Radeon R9 290 and 290X widely available, but at premium prices

AMD's Hawaii-based Radeon R9 290 and 290X graphics cards were difficult to find online after their debuts in November and October, respectively. The cards remained scarce into the holiday season, in part due to demand from the burgeoning cryptocurrency mining scene. As one might expect, the few offerings available online were marked up quite a bit from AMD's official asking prices.

These days, the availability picture is much improved. Numerous R9 290 and 290X cards are in stock at major online vendors. Prices remain high, though. The following table summarizes all the Radeon R9 290X cards in stock at Newegg, Amazon, Tiger Direct, and NCIX right now. The going rate is much higher than the card's $549 introductory price.

  Newegg Amazon Tiger Direct NCIX (CDN)
Asus DirectCU II OC R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 $699.99 $679.95    
Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD $699.99 $699.99    
HIS H290XF4GD $629.99      
MSI Radeon R9 290X Gaming $699.99 $699.99 $699.99 $749.99
VisionTek Radeon R9 290X   $599.99 $599.99  
XFX Black Edition R9-290X-EDBD $729.99     $765.60
XFX Double Dissipation R9-290X-EDFD $699.99 $649.99 $649.99 $729.99
XFX R9-290X ENFC $629.99 $611.31   $679.99

The cheapest option is a VisionTek-branded reference unit with a $600 asking price—a $50 premium over the MSRP. A couple of other cards are selling for $630 or less, but everything with a custom cooler is in the $650-730 range.

NCIX's prices look high because they're in Canadian dollars. The firm's U.S. division doesn't have any R9 290-series cards in stock right now. Neither does Amazon. All of the Amazon listings actually come from the firm's partners.

As for the Radeon R9 290, well, see for yourself. This card was supposed to cost $399.

  Newegg Amazon Tiger Direct NCIX (CDN)
ASUS DirectCU II OC R9290-DC2OC-4GD5 $599.99 $599.99    
ASUS R9290-4GD5 $579.99 $579.99    
Gigabyte GV-R929OC-4GD $579.99     $579.99
MSI Radeon R9 290 Gaming     $579.99  
PowerColor PCS+ AXR9 290 4GBD5-PPDHE $539.99      
Sapphire TRI-X OC 100362-2SR $619.99 $624.95    
XFX Black Edition R9-290A-EDBD $599.99     $601.31
XFX Double Dissipation R9-290A-EDFD $579.99 $547.00 $579.99 $529.99
XFX Radeon R9 290 OC       $579.99

Right now, the cheapest version selling in the U.S. is a PowerColor unit priced at $540. Ouch. NCIX has a nice deal on an XFX card for $530 CDN, but that's still way over the initial asking price. And those are the exceptions. Most of the R9 290 cards selling stateside cost $580 and up.

AMD seems to be supplying enough of its R9 290-series cards to keep up with demand, at least at these prices. However, it's worth noting that all four vendors have a lot of Hawaii-based models still listed as out of stock. The fact that prices remain so high suggests that supply and demand are still out of whack.

The R9 290 and 290X aren't the only Radeons that are marked up online, either. The R9 280X was supposed to be priced at $300, but vendors are hawking it for over $400 right now. Premiums like these may be acceptable to folks hoping to profit from mining Litecoins, but they're likely to drive gamers to competing GeForce cards.

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