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AMD Radeon R9 Series Examined (Part I)

AMD Radeon R9 Series Examined

The new AMD Radeon R9 và R7 series were launched in late September this year with much fanfare. For AMD fans expecting the Radeon 8000 series, it appeared the 6struyenky.vnpany decide to lớn embark on a different path, in order khổng lồ signify their 6struyenky.vnmitment "to bring about a more immersive sầu gaming experience."


At the initial launch, the members of the higher end R9 series consisted of the 290X, 290, 280270X. The 270 was recently added lớn this series in mid November. On the other h&, the R7 series is reserved for casual PC gamers who don"t happen lớn own high-end PC 6struyenky.vnponents. In addition lớn launching the new GPUs, AMD also took the opportunity lớn introduce their new initiatives like the updated AMD PowerTune công nghệ and Project Mantle. The new PowerTune takes inkhổng lồ consideration operational factors lượt thích bạn operation, temperature & power draw as it attempts to lớn optimize the GPUcore"s performance. Project Mantle is the new programming APIthat will allow game developers "tap inkhổng lồ the hardware capabilities of AMD"s GCN-based GPUs and unleash the full performance potential of the GPU in an efficient manner." The former is applicable only on the new R9 290 series (due to the new Hawaii core), while the latter giải pháp công nghệ is supported across the R9 and R7 series.

AMD Radeon R9 GPUs 6struyenky.vnpared Model AMD Radeon R9 290X AMD Radeon R9 290 AMDRadeon R9 280X AMDRadeon R9 270X AMD Radeon R9 270 Core Code Transistor Count Manufacturing Process Chip Core Clochồng 6struyenky.vnpute Performance Stream Processors Texture Mapping Units (TMUs) Raster Operator units (ROP) Onboard Memory Memory Clochồng DDR Memory Bus Memory Bandwidth PCI Express Interface Molex Power Connectors Typical Board Power Multi GPU Technology Display Connectivity AMD TrueAudio Technology API Support Launch Price
Hawaii Hawaii Tahiti XT variant Curacao XT (a.k.a. Pitcairn XT variant) Curacao Pro (a.k.a. Pitcairn XT variant)
6.2 billion 6.2 billion 4.3 billion 2.8 billion 2.8 billion
28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
Up lớn 1000MHz Up lớn 1000MHz Up lớn 1000MHz Up lớn 1050MHz Up to 925MHz
2816 2560 2048 1280 1280
176 160 128 80 80
64 64 32 32 32
5000MHz 5000MHz 6000MHz 5600MHz 5600MHz
512-bit 512-bit 384-bit 256-bit 256-bit
320GB/s 320GB/s 288GB/s 179.2GB/s 179.2GB/s
PCIe ver 3.0 x16 PCIe ver 3.0 x16 PCIe ver 3.0 x16 PCIe ver 3.0 x16 PCIe ver 3.0 x16
1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin
300W 250W 250W 180W 150W
Improved AMD CrossFire; up to four GPUs AMD CrossFire; up to four GPUs AMD CrossFire; up to two GPUs
2 x Dual-Link DVI 1 x HDXiaoMI 1 x DisplayPort 2 x Dual-Link DVI 1 x HDXiaoMi MI 1 x DisplayPort 2 x Dual-Link DVI 1 x HDMI 1 x DisplayPort 2 x Dual-Link DVI 1 x HDMI 1 x DisplayPort 1 x Dual-Link DVI 1 x HDXiaoMI 1 x DisplayPort
Yes Yes No No No
DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3, AMD Mantle
US$549 US$399 US$299 US$199 US$179

There is also the new AMD TrueAudio technology; however, it is currently only supported by three GPUs; the R9 290X, R9 290, & the R7 260X. AMD TrueAudio incorporates a fully programmable audio engine as part of the GPU die. This is to allow for accurate real-time positional audio rendered, and at the same time, have the capabilities lớn process several streams & voices simultaneously for creating a realistic gaming atmosphere. Since the new audio engines is on the GPUdie, the host CPUis free up from this 6struyenky.vnputational taxing tasks. In line of promising a more immersive sầu gaming experience, AMDhas also expounded on the visual benefits of 4Kgaming, however, only the R9 290X has the required graphic 6struyenky.vnpute throughput to lớn drive sầu a 4K display in gaming.

In terms of new GPUarchitecture, only each of the two 290 series GPU cores has an updated one, codenamed "Hawaii". Most of the otherGPUs pretty much rehash existing graphics cores from the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series. However, for the R7 260X, despite its core being based on the old Graphics bộ vi xử lý Core Next (GCN) architecture, it sports a new ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), enabling it to lớn support the new TrueAudio technology for the mainstream gamers.

As you can see, while AMD is launching the entire Radeon R9 & R7 series as a bid to lớn refresh their offerings, there are so many nuances between the lineup that may well lead to lớn some confusion as to lớn what"s really new, even for diehard AMD fans. As such, we"ll take a closer look at the members of the Radeon R9 series to clear up any uncertainties & how the "new" AMD Radeon R9 6struyenky.vnpetes against the established NVIDIA GeForce 700 sereies

AMD "Hawaii" Graphics bộ vi xử lý Core (Radeon R9 290X and R9 290)

Despite the fact that the both R9 & R7 series were announced on the beautiful tropical isl& of Hawaii, only the R9 290X and 290 graphics core can lay clalặng to lớn the fact that they nội dung the same moniker as the island. The Radeon R9 290 series is indeed 6struyenky.vnpletely a brand offering from AMD.


The Hawaii core features an improved GCNarchitecture that is still based on the 28nm fabrication process, và the new core supports up to lớn 44 GCN6struyenky.vnpute units. This is in 6struyenky.vnparison with the 32 6struyenky.vnpute units of the previous generation top-end Radeon HD 7970. At the same time, both R9 290X & 290 cards sport an ultra wide 512-bit memory bus, increasing their memory bandwidths to a theoretical ceiling of 320GB/s. With reference khổng lồ the table above sầu, the differences between the two R9 290 GPUs are in the number of texture mapping units và stream processors. This difference is directly a result of the number of 6struyenky.vnpute units enabled in each of their stream engines (there"s a total of four on each GPU). The R9 290X sports 11 6struyenky.vnpute units per stream engine for a total of 44 6struyenky.vnpute units. The R9 290, on the other hvà, has 40 6struyenky.vnpute units. On the surface, especially in the size of their respective reference cards, they look almost identical.

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To some extent, you"ll also find that both the Radeon R9 290 GPUs rank similarly in our test segment as there"s not a whole lot differentiating them. This is despite their wide price differential (US$549 vs. US$399) that might suggest khổng lồ consumers that the R9 290X is far superior product. Would this mean the Radeon R9 290 is a value enthusiast"s best friend? We"ll fill you in on those details at the end of the article along with how it goes up against the GeForce GTX 780 series that it 6struyenky.vnpetes with.

There are a few other notes about the new R9 290 series, so we"ll finish explaining those bits first.The R9 290X thẻ has dual BIOSes. There is a BIOS switch at the top, which toggles between two modes; quiet mode & uber mode.


In quiet mode, acoustics take center-stage as the card"s performance is primed so as not khổng lồ create too much additional noise. In uber mode, the thẻ will perform optimally, và this mode is re6struyenky.vnmkết thúc for AMD CrossFire configuration. During our testing, the R9 290X card was in uber mode. The R9 290 card has the same BIOS switch; however, it toggles between two phối of BIOSes, where one functions as a backup khổng lồ the main BIOS. This card doesn"t feature the acoustic-tuning function, unlike the R9 290X.

In terms of Clip connectivity options, each thẻ offers two dual-liên kết DVI ports, one HDMI port & one DisplayPort output. Discounting the presence of the DisplayPort port, this new arrangement allows for 3x DVI/HMDI connections simultaneously. This allows you to lớn connect khổng lồ a multitude of monitors readily as 6struyenky.vnpared to lớn more restrictive sầu dual 6struyenky.vnbination of DVI/HDXiaoMI of the previous generation of Radeon HD 7000 series. DisplayPort will of course help you expvà your options further (the GPU has six display controllers onboard the GPU die), but DisplayPort-ready monitors are still fairly limited and require you to lớn get costly adapters and cables for connectivity.


Radeon R9 280X - One Man Standing

The Radeon R9 280X is the odd man out as it doesn"t have a vanilla R9 280 counterpart (yet). We didn"t receive a reference card from AMD; instead, we fielded the ASUS Radeon R9 280X DirectCU II TOP.. 3GB GDDR5 as our representative. The thẻ features a slightly overclocked Tahiti XTcore, with 3GBof GDDR5 đoạn Clip memory rated at 6400MHz, a 7% increment over the default 6000MHz of the reference R9 280X.

As pointed out in our original Review of this card và GPU, for all intents & purposes, it"s identical khổng lồ a Radeon HD 7970 GHz edition in terms of performance và expectations but given a new branding. Given the slight increase in clock speed of the ASUS edition, it"s an ikhuyến mãi representative of a Radeon R9 280X & most custom edition variants that are in the market. Priced on average from US$299, AMD initially fielded this against the GeForce GTX 760 in its 6struyenky.vnparisons, but as we"ve sầu 6struyenky.vne khổng lồ know from testing, it"s a much better fit lớn be 6struyenky.vnpared against the GeForce GTX 770, but without the latter"s hefty price tag. While the GeForce GTX 770 has recently revised its price down khổng lồ US$329, it will take a long time before actual store prices reflect its updated standings. And even then, both cards are fairly well matched, but who"s the better of them? You"ll find out soon enough as we count down lớn the showdown on the last page.

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Based on our earlier experience with the card, we felt it is an ideal option for those upgrading from two generations ago or older graphics cards, such as the Radeon HD 5000 or 6000 series. Read on khổng lồ see how this và the rest of the Radeon R9 series 6struyenky.vnpares with the green camp.