AMD officially launched its Radeon R9 290X on Thursday, calling it the ultimate GPU for a new era of PC gaming. The chip is based on the company's Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, and comes equipped with AMD's new TrueAudio technology, which pulls audio to a dedicated processor within the GPU. The new chip also supports AMD's new Mantle API that allows "metal level" optimizations in PC games running on GCN-based Radeon GPUs and APUs.
"AMD TrueAudio technology brings a heightened level of revolutionary audio immersion, surrounding gamers with realistic audio environments through stereo headsets and speakers," reads the company announcement. "Armed with a dedicated audio processor in the GPU, the AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics card will deliver a richer and deeply immersive soundscape, including true to life echoes, convolution reverbs and incredibly realistic sounding environments."
Graphics cards sporting AMD's new GPU will include 2,816 stream processing units, up to a 1 GHz engine clock, 4 GB of DDR5 memory, and up to 5.0 Gbps memory clock speed. Additional features include 320 GB/s memory bandwidth (maximum), 5.6 TFLOPS Single Precision compute power, and API support for DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and Mantle.
"With Mantle, top game developers can harness the GCN-powered architecture found in both PCs and consoles, empowering them to speak the native language of the GPU core and benefit from an incomparable level of hardware optimization that unlocks revolutionary performance and image quality," reads the company announcement.
The card is described as a taste of paradise that won't break the bank, and has little trouble "trouncing" its primary competition, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 780, and even the GeForce GTX Titan in a number of cases (both of which are more expensive cards). This card makes an effort to keep the acoustics under control, and CrossFire now has a more elegant solution. Ultimately the card received our Elite 2013 award. Congrats AMD!
"As the pinnacle of our new AMD Radeon R9 Series graphics cards, the AMD Radeon R9 290X GPU embodies AMD’s leadership as the ultimate graphics solution for an exceptional gaming experience, affirming that Radeon is gaming,” said Matt Skynner, general manager and corporate vice president, AMD Graphics Business Unit. “The formidable combination of Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, Mantle and AMD TrueAudio technology raises the bar for breathtaking audio and graphics, and powerful performance, giving enthusiasts an unprecedented gaming experience."
So far, card manufacturers that have jumped on the Radeon R9 290X bandwagon include Asus, Club 3D, HIS, MSI, PowerColor, Sapphire, VisionTek, VTX3D (Battlefield 4 Edition too!) and XFX. The AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics cards are available now at a starting price of $549 USD.