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AMD fires its last volley in the fall’s GPU war

VR-Zone reviews AMD’s Radeon R290.


This fall has been one of the most interesting seasons on record for consumer graphics card launches.

After September’s #gpu14 event from Honolulu, AMD released the R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X. Nvidia countered with a hastily put together “way its meant to be played” event in Montreal, where it unveiled the soon to be released GeForce GTX 780 Ti — meant to counter AMD on the high end.

Nvidia’s problem right now is not necessarily technical; arguably its cards this generation are superior if only by a slight edge. Nvidia’s problem is it can’t compete on price-performance. It’s been encircled by the more competitively priced AMD cards.

This leads to the R290. It’s the centerpiece of AMD’s price-performance stratagem, coming in at $399 for gamers who don’t want or need the 290X’s power and $549 price tag.

The lower price point of the R290 means AMD has made a few performance cuts. AMD has cut out four compute units from the GPU and has trimmed the stream units and texture processors. While this means a noticeable change in benchmarks, for most gamers this will mean nothing, aside from the inability to play demanding titles like Battlefield 4 at the highest settings at 4K.

Double digit increases

VR-Zone benchmarked the R290 against the GTX 770 Classified.


For the most part the R290 was able to provide double digit speed-margins over the GTX 770. The exception being with Batman: Arkham City, which is optimized for Nvidia cards. It should also be noted that the R290 appears to require a longer “warm up” time compared to the GTX 770.

It should also be noted that these tests were done on the new drivers AMD sent out, not the original set that shipped with the card.

Like the R290X, the R290 also has a heat problem. During testing the heat hovered around 95-degrees and the fan was clearly audible. This may not be an issue with some aftermarket boards with better coolers, but it’s an inexcusable problem with AMD’s card.

This leads to the defining problem with the R290: while from a price-performance standpoint on paper, the card excels. But during real-world testing, the flaws emerge. AMD’s acoustic problem is what stops the card from getting more than a mid-range score on our review.


  • Excellent for budget gamers looking for a card with a great price-performance ratio. Supports AMD’s next-gen tech like Mantle and True Audio.


  • The card runs loud and hot. This impacts performance and might reduce the long-term lifespan of the card.









Benchmarking was done by the VR-Zone Chinese team.

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