PSU to power the second R9 295X2. By shorting out a couple of pins in the ATX connection you can power on the PSU without it being attached to a motherboard and this allowed us to maintain a stable and functioning test system.

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Clearly this is not ideal for consumers and no one should have to use two different power supplies to get a single machine running. Corsair did ship us one of the upcoming AX1500i units that will have no problems with the pair of R9 295X2 cards. However, we did not get it in time for this publication. Extreme gaming calls for some extreme power supplies, it seems.

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As for a system build using a pair of R9 295X2 cards you need to find a case that can handle the mounting of two individual 120mm radiators, likely one on the back and one up top. If you plan on water cooling your CPU as well you’ll need yet another mounting location. 

April 30, 2014 | 07:31 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

lol this card is killing nvidia xD.
they delayed the TitanZ trying to figure out a way to beat it.
when im guessing everything was ready, R&D done, the cooler probably bought and even mounted on the pcb, packagings... thats alot of money wasted for last minute delay to rework all that, the TitanZ perf must have been ridiculously low compared to the R9 295x2, to accept to lose so much money.

April 30, 2014 | 08:32 AM - Posted by ZoranICS

There will always be people who'd buy the TitanZ no matter the price or performance ;)

April 30, 2014 | 10:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

probably yes, but then the Nvidia brand would take a deadly blow, that will go from highest perf GPU, to the most greedy margins scammers.
Nvidia have been making alot of mistakes these last couple years, and very bad ones at that, from G-sync, to this stupid luxury new brand Titan, that failed in 3 consecutive instances, and AMD isnt making things easy for them, from Mantle, freesync,Bundles to R9 295...just imagine, that if AMD didnt bring out this card, we would have today a Nvidia card 20-30% less performant at twice the price, i am really glad that AMD is sticking into desktop GPU market otherwise Nvidia would have sucked us out dry.
they really should give it up and go back to GTX, because honestly i dont see a place for this card in the market, it would just hurt them.
because if they do like AMD with watercooling that would hurt their image for copying AMD, if they stay on air they have to find some ingenius way to keep it stable while overclocked, which ii doubt very much.
the most likely is that they will put a good cooling that wont be able to keep the frequency, but then pay some sites to bench with cool cards before it warms up, and they also have to drop the price, because AMD planned on the 3000$,
with the hashtag #2betterthan1, witch comparaison for same price is crossfire r9 295x2, so the price need to be lower than 2k$, otherwise AMD would just drop the price to match the 1/2 ratio

i dont see them pulling any miracle

April 30, 2014 | 11:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Holysh*t you're deluded.....nuff said.

April 30, 2014 | 01:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

and ofc "nuff said" is a sound counter argument, that's what cracks me up about ppl like you, if i was deluded you would state why unless ofc you have nothing to say without sounding ridiculous...nuff said lol

April 30, 2014 | 02:22 PM - Posted by PapaDragon

That Corsair AX1500 would have come in handy. Thats a lot of gpu power you got there Ryan, epic review. At least AMD has made great improvement in their drivers to support 4 Gpus, although still not perfect.

Now, im still gaming on a 1680x1050 monitor, and your on 4k, you have the best job Ryan!

April 30, 2014 | 06:44 PM - Posted by nem (not verified)

hi bro i just have a question is possible make one tri crossfire of 295x , so i do ear some over the new standard CrossFireX XDMA was possible make a cross with more of 4 GPUS .. cheers i just have that doubt

May 2, 2014 | 04:18 AM - Posted by Amit (not verified)

Wow! Looks awesome but as on my previous comment I didn't found it here Best gaming graphics cards

May 4, 2014 | 05:44 PM - Posted by mAxius

now if you could just test this against crossfired 7990's hehe

June 1, 2014 | 12:42 PM - Posted by Carlos Amoreli (not verified)

I don't know if this matters, but you guys never say anything about how big it was the tv/monitor you used to run this tests.

August 28, 2014 | 07:58 AM - Posted by Pig Bite (not verified)

Why do people keep saying this kind of setup is a waste if gaming at 1080p?

If you are a 1080p 120hz gamer who demands a constant 120fps then this is still going to struggle with high demanding games.

Keep your 4K 60hz - for me 120hz is more impressive than a higher rez.

November 30, 2014 | 01:30 PM - Posted by DonnieFirth (not verified)

I would like to try that myself with my Mac Pro on Dell 4K. How did you set it up?

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