Sapphire Radeon R9 290 4GB in CrossFire Video Card Review

Sapphire Radeon R9 290 4GB in CrossFire Video Card Review

Sapphire sent over a Radeon R9 290 4GB video card and we paired it with the one we already have to see what CrossFire performance looks like.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Jan 7 2014 9:00 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 32 IMAGES

We continue to say over and over again how impressed we are with the latest generation of AMD video cards. It has really put NVIDIA on the back foot, and for the most part we have seen the company retaliate with price drops. With that said though, as AMD launched its higher-end models, which saw the $999 NVIDIA GTX TITAN 6GB take quite a beating, the company retaliated with the GTX 780 Ti 3GB.

We had a chance to look at the GTX 780 Ti 3GB when it launched in November, and we found ourselves extremely impressed with what NVIDIA was offering. While the company managed to kill its $999 GTX TITAN 6GB in one swoop, it was a sacrifice that had to be made for them to continue to be competitive in the high-end segment.

Moving away from the talk of the highest end models, today we're talking about the one from the AMD camp that sits just below that: the R9 290 4GB. When we looked at the model in early November, we again found ourselves impressed with what AMD was offering. While dropping the X did of course bring a drop in performance with it, it did continue to look fantastic across the board. The cost to performance was great at just over $500; just like so many of the other R series cards.

With the particular card we're looking at today, following the reference design and having already looked at the reference R9 290 4GB, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to throw the two cards together, and see how CrossFire performance is. So, what does just over $1,000 get you from AMD? Well let's find out!

Package

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Taking a look at the box, you can see it's very typical of Sapphire. We've got the brand and model number clearly shown, and some of the main features, which include that 4GB of GDDR5 memory on a 512-bit bus, along with support for 4K, and Eyefinity. Turning it over, you can see we've got a bit of a blurb on the card, along with some of the main features that we just mentioned, covered in a bit more detail.

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Moving inside the package, you can see we've got the normal lineup of paperwork, along with a Driver CD. We've also got a case sticker, alongside two power connectors; one is a dual Molex to 8-Pin PCIe, while the other is a single Molex to 6-Pin PCIe. We can see that in typical fashion, Sapphire has chosen to include a HDMI cable, which is something they do offer on their higher-end models.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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As we mentioned in the introduction, the Sapphire R9 290 4GB we're looking at today follows the reference design, and that of course means that we've got a card that looks nearly identical to the reference one we already looked at. Of course, Sapphire adds their own bit of flair to the card by showing us the model and brand. Apart from that though, there's not much to see, as the shroud covers the PCB almost in its entirety.

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Quickly moving around the card, you can see that power comes in the form of a single 6-Pin PCIe Connector, and 8-Pin PCIe Connector. Staying at the top of the card, but closer to the front, you can see we've got a switch that gives us the ability to move between two BIOS. Unlike the R9 290X 4GB, this doesn't really do anything here. Companies may choose to make use of it later though, by offering two different overclocked modes. Of course, the big thing is that just like the R9 290X 4GB, we don't have any CrossFire connectors here.

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Finishing off our look at the card, you can see connectivity comes in the form of two Dual-Link DVI-D connectors, along with a single HDMI and DisplayPort connector to round things off. You can see we've also got some vents to help push the hot air straight out of the back of the case.

Specifications

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the GPU-Z screenshot. As we've mentioned a few times though, the card is reference in every way, including the clocks. That means the core comes in at 947MHz. As for the 4GB of GDDR5, that carries with it a clock of 5000MHz QDR.

Normally, the main thing we want to check here is whether or not CrossFire is working, by using the screenshot to verify it. We'll be doing that the ol' fashion way today though, by just benchmarking the setup. So, let's take a quick look at our testbed setup, cover the cards that will be in our graphs today, and get into the fun stuff.

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 here today, with a lot of the focus of course being on the higher-end segment from both NVIDIA, and AMD. So, along with our Sapphire R9 290 4GB CrossFire setup, on the single card front we have the Sapphire R9 280X 3GB TOXIC, reference R9 290 4GB, reference R9 290X 4GB running in "Uber Mode," along with the same card overclocked to 1065MHz on the core, and 5252MHz QDR.

Along with these, we've also got a couple of CrossFire setups, which include two of the MSI R9 280X 2GB Twin Frozr Gaming OC, and two of the HIS R9 290X 4GB cards together. On the NVIDIA side of things, we've got the MSI GTX 780 Lightning 3GB (which is running at over 1000MHz on the core), along with the EVGA GTX TITAN 6GB SuperClocked, and reference GTX 780 Ti 3GB to round things off.

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 drama.

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 this, 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 come 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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3DMark 11 sees the Sapphire R9 290 4GB CrossFire setup perform extremely well. You can see that it offers quite a large increase over the R9 280X 3GB CrossFire setup, which is of course the model below. Compared to the R9 290X 4GB CrossFire setup, you can see the difference is quite minimal.

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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We again see some awesome performance, with the difference being quite strong over the MSI R9 280X 3GB CrossFire setup, and really not all that far behind the more expensive R9 290X 4GB CrossFire setup.

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//

This 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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Moving into Heaven, you can see the trend continues with some awesome performance being seen from our Sapphire R9 290 4GB CrossFire setup. Of course, it comes as no surprise that against the single GPU NVIDIA setups, we've got a strong lead (as you'd expect considering the higher price tag of this setup).

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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PSO 2 sees a slight boost in performance when CrossFire is offered, but it's nothing like we see in the other benchmarks. You can see in this instance, the GTX 780 Ti 3GB from NVIDIA manages to outperform all our AMD setups, including the CrossFire R9 290X 4GB setup.

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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Moving into Lost Planet 2, you can see excellent performance at all resolutions, with over 120 FPS being seen at the highest one. The gains aren't quite double when compared to the single R9 290 4GB, but you can see we've got a strong boost in performance when the second card is thrown into the mix.

The gains over the single GTX 780 Ti 3GB, probably aren't as high as you would think though. At the highest resolution, you can see the GTX 780 Ti 3GB manages 118 FPS; only 23 FPS below the Sapphire R9 290 4GB CrossFire setup.

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 sees some awesome performance gains, and just some awesome performance overall. You can see that the Sapphire R9 290 4GB CrossFire setup doesn't run into any problems under Just Cause 2 at any resolution.

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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Like we've seen every time when we test CrossFire on the R series of cards: F1 2012 performance just plummets. Not only do we not have an increase, but the FPS drops to below 60 FPS at all resolutions. This hasn't always been an issue, and it's something we're really hoping is resolved in the future.

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 sees some awesome performance across the board, and you can see that at the highest resolution, throwing the second card into the mix helps push our average FPS up to an extremely playable 70 FPS. You can see the gains aren't quite 100%, but at the highest resolution the gains are around 80%, which is still extremely impressive.

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 doesn't see massive gains across the board; we do hit an FPS wall at the lower resolution. At the highest resolution, we do see a strong jump of around the 70%, with the average FPS looking great at 138 FPS.

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 that is 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 sees some decent gains, but not the 100% kind of gains that we would love to see from the game. Looking above though, you can see that the 50% increase at 1920 x 1200 is enough to give us a 61 FPS average. At 2560 x 1600 though, you can see the numbers aren't where they need to be.

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 performance is really strong across the board, and you can see improvement on already very playable numbers.

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 players 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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At the lower resolutions, Sleeping Dogs doesn't see much change when it comes to a performance increase. At the highest resolution though, you can see the 147 FPS average is an increase of around 40%.

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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With the second card, you can see we hit an FPS wall at all resolutions. While we're never happy about a FPS wall, with a minimum of 84 FPS, and an average of around 100 FPS, this isn't one we're worried about. This is some excellent FPS, making Hitman: Absolution playable 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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Tomb Raider sees some fantastic performance gains, and you can see we manage to get playable FPS across the board. You can see that with just a single card, 2560 x 1600 isn't an option, as our average is just too low.

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 manages to see some strong gains, and you can see we have some fantastic FPS at 2560 x 1600. While we're not talking about 100% gains, we are talking about gains that see us move from under 60 FPS, to well over it. Against the high-end single GPU NVIDIA options, we again see that performance is extremely strong.

Benchmarks - Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Origin Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Custom 60 Second Run with FRAPS

Developer Homepage: http://dice.se/

Product Homepage: https://www.battlefield.com/games/battlefield-4

Battlefield 4 (also known as BF4) is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE, and published by Electronic Arts. The game is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3. Battlefield 4 features several changes compared to its predecessor. The game's heads-up display is much the same; composed of two compact rectangles. The lower left-hand corner features a mini-map and compass for navigation, and a simplified objective notice above it. The lower right includes a compact ammo counter, and health meter. The mini-map, as well as the main game screen, shows symbols marking three kinds of entities: blue for allies, green for squadmates, and red/orange for enemies.

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Battlefield 4 performance is extremely strong across the board, with great gains being seen. We've got playable numbers at all resolutions, and you'd have absolutely no problem playing Battlefield 4 at any resolution here.

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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Metro: Last Light sees some strong gains with the second card thrown into the mix, but you can see that the intensity of the game means that even with this expensive setup, 2560 x 1600 still isn't an option with AA and AF turned on. Looking above, 1920 x 1200 isn't an issue though.

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Just Cause 2 performance looks great at both resolutions, and you can see adding the second card simply improves on already very playable numbers.

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Sleeping Dogs is extremely intensive with AA and AF turned on. You can see that adding the second card into the mix helps push out playable FPS at both resolutions though. Even if at 2560 x 1600, it is by just 1 FPS.

Temperature Test

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

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These new R9 cards run hot, and you can see here is no different. The second card really doesn't do much more to heat, as it comes in just 1c warmer than when we have a single card installed.

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 aren't too bad. You can see we're sitting in the top half of the graph. Considering the amount of power though, the setup is pushing out noise levels that are more than acceptable.

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 video 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 some 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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Drawing in an even 700 Watts, we'd recommend a high-end, high quality power supply setup for something like this. We'd recommend at least the 900 Watt mark, but you couldn't go wrong with a quality 1000 Watt unit.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Coming in at $539.99 at the time of writing, the Sapphire R9 290 4GB (or just R9 290 4GB in general) isn't a cheap card. By itself though, the card has managed to do an excellent job of proving itself as something that is worth the money. The question is: Should you go into the four digit category when looking for a new video card setup? The R9 290 4GB setup is not a cheap one; it costs nearly $1,080 for two cards.

CrossFire, like SLI, also continues to be a technology that isn't perfect in any sense of the word. Saying that though, we do see it perform extremely well in many areas, and with some extremely intensive games currently on the market, you can see that a setup like this is needed to get truly playable FPS. This is even truer when AA and AF come into the picture.

You can see under Metro: Last Light, the setup still wasn't enough to give us playable FPS at 2560 x 1600 with AA and AF turned on. At the same resolution under Sleeping Dogs, you can see we only just managed to scrape past that 60 FPS range, with a 61 FPS average.

Unlike lower-end CrossFire and SLI setups, you can't really compare this setup to any particular single GPU one, as we really don't have any $1,000 single GPU options. Of course, while the GTX TITAN 6GB is still technically an option, the release of the GTX 780 Ti 3GB at a cheaper price point and higher performance level, means the model is all but dead.

Considering the move to a pair of R9 290X 4GB cards is going to set you back further by $200, this isn't a bad option for people who are wanting to spend around that $1,000 mark when it comes to a video card setup. I think one of the most important aspects of a setup like this though, is that you've got a monitor that is able to make use of it. Spending $1,000 on a video card setup to power your $200 monitor is just completely insane.

Moving away from the CrossFire specifics, and thinking more about the Sapphire card we've got on hand today, there's not too much to say. Of course, from the looks and performance of the card, it's going to be the same as the reference card. The bundle is typical Sapphire, which means it's fairly similar to most other companies, with the addition of a HDMI cable being included.

If you're looking to spend around the $500 - $550 mark, then the R9 290 4GB continues to be a good option thanks to its excellent performance at the price point. As for the Sapphire one we're looking at today: there's nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the card. That's not a bad thing though, if you're looking for a reference R9 290 4GB at a reference price, then this is a good option. If you've bought Sapphire in the past as well, you'll probably feel more comfortable.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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