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AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Review

Rating: 9.0.

Nvidia, ATI. Nvidia, AMD. The battle for top graphics card billing seems to have been around since time immemorial. We announce a new performance king, then another card is released and the position switches. While it may sound purely diplomatic, we genuinely feel that the last year has been very strong for both Nvidia and AMD.

Nvidia currently have the GTX780 Ti and Titan Black – two very expensive, killer boards which have appealed to the ultra high end audience. AMD have their premium R9 290 and R9 290X targeted at more aggressive price points – opening up the potential for Ultra HD 4K gaming to a wider audience.

With the recent Nvidia announce of the $3,000 Titan Z, AMD have taken the battle into the ‘dual GPU arena’ by releasing their R9 295 X2 solution, comprising a mind blowing 12.4 billion transistors.

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AMD have worked behind the scenes with Asetek in the development and creation of the proprietary liquid cooling system for the R9 295 X2. We will look at this in more detail on the next page of this review, however you can see from the picture above that it is based around a 120mm radiator – similar to a Corsair Hydro H60 V2, for instance.

Regular KitGuru readers will remember my appraisal of the reference AMD R9 290/X cooler. I can condense it down into a single word: atrocious. The move by AMD to watercooling is not only welcomed, but without question – unavoidable. We already know just how hot a R9 290 core gets under load – with two R290 cores on a single PCB the toasting of marshmallows is likely possible.

We have never received a graphics card with a power supply in the box. AMD are not taking any chances and include a BeQuiet! 1000W Power Zone to ensure review publications didn’t decide to use a underspecified, unbranded Chinese power supply. We put our Fung Yung Wung 350W supply back in the cupboard.

Without delving into power demands right at the start of a review — in a nutshell AMD state that the power supply must have two 8 Pin PCIe power connectors that can each supply 28A of dedicated current. Combined power must be 50A or greater over the two 8 Pin power connectors. Realistically if you want to power one of these cards properly then a high grade 850W+ Gold or Platinum rated power supply should be in the system.

AMD Radeon R9 295 X2 AMD Radeon R9 290X AMD Radeon R9 290
Process 28nm 28nm 28nm
Transistors 12.4 Billion 6.2 Billion 6.2 Billion
Engine Clock Up to 1.02 GHZ Up to 1GHZ Up to 947 mhz
Primitive Rate 8 prim / clk 4 prim / clk 4 prim / clk
Stream Processors 5,632 2,816 2,560
Compute Performance Up to 11.5 TFLOPS 5.6 TFLOPS 4.9 TFLOPS
Texture Units 352 176 160
Texture Filrate Up to 358.3 GT/s Up to 176.00 GT/s 152.00 GT/s
ROPs 128 64 64
Pixel Filrate Up to 130.3 GP/s Up to 64.0 GP/s Up to 64.0 GP/s
Z/Stencil 512 256 256
Memory Bit-Interface 2x 512 Bit 512 Bit 512 Bit
Memory Type 8GB GDDR5 4GB GDDR5 4GB GDDR5
Data Rate Up to 5.0Gbps Up to 5.0Gbps Up to 5.0 Gbps
Memory Bandwidth Up to 640.0 GB/s Up to 320.0 GB/s Up to 320.0 GB/s

The chart above highlights that the R9 295 X2 is basically a single PCB comprising two R9 290X cores, with a combined 8GB of GDDR5 memory. It has a combined count of 5,632 stream processors, 352 texture units and 128 ROP’s.

‘Underpowered’ isn’t a word we would associate with the R9 295 X2.
We have already mentioned the Nvidia GTX Titan Z graphics card. This $3,000 monster is powered by two Nvidia GK110 graphics processors in their maximum configuration with 2880 stream processors – giving the solution 5760 compute units in total to offer whopping 8TFLOPS of single-precision compute performance. The board is equipped with 12GB of GDDR5 memory (6GB per GPU).

We don’t have an Nvidia Titan Z yet but we wanted to replicate the solution as best as possible. Today therefore are using two Nvidia GTX Titan Black cards, and will be comparing them to the R9 295 X2 in an SLi configuration.

KitGuru was one of the first technology publications to start featuring an Ultra HD 4K screen in high end video card tests last year. We have been using the wallet busting Asus PQ321QE. As the price of other 4K monitors are now finally dropping to around £700, Ultra HD 4K is going to be the future of enthusiast gaming.

We also supplement our review today with 1080p and 1600p results, because every time we omit these we end up with hundreds of complaints in our inbox. It is worth pointing out that at 1080p there is likely to be some CPU limiting today, but we try and maximise the image quality settings as much as they will allow us.

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  • Ben

    best review of the hardware online today ! what an awesome board, and great price from AMD too!

  • Davis

    that is a beast – im impressed with that even though I do prefer Nvidias drivers. It actually shows how much overpriced the titan Z will be.

    That said, nvidia wouldn’t have to watercool their card, and they aren’t. I just hope its not too loud.

  • Denna

    I love the looks!, can you add your own fans to the card or is the AMD fan specifically designed for the right RPM profile?

  • Andy

    Bleh, Nvidia Z Titan will be better than this – its too much heat for a GPU, the case will get warm inside.

  • Anusha

    Well colour me impressed with this – its a monster card, wouldn’t fit in my case! Its cool to see companies doing stuff like this, even if we can’t afford it. I know I can’t afford it

    Its not that expensive. two 290xs are around £900, and this has a better cooler and its water.

    AMD need a pat on the back for this one.

  • Felix English

    £1000 is a bargain for this. I want one.

  • Greg

    Im ordering one too when its out, I have a new 1000W PSU and am selling my 780. Just got a new Dell 4k screen. I am not paying over £2,000 for a Titan Z.

  • Street Fighter

    thats a lot of testing zardon, have you slept much in the last week ? i guess not.

    Its a good card and you show it in a good light. Its basically two overclocked R9 290Xs with a watercooler, for the same price as two crappy reference boards. Hard to fault it.

    AMD are hard to beat on price, Nvidia must be kicking themselves.

  • Peter

    wow what a lot of AMD fanboys here getting their panties in a twist.

    You do know that Nvidia could easily sell the titan Z with the cores at 1.05ghz right? over the reference 890mhz of the standard titan black. that would beat this based on the results i see.

  • Warren

    Its a good price, the power demands are high, not exactly a single GPU everyone should just rush out and buy.

    Good price, ill agree with everyone, but I think it needs a 240mm radiator. my mate is buying one, but will strip it down and add his own watercooling. so he says.

  • Union Flag

    how much in america? $1500 ?

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  • Esone

    I think most guys will remove the cooler and use their own watercooling. I think its a pretty stupid idea to use a single 120mm watercooler. a 4770k runs much cooler with a dual radiator and thats probably not putting out as much heat as one 290X core, nevermind 2.

  • Extreme

    120mm radiator? is this a joke? what a way to f*ck up a good card. might still buy one and cool it properly! surprised ASETEK gave that the OK.

  • Nico

    Not available anywhere, another paper launch from AMD. way to go.


    I had wondered why the nvidia side was so low compared to other review sites. Your OC settings are terrible low, and your drivers are not up to date for both cards. If you are going to use beta drivers for one side, you should probably stick to the most recent beta drivers for the other side as well (i realize you may have done much of your testing before they came out, as they only came out yesterday for nvidia).

    I would like to see some benchmark videos on this card, as i really am having troubles imagining a dual card performing better than two single cards. I’ve noticed this kind of pattern in previous reviews on this site and on anandtech, and guess i will just have to wait until more reviewers have their numbers out. Gratz on being one of the first though. Im willing to bet that sli 780 properly overclocked will hold up to this, but obviously that is yet to be tested.

  • Alex

    @ BRANTYN GERIK. Why would they overclock the GTX Titan cards as a ‘standardised’ SLI test? they were SLi’d as they are sold at 890mhz (889mhz). The R9 295X2 wasn’t tested overclocked either throughout the review. Both solutions tested as sold.

    The latest Nvidia drivers were released yesterday afternoon. I would imagine this review was started a week ago. they only change results by 2-5% in most instances anyway. (I have a GTX780 Ti).

  • Hank

    I have the new nvidia drivers, they help my Titan performance in some games by around 5%, so I would imagine the performance after using this driver would be very close. I wouldn’t expect this review to use them though, Nvidia only released them yesterday and I would guess this review took about a week.

    I prefer Nvidia and wouldn’t own this R9 295X2, but I think its a good idea to point out that AMD are likely to improve performance soon too, as this is the first driver for the card.

    I am no fan boy, best card for the price, gets my money.

    Titan Z has a lot to do now to justify that $3,000.

  • JamesM

    It just goes to show how much heat those AMD cards are putting out.

    Nvidia Z? single fan in the middle. AMD? 120mm radiator, water, two pumps, fan also in the middle, still gets too hot.

    240mm radiator needed. they dropped the ball.

  • Stevie

    I think this is a briliant card for the money, better than Nvidia’s,. ASUS ARES,MARS etc and watercooled.

    Great looking card too and well priced. I just wish they had went for a larger raidator, my case can take two 240mms 🙁 Have you tried changing the fan and adding two quiet fans like the sharkoon dead silence zardon?

  • Slashwat

    So many stupid people. Titan Z is NOT a gaming card! Its not meant to be for this audience. who the hell would spend $3,000 to play games?

  • Hank

    @Slashwat. What are you talking about? of course people will buy the Titan Z for gaming. I own a Titan and I know the 780Ti is cheaper and just as good or even faster depending on the cooler you get.

    TONS of people are buying Titans to game, probably more than those buying it to develop CUDA on. The Titan Z will be bought by very rich gamers and probably in pairs too. Nvidia know this, but get around the price with the whole double precision thing.

    People who say Titan cards are not sold for gaming are so niave and reading the nvidia playbook. people want more than 3GB of memory and the status associated by using the best. Whether you like it, or even if it makes sense, doesnt matter – its true.

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  • captainmoco

    I think it’s time for AMD to evolve their GPU with customizable cooler. This will unlock better option in performance cooling & OC headroom