The Retro Series – The R9 290X vs. the GTX 780 Ti


The Retro Series – the R9 290X 4GB vs. the GTX 780 Ti 3GB – 38 Games Benchmarked

It’s been two years since BTR compared the R9 290X versus the GTX 780 Ti, and over 5 years since these former flagship cards were launched in 2013.  The GTX 780 Ti was released at $699 in November of 2013, not long after AMD’s launch of the R9 290X at $550 which beat the original $1,000 Titan.  At its launch, the 780 Ti soundly beat the Titan and also beat the 290X in performance.

Within a couple of years, NVIDIA replaced the 3GB vRAM-equipped Kepler GTX 780 Ti with the faster and cheaper Maxwell GTX 980 4GB, followed by faster cards.  And although AMD introduced new Fiji architecture with the Fury line, the Hawaii 290X was not refreshed, but it was rebranded into the Grenada 390X by increasing the reference vRAM capacity from 4GB to faster 8GB GDDR5.  During that time, the Kepler GTX 780 Ti got slower compared with the 290X as new games were released.

Two years ago, BTR compared the RX 480 versus the EVGA GTX 1060 SC and versus the 290X, but we did not test the GTX 780 Ti in that review.  This time, we will use the same EVGA GTX 1060 at SC clocks instead of reference clocks, and instead of the RX 480 at stock speeds, we will test the Red Devil RX 590.

We no longer have our reference VisionTek 290X, but will instead use our 3% factory-overclocked PowerColor 290X PCS+ and test it with 100% fan to make sure it does not throttle.  We will use our reference GTX 780 Ti at stock clocks versus the 290X to see how these venerable former flagship cards compare in performance with each other, and also versus the RX 590 and versus the GTX 1060 SC.

This evaluation will include every game in our recently updated 38-game benchmark suite including Just Cause 4 and Battlefield V.  We want to see how these former flagship cards stand today in relation to each other and to the current top midrange cards by benchmarking the latest games with the latest drivers at Ultra settings at 2560×1440 and at 1920×1080 resolutions.

Our testing platform is a recent install of Windows 10 64-bit Home Edition, and we are using an i7-8700K which turbos all 6 cores to 4.7 GHz, an EVGA Z370 FTW motherboard, and 16GB of HyperX DDR4 3333MHz. The games tested, settings, and hardware are identical except for the cards being compared.

Let’s check out the PowerColor R9 290X-4GB PCS+ versus the GTX 780 Ti-3GB, and also the Red Devil RX 590-8GB versus the EVGA GTX 1060-6GB SC, after we look over our test configuration on the next page.

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