MSI R9 290 Gaming Review

Mantle and Conclusion

MSI R9 290 Gaming Review

Mantle

We'd wrapped up testing the R9 290 Gaming just as Mantle was released by AMD, so we've only had a chance to test the supplied demo, but initial indications are that this can be a boon in CPU limited scenarios. We look forward to seeing how this technology evolves over time, and if games produce the same big performance boosts that we see here.

MSI R9 290 Gaming Review

Conclusion

As we said in our introduction, we've been itching to discover if the R9 290 could be unleashed with a better cooling solution than the asthmatic reference option and bring it closer to its big brother the R9 290X. MSI have stepped up by adding the R9 290 to their excellent Gaming range and bedecked it with their Twin Frozr cooler. If that wasn't enough it also has a factory overclock and a third setting added to the regular and silent options.

The Gaming range is one of our favourites here at OC3D, combining excellent performance with great looks and, perhaps most importantly, affordability. The R9 290 Gaming only adds to this long list of quality products. It's the best of the R9 290's we've reviewed, with great stock performance and consistent overclocking in every title. It's the consistency that is the most impressive element. Many cards are capable of a good score in certain offerings, and looking through our graphs the do swap places regularly. The MSI Gaming though was rock solid whether we were running the simplicity of a 3D Mark P score, or the complexity of Unigine Valley.

Cooling was our biggest bug-bear with the AMD reference option, which was a cooler in name only, but the Twin Frozr whoops it with a 10°C temperature reduction, vastly quieter, and by being so cool it enables us to manually overclock which was impossible on the reference model.

But the big question is, when overclocked can the 290 match its bigger brother? We think the answer is yes. Now of course there are a few caveats. Namely the extra Shaders available on the 290X are enough that, in particularly intense or higher resolutions tests, it is enough to make up for any clock speed deficiencies. Also an overclocked R9 290, even the MSI Gaming model, is only a match for a stock R9 290X. You are saving a lot of money though.

So it looks fantastic, at a relatively small price tag of £360 it's quiet, capable of some good overclocking, and when overclocked is the equivalent of a R9 290X. There is almost nothing not to like about the MSI R9 290 Gaming, and for that it wins our OC3D Gold Award.

       

Thanks to MSI for supplying the R9 290 Gaming for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.

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Most Recent Comments

15-02-2014, 07:00:15

tinytomlogan
http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...153311694l.jpg

The big problem with the R9 290 was the heat, so does the MSI Twin Frozr unleash the beast?


Continue Reading

15-02-2014, 07:35:57

Excalabur50
Another quality review and what an amazing card for the price and to see the numbers jump with Mantle....just wow, going to be interesting to see how much further Mantle goes as the technology matures

15-02-2014, 07:36:15

Watsyerproblem
Good review as always Tom.

mantle gave a good increase in performance there, especially given the CPU your using.
Only time will tell how much mantle will benefit gamers, lets hope Thief comes to market with full support for ALL GCN GPUs and works in Crossfire unlike BF4 at present.

One thing i will add here, the PCB on this MSI card is reference,so it is watercooling capable (checked by EK here), but also contains some of higher quality components compared to the reference card (MSI military class) and likely could be a higher binned chip.

Definitely worth considering for those water cooling or planning to watercool a 290, especially those who can't watercool immediately considering the stock card's noise levels and throttling. It also has a good looking backplate at stock

15-02-2014, 07:39:12

Zoot
MSi have really upped their game with the Twin Frozr coolers.

My old MSi GTX 560 with the Twin Frozr II cooler, while being fine when it's idle sounds like an aeroplane while gaming.

15-02-2014, 08:14:38

Scainer
Nice to see the overclock. Was just playing super safe with a 1047.

15-02-2014, 12:15:02

AverageNinja
That's one sexy card! AMD is back in the high-end competition

15-02-2014, 12:55:05

SieB
Looks like the Tri-X is still king of the third party coolers for the 290s.
Hottest I have seen mine go is 74*c and that was during TW2 running round a section where the GPU is at 100% most of the time for a good 30mins.

The MSI one definitely still does a good job though, one thing I did notice though is in the GPU-Z in the review says the MSI gaming has 72 GPixles and 180 GTexels. My Tri-X only has 60 GPixles and 160 GTexeles, GPU-Z may be reading it wrong? Current version is 0.7.7, I noticed the on in the review is version 0.7.4.

15-02-2014, 12:58:43

flynnbo3
Awesome review i have this coming in the next 3 weeks am so looking forward to gaming now

15-02-2014, 12:59:24

Edge
Gorgeous card.

Scan lists it as only 10 cheaper than the 780 counterpart though. Wouldn't say it's worth picking up over that (Unless you're a serious AMD fan).

15-02-2014, 13:22:33

Peddeh
I had to RMA 2 of these for dodgy (grinding noise from fans) In the end I called it a day and jumped to the green ship, having got my refund.

It's a great card though none the less, I probably just got 2 bad apples.

15-02-2014, 13:43:34

realneil
Good review and a nice card for the money.
I like it's looks too. It would fit right in on my MSI G45 Gaming motherboard.

15-02-2014, 15:07:27

barnsley
Ah thank goodness they didn't mess it up like Asus did. Good job MSI!

17-02-2014, 03:31:26

jackjack
Great Review
MSI R9 290 is one of the BEST R9 series!

17-02-2014, 05:44:06

sygitius
Good card, I still think the 780 is a better deal though

17-02-2014, 09:33:41

theroflcopta
Awesome review dude, but people commenting you gotta remember pretty much all AMD cards are terrible deals right now. The prices are drastically inflated because of krypto currency mining. When this thing launched it was like 400 USD and it was a really compelling deal. Now it's up at about the 600 USD amount which is very unreasonable for gamers but not so much for miners. So we just have to wait untill people stop buying them by the buttload for mining and we can finally get back our price/performance on the AMD side.

17-02-2014, 10:08:07

barnsley
Quote:
Originally Posted by theroflcopta View Post
Awesome review dude, but people commenting you gotta remember pretty much all AMD cards are terrible deals right now. .
Maybe where you are from . They're not too bad right now, the 290x are the ones that have been the most effected here.

17-02-2014, 10:18:49

Watsyerproblem
Quote:
Originally Posted by theroflcopta View Post
Awesome review dude, but people commenting you gotta remember pretty much all AMD cards are terrible deals right now.
This is mostly in america, here in the UK/Europe the prices are not affected as much.

17-02-2014, 16:48:55

Scainer
I think the consoles being in the red corner, makes future game optimisation favour AMD over nVidia. This might take time to fully filter through but we have seen how consoles brought poor ports to pc, and the console market is were the money is at so unlikely to change. With that in mind the developers will likely also go AMD and in a long winded way means that the 290 is a better deal than the 780.

I went with the Gaming series Motherboard and Graphic card combo. This was likely as a result of TTL product placement, I mean positive reviews :P
I also had corsair mouse, psu and ram. The weak minded fool that I am.

18-02-2014, 21:28:21

zzzaac
I've got this card and it's fantastic, the only bad thing I can find is the position of the 6pin and 8 pin, it's really hard to unplug them
Reply
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