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The Radeon R9 290X

The end product of all of this silicon wizardry is the Radeon R9 290X, which has a single Hawaii GPU clocked at 1GHz and 4GB of GDDR5 memory running at 5 GT/s. Here's how it stacks up, at least in theory, versus the competition.

Peak pixel
fill rate
Radeon HD 5870 27 68/34 2.7 0.9 154
Radeon HD 6970 28 85/43 2.7 1.8 176
Radeon HD 7970 30 118/59 3.8 1.9 264
Radeon R9 280X 32 128/64 4.1 2.0 288
Radeon R9 290X 64 176/88 5.6 4.0 320
GeForce GTX 770 35 139/139 3.3 4.3 224
GeForce GTX 780 43 173/173 4.2 3.6 or 4.5 288
GeForce GTX Titan 42 196/196 4.7 4.4 288

The R9 290X leads the pack by a mile in several key graphics rates, including ROP pixel rate, shader arithmetic, and memory bandwidth; it trails the GTX Titan slightly in texture filtering and primitive rasterization rates, and it essentially ties the GTX 780 in those same categories. The 290X's combination of a killer ROP rate and gobs of memory bandwidth should make it particularly well suited for multi-monitor and 4K resolutions, especially when combined with high levels of multisampled antialiasing. Surely that's the sort of target that Hawaii's architects had in mind.

These cards should be available for purchase today at online retailers for the low, low price of $549.99. That may sound like a lot, but it's a hundred bucks less than the sticker on a GeForce GTX 780. Unlike many of AMD's recent graphics cards, the 290X starts life without any sort of game bundle. I guess you can pick the games you want with that $100 savings.

You can see in the pictures that the 290X requires two aux power inputs, one six-pin and one eight-pin. The 290X's circuit board is 10.5" long, bog standard for this class of graphics card and a match for the GTX 780 and Titan. However, its plastic cooling shroud extends a little beyond the PCB, bringing the total length to just under 11". Strangely enough, AMD hasn't disclosed a power spec for the R9 290X, but the card's connector config dictates a max power draw of 300W, so long as AMD has honored the PCI Express power limits.