Maingear and CyberPowerPC Prepping R9-290X Desktop Systemsby Jarred Walton on October 9, 2013 4:41 PM EST
During the past week, AMD revealed their new R7 and R9 desktop GPUs, which mostly consist of rebranded 7000-series parts (e.g. the R9-280X). The one exception is the R9-290X, which uses the Hawaii core. Full details are not yet public, but Maingear is now taking preorders for their Shift and F131 systems that use the GPU. They also include a few pieces of information about the cards. For one, the R9-290X will ship with 4GB GDDR5 (along with TrueAudio and 4K resolution support), and second, the estimated ship date on the Shift and F131 is 10/23/2013.
As part of the offer, pre-ordering will also get you a copy of Battlefield 4 along with Battlefield 4 branded cases and hardware. These are “limited edition” systems, but that appears to be mostly related to the BF4 branding elements – and of course, Battlefield 4 will be one of the first games to support AMD’s Mantle API. The Shift is a CrossFire setup coming standard with two R9-290X cards and supporting up to three cards, with either the FX 9370 or 9590 CPU; pricing starts at around $3789. The F131 comes standard with a single R9-290X and supports up to two cards, and it uses an FX 8350; pricing begins at $2199 (depending on options).
Both systems are expensive and Maingear is known for relatively large markups, so it’s difficult to say how much each card will cost. The systems are also using AMD FX CPUs and motherboards, and while there are areas where AMD is still competitive, it’s pretty clear that overall Intel is well ahead in most areas of CPU performance. I suspect we’ll see Intel systems with R9-290X show up around the same time from other vendors, but we’ll wait for the full review before coming to any final recommendations.
10/10/2013 Update: CyberPowerPC has also announced systems with R9-290X for pre-order with a Battlefield 4 motif, and not surprisingly much of the hardware is strikingly similar to the Maingear offerings. The base model starts at $2169, and there are a lot more customization options available (e.g. seven different motherboards, FX-8350/9370/9590 CPUs, RAM, etc.) I suspect we'll see additional vendors announcing such systems in the next week or two.
Source: Maingear PR
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World_without_madness - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - linkDo you know what is madness? This is madness!
R9-290X doesn't have Xfire connector anymore. It is designed for PCI 3.0 if you DO Xfire it.
The Shift doesn't even use a mobo with PCI 3.0 support and it went mad with dual GPU configuration.
The only PCI 3.0 mobo (CMIIW) is Sabertooth 990FX/GEN3
JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - linkIf R9-290X doesn't have a CF connector, I'll be quite surprised. As for CF, it works perfectly well on PCIe 2.0 -- it might be a bit slower than on PCIe 3.0. But then, CF 290X will also be slower in AMD platforms than Intel I'd wager.
Stuka87 - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - linkAMD stated during the web cast that they will be using the PCI-E bus for CF for the 290X. And their photos did not show a CF connector on it.
Penti - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - linkIt's pretty much confirmed that 290/290X uses PCI-e only and doesn't have a bridge/connector. Look at the slides available from AMD. Plus AMD platforms is really too weak any way. You won't really be able to drive ultra high res games on CF with AMD cpus.
JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - linkRyan's the guy that follows the GPU side more, and he's read a bunch of NDA stuff that I'm not privvy to and thus I can discuss news like this. As for what R9-290X is and how it does CF, we can't say until the NDA lift. If it is indeed PCIe only for CF data, I suspect PCIe 3.0 will indeed be a substantial benefit. Of course, I don't think AMD or NVIDIA ever publicly stated how much data was transferred over their SLI/CF connections, so maybe there's not really a lot of overhead. Even at 2560x1600 60FPS, we're talking about 500MBps for screen content (because only half of the frames need to be rendered/transmitted). With PCIe 2.0, an x16 slot has 8GB/s available (for each direction), of which 6% is being used for transmitting frames.
Tri-CF might be a bit more of a problem, but I don't know many real gamers that use more than two GPUs -- my experience is that 3- and 4-way GPU setups are more for benchmarking or to show off money than because it's needed.
Penti - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - linkhttp://www.sweclockers.com/image/red/2013/10/09/Am... which is probably from the wccftech article though, but looks like it is real enough as it corresponds to prior information.
With AMD I think the CPU would be the limiting factor any way. So it doesn't matter much, and most CF systems will be 2x PCIe 3.0 x8 any way, on Intel.
Principle - Saturday, October 12, 2013 - linkI do not know why people keep saying the AMD CPUs are the limiting factor. You have no idea if that is true. All new games are likely highly parallel, and most likely will start using the GPU more than the CPU. The old programming was actually rendering graphics with the CPU, because GPUs didnt always used to be as strong. And AMD's 8 core processors also do very very well in multi-threaded loads. They scale a lot better than Intel, meaning Intel single core performance is great, and AMDs is not, and yet they are very similar when both using 4 to 8 threads.
Principle - Saturday, October 12, 2013 - linkOh, and the Steamroller update early next year will also drive AMD's single thread performance up, and increase their scaling, so expect to see some superior AMD CPUs over Intel in 2014, when it comes to multi-threaded applications. I do not see any reason that AMD couldn't keep them compatable with older motherboards as well, even though some decent new ones would be nice, as MSI seems to have issues with the FX cpus. I would go with Asus, and hopefully they will offer a microATX mobo with X16 xfire capability, like my older MSI mobo.
Kevin G - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - linkThat assumes that only frame buffer information is transmitted over the CrossFire connector. I would suspect a few other things are transmitted like sync information.
Also effects like motion blur would require each frame to be transferred over the CrossFire connector has the previous frame would need to be blended in with the current frame buffer. It is even worse when it is the secondary Radeon card as it has to receive the previous frame, blend it with the new frame buffer, and then send the final frame buffer to the primary Radeon card (the one with the displays connected) for output.
The Von Matrices - Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - linkI know you're under NDA so you're trying to talk down speculation as to not break contract. But AMD is targeting 4K, not 2560x1600; they mentioned 4K so much in their presentation that there is no question on this. If AMD was not having troubles with it's current crossfire interconnect then why do the latest frame pacing drivers not support single screen resolutions over 2560x1600? Obviously a different method of transmitting data is needed when you have more than 4MP of display, like with a single 4K screen or Eyefinity with 3 1920x1080 screens. It's clear there's an interconnect issue.
The current crossfire interconnect bridge is equivalent to PCIe 1.0 x1 (i.e. 250MB/s). It was designed when 2560x1600 was the largest desktop resolution and Eyefinity wasn't in their product plans. AMD is thinking of the future and will probably design the new standard for future proofing with 4K Eyefinity.
However, the bandwidth for driving 4K Eyefinity just doesn't seem to work over the current PCIe bus. At 12MP with two cards suddenly you're at 3GB/s. With four way crossfire that increases to 4.5GB/s over the PCIe bus. This is a significant portion of the PCIe 3.0 bandwidth. I doubt any card they release this year can drive 4K Eyefinity at a reasonable framerate, but the bandwidth constraints are worth considering when PCIe 4 is not going to be released for a few years.
I agree that it looks unlikely that the current crossfire bridge configuration will remain for the 290X. The question is what will replace when the PCIe bus doesn't have unlimited bandwidth.