PowerColor R9 290 Review

Conclusion

PowerColor R9 290 Review and Comparison

Conclusion

Firstly we have to thank PowerColor for stepping in to the rescue. It's nice to know that there are companies willing to accept that they might receive some constructive criticism. Label aside this is identical to any other R9 290 you might purchase, so you can be confident that out thoughts apply to all of them, even the AMD one we weren't allowed to review.

It's impossible to look at the R9 290 without considering the price, and where that fits in the grand scheme of things. As alluded to in our introduction, the R9 290 is priced at around £320 which puts it slap bang between the GTX770 and GTX780. Or, if you want to look at it another way, slightly nearer the R9 280X than it is the R9 290X. So if we forget the numbering for a moment it's a 285X or a GTX775, and in the synthetic benchmarks at least that's exactly how it performs. Naturally with the ridiculous, and we don't care about the design ethos, 95° is too high, temperatures and below average cooler there is zero headroom left for overclocking. So all of our results are at stock and the results we obtained were nothing if not inconsistent.

At times during our testing it looked as if the R9 290 would make a mockery of its reduced Stream Processor count and push the R9 290X hard. Yet in other tests it was almost feeble, but with no rhyme nor reason as to why one would be good and another bad. We'd expect the 2560x1440 Crysis 3 test to emphasise the slower architecture of the 290, and yet Resident Evil 6, a gentle game if ever there was one, struggled mightily. Conversely in Hitman Absolution it gave the GTX780Ti a clip round the ear.

If we didn't know any better we'd have assumed that AMD trimmed just enough from the Hawaii GPU until it fit exactly where they wanted it to be in their product range. This isn't a card with hidden performance, it almost perfectly mirrors what you pay for it. There is almost a cynical underpinning to the R9 290. In 1920x1080 you could look at the GTX770 and the GTX780, average the frame rate and low and behold, the R9 290 is right on point. Designed by a marketing team and shareholders, rather than people looking to make the best possible card for the money. It leaves a rather bitter taste in the mouth. We always want hardware to be the best it can be, not exactly as good as is necessary to turn a profit without eating into the market share of other products in the range. The problem here is we are idealist ranting and this is sadly how most GPU ranges are put together, its only cards like the 780 Ti that seem to ruin this format!

Now this is with the paltry standard, and as always we are limited to testing what we have in front of us. However, we know enough people in the industry to know that with a water block to free up the temperature headroom, the R9 290 is capable of some excellent overclocks and the performance easily surpasses the R9 290X. It's not something we can take into account in our scoring, but we know that some of you will be interested. Especially as a R9 290 and a water block costs less than a 290X. We cant help feeling that its just the fan boys wanting to buy water blocks for these, you could spend less money on a GTX780 and not have to bother with water blocks, if you did overclock you can get leave both the 290 and the 290X for dust.

You have to be very careful with knowing what games and what resolution you'll want to run before purchasing the R9 290. It can be a diamond and a dog. In general it hasn't got enough puff to run higher resolutions, and the lack of overclocking harms it when compared to the nVidia offerings. That cooler is still bobbins. If you want a card that is slightly better than the 280X but not as good as the 290X then the 290 is just the ticket. Quelle Surprise. Anyone would think it was designed that way. Oh wait, it was. Silver. 

   

Thanks to PCSpecialist for supplying the R9 290 for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.

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Most Recent Comments

18-11-2013, 05:58:37

tinytomlogan
http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...095630715l.jpg

Following the R9 290X, it's time to take a look at its slightly reduced sibling, the 290.


Continue Reading

18-11-2013, 06:32:27

s13viper
Have to say, i'm pretty surprised by your results.

Its completely different to every single other review out there.

So i'm not really sure what to make of it.

edit : ill add i am now using 3x 290's....on water though and my results are insanely different (using 1 card of course)

18-11-2013, 06:33:01

barnsley
Good Ol' PowerColor :'). Top lads for not being wimps. To be fair the performance is exactly what I would want for a card but no cooler means no sale for me.

18-11-2013, 06:41:50

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by s13viper View Post
Have to say, i'm pretty surprised by your results.

Its completely different to every single other review out there.

So i'm not really sure what to make of it.

edit : ill add i am now using 3x 290's....on water though and my results are insanely different (using 1 card of course)
We dont look at other results we look at the results our rig gives us.

I have screenshots for every single result too (that goes for all reviews)

18-11-2013, 06:46:22

Rastalovich
It's a decent enough card for the price. The saviour for the 95 degrees, I feel, is the rear exhausting fan. But still, if you're going to buy one, know you've got to deal with it.

Still can't wrap my head around the Gigabyte/MSI 780 results. One is better than the ti and the other isn't, and yet there's no difference. Lottery I guess.

18-11-2013, 06:54:42

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rastalovich View Post
It's a decent enough card for the price. The saviour for the 95 degrees, I feel, is the rear exhausting fan. But still, if you're going to buy one, know you've got to deal with it.

Still can't wrap my head around the Gigabyte/MSI 780 results. One is better than the ti and the other isn't, and yet there's no difference. Lottery I guess.
Yes matey lottery, and the MSI overclocked like a train - thats why I used it in my own rig

18-11-2013, 07:17:35

s13viper
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
We dont look at other results we look at the results our rig gives us.

I have screenshots for every single result too (that goes for all reviews)
Oh i don't doubt you for a second.

But something is still wrong here. Almost all of your results are well off what i got.

A small example, crysis3 @ 5760x1080 0aa, max setting.I was getting 28fps average, 25fps min on a single card on air.

So what does this mean? Well i don't know exactly.

Mine are now under water, heavily overclocked and in trifire so the results are obviously skewed now.

I defiantly do agree the stock cooler is rubbish and too loud though. Get them under water though and its a very very different story. Exceptional performance (higher than 2x780ti's for $300 less) here in Australia anyway.

18-11-2013, 07:35:23

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by s13viper View Post
Oh i don't doubt you for a second.

But something is still wrong here. Almost all of your results are well off what i got.

A small example, crysis3 @ 5760x1080 0aa, max setting.I was getting 28fps average, 25fps min on a single card on air.

So what does this mean? Well i don't know exactly.

Mine are now under water, heavily overclocked and in trifire so the results are obviously skewed now.

I defiantly do agree the stock cooler is rubbish and too loud though. Get them under water though and its a very very different story. Exceptional performance (higher than 2x780ti's for $300 less) here in Australia anyway.
Bit narrow minded if you think because our results are different we dont get the same results. Youd have to have the exact same game settings and same system to be able to compare dude. THATS why we always use the same rig and the same game settings. Plus we always play the same part of the game too because that can make a huge difference.

But hey Im not going to sit here and explain why you dont understand stuff

18-11-2013, 07:42:24

Anusha
270x beating 290 in some benches? are you high Tom? someone's tampered your results :P

in some benches, the overclocked Titan is slower than the stock Titan.

when are you going to get rid of stupid Flash based graphs? you know browsers in smart phones don't support Flash right? you are losing a lot of viewers because of that.

18-11-2013, 08:07:33

s13viper
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Bit narrow minded if you think because our results are different we dont get the same results. Youd have to have the exact same game settings and same system to be able to compare dude. THATS why we always use the same rig and the same game settings. Plus we always play the same part of the game too because that can make a huge difference.

But hey Im not going to sit here and explain why you dont understand stuff
I understand that mate lol Ive been around in this game as long as you have :P

But seriously, something is wrong here. We aren't talking about a few fps or a few anomalies here and there. Everything is out and by large margins.

In general i'm a big fan of yours and have purchased several items based on your very long ass but awesome video's.

But i feel in this case either your card is defective, your test system went spaz, or a driver issue as its so terribly different to everyone else's and not by a few %, but by entire orders of magnitude.

ps. Water cooling literally makes these like different cards, the sooner you bring out a review/video on watercooling them i feel your "ati" audience will appreciate it.

18-11-2013, 08:47:01

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by s13viper View Post
I understand that mate lol Ive been around in this game as long as you have :P

But seriously, something is wrong here. We aren't talking about a few fps or a few anomalies here and there. Everything is out and by large margins.

In general i'm a big fan of yours and have purchased several items based on your very long ass but awesome video's.

But i feel in this case either your card is defective, your test system went spaz, or a driver issue as its so terribly different to everyone else's and not by a few %, but by entire orders of magnitude.

ps. Water cooling literally makes these like different cards, the sooner you bring out a review/video on watercooling them i feel your "ati" audience will appreciate it.
Same with the nVidia varient mate. Thats the problem. Do one and you need to do the other and when you overclock an Nvidia they actually open the gap up further. IMHO the AMD's are not all that when overclocked.


Also the one score you refered to about the 270X being in front is tomb raider - the only game with that TressFX feature - maybe this just works better on the old hardware for now.....

18-11-2013, 09:08:21

s13viper
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Same with the nVidia varient mate. Thats the problem. Do one and you need to do the other and when you overclock an Nvidia they actually open the gap up further. IMHO the AMD's are not all that when overclocked.


Also the one score you refered to about the 270X being in front is tomb raider - the only game with that TressFX feature - maybe this just works better on the old hardware for now.....
Fair enough. I can only go by the difference it made in mine. We are talking 1290mhz on one, 1280 on the second and 1305 on the third. The difference zero throttling and huge core clocks make is crazy.

Along with near zero noise and 61deg loaded temps. With the waterblocks it worked out the same price as 2 780ti's which won't come close. Yes you can put 780's and the like under water too, but with its stock cooler so good there isn't the same gains to be had for the majority of people.

I still stand by my decision.

Staying on air? a single 780ti
water? 2x 290's by far

18-11-2013, 09:21:01

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by s13viper View Post
Fair enough. I can only go by the difference it made in mine. We are talking 1290mhz on one, 1280 on the second and 1305 on the third. The difference zero throttling and huge core clocks make is crazy.

Along with near zero noise and 61deg loaded temps. With the waterblocks it worked out the same price as 2 780ti's which won't come close. Yes you can put 780's and the like under water too, but with its stock cooler so good there isn't the same gains to be had for the majority of people.

I still stand by my decision.

Staying on air? a single 780ti
water? 2x 290's by far

Ive tried clocking this one with 100% fans matey and it just got past 1100mhz before artifacting - Id say youve won the silicone lottery - that or Ive lost

18-11-2013, 09:29:00

looz
100% fans, did you remember to take required safety measures in order to protect your hearing?
http://i.imgur.com/gjFo2N4.png

18-11-2013, 09:45:26

s13viper
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Ive tried clocking this one with 100% fans matey and it just got past 1100mhz before artifacting - Id say youve won the silicone lottery - that or Ive lost
mine are on water, just to be clear.

as you have mentioned, huge overclocks on the stock air cooler are a waste of time. I am a noise freak so i didn't even bother oc'ing it with the stock cooler, just popped it in to make sure they all worked before slapping the water blocks on.

18-11-2013, 09:50:59

tinytomlogan
I tested on 100% fans just to see what might be capable. I would have needed to have the rig outside the house if I was going to live with it

18-11-2013, 11:33:56

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Yes matey lottery, and the MSI overclocked like a train - thats why I used it in my own rig
Mad. Unless the manufs want to provide 10x cards to test, there's no real way around it. You can only test what you got, play the hand you're dealt.

lol imagine text 10x cards on top of what you do already to get yet another average >.<

18-11-2013, 11:42:19

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rastalovich View Post
Mad. Unless the manufs want to provide 10x cards to test, there's no real way around it. You can only test what you got, play the hand you're dealt.

lol imagine text 10x cards on top of what you do already to get yet another average >.<
Exactly dude, it is nice when someone understands these factors!

18-11-2013, 12:11:21

murphy7801
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Exactly dude, it is nice when someone understands these factors!
I think alot people get this just we arnt bitchin or talking about it since its a given.

18-11-2013, 12:51:28

CEUOTC
Have the Sapphire R9 290 and have been plagued with a black screen fault after every cold boot.

Will have to RMA it and see if the next card is any better.

18-11-2013, 15:34:58

Xavi C
What stock clocks did your sample have? What fan speed did it max at?

23-11-2013, 09:18:14

mojothejester
I've seen different results from different reviewers, so I'm looking forward to non-reference card reviews. Will OC3D review one of them when they arrive?

23-11-2013, 10:33:55

cooperman
Quote:
Originally Posted by CEUOTC View Post
Have the Sapphire R9 290 and have been plagued with a black screen fault after every cold boot.

Will have to RMA it and see if the next card is any better.
There is a new beta driver for that problem.
AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta9.4 Driver for Windows.
+May resolve intermittent black screens or display loss observed on some AMD Radeon™ R9 290X and AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics cards+
http://www2.ati.com/drivers/beta/amd...1_betav9.4.exe

09-12-2013, 09:22:29

ivy223
this thing is loud!!!!

09-12-2013, 09:31:36

CEUOTC
Quote:
Originally Posted by cooperman View Post
There is a new beta driver for that problem.
AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta9.4 Driver for Windows.
+May resolve intermittent black screens or display loss observed on some AMD Radeon™ R9 290X and AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics cards+
http://www2.ati.com/drivers/beta/amd...1_betav9.4.exe
Sorry should have got back, new card with the same drivers no black screen, works like a charm if a little loud
Reply
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