Performance summary

Following is our performance summary chart of 33 modern PC games and 2 synthetic benches. The highest settings are generally chosen and it is DX11 when there is a choice; DX10 is picked above DX9, and the settings are generally ultra or maxed unless specified on the chart. Specific settings are listed on the charts. The benches are run at 1920×1080, 2560×1600 and 3840×2160.  Except for FireStrike and 3DMark 11, the results are given for average frame rates per second.

The first column shows the performance of the stock 290X compared with 290X CrossFire scaling in the second column.  The third column represents the TITAN X at its stock clocks, and then in the 4th column, overclocked (+200MHz Core/+200MHz memory).  Stock GTX 980 SLI is represented in the 5th column compared with the GTX 980 in the last column to demonstrate SLI scaling.

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What we can take away from this rather large performance evaluation is that there is nothing in multi-GPU to compare with a TITAN X single GPU experience.  First of all, if you are going to play at 4K and demand AA and details, the TITAN X’ 12GB of vRAM can certainly be useful, as several games – Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, Max Payne 3, and perhaps GTA V at some detail settings – do not run well or at all with 4GB of vRAM.  Secondly, there is the issue of smoothness, and the TITAN X delivers better than with any multi-GPU solution even though they may have higher frame rates.

We ran with AMD’s frame pacing On for CrossFire. Even though we may have technically lost a little performance, we received a smoother experience with less hitching – for example, in GRiD: Autosport, we got 99.2 fps average with Frame Pacing On with slightly smoother visuals versus 101.6 fps average with it Off.  However, we also noticed that in a few games (for example, with Shadows of Mordor, GTA V, and with Project CARS) that there was noticeable hitching and lack of smooth delivery with 290X CrossFire compared with a single 290X.

Although 290X strengths become much more apparent as the resolution increases to 4K, and Frame Pacing has been improved, there are still some CrossFire issues in a few games. We noted, especially with Far Cry 4, that there is a noticeable and visual lack of smoothness with 290X CrossFire, and that the frame rate is more than double a single card’s rate.  AMD also appears to have some issues with a few of the very latest games we tested that will hopefully be addressed by newer drivers and game patches.  Nvidia’s GTX 980 SLI generally delivers a faster overall experience that is smoother on more stable drivers with the latest games that we tested.

Let’s wrap it up.

Conclusion

This has been quite an interesting exploration for us in evaluating R9 290X CrossFire versus GTX 980, and versus the stock and overclocked GTX TITAN.  The 290X and 290X CrossFire did well performance-wise, especially at 4K, but it definitely slots below the GTX 980 and GTX 980 SLI.  From looking at performance, the 290X appears to be relatively well-priced at $300-$350 compared to the GTX 980, considering the issues a gamer has to put up with in extra noise, power usage, and heat, along with driver issues with some of the newest games that we tested.  AMD currently has one game bundled with the 290X while the GTX 980 comes with two games, and the TITAN X has no game bundle at all.  Of course, the direct competitor and price alternative to the 290X is the GTX 970 which also comes with a two game bundle.

If money is not an object, the TITAN X is our first choice for high performance gaming.  Although stock GTX 980 SLI is faster generally than an overclocked TITAN X, and GTX 980 SLI can be further overclocked, we personally prefer the TITAN X experience for everything considered.  And as a lower-priced alternative, 290X CrossFire is a very strong performer at 4K resolutions, if one is willing to put up with the extra heat and especially the noise, while waiting for AMD to generally optimize drivers for some of the very newest games that they do not sponsor.

The Conclusion:

  • The GTX TITAN X is the best performing single-GPU card, followed by the GTX 980.  However, the TITAN X experience comes at a steep price premium.

Stay tuned, there is a lot more shortly coming from us at BTR. You can expect a new WHQL driver performance evaluation featuring the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt this week as it will become BTR’s latest benchmark!  We are also working on our HyperX Cloud Headset review.  AND …  We will give away a free copy the Witcher 3: Wild hunt tomorrow to a lucky BTR forum member.

Happy Gaming!

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve got 290X CF and on 1080P and everything maxed out…and I mean MAXED out I get min 94FPS max 114FPS on project cars.

  2. I’ve got the 290X CF and in Project Cars 1080p everything maxed out I get FPS Min 94, Max 115FPS – Stock Settings
    CPU i7-4790k (stock settings) Kingston hyper fury DDR31866Mhz RAM,
    Resolution 1920 x 1080 59Hz
    Windowed : No
    Texture filtering Anisotropic 16x
    vsync no
    fxaa off
    smaa ultra

    everything else is ultra and high
    detailed grass high

    • We do not have identical settings, nor do we probably use the same benchmark. Every one of ProjectCars’ single setting are maxed out, including Ultra for Detailed Grass. I use Fraps and California Highway Stage 1 for my benchmark.

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