As something of a counter-event to NVIDIA’s gaming showcase taking place in Montreal, Canada this week, AMD has organized an early, brief reveal of their forthcoming Radeon R9 290X video card. The card won’t be launching until sometime in the future, but for today we’re being allowed to confirm that we have the card and are being allowed to publish a single benchmark: Bioshock Infinite at 3840x2160 (4K).

AMD has purposely kept the public details on the R9 290X sparse so far, so we know little other than that it’s a larger GPU rated for 5 TFLOPS of compute performance, and paired with 4GB of memory for a total memory bandwidth of over 300GB/sec. Like most segments of the consumer electronics industry AMD has been gearing up for 3840x2160 (4K) displays, so the Radeon 290X is AMD’s flagship card geared towards gamers using 3840x2160 or 2560x1440 monitors.

Consequently AMD is seeking to draw attention to their 4K performance with today’s benchmark reveal. AMD named the game, the cards, and the resolution – Bioshock at 4K against the GTX 780 – so this is a very limited subset of our full results. And as with all controlled benchmark releases we’d advise not reading too much into any single benchmark here, as the relative performance of NVIDIA and AMD cards changes with the game being tested, at times rather wildly..

Bioshock Infinite - 3840x2160

The biggest problem with 4K displays for at least the intermediate future, other than price of course, will be that you’re either going to need a lot of GPU power to drive them or will have to take a quality hit to achieve acceptable performance. Neither the R9 290X nor the GTX 780 are powerful enough to stay above 30fps on Bioshock with everything turned up. For that you will need to drop down to Medium quality, which gets performance past 30fps and up into the 60fps range. The fact that we’re even talking about playing a game at 60fps this high of a resolution – with 2.25 times as many pixels as 2560x1440 – is a big accomplishment right there, it’s just not one that will come without tradeoffs. For little-to-no compromise 4K gaming we’ll undoubtedly need to turn to multiple GPUs and Crossfire/SLI.

Moving on, it’s interesting to note in this case that both cards are essentially tied at Ultra quality, but when we dial down to medium the 290X takes a very decisive 14% lead. At the highest quality settings we should be shader/texture bound due to the significant use of shader effects on Bioshock’s highest quality settings, whereas at lower quality settings at least some of the bottleneck will shift to elements such as ROP throughput, memory bandwidth, and the geometry pipeline.

Wrapping this preview up, we’ll have more details on the 290X in the near future. AMD has made it clear that they are aiming high with their new flagship video card, so it will be interesting to see what they can pull off as we approach Tahiti/7970’s second birthday.

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  • Principle - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    You mean in that non-official release with no credibility? The extra 62 watts was actually the space heater running off the same socket blowing into the PC intake of the AMD machine.
  • Gunbuster - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    I'd love to see how warm you get from a space heater that only consumes 62 watts...
  • Principle - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    wow, you took that literally.....
  • zeock9 - Thursday, October 17, 2013 - link

    Throughly unimpressive considering the rumor that they are upping the MSRP of these cards from $600 to something close to $700.

    This kind of cliff-hanger PR marketing ploy clearly aimed at hurting its competitor's market more so than boosting its own has always disgusted me.

    If 290x does indeed end up barely competing with Titan at a higher price point than 780, then I will just go with the green camp out of spite for AMD's dubious business practices.
  • Amoro - Thursday, October 17, 2013 - link

    What about the fact that the GTX 780 costs more than twice as much as a 7970 but isn't twice as fast? I mean it's all relative to how much performance you are willing to pay for. The Titan is also ridiculously overpriced as a gaming card. Even compared to the GTX 770, the 780 is not worth $250 more.
  • Principle - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    Your argument makes absolutely no sense. They were never promised at $600, maybe youre thinking of the 290, not the 290X. And MSRP and actual pricing are not usually the same.
  • Amoro - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    Was the 290X ever promised at $600? I just don't see how it's dubious when the 290X is faster than the GTX 780 and the Titan but priced only slightly above the 780, if it launches at ~$700. It seems to be slotted in well there. If anything, it's the fact that the 780 and Titan were crazy overpriced at launch which allows them to price their 290X at ridiculous prices as well. This is all assuming that they will launch the R9 290X at ~$700

    However, if NVIDIA responds back with immediate pricecuts then AMD could have a situation on their hands.
  • TheJian - Thursday, October 17, 2013 - link

    "As something of a counter-event to NVIDIA’s gaming showcase taking place in Montreal, Canada this week,"

    So Where is coverage of Nvidia's show? Day one in the bag and already announced 770/780/titan holiday bundles come with Batman, Splinter Cell Black list and Assassins Creed 4 + $100 off shield coupon. Not bad, and even better if 290x turns out decent forcing a black friday price cut from NV on top cards. Anyone on the fence about shield would surely be pushed over with a $200 price and 3 great games. Of course I want shield rev2 with maxwell...LOL. Watts/heat look bad on 290x and I need a cool card in AZ to replace my 5850 (which was cooler than NV at the time when I bought it to replace my 8800GT). It shouldn't be a surprise watts and heat would go up on 432mm sized chip vs. 7970ghz.
    I'm guessing NV will just release a jacked up 780/titan pair next week or two running an extra 100mhz to keep their top end pricing the same. The 290x does not appear to be a titan killer and usually is between it and 780. But hey, that does mean the price will drop on 780/770 etc. All will be pushed down by the ULTRA models released soon (or whatever NV calls them) with 100-200mhz more (essentially OC'ed versions of the same cards out now no doubt).
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, October 17, 2013 - link

    It's coming. Anand is in Montreal and the work queue is quite deep at the moment.
  • Shlomi - Thursday, October 17, 2013 - link

    wtf new series and tech plus the card is not released yet
    just for 1/8 fps more??

    i say NVIDIA won before it even started...

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