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AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB Reference Video Card Review

AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB Reference Video Card Review

The last major piece to the R series of video cards is released today with the new AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB. Let's dive in now and examine it.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Nov 5 2013 5:57 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 97%Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction

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Video card releases have been extremely busy for the last little bit thanks to AMD. When they release a new series of video cards, they tend to do it in a big way releasing a top to bottom line up of cards for us to look at in one big hit. With the stagnated releases over the last month and then a number of options from partners, we've just been swimming in a pile of video cards.

While it might slow down for the holiday season when it comes to new models, we're going to still see a busy couple of months as partners do more and more to the new models that have been released. After this, though, we've got one more reference card to look at which comes from the folks over at NVIDIA. The upcoming NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti is designed to take on the new AMD offerings and it will be interesting to see just what the model brings to the table.

Today, though, is about what should pretty much be the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to the new R series of video cards from AMD that have done an excellent job of impressing us since their introduction just a month ago.

The R9 290 as the name suggests is the model below the top-end R9 290X that we looked at just a week ago. As always, since we're dealing with a reference card, we'll be simply moving on from our introduction into the card itself. One of the main things we want to see is the difference between this model and its bigger brother, the R9 290X. So let's not delay any longer and just get stuck into it.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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You can see it pretty much looks identical to the R9 290X 4GB. It's got the black reference cooler with red highlights. We've got the single fan on the far right hand side that is designed to pull the cool air in and push it straight across the GPU and out the back of the case.

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Power comes in the form of a single 8-pin PCIe power connector and a 6-pin PCIe power connector. Moving closer to the front, you can again see we don't have the CrossFire connectors that we've become so used to seeing on high-end cards and you can also see we have a switch that lets us move between two BIOSes.

We won't go into a huge amount a detail again on the lack of CrossFire connectors as we explained the new technology in some detail in our R9 290X 4GB review. If you want to learn more about how CrossFire works on the new R9 290 models, then we highly recommend that you head on over to page two of that review.

As for the BIOS switch, unlike the R9 290X 4GB, it doesn't do anything special on the R9 290 4GB. While the R9 290X 4GB offered "Quiet" and "Uber" modes, adjusting the switch on the R9 290 4GB doesn't affect it in anyway. We're sure we'll see partners do a little more with it in the coming weeks and months.

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We've got two Dual-Link DVI connectors, along with a HDMI and DisplayPort to round things off. This is a very typical setup for high-end cards.

Specifications

Specifications between the R9 290 4GB and its big brother the R9 290X 4GB are quite similar in a lot of places. Like the other R series cards, we've got a 28nm core. Transistors like the R9 290X 4GB come in at 6.2B, while ROPs and Z/Stencil remain the same at 64 and 256 respectively.

Both cards carry 4GB of GDDR5 that sit on a 512-bit memory bus and carry a 5000MHz QDR memory clock.

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Most of the main difference come around the core area. The clock on the R9 290 4GB is down 53MHz, coming in at 947MHz, while stream processors drop from 2,816 to 2,560. Texture units are also slightly down from 176 to 160.

Overall the difference aren't too major and it will be interesting to see how this model performs against the more expensive R9 290X 4GB when running in both Quiet and Uber modes.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

We've got a bunch of cards in our graphs today. From the AMD side, we've got the older PowerColor PCS HD 7950 2GB overclocked to over 1100MHz on the core, while the reference AMD HD 7970 GHz Edition is also included.

When it comes to the R series of cards, we've got the Sapphire Radeon R9 280X 3GB TOXIC, along with the big brother to the R9 290 4GB, the R9 290X 4GB. In our graphs today we have included the card running in both Uber and Quiet modes.

Although we're not too sure why you'd bother with Quiet mode, as we mentioned in our launch review, it's not that quiet. We finish of the AMD offerings with two MSI R9 280X 2GB Twin Frozr Gaming OC cards in CrossFire.

As always we've got a few NVIDIA cards also included with the reference GTX 770 2GB, along with the MSI GTX 780 Lightning 3GB heavily overclocked to over 1000MHz on the core. We finally finish the NVIDIA side of things off with the EVGA GTX TITAN 6GB SuperClocked model.

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Why are some graphs incomplete?

Adding new game benchmarks is a long, tedious and time consuming task as every video card has to be re-tested in those new benchmarks. Because of that reason we have always just evaluated our benchmark line up every six months. To stay up to date and current with the latest benchmarks and games available, we've changed our approach to adding new benchmarks.

Our benchmark line up will progress and be updated as newer more intensive games with benchmarks comes to light. While this will mean that initially you may only see a single video card in those particular graphs, as the weeks go on and we test more and more video cards, the results will grow quickly. This will help keep our benchmark line up as up to date as possible as we introduce and remove games on a constant basis.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Starting out with 3DMark 11 we can see some strong performance out the gate that clearly puts it ahead of the R9 280X 3GB TOXIC. It really doesn't sit that far behind its bigger brother the R9 290X 4GB at the Performance preset, but does drag a little bit behind at the higher Extreme preset.

Against the NVIDIA offerings, you can see there's not much between the higher-end ones at the Performance preset, but they do manage to separate themselves by a decent margin when it comes to the higher Extreme preset.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Fire Strike

3DMark Fire Strike

Version and / or Patch Used: 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/3dmark

Buy It Here

Fire Strike is our new showcase DirectX 11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today. Fire Strike will only be available in the Windows editions of 3DMark initially.

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Under Fire Strike we see some good performance here at both presets, which again sees the new model really not fall that far behind its bigger brother. We also see it again clearly come out ahead of the R9 280X 3GB TOXIC.

Being one of our newer benchmarks, we're missing some of our more recent NVIDIA results. You can see, though, in this instant, we're not all that far behind the heavily overclocked MSI GTX 780 Lightning 3GB.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3

Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com

Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Heaven performance continues the trend of some strong numbers against the other R9 offerings. You can see that the new R9 290 4GB really slot itself in well against the other ones.

Against the NVIDIA offerings, you can see we've got no problems against the likes of the GTX 770 2GB, but as we move higher, you can see the heavily overclocked GTX 780 Lightning and TITAN perform a decent chunk stronger at both resolutions.

Benchmarks - Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Star Online 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.sega.com/?t=EnglishUSA

Product Homepage: http://www.pso2.com/us/html/index.html

Play Phantasy Star Online 2 and experience revolutionary combat in an action-driven, free-to-play multiplayer online RPG from SEGA. Take a journey into an immersive sci-fi fantasy narrative and explore mysterious worlds to unravel their secrets. Join fellow adventurers and fight against the legions of darkness to banish them from the galaxy.

Score explanation: Less than 2000: Please adjust your game settings because the processing load is quite heavy.

2000 through 5000: The game runs fine at the setting, if you have room, you can adjust some settings.

5001+: The game works wonderfully at this setting.

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PSO2 numbers are strong, being well above the 5,000+ point recommendation that SEGA says we want. We're actually ahead of the R9 290X 4GB here when it's running in Quiet mode, but you can see it is behind when it's running in Uber mode.

Against both the top NVIDIA offerings, you can see it is a bit behind, but ultimately we've just got very strong performance here with our in-game settings maxed out.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Lost Planet 2 numbers look good with playable numbers seen at all resolutions. At the higher resolutions, you can also see that we're ahead of the R9 290X 4GB when it's running in Quiet mode, but when in Uber mode, it is behind like you'd think, considering it's a more expensive card.

Against the NVIDIA offerings, the 290 sits around the same level as the GTX 770 2GB in this instance. NVIDIA has always been quiet superior at Tessellation and that's one of the main reason we see their offerings do so well under Lost Planet 2.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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Just Cause 2 numbers are great across the board. You can see the 290 is again ahead of the R9 290X 4GB when running in Quiet mode, but behind when running in Uber mode.

Compared to the NVIDIA offerings, though, you can see that the numbers are slightly ahead of the heavily overclocked GTX 780 Lighting 3GB at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, while we see both cards attain 101 FPS at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - F1 2012

F1 2012

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com

In F1 2012 players will feel the unparalleled thrill of becoming a FORMULA ONE driver with a host of new features, wide-ranging technical and gameplay advancements and extensive competitive and co-operative multiplayer components. F1 2012 will feature all of the official teams, drivers and circuits from the 2012 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, including the debut of the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX at Austin, Texas and the return of Germany's famous Hockenheim circuit to the calendar.

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F1 2012 numbers are strong across the board and you can see because we hit an FPS wall at a later point then the NVIDIA offerings, the R9 290 is ahead of the heavily overclocked GTX 780 Lighting 3GB at the lower resolutions. At the highest we see both cards score exactly the same.

Benchmarks - Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://enterthemetro.com/ /

Metro: Last Light takes place one year after the events of Metro 2033, proceeding from the ending where Artyom chose to call down the missile strike on the Dark Ones. The Rangers have since occupied the D6 military facility, with Artyom having become an official member of the group. Khan, the nomad mystic, arrives at D6 to inform Artyom and the Rangers that a single Dark One survived the missile strike. Khan believes the Dark One is the key to humanity's future, and wants to make peace with it, while Ranger leader Colonel Miller wants to kill the creature due to its potential threat. Miller sends Artyom to the surface with a mission to kill the Dark One; he is accompanied by Anna, Miller's sarcastic daughter and the Rangers' best sniper.

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Metro Last Light numbers really aren't bad at all and you can see we manage to get playable FPS at both 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050. Overall you can see the numbers at these resolutions are nearly identical to the heavily overclocked GTX 780 3GB Lightning.

The TITAN manages to offer just huge performance at all resolutions, and nothing really comes close to it, including the CrossFire R9 280X setup.

Benchmarks - Dirt Showdown

Dirt Showdown

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/uk/dirtshowdown/360/

DiRT Showdown is the new arcade racing game from the team that brought you the award-winning DiRT series, uncaged in 2012. Pick up and play controls combine with electrifying events, frenzied crowds and stunning graphics to deliver high octane, dive in and drive thrills from event one.

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Dirt Showdown looks good with playable numbers at all resolutions and numbers that sit ahead of all NVIDIA offerings across the board. We can again see that compared to the R9 290X 4GB in Quiet mode, the 290 comes out ahead.

Benchmarks - Nexuiz

Nexuiz

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.alientrap.org/

Product Homepage: http://www.nexuiz.com/

Nexuiz is an Arena First Person shooter coming soon to consoles. Nexuiz is fast paced with extremely competitive game play. IllFonic brings Alientrap Software's Nexuiz to next-gen gaming consoles around the world while staying true to the game play refined over the years through development. IllFonic introduces a new Victorian influenced art style that is simultaneously futuristic and sophisticated. Nexuiz for consoles is powered by CryENGINE 3.

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Nexuiz manages to pull out a playable 67 FPS at 1680 x 1050. Above that we can see the numbers are just too low. Compared to the higher-end NVIDIA offerings, you can see the 290 is trailing behind for the most part.

But like both NVIDIA offerings, we can see that once we get to 1920 x 1200, we're in the unplayable number territory, even if the heavily overclocked GTX 780 Lightning does manage to be just a single FPS away from the 60 FPS number we're looking for to provide a solid gaming experience.

Benchmarks - Sniper Elite V2

Sniper Elite V2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://sniperelitev2.com/us/age.html

Sniper Elite V2 features detailed sniping simulation with advanced ballistics, taking into account gravity, wind, velocity, bullet penetration, aim stability and more. Guaranteed to provide players with the most realistic simulation of military sharpshooting yet available.

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Sniper Elite V2 numbers are good across the board and you can see here the 290 is slightly ahead of the GTX 770 2GB at all resolutions.

Compared to the R9 290X 4GB, you can see that in both modes, it's able to pull out the win here.

Benchmarks - Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://eu.square-enix.com/en

Product Homepage: http://www.sleepingdogs.net/

The core gameplay of Sleeping Dogs consists of giving the player an open world environment in which to move around freely. Sleeping Dogs is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game with role-playing elements. The player controls Wei Shen, a Chinese-American police officer, as he goes undercover to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organization. On foot, the player character has the ability to walk, run, jump, climb over obstacles and swim, as well as use weapons and martial arts in combat. Players also drive a variety of vehicles including cars, boats, and motorcycles.

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Sleeping Dogs performance is really good at all resolutions and you can see we manage to come out ahead of all NVIDIA offerings at all resolutions. Apart from the highest resolution, you can also see the numbers are pretty much identical to the R9 290X 4GB.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Far Cry 2 numbers are strong across the board. There's not too much to say, so let's move onto Hitman Absolution to see what's going on with some of the more recent games.

Please Note: We still include Far Cry 2 in our benchmarks (we know it's old) as a way for our readers to get a general representation of how older games perform on new hardware.

Benchmarks - Hitman Absolution

Hitman Absolution

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.ioi.dk/

Product Homepage: http://hitman.com/

Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth game developed by I/O Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on I/O Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. Before release, the developers stated that Absolution would be easier to play and more accessible, while still retaining hardcore aspects of the franchise. The game was released on 20 November 2012, which is in the 47th week of the year (in reference to the protagonist, Agent 47).

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Hitman Absolution performance is really strong across the board, and thanks to an FPS wall, you can see that the performance of the 290 is quite similar to the R9 290X 4GB at almost all resolutions.

Because the FPS wall is also hit later on the AMD offerings then the NVIDIA ones, you can see that we're able to get a decent lead on even the heavily overclocked GTX 780 3GB Lightning at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.nixxes.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.tombraider.com/us/base/agegate?refer=184&

Tomb Raider is an action-adventure platform video game. Published by Square Enix, Tomb Raider is the fifth title developed by Crystal Dynamics in the Tomb Raider franchise. As the first entry in a new Tomb Raider continuity, the game is a reboot that emphasizes the reconstructed origins of the culturally influential lead character Lara Croft. Tomb Raider was released on 5 March 2013 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows to universal critical acclaim.

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At both 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, you can see we've got some strong performance coming out of the new R9 290 4GB. Against the higher-end NVIDIA offerings, you can see we're trailing at all resolutions, but all our single GPU setups have trouble breaking the 60 FPS average at the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://irrationalgames.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.bioshockinfinite.com

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game and the third installment in the BioShock series. Previously known as "Project Icarus", it is being developed by Irrational Games and was released worldwide on the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms on March 26, 2013. BioShock Infinite is not part of the storyline of previous BioShock games but features similar gameplay concepts and themes.

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BioShock Infinite looks good at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 with playable numbers at both resolutions. Like the R9 290X 4GB, though, we struggle to hit the 60 FPS average we want at 2560 x 1600. This is something we can see both the heavily overclocked GTX 780 3GB and GTX TITAN 6GB are able to do.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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Turning on AA and AF, you can see that Far Cry 2 continues to not be a struggle for the new R9 290 4GB.

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Cranking up the AA and AF on Metro Last Light sees the new R9 290 4GB struggle like every other setup, here except for the 6GB TITAN.

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Just Cause 2 performance is strong and you can see we've got playable numbers at both resolutions. Compared to the heavily overclocked GTX 780 Lightning 3GB, you can see that performance is nearly identical at both resolutions with just an FPS separating the results at both resolution.

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Unlike the R9 290X 4GB in Uber mode, you can see that we're not able to break the 60 FPS barrier here at 1920 x 1200. Of course falling short there means that we're not going to get the numbers we need at the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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Just like the R9 290X 4GB, you can see that the temperature profile is pretty much set for around the 90c mark and that's what we get.

Yes, it's warm, but no we're not worried as AMD has made sure that the card can operate perfectly normal at these temperatures.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels on the new R9 290 4GB aren't as aggressive and you can see we're sitting towards the middle of the pack in this case.

Power Consumption Test

Using our PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw at load comes in a little under 500 Watt. We'd recommend any good quality 650 Watt+ power supply for this kind of setup.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Hitting at $399, AMD has done the same thing they've done with every other R series video card that they've launched in the last month - priced it perfectly. With NVIDIA doing a bit of a price drop, in the last week, though, we thought that maybe it would be a little tougher this time around for AMD. If we go through the competition, though, it's pricing continues to look fantastic.

The GTX 770 2GB comes in at the $329 - $399 price point depending on which brand and variation you buy. Grabbing a GTX 770 2GB for less then what an R9 290 4GB is going to cost you is easy. Saying that, though, we wouldn't say that the GTX 770 2GB is the main competitor to this model, instead we'd say it's the higher-end GTX 780 3GB.

When it comes to the GTX 780 3GB, it starts at $499 and goes up to around the $549 mark depending on the brand and variation you buy. That means the starting point for the GTX 780 3GB is $100 more expensive than the new R9 290 4GB. If you're happy to spend around the $549+ mark, then you'd probably be better off looking at the R9 290X 4GB.

It really feels that AMD is going to be causing quite the headache for NVIDIA with this model. There really isn't much more room to move when it comes to pricing, and while the GTX 770 2GB does come in a decent chunk cheaper, we really wouldn't put it against the new R9 290 4GB, as it's almost always slower than it, and by a decent margin in some cases.

We're glad that AMD has not worried about the "Quiet" and "Uber" modes on this model as we feel it's a bit silly on the R9 290X 4GB and it would be silly here as well. What we are glad to see, though, is the bridgeless CrossFire technology implemented.

It really doesn't feel like we need to say a whole lot more about this model. The new R series bring with it some cool technology like Mantle, TrueAudio and bridgeless CrossFire technology on the 290 variants. Money talks, though, and in the end, AMD has again done a fantastic job of pricing the new model exactly where it needs to be. We can't wait to see what companies do with both the R9 290 and R9 290X as we come into the holiday season.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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