We've been getting some of our rigs up to speed in the last few months, throwing our VGA cards into different battles. We've been playing around with Titan X versus GTX 980, Titan X SLI versus GTX 980 SLI and everything in between.
The articles are only going to expand, where we wanted to see how two AMD Radeon R9 290X cards in Crossfire would perform against the Maxwell-powered cards from NVIDIA. We are using two of SAPPHIRE's Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards, which are factory overclocked and feature an impressive aftermarket cooler.
Comparing the stock Radeon R9 290X against the R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards from SAPPHIRE, we have the stock card with a GPU clock of 1000MHz versus the 1030MHz on the SAPPHIRE card. The company has overclocked the GDDR5 RAM from 1250MHz to 1375MHz. Not only that, but thanks to the better cooling setup, we can squeeze some more performance out of the SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X, all while it continues to operate at decent temperatures.
The system we're running, and its specs:
- CPU: Intel Core i7 5820K processor w/Corsair H110 cooler
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 Gaming G1 Wi-Fi
- RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance 2666MHz DDR4
- Storage: 240GB SanDisk Extreme II and 480GB SanDisk Extreme II
- Chassis: Lian Li T60 Pit Stop
- PSU: Corsair AX1200i digital PSU
- Software: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra - 4K
Our first test out of the gate and the SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire have them losing to the GTX 980s in SLI, but beating the single Titan X.
Heaven - 4K
Heaven has the R9 290X's in Crossfire losing to the GTX 980s in SLI once again, but beating the Titan X. We have some decent scaling on the single R9 290X 8GB Tri-X, which scores 19FPS while the Crossfired cards score 37FPS - some incredible scaling of 95%.
Battlefield 4 testing (under DX11, not Mantle) has some interesting results at 4K on the Medium preset, where we have the single R9 290X 8GB Tri-X scores 79, the second card boosts this up to 126FPS - an increase of 59%.
On the Ultra preset (with AA disabled) we see the single R9 290X 8GB Tri-X scoring 55FPS, but the second R9 290X 8GB Tri-X is like adding fuel to the fire: leaping up to 100FPS average, representing an increase of 82%. The R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards beat the single GTX Titan X, the GTX 980's in SLI, and aren't too far away from the results of the Titan X cards in SLI.
GRID: Autosport is a title that really shows the strength of the Radeon R9 290X cards, with our SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X on its own scoring 62FPS average at 4K, while the two cards in Crossfire see some incredible Crossfire scaling with 127FPS - an increase of 105%. This is an incredible result.
Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light is another hard game on our VGA cards, with the single R9 290X 8GB Tri-X scoring 45FPS, but the second card sees this climb up to 72FPS, an increase of 60%. The two SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire are just a single FPS away from the GTX Titan X and GTX 980s in SLI.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Shadow of Mordor continues the VGA punishment, but the R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire are triumphant. We see a huge Crossfire scaling of 85%, jumping up to 100FPS on the Crossfire setup from the 54FPS on the single card. The R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire beat the GTX 980s in SLI, the single GTX Titan X and aren't too far away from the 108FPS on the Titan X SLI setup.
One of the games we're coming to really enjoy for our high resolution and multi-GPU testing is Thief, something that shines on the R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire with a mammoth 97% increase in performance over the single R9 290X 8GB Tri-X. We are beating the GTX 980 SLI and Titan X with this setup, which is something that cannot be complained about.
Tomb Raider sees our Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire scoring 118FPS average, thrashing the 60FPS that the single card provided. We still have some room between the GTX Titan X's in SLI, as well as the GTX 980's in SLI, that dominate in Tomb Raider at 4K.
The SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire have some great scaling in BioShock Infinite, with 70FPS on the single card and 115FPS on the Crossfire setup, providing a result of 64% scaling. The GTX Titan X, GTX 980s in SLI and Titan X SLI all continue to demolish here.
For our final benchmark, the SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire come out on top, beating everything else: the GTX 980 SLI setup, the GTX Titan X and even the GTX Titan X in SLI in DiRT: Showdown.
One thing that the SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire utterly dominate is the power consumption of the entire system. A single R9 290X 8GB Tri-X card from SAPPHIRE consumes 450W from the full system, but adding the second one bumps this up to around 740W for our full system.
This is pretty high considering that the two more powerful Titan X cards in SLI have our system consuming just 530W. If you look at the overclock result on the R9 290X 8GB Tri-X at the bottom with 625W, we shudder to think what's going to happen in our next article when we overclock the SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards and start pushing things into the next year.
Our testing of the two SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X 8GB Tri-X cards in Crossfire show that the R9 290X cards are still a serious force to be reckoned with, even in the world of the GTX 980 and GTX Titan X from NVIDIA. The Maxwell architecture does have some tricks up its sleeve: such as much better power efficiency, triple DisplayPort outputs, and much more.
Brute performance is still something that AMD has going for it, with the R9 290X 8GB Tri-X CF setup kicking some serious ass at 4K. Starting with Battlefield 4, we have a huge 126FPS average which keeps up with the GTX 980 SLI and isn't far away from the Titan X SLI rig. Some serious performance from cards that are over 18 months old now.
The power consumption is something to consider, but if you're dumping down $1000 or so on some VGA cards, the slight uptick on your power bill isn't going to matter all that much. The heat being pumped into your room is something you're going to have to think of, and that is something that bothered me. But, in saying that, the Titan X in SLI gets pretty damn hot and pumps in some serious heat into the room, too - even with better power efficiency.
At the end of the day, the Radeon R9 290X is still a kick ass video card and two of them in Crossfire are a huge kick in performance at 4K.