Pricing, Availability, and Final Thoughts
It's tough to be disappointed with the performance of the 8GB version of the R9 290X offered by AMD and Sapphire. The simple fact is that after testing hundreds of video cards over a twelve year span, it was fairly safe to assume that doubling the memory was going to give little to no increase in performance over the reference designed card. Our assumption was not wrong.
What did give the biggest boost in performance was the increased clock speeds. Which unfortunately, aren't as high as we'd hope. We would've loved to have seen Sapphire be more aggressive with the clock speeds; for example, the 4GB version of this card comes with a core clock of 1080MHz, while the TOXIC offers 1150MHz.
Doubling the memory is going to set you back an extra $100 - $130, depending on the model you compare this 8GB version to. That's still around $100 - $150 cheaper than a GTX 980 4GB, which is what we'd hope considering it's not as fast as one. It's still about $100 more expensive than a GTX 970 4GB, and that continues to be the main competition for the model.
From what we've been told, AMD's high-end cards have barely moved in Q3, and partners are preparing for the worst when it comes to Q4. If this was six months ago, and these prices where in place, this would be an easy buy. However, NVIDIA really shook things up with the GTX 900 series, and with rumors of a Ti version of the 980, and a TITAN II, it seems that NVIDIA wants to continue to put the hurt on AMD.
However, it's not all bad news for AMD. The R9 300 based cards sound awesome, and feature some fantastic technology. These are not due till next year, though, and AMD is going to miss out on the holiday season in a big way. The Sapphire R9 290X 8GB Vapor-X OC is a great card; the 4GB version is also fantastic, and the TOXIC model is another great option. The problem is: these cards all revolve around a model that we've had for over a year now.
The R9 290X is a great card, but for the most part, it's just hard to recommend it, especially since once the R9 300 series comes out, AMD is undoubtedly going to shift their focus to making sure that each driver release brings improvements to those models. We can't see a whole lot of these 8GB models being made because partners would know exactly what we know: they're just not really going to sell.
Unfortunately for Sapphire, this is one of those times where they've done everything they could with what AMD has given them, with no real promise for return. The features and quality of the card are fantastic, and up to the typical Sapphire standard. The performance is strong as you'd expect, but doubling the RAM brings a price increase that is hard to justify when it comes down to raw performance. At 4K, where you'd think the card would really shine, we continued to see little change. The only time there was a consistent performance increase that is clearly due to the memory, and not the clock increase, is under GRID Autosport. If whatever was done here could also be done under other benchmarks, AMD and Sapphire would be onto a real winner.
For now, though, the 8GB version of the R9 290X is a last ditch effort by AMD to bring some attention to themselves, and get some sales over the holiday season. However, it is just not enough to make any real impact on the market. Those memory hungry people are going to buy it, but when it comes down to it all, your money can be better spent elsewhere.
PRICING: You can find the Sapphire R9 290X 8GB Vapor-X OC for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The Sapphire R9 290X 8GB Vapor-X OC retails for $499.99 at Amazon.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Quality including Design and Build||95%|
|Bundle and Packaging||90%|
|Value for Money||80%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||88%|
The Bottom Line: AMD's Radeon R9 290X continues to be a great model, and Sapphire 8GB version with its Vapor-X cooling is attractive. Overall, though, the model feels like the price increase and extra memory just doesn't do enough to justify its purchase.
- Page 1 [Introduction and Package]
- Page 2 [Video Card Details and Specifications]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup & FPS Numbers Explained]
- Page 4 [Benchmarks - 3DMark]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks - Catzilla & Unigine Heaven]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Unigine Valley & Just Cause 2]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Metro: Last Light & Sleeping Dogs]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - Hitman: Absolution & Tomb Raider]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - BioShock Infinite & Battlefield 4]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - GRID Autosport]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF]
- Page 13 [Benchmarks - 4K - 3840 x 2160 Testing]
- Page 14 [Benchmarks - 4K - 3840 x 2160 Testing Continued]
- Page 15 [Temperature & Sound Testing]
- Page 16 [Power Consumption Testing]
- Page 17 [Pricing, Availability, and Final Thoughts]
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