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MSI Radeon R9 390X Gaming 8G Video Card Review

By: Anthony Garreffa | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Jun 18, 2015 4:41 pm
TweakTown Rating: 85%Manufacturer: MSI

This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the MSI Radeon R9 390X Gaming 8G.

 

What's Hot

 

A New Release From AMD!: After over 18 months of no new single GPU releases from AMD, this is a new product. It might be a rebrand, but the Red Team is back in action with the Radeon R9 390X.

 

MSI's Twin Frozr V Cooling Technology: Our previous Radeon R9 290X cards were usually running very hot and loud, but MSI has used its impressive Twin Frozr V cooler so the MSI Radeon R9 390X Gaming 8G is actually damn quiet, even when stressed out under a heavy gaming session.

 

 

10% More Performance Over 290X: The Radeon R9 390X was never meant to be the new flagship GPU, as that's Fiji's job with the Fury and Fury X cards. But, the 390X is around 10% faster on average, over the 290X, which isn't bad. The Radeon R9 290X is still a fast card by today's standards, so the 390X is just a fine tuning of the Hawaii architecture.

 

What's Not

 

AMD Has Essentially Rebranded The Radeon R9 290X: We don't get much more performance than the Radeon R9 290X, and this is a hard thing. It's not bad, but it's not great. It lets consumers decide to leave upgrading their 290X, and grab the Fury or Fury X instead.

 

$100+ Premium Over 290X 4GB: This is something you have to decide for yourself, but I don't think a $100+ premium over the Radeon R9 290X with 4GB is worth paying for. 8GB is only used in a handful of games, something we addressed in a VRAM consumption article last week.

 

Nothing Really New: The Radeon R9 390X doesn't offer anything new, apart from the 8GB framebuffer. We have support for LiquidVR, FreeSync and all of that jazz, but the Fiji-based Fury cards is where the excitement is.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

At the end of the day, the Radeon R9 390X is the Radeon R9 290X 2.0 - this is how I titled my review, and this is how I'm finishing it. When the Radeon R9 290X launched, I wasn't the Video Card Editor at the time, but I still remember being quite excited over the Hawaii architecture.

 

msi-radeon-r9-390x-gaming-8g-video-card-review_10

 

It was only when NVIDIA launched the Maxwell architecture along with the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 that it had a competitor that managed to somehow use less power, run much cooler, and still compete. AMD's Radeon R9 290X was able to compete against the GTX 980, but it consumed considerable amounts of additional power, and ran hotter.

 

The Radeon R9 390X is no different, as it's still the Hawaii architecture, so it's more of a refinement than anything else. But, that refinement is great. AMD is back with new cards, and MSI is at the top of the heap so far when it comes to having a kick-ass Radeon R9 390X. 8GB of framebuffer is nice too, as it allows you to really crank up some of the settings in your games, especially when you're going to CrossFire two or more of these MSI Radeon R9 390X Gaming 8G cards together. That 8GB of VRAM is going to come in handy.

 

The big problem comes with price, where the Radeon R9 390X (not just the MSI card we have here today) being priced at $400+, while the Radeon R9 290X priced at around $329 or so on Amazon. This means you're paying up to $100 or more for double the VRAM which isn't used unless you're cranking AA at 4K and above, and a slight 10% increase in performance.

 

If you're an owner of the Radeon R9 290X, do not upgrade to the R9 390X. If you want to upgrade, wait for the Fury or Fury X cards coming out next week, or if you wanted to switch over to NVIDIA, grab the GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

 

For AMD fans who might have skipped over the Radeon R9 290X in favor of a cheaper Radeon R9 280 or equivalent, the R9 390X is a good card for the money.

Product Summary Breakdown

Performance (overclocking, power)80%
Quality (build, design, cooling)95%
General Features (display outputs, etc)80%
Bundle, Packaging & Software90%
Value for Money80%
Overall TweakTown Rating85%

The Bottom Line: MSI's Radeon R9 390X Gaming 8G isn't the best video card, but that's not MSI's fault. Everything MSI has done with the R9 390X Gaming 8G is top class, but don't upgrade from your AMD Radeon R9 290X, alright?

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