AMD Radeon R9 290 review

Andrew Unsworth
5 Nov 2013
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Almost as powerful as the mighty R9 290X, but much cheaper making it more of a bargain



The AMD Radeon R9 290 is a cut-down version of the R9 290X, having fewer stream processors (2,560 stream processors compared to the R9 290X’s 2,816) and a slightly lower clock speed of 947MHz, which really isn’t so far off the R9 290X’s 1GHz. Like the R9 290X, the R9 290 has 4GB of memory running at 1,250MHz.

AMD Radeon R9 290 3/4 Shot

In terms of performance, the R9 290 lags only just behind the R9 290X. We ran our Dirt Showdown benchmark at a resolution of 1,920x1,080 and Ultra graphics quality with 4x anti-aliasing and were pleased to see an average frame rate of 103.8fps. This compares well with the Radeon R9 290X, which produced an average frame rate of 107fps. We increased the resolution to 2,560x1,440 but kept all other settings the same, and saw an impressively smooth 86.6fps. The R9 290X produced an even smoother average frame rate of 95fps under these conditions.

AMD Radeon R9 290 Outputs

It was a similar story with our Crysis 2 benchmark. At a resolution of 1,920x1,080 with Ultra graphics quality, the R9 290 produced an frame average frame rate of 59.5fps, which is on par with the R9 290X. However, the R9 290 produced an average frame rate of 30.2fps when we increased the resolution to 2,560x1,440, while the R9 290X produced a much smoother 42.2fps.

Crysis 3

We also subjected the R9 290 to our more punishing Crysis 3 benchmark at a resolution of 2,560x1,440 with all graphics options set to maximum. Sadly, the R9 290 produced a jerky 20.7fps, but the R9 290X wasn’t far behind with an average frame rate of 22.6fps. Our Crysis 2 and Dirt Showdown benchmarks suggest that the R9 290X is better at playing games at resolutions higher than Full HD, but the two cards performed similarly in our Crysis 3 benchmark when we reduced the resolution to 1,920x1,080. The R9 290 produced an average frame rate of 31.3fps in this test whereas the R9 290X produced an average frame rate of 32fps.

The R9 290X is the more powerful of the two cards, but the R9 290 is more of a bargain. If you want a high performance card but don’t want to spend over £400 on a Radeon R9 290X then you should invest in a Radeon R9 290.

Basic Specifications

InterfacePCI Express x16 3.0
Slots taken up2
Memory4096MB GDDR5
Memory interface512-bit
GPU clock speed947MHz
Memory speed1.25GHz


Architecture2,560 stream processors
Anti aliasing8x
Anisotropic filtering16x


DVI outputs2
VGA outputs0
S-video outputno
S-Video inputno
Composite outputsno
Composite inputsno
Component outputsno
HDMI outputs1
Power leads required1x 6-pin PCI Express, 1x 8-pin PCI Express


Software includedBattlefield 4

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

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