The OS we use is Windows 8 Pro 64bit with all patches and updates applied. We also use the latest drivers available for the motherboard and any devices attached to the computer. We do not disable background tasks or tweak the OS or system in any way. We turn off drive indexing and daily defragging. We also turn off Prefetch and Superfetch. This is not an attempt to produce bigger benchmark numbers. Drive indexing and defragging can interfere with testing and produce confusing numbers. If a test were to be run while a drive was being indexed or defragged, and then the same test was later run when these processes were off, the two results would be contradictory and erroneous. As we cannot control when defragging and indexing occur precisely enough to guarantee that they won’t interfere with testing, we opt to disable the features entirely.
Prefetch tries to predict what users will load the next time they boot the machine by caching the relevant files and storing them for later use. We want to learn how the program runs without any of the files being cached, and we disable it so that each test run we do not have to clear pre-fetch to get accurate numbers. Lastly we disable Superfetch. Superfetch loads often-used programs into the memory. It is one of the reasons that Windows Vista occupies so much memory. Vista fills the memory in an attempt to predict what users will load. Having one test run with files cached, and another test run with the files un-cached would result in inaccurate numbers. Again, since we can’t control its timings so precisely, it we turn it off. Because these four features can potentially interfere with benchmarking, and are out of our control, we disable them. We do not disable anything else.
We ran each test a total of 3 times, and reported the average score from all three scores. Benchmark screenshots are of the median result. Anomalous results were discounted and the benchmarks were rerun.
Please note that due to new driver releases with performance improvements, we rebenched every card shown in the results section. The results here will be different from previous reviews due to the performance increases in drivers.
|Motherboards||ASUS Maximus VI Formula|
|Ram||Gskill TridentX 8GB (2x4GB) 2666Mhz 11-13-13 Dual-Channel Kit|
|CPU Cooler||Custom Liquid Cooling|
|Hard Drives||8x Western Digital RE4 2TB 7200RPM 3Gb/s Hard Drives (Raid 5)|
|SSD||3x Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA III 6Gb/s SSD|
|GPU||Sapphire Radeon R9-290X Tri-X
Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 4GB Video Card
|GeForce Drivers||331.70 (GTX 760,770, 780, 780 Ti, TITAN and 690)
Catalyst 13.11 Beta 8 (AMD Radeon R9-280X, 290X, 270X)
|PSU||Thermaltake Toughpower XT 1475W Gold|
|Mouse||Tt eSPORTS Theron Gaming Mouse|
|Keyboard||Tt eSPORTS Meks G1 Illuminated|
Synthetic Benchmarks & Games
We will use the following applications to benchmark the performance of the R9-290X video card.
|Unigine Heaven 4.0|
|Batman Arkham City|
|Dirt 3 Showdown|
|Metro Last Light|
|Sniper Elite V2|
Here you can see the 290X Tri-X card pulls some good numbers leaping quite a bit ahead of the 780 Ti and titan on performance but at the higher loading and res of the Xtreme mode the TI and TITAN pull the lead back.
In 3DMark Firestrike and extreme the 290X pulls right in line with the 780 Ti at just a mere few points behind in the performance mode and on Xtreme it pulls ahead so now its complete backwards of what 3D11 shows.
Unigine Heaven 4.0
Unigine Heaven is a benchmark program based on Unigine Corp’s latest engine, Unigine. The engine features DirectX 11, Hardware tessellation, DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0. All of these new technologies combined with the ability to run each card through the same exact test means this benchmark should be in our arsenal for a long time.
Heaven put this card to the test as on the reference card is where I saw it really start to heat up under long testing and to my surprise the 290X has been tamed as it not only held clocks at 1040MHz for over an hour in heaven it did so while never breaking 72C it pulls quite a bit ahead of the 780 and on the heels of the TITAN but still a little over 100 pts or almost 5FPS behind the Ti
Sleeping Dogs being an AMD pushed game, I was surprised to see that now the 290X with the Tri-X cooler can beat out the Ti, TITAN and comes within 1 FPS of the 690.
Even after many years, Metro 2033 is still one of the most demanding DX11 video games available to really push the limits of your system. The Tri-X comes in about a FPS short of the TI and TITANs but has an overall good showing so it’s still trading blows with the top brass from the green side.
Batman Arkham City
Batman Arkham City is a fun game and utilizes FXAA fully. It is nice to see the full screen anti-aliasing getting picked up by popular titles. Batman AC being a heavily Nvidia based game I knew AMD might not do so well here but to my surprise it bested every other card on our testing including the 690 by an easy 3FPS which is a very good result all while staying cool and quiet.
Batman Arkham Origins
Batman Arkham Origins is a newer game as a recent release and once again being an Nvidia based game I wanted to give it a shot here to see the separation. Unfortunately the drivers either are not optimized for or maybe the game engine simply does not work well with the new Hawaii GPU as it simply falls far behind here but even then its over 150FPS average which means chances of seeing any stuttering at all is not likely.
Tomb Raider being a heavily AMD based game I was expecting good performance and the Tri-X did so with results easily eclipsing the Ti and TITAN falling a few FPS behind the dual GPU 690.
Metro Last Light
Here we have Metro Last Light which is a brand new game added to our testing platform as it just came out. If you thought Metro 2033 was stressful you have seen nothing yet. The particles and lighting, as well as the PhysX effects all add up to an amazing looking game that can put a stun even the most powerful system in its tracks. For testing we disabled PhysX to ensure a level playing field since it would put extra load on the Nvidia GPU but not the AMD so we ensured the settings were kept equal. The 290X pulls a 6FPS lead over the 780 and 2 FPS shy of the Ti which places it right at the Ti’s heels and a respectable spot.
Sniper Elite V2
Sniper Elite V2 is a fun game which, when first released, was quite stressful but still playable on most higher end cards. By now, most cards have surpassed it, the Tri-X card falls short again of the 780 by about 5FPS as the game clearly is either waiting for a more mature driver most likely or some optimization for the new AMD architecture.
Dirt 3 Showdown
Dirt 3 Showdown is a visually beautiful game with excellent lighting and overall motion blurring creating a real visual spectacle of a game. The Tri-X trounces through the Dirt showdown gameplay and easily jumps past the 780 and slightly eclipses the TITAN by a little over 1FPS and falls about 6FPS short of the Ti.