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Sapphire R9 390 Nitro 8GB Review

Rating: 9.0.

Today we look at a sub £300 graphics card from AMD partner Sapphire. The R9 390 Nitro is a model from Sapphire’s new range and features Black Diamond Chokes and a large triple fan cooler to keep temperatures in check. The card ships in an overclocked state and is priced to compete against the popular Nvidia GTX970.

It is not always possible for AMD or NVIDIA to release completely ‘fresh’ new hardware running on brand new architecture. My colleague Anton has detailed the new range of cards, alongside the previous 200 generation and you can recap on this, over HERE.

GPU R9 390X R9 290X R9 390 R9 290 R9 380 R9 285
Launch June 2015 Oct 2013 June 2015 Nov 2013 June 2015 Sep 2014
DX Support 12 12 12 12 12 12
Process (nm) 28 28 28 28 28 28
Processors 2816 2816 2560 2560 1792 1792
Texture Units 176 176 160 160 112 112
ROP’s 64 64 64 64 32 32
Boost CPU Clock 1050 1000 1000 947 970 918
Peak GFLOPS (SP) 5914 5632 5120 4849 3476 3290
Memory Clock 6000 5000 6000 5000 5700 5500
Memory Bus (bits) 512 512 512 512 256 256
Max Bandwidth (GB/s) 384 320 384 320 182.4 176
Memory Size (MB) 8192 4096 8192 4096 4096 2048
Transistors (mn) 6200 6200 6200 6200 5000 5000
TDP (watts) 275 290 275 275 190 190

The 300 series launch around 18 months after the 200 series has meant that AMD have been able to enhance the ASIC design by implementing microcode enhancements and the manufacturing processes have improved. We can consider the 390 an ‘improved 290’ – with the added bonus of double the memory – an increase from 4GB to 8GB.

So what do I have in store for you today? For the last week I have been running a series of tests at both 1440p and Ultra HD 4K resolutions – with the latest AMD and NVIDIA drivers – to keep everything on a completely even footing. It is time consuming, but worth it, especially with the release of the new ‘tweaked’ hardware. All AMD video cards are tested with the 15.6 Catalyst Beta, and all Nvidia cards the Forceware 353.30 driver.

The R9 390 has been released to specifically target Nvidia’s GTX970 so it will be interesting to see how that battle shapes up – as well as being able to take a look at the new card within a broader selection of hardware. Our Fury X review is coming soon, we have had it for some time now.

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