Metro: Last Light

As always, kicking off our look at performance is 4A Games’ latest entry in their Metro series of subterranean shooters, Metro: Last Light. The original Metro: 2033 was a graphically punishing game for its time and Metro: Last Light is in its own right too. On the other hand it scales well with resolution and quality settings, so it’s still playable on lower end hardware.

For the bulk of our analysis we’re going to be focusing on our 2560x1440 results, as monitors at this resolution will be what we expect the 290 to be primarily used with. A single 290 may have the horsepower to drive 4K in at least some situations, but given the current costs of 4K monitors that’s going to be a much different usage scenario. The significant quality tradeoff for making 4K playable on a single card means that it makes far more sense to double up on GPUs, given the fact that even a pair of 290Xs would still be a fraction of the cost of a 4K, 60Hz monitor.

With that said, there are a couple of things that should be immediately obvious when looking at the performance of the 290.

  1. It’s incredibly fast for the price.
  2. Its performance is at times extremely close to the 290X

To get right to the point, because of AMD’s fan speed modification the 290 doesn’t throttle in any of our games, not even Metro or Crysis 3. The 290X in comparison sees significant throttling in both of those games, and as a result once fully warmed up the 290X is operating at clockspeeds well below its 1000MHz boost clock, or even the 290’s 947MHz boost clock. As a result rather than having a 5% clockspeed deficit as the official specs for these cards would indicate, the 290 for all intents and purposes clocks higher than the 290X. Which means that its clockspeed advantage is now offsetting the loss of shader/texturing performance due to the CU reduction, while providing a clockspeed greater than the 290X for the equally configured front-end and back-end. In practice this means that 290 has over 100% of 290X’s ROP/geometry performance, 100% of the memory bandwidth, and at least 91% of the shading performance.

So in games where we’re not significantly shader bound, and Metro at 2560 appears to be one such case, the 290 can trade blows with the 290X despite its inherent disadvantage. Now as we’ll see this is not going to be the case in every game, as not every game GPU bound in the same manner and not every game throttles on the 290X by the same degree, but it sets up a very interesting performance scenario. By pushing the 290 this hard, and by throwing any noise considerations out the window, AMD has created a card that can not only threaten the GTX 780, but can threaten the 290X too. As we’ll see by the end of our benchmarks, the 290 is only going to trail the 290X by an average of 3% at 2560x1440.

Anyhow, looking at Metro it’s a very strong start for the 290. At 55.5fps it’s essentially tied with the 290X and 12% ahead of the GTX 780. Or to make a comparison against the cards it’s actually priced closer to, the 290 is 34% faster than the GTX 770 and 31% faster than the 280X. AMD’s performance advantage will come crashing down once we revisit the power and noise aspects of the card, but looking at raw performance it’s going to look very good for the 290.

AMD's Gaming Evolved Application & The Test Company of Heroes 2


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  • JacFlasche - Thursday, November 14, 2013 - link

    Just in time for Xmas! Brilliant. I think the rest of you guys should really avoid this card because of the noise. It is horrendous. Do not buy this card no matter what you do. I of course will buy two of them myself, since they will be totally emmersed in a mineral oil/nano-diamond slurry that can be pumped through a tank in an old ice cream maker I now use as a chiller. All set up in a hand made solid copper tank I scavanged from an old still, and looking quite steam punk with oversized analog gauges and big old hand set revets and such. Not a laptop. Completely silent when the compressor is not on. The compressor really isn't needed for a decent overclock with a few hundred pounds of copper pennies suspended less than an inch above the MB components, bathed in the same nanodiamond slurry. Total silence, except for my gaggle of hard drives when they are on. I have been waiting for you Radion 290, I will freeze your nuggies off, with no sound at all. Ah ha ha (simulated mad scientist laugh) Why pay the big bucks for a little nanodiamond in your transformer coolent when you can use food grade mineral oil and lots of nanodiamonds. Nanodiamonds almost rule for heat conduction. Way way better than metal of any kind. And they lubricate any mechanism they flow through. This is why the very best heat pipes contain nano diamonds in their working fluid. As little as one half of one percent to four percent nano diamond make huge gains in performance. Can't give exact figures if interested look it up. Reply
  • rcrossw - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    having read many articles on the noise of this card R290, I have no problem with it being slightly loader than my old 7850. I set at work with an old IBM 4227 DOT Matrix Printer that prints like a Locomotive going by, with the wistle Blowing - that can be nerve and hearing shattering. As for the heat, after 4 days of use, the only problem can be with intense play on games such as Rome Total War II, and Battlefield 4 at highest setting - does get warm. The Sapphire Card I have is fine other wise. The vendors do need something with a better cooling ability. Perhaps, trying Water Cooling, or multiple fan solution. Oh BTW, can be used as a reserve of heat in cold climates during the winter! Reply
  • Texax - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    I see a lot of performance praise here but I also see that people are not really aware that this thing runs 10 degrees hotter and 7db louder. It might not seem big of a difference in numbers but its BIG! Reply
  • JackBootedThug - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    This card is quieter than my GTX465 which I have been using for a couple of years.

    Why wouldn't I buy it? LOL

    It is all relative.
  • lanskywalker - Monday, November 18, 2013 - link

    Definite buy on this!!!!!!! Can't wait!!!!!!! Time to sell my GTX 670 and bought this instead! Arghhhhhh... Thanks AMD! Reply
  • Landiepete - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    I installed the Gigabyte variety of this card over the weekend and ran Bioshock Infinite and Crysis 3 over a period of several hous while actually playing the games.
    It sits in a HAF-X case under my desk. For sound I use simple ear buds, sometimes in only one ear because the missus has imporatnt things to communicate at randomized intervals.

    And I'm calling bullshit on the noise issues. Yes, there is a clear difference between idle, MS Office and Crysis 3 applications. But at no time whatsoever the noise was excessive or annoying. This may of course be different if you run an open testbed on your desktop.

    But for a regular install in a closed case I cannot fault it. In fact, the Gainward GTX 570 GS installed in the Antec P182 case that SWMBO's desktop uss is a hell of a lot noisier.

    If I were a conspiracy theorist I would suspect Anandtech was looking for an excuse to sink this brilliant piece of AMD hardware.
  • lanskywalker - Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - link

    Damn happy I bought mine! and get rid of my GTX 670. 70-80 average fps and 100++++ max fps in Battlefield 4 on ULTRA is a pleasure! :DD Reply
  • maduser2005 - Thursday, November 28, 2013 - link

    Please add litecoin mining to compute section. Reply
  • MDX - Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - link

    +1 this Reply
  • SolMiester - Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - link

    Have the CF Eyefinity drivers with frame pacing been released yet? Or should I just ask will they be released? Reply

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