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 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 than 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||MSI Radeon R9-290X Gaming
Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB Video Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 4GB Video Card
|GeForce Drivers||327.23 (GTX 760,770, 780,TITAN and 690)
Catalyst 13.11 (AMD Radeon R9-290X)
|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 MSI R9-290X Gaming video card.
|Unigine Heaven 4.0|
|Batman Arkham City|
|Dirt 3 Showdown|
|Metro Last Light|
|Sniper Elite V2|
Here we see the 290X pulls a bit higher than the Sapphire card we tested before which is a bit of a surprise due to the slower memory speed but that simply means there must be some efficiency hidden away in the tuning or possibly even the memory timings.
In 3DMark Firestrike and extreme the MSI Gaming model pushes right up next to the 780 Ti which is the current flagship for Nvidia and that means AMD has a fighting chance with performance like this.
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 pushes the 290X right to TITAN level and a bit behind the 780 Ti but overall an impressive performance none the less.
Sleeping Dogs is actually a game that is actively bundled by AMD and here with the 290X Gaming you can see it almost hits 690 levels which is insane to think the dual GPU card from Nvidia almost got taken to school by a single card. also in this test the 290X makes simple work of the 780 Ti.
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. Here the MSI 290X pulls a very nice number just behind the TITAN and TI and past the 780 itself. Very playable even at max settings.
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. Here being an Nvidia based title I am totally surprised here to see the 290X pull a complete smashing of every other card hitting 60 FPS
Tomb Raider once again is a heavily pushed title by AMD and the 290X shows its colors here pushing out a win over every other card again except 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. Here the MSI 290X we tested Metro Last light without the PhysX effects to ensure fair play as not to overload the NV cards since AMD does not support PhysX and with that said the 290X pulled easily ahead of the TITAN and 780 and just behind the 780 Ti which is a very nice sweet spot to be in for this flagship card.
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, and today is no different however the 290X easily surpasses the 770 but is beaten out by even the 780 as the game simply seems to be better optimized for Nvidia based GPUs.
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 MSI 290X Gaming pulls in excess of 95 FPS a light above the TITAN but still a bit short of the 780 Ti which is about the trend for the 290X vs 780 Ti Battle.
Performance - 8.5
Value - 8
Quality - 9
Features - 9
Innovation - 8.5
MSI did a great job on the R9-290X Gaming card and when they fix the GPU voltage control issue it will be amazing however until this mining craze is over the value aspect will be lost as prices are moving to unsettling levels.