AMD's R9 video card series - affordable power - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-04-2013, 11:54 PM - Thread Starter
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AMD has now fully revealed all four flavors of their upper-tier R9 graphic card series. Considering their specs, the launch prices are fantastic:

R9 290X - $550

R9 290 - $400

R9 280X - $300

R9 270X - $200





Here's a summary from AMD's product page of the features that they share:
Feature Summary (Click to show)
Quote:
GCN Architecture
Primed to enable astonishing performance and breathtaking image quality, making it a top choice for gamers who expect the best.

Ultra Resolution Gaming
Leave HD in the dust by gaming on displays much, much larger. Whether using a 4k monitor or combining multiple HD monitors, you’ll get an expansive experience that’s truly out of sight.

GCN Architecture
Primed to enable astonishing performance and breathtaking image quality, making it a top choice for gamers who expect the best.

Ultra Resolution Gaming
Leave HD in the dust by gaming on displays much, much larger. Whether using a 4k monitor or combining multiple HD monitors, you’ll get an expansive experience that’s truly out of sight.

Mantle
There’s optimization, and then there’s Mantle. Games enabled with Mantle speak the language of GCN architecture to unlock revolutionary performance and image quality.

AMD Eyefinity technology
Enjoy the ultimate immersive gaming experience with innovative “wrap around” multidisplay capabilities.

AMD App Acceleration
Improve performance of everyday tasks such as Web browsing, office applications and video rendering.

AMD CrossFire™ technology
With outstanding performance scaling, a system equipped with AMD CrossFire™ technology keeps you fragging while everyone else is reaching for an upgrade.

AMD PowerTune technology
Enables intelligent power monitoring to enable higher clock speeds and better performance in your favorite games.

AMD ZeroCore technology
Allows your AMD Radeon™ GPU to consume virtually no power when in idle state.

AMD HD3D technology
Play 3D games, watch Blu-ray 3D videos, and edit 3D photos on your 3D monitor, TV or projector.
There’s optimization, and then there’s Mantle. Games enabled with Mantle speak the language of GCN architecture to unlock revolutionary performance and image quality.

AMD Eyefinity technology
Enjoy the ultimate immersive gaming experience with innovative “wrap around” multidisplay capabilities.

AMD App Acceleration
Improve performance of everyday tasks such as Web browsing, office applications and video rendering.

AMD CrossFire™ technology
With outstanding performance scaling, a system equipped with AMD CrossFire™ technology keeps you fragging while everyone else is reaching for an upgrade.

AMD PowerTune technology
Enables intelligent power monitoring to enable higher clock speeds and better performance in your favorite games.

AMD ZeroCore technology
Allows your AMD Radeon™ GPU to consume virtually no power when in idle state.

AMD HD3D technology
Play 3D games, watch Blu-ray 3D videos, and edit 3D photos on your 3D monitor, TV or projector.

AMD TrueAudio (290 / 290X only)
With more acoustic bandwidth and capabilities for developers to play with, plus a healthy slug of extra audio performance, you get a richer in-game soundscape. You’ll hear your opponents coming with breathtaking audio realism.


Finally, a few benchmarks:
Benchmarks (Click to show)






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post #2 of 13 Old 11-05-2013, 11:39 AM
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JB?

Am I reading the benchmarks correct? Do they suggest the best buys right now are actually the discounted/closeout HD7970/7950 or cross fired HD 7870. I don't see a huge performance difference between the different models. Especially along the gray line. And the HD7990/HD7970 seems to score consistently higher than all of them. What does the bench score really say in your opinion.
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-05-2013, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barrelbelly View Post

Am I reading the benchmarks correct? Do they suggest the best buys right now are actually the discounted/closeout HD7970/7950 or cross fired HD 7870. I don't see a huge performance difference between the different models. Especially along the gray line. And the HD7990/HD7970 seems to score consistently higher than all of them. What does the bench score really say in your opinion.
The R9 290 series are the only new cards, everything else is just rebranded. The 7990 and GTX 690 have two GPUs on a single card. Crossfire/SLI are using two cards in the same system.

Crossfire and SLI are often problematic, so while they post high max/average fps numbers, the overall performance is typically not nearly as smooth as using a single GPU. Nvidia generally fares better with its SLI profiles (AMD is often late with Crossfire updates for games) but I'd still rather have a single high-end card, than two cheaper cards that give "equivalent" performance at a lower price.


Those benchmarks posted seem to be cherry-picked from the games which AMD seems to perform better than Nvidia.
As the cards are only listed once, and ahead of Nvidia, it would appear that the cards are running in Uber Mode there - where the card maxes out the fan speed to an ear-splitting 60dB and targets 95C! They're even 10C hotter when the cards are idle.

What I don't understand though, is why everyone is comparing these to the Titan - the GTX 780 is a better card. 95% as quick as a Titan at half the price (and less than a R9 290X) and faster than a Titan once you start overclocking - faster and quieter than the R9 cards too. The 780 Ti is due out shortly, which is faster than a Titan at stock speeds.

Look at what happens to the R9 290's performance when you limit the fan speed (as much as possible - in some cases like Crysis 3, it still goes above it) to match the noise profile of a stock GTX 780:
6PlFUTl.png

The 34% numbers are matching the GTX 780 noise profile, and the 40% setting is how the card was shipped to reviewers, until AMD realized it was not competitive and they bumped it up to 47%. These things are hot, loud, and power-hungry.
Code:
Normalized performance (~48dB)

                R9 290  GTX780

Grid 2          58.8    73.8
Battlefield 3   45.3    65.0
Metro           43.0    49.5
Crysis:W        44.0    45.5
Crysis 3        40.1    52.2
Rome II         33.7    39.6

R9 290X vs Titan running Metro Last Light:


AMD have been spreading themselves too thin, focusing on lower-end parts like the console hardware, and they're having to push this architecture to ridiculous levels to try and compete with Nvidia.
No wonder they're trying to push for Mantle development to try and even things out - I guess they would rather focus on that than sort out their OpenGL drivers - Nvidia's OpenGL extensions bring similar performance improvements to their cards as AMD are claiming to get from using Mantle, which is closed-off and specific to GCN.
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post #4 of 13 Old 11-05-2013, 02:39 PM
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The 290 R9 looks pretty good to me. Most reviews compare it favorably with the GTX 780, even beating it. It does appear to be noisy and hot but I'll wait and see if some 3rd party solutions may address these issues.

Tom's hardware has a comparison using Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III and it seems to be much quieter. Maybe some 3rd party solutions will be similar. Anyway if nothing else it is putting pricing pressure on Nvidia.
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-05-2013, 03:55 PM
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Stock AMD coolers are almost always awful. I don't know why anyone would even buy a card with that cooler or why AMD still can't improve on it. But I also don't know why it's such a big deal. This isn't news. Just wait for the custom coolers from their board partners and everything will be fine. A few weeks from now these cards will run much cooler/quieter at just about the same price. We've seen the same story over and over and over again.
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-05-2013, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
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^^^ This man gets it. For further proof of that, check out this blurb from a R9 290 review:
Quote:
Update: Based on your feedback, I took the IceQ X2 cooler off the HIS Radeon R9 280X and stuck it on our R9 290 sample. Cooling was dramatically improved. The FurMark stress test maxed out at 76 degrees while the card never exceeded 63 degrees in Crysis 3 and Battlefield 4. So it seems as expected the board partners will be able to solve the heat issues of the reference card.

Along with looking great against AMD's own lineup, the R9 290 holds strong against Nvidia, which is now charging $330 for the GTX 770 and $500 for the GTX 780. The R9 290 is 21% pricier and 29% faster than the former as well as 20% cheaper and 8% quicker than the latter, offering the best value of any $300 to $500+ graphics card available right now -- and enough performance to play Battlefield 4 on ultra quality at 2560x1600."

TechSpot Score 95/100

Once the non-reference cards come out from companies like Sapphire, the cooling will be much better. This GPU really hits the sweet spot when it comes to price vs. performance. I'll likely grab one when I come across a super deal for about $300.

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post #7 of 13 Old 11-05-2013, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barrelbelly View Post

JB?

Am I reading the benchmarks correct? Do they suggest the best buys right now are actually the discounted/closeout HD7970/7950 or cross fired HD 7870. I don't see a huge performance difference between the different models. Especially along the gray line. And the HD7990/HD7970 seems to score consistently higher than all of them. What does the bench score really say in your opinion.
Just to be sure you understand the post below your question, each of your examples on the charts are measurements of dual cards (either native like the 690, or through SLI / Crossfire). I'll never go dual myself since I don't care for the unique headaches (and price) that they can bring.

The R9 290X and 290 are being hyped because they are single cards flexing their muscles. If you have the cash though, you can Crossfire two of these as well. Check out the results of that in this review.
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-05-2013, 07:40 PM
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Make sure you read anandtech's review about the sound level of this card. It's pretty ridiculous (twice the noise level of a 780). They also run about 10 deg c hotter. I would at least wait for custom coolers before buying this.

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post #9 of 13 Old 11-05-2013, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
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^^^

A} There are about a dozen R9 290 reviews out right now, and the sound levels they report greatly vary. Some say noise is no significant issue at all.

B} Anandtech is being called out on their own forum because when they reviewed the even louder GTX 480, they weren't anywhere near as negative as they are towards the 290 (same reviewer).

C} Reference card coolers, especially from AMD, are always terrible. I posted above where one reviewer switched to a cooling unit that could be used by a 3rd party vendor's R9 290 and the temperature improvement was dramatic. The upcoming R9 releases from other companies will address this issue - as always.

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post #10 of 13 Old 12-20-2013, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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The first write up of a non-reference R9 290 with a custom cooler is out. As some of us predicted, once the terrible stock cooler is replaced with anything decent, all appears to be well with the card:
Quote:
When gaming, the reference R9 290 holds at 95c, and this overclocked Sapphire Tri-X version at only 68c. Yes, that is an improvement of a staggering 27c under load. The Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X OC doesn’t thermally throttle either which can help under certain situations.

The Tri-X cooler also highlights how woefully inadequate the AMD reference cooler is, regardless of spin tactics on launch day. The AMD launch would have been better received if the R&D team had spent more time designing a capable, quiet cooling solution for these very powerful graphics cards.

So the overclocked non-reference 290 is dramatically cooler than the default reference 290. This will be my target upgrade in 2014 if I can snag one for $300. Bitcoin / Litecoin craziness can't last forever.

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post #11 of 13 Old 12-20-2013, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeblow View Post

The first write up of a non-reference R9 290 with a custom cooler is out. As some of us predicted, once the terrible stock cooler is replaced with anything decent, all appears to be well with the card:
So the overclocked non-reference 290 is dramatically cooler than the default reference 290. This will be my target upgrade in 2014 if I can snag one for $300. Bitcoin / Litecoin craziness can't last forever.

Newegg has the gigabyte windforce 290 for $579 right now, which is of course ridiculousness. Would be an awesome card at $430 or so, which is my guess for the msrp.
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post #12 of 13 Old 12-20-2013, 10:12 PM
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Good, very good. That 95C was absolutely ridiculous.

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post #13 of 13 Old 12-21-2013, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Marafice Eye View Post

Good, very good. That 95C was absolutely ridiculous.


I'm not sure I agree with you on this one Eye...a rarity. AMD obviously spec'd that card to be highly customizable and modded end users and by their aftermarket partners like Asus, Sapphire etc. I'm with JB on the 290. But I'll wait to see what Asus and a few others come out with. I probably won't grab one until 2015 though. Oculus Rift is my planned big ticket item for 2014. http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2013/12/oculus-rift/
Impulse buys are going to be games to support Oculus Rift. But I could definitely see a GPU or even CPU upgrade in 2015 to fully exploit VR/3D. And the after market AMD 290X looks like a winner on price and performance for me. If not...I'll at least cook great Omelets with it.
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