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Report: AMD R9 290X Coming in 8 GB Variants

All the way back in March, it was rumored that Sapphire would be building an R9 290X card with 8 GB of memory, rather than 4 GB, although that card never made it to the market. When we spoke to AMD and Sapphire at an event in Amsterdam last month, we were told that 8 GB variants of the R9 290X were cancelled and that they wouldn't be coming. Now, it seems that's all changed, as 8 GB R9 290X cards are starting to pop up here and there.

OverclockersUK has listed two versions of an 8 GB R9 290X graphics card from Sapphire – a reference version and a Vapor-X variant, which comes with a very high-end cooler that uses three fans, a large aluminum fin array, heatpipes, and most notably, a vapor chamber.

They are available for preorder and will ship in November. They are notably more expensive than standard 4 GB R9 290X cards, costing £359.99 and £389.99, respectively. After removing VAT this translates to about $480 USD for the reference card and $520 USD for the custom Vapor-X variant.

Image Source: VideoCardz.com

There is also an 8 GB R9 290X from PowerColor listed on OCUK. VideoCardz.com has also posted an image of an 8 GB R9 290X card from MSI.

On top of that, a spokesman from AMD confirmed that 8 GB cards will be arriving anytime now.

Of course, this does raise a question: who needs 8 GB of graphics memory? Well, if you're running games on a single 1080p or 1440p display, chances are you won't notice a difference. Bump that up to 4K, though, or multi-monitor gaming with high-resolution textures, and there may suddenly be a use for it. It'll also help with multi-GPU configurations powering the aforementioned massive screen real estate.

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • dovah-chan
    A very sneaky move by AMD. Adding more VRAM to add more value in order to buy some more time to sell more cards and fight the Maxwell enemy. I'm not sure if Hawaii itself can even utilize an 8GB frame buffer but this surely does add a lot more value to AMD's side again. This especially being the case with game developers putting the smack down on VRAM and gamers wanting to move onto 4K which will result in the obvious need for more.

    The 980 isn't miles ahead of the 290X in performance so this is an excellent comeback until the 300 series is completed.
    Reply
  • realibrad
    A very sneaky move by AMD. Adding more VRAM to add more value in order to buy some more time to sell more cards and fight the Maxwell enemy. I'm not sure if Hawaii itself can even utilize an 8GB frame buffer but this surely does add a lot more value to AMD's side again. This especially being the case with game developers putting the smack down on VRAM and gamers wanting to move onto 4K which will result in the obvious need for more.

    The 980 isn't miles ahead of the 290X in performance so this is an excellent comeback until the 300 series is completed.

    The reason for the increased VRAM has nothing to do with needing a larger frame buffer. For some time now, games have been using VRAM more than just a frame buffer. You can see this in games like watchdogs. Even at 4k, you would not need 8Gb of VRAM. It has to do with the fact that VRAM is now being used as storage instead of just RAM. This trend is going to increase, as the consoles used a unified system memory structure and ported games will want to use VRAM.


    Reply
  • dovah-chan
    Oh I get it now. My friend was going about that the other day and I didn't quite understand what he meant until you laid it out. It seems now that with Mantle and such a trend that almost everything is going to be happening on the GPU now. Although I always thought that the reason why they never pushed for using GDDR for storage is because it wasn't as fast as DDR since it's optimized for pushing large amounts of data through the bus. This is unlike DDR where trying to hit the lowest latencies possible with small amounts of RAM being used by many different programs is crucial for a snappier user experience.

    I guess the speed difference has become negligible? Or maybe since more computational tasks are occurring on the GPU it wouldn't really matter anyway?

    Also I guess when I spoke of large frame buffer requirements I mainly thought of Shadow of Mordor which has a minimum frame buffer requirement of 3GB which makes any card with less than 3GB unusable at 4K.
    Reply
  • a1r
    Far as I know, even at 8gb textures can still only use 4mb each at most. It's a limit in OpenGL and DirectX and therefore a limitation in hardware. Unless something has changed in the past few generations of APIs.
    Reply
  • wishmaster12
    If you can use all the vram it would be cool, have your whole game loaded in the vram!
    Reply
  • wishmaster12
    if you could use all the vram that would be cool, have all your game loaded into vram!
    Reply
  • utengineer
    It would be nice to see benchmark scores include the vram usage.
    Reply
  • nwgat
    isnt it pretty useful having more memory while running in crossfire?
    Reply
  • giovanni86
    More memory in my book i thought meant that you could play at a higher res. Like i can play titanfall maxed at 1920x1080 at maintain 40-60fps but once i switch to 2560x1440 the game is unplayable. I figured if i had more VRAM on my 580's that i could play it maxed. Just a thought i may be wrong, thats just how i see it. If im wrong please correct me.
    Reply
  • blppt
    Never made it to market? It was for sale for a few months before the stock ran out, at OCUK. You could even have it shipped to the US; I know because I was seriously considering buying one.
    Reply