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AMD Radeon R9 290 preview: cheaper Hawaii vs. GTX 780

Two weeks ago AMD launched its new flagship graphics card, the Radeon R9 290X. A slightly slower version, the Radeon R9 290, finally comes out today. It's cheaper, has fewer active shader units and runs at a lower clock frequency.

Originally AMD had planned on releasing the R9 290 on Halloween. We had already finished testing the card on the 29th. AMD apparently didn't expect Nvidia to lower the prices of the GeForce GTX 770 and 780 as much as it did on Monday, the 28th. Because the day after, we received an email from AMD that it was changing the positioning of the 290. Instead of competing with the GTX 770, AMD now wanted the 290 to go against the GTX 780 in terms of performance. A new driver - Catalyst 13.11 beta 8 - was supposed to make this possible.

AMD's specs indicate that the 290 is faster than the GTX 780 in most benchmarks, and this claim we will of course put to the test. And even after Nvidia slashed the price of the GTX 780, the 290 is still significantly more affordable with a recommended retail price of £319. The cheapest 780s will still cost you at least £400. The GTX 770 is more affordable now, however.

Initially, the R9 290 will be available in limited numbers. You can read the rest of this preview on