Radeon R9 290X Review: AMD's Back In Ultra-High-End Gaming

OpenCL: Bitmining, LuxMark, And RatGPU

Even though bitcoins themselves have seen some lively discussions of late, and there’s specialized equipment that’s much more efficient for mining them than graphics cards, mining still makes for a great benchmark. AMD is clearly the winner here. However, the two graphics card generations perform almost the same. The Radeon R9 290X’s inability to pull ahead is due to PowerTune. The temperature and power targets are reached quickly, and, once that happens, clock rates take a big hit.

For what it's worth, AMD’s new flagship shares this fate with Nvidia. The GeForce GTX Titan reacts just as badly under this kind of load. From where we sit, AMD clearly optimized the R9 290X for gaming. Under a constant, heavy compute load, Hawaii stands no chance of delivering the same exceptional performance.

It’s no secret that the OpenCL-based LuxRender software has always been one of AMD’s strong suits. Its OpenCL implementation is fairly well optimized and serves as a good demonstration of Nvidia’s lack of commitment to this platform. Unfortunately, the Radeon R9 290X’s advantage over the 7970 GHz Edition isn’t as large as it should be based on each card's technical specifications. Once more, PowerTune hits the brakes and keeps Hawaii from achieving its full potential (or self-combusting). This is somewhat sad to see, really.

ratGPU performance is a whole other story, which is to say that the pattern of graphics cards that have an advantage changes due to ratGPU’s completely different architecture. The older AMD Radeon HD 6970’s result is especially noteworthy in this benchmark, since it practically destroys the rest of the field. The current Radeon graphics cards have to be content with the better part of the middle, and the R9 290X doesn’t change this.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • beta212
    That's incredible. Especially at high res, I wonder how they do it. But the low price alone is enough to blow the competition away. Seriously think about it, it's around half the price for higher performance!
    - AMD: We're not aiming for the ultra high end.
    I think Nvidia just got trolled.
  • slomo4sho
    Great price point. This card has already broken world records just a few hours after release!

  • esrever
    2 of these for 4k looks amazing but Im a little disappointed by the power consumption when you crank up performance.
  • aznguy0028
    I was thinking about hopping on the 7970ghz when it's on sale, but after seeing this, it's time to break apart the piggy bank for the 290x, what value!
  • Benthon
    Like the conclusion said, you just can't argue about aesthetics and thermals at this price point/performance. Well done AMD, lets see team green's response! Go consumer!
  • tuklap
    This is awesome for us ^_^
  • Shankovich
    Wow, and it's pegged at 73% too. Even if nVidia's "780ti" beats the 290X, it probably won't beat a 290X running at full power. And if mantle does make some big performance boosts, nVidia is going to be in a really tight spot. Looking forward to what they'll do. In the mean time, loving this competition! We all win in the end.
  • julianbautista87
  • anxiousinfusion
    Wait the 290 X... X? is going to be $550?! Forgive me, padre for I have sinned.
  • Darkerson
    Good job, AMD!