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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  • swing848 - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    It will only get loud for me when playing games or the occasional benchmark. During games I wear

    a headset, and during benchmarks I can leave the room. I have a room dedicated to computer use

    and the house has good sound proofing, so, it will not bother other people.

    If I want it quiet I will use a water cooler with a large radiator and fan, my Cooler Master HAF

    922 case already has sealed holes for tubing for an external radiator.

    Water cooling is better than dumping all the hot air from the video card into my case, even if it

    is well cooled with 200mm fans. I overclock my CPU and I do not want it, RAM, or chips on the

    motherboard to get any hotter than necessary.

    The only thing I will miss on this card are Black Diamond Chokes and Digital Power 8+2+2 phase

    used on the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic [Black Diamond Chokes are also used on Sapphire R9 280 Vapor-

    X]. To be honest I do not know how many mosfits are dedicated to cool GPU functions on the R9

    290. In any event, both the Toxic and Vapor-X dump hot air into the case.

    Another thing I would like to have seen on the Sapphire R9 290 is a metal back plate.
  • somethingwicked - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    what the holy gee whiz

    the new AMD drivers are insane! 290x is speeding past Titan now and 780 is a turtle while 290x is a ferrari... the new 290 is performing like the 290x was at launch and now the 290x is a card unto its self at the top of the food chain

    thank goodness for competition

    i smell more deep nvidia price cuts cause AMD is kicking butt
  • TheJian - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    rofl. So NV just has to release a "fan that drives you out of the room" driver now to respond. IF NV did this all of you would be falling all over yourselves to moan and groan claiming NV was cheating. AMD does it, and wow this is awesome, I love the noise anyway...LOL. Technically this is all NV has to do though right? Raise the fan speed until it hits another 10DB's and blow them down again.

    Perf is great, but not if it drives me out of my room. There is nothing stopping NV from adding 10DB's to their cards and calling it a day. But I don't want this being called normal. IMHO this is a crap way to get perf and a game both sides can play. If NV does this tomorrow and says we're hiking prices because if we overclock our cards also (which is essentially what they're doing here, just reverse, raise fan so clocks boost higher, same story) we blow AMD away.
    Both cards clocked to max (290x vx. 780, NOT TI mind you).
    Fast forward to 8:40 for benchmarks...AMD is blown away. The 780 didn't lose ANY game. Not one. And in star citizen blows AMD away. I don't believe these cards will be used mostly on 1600P or 1440p either. 1080/1200p is running on 98.5% of our screens and a large portion of the 1.5% that is above these two resolutions are running TWO or more cards. Steam's surveys don't lie. Already they turn down nearly every game at 1440p here which to me means you won't run there anyway (they are not reporting mins here for most games). Everything is pretty maxed in linustechtips vid above at 1080p, and you should be able to stay above 30fps (probably?) doing it. They are reporting avg's here at anandtech and already turning stuff down. Meaning maxing graphics on a lot of games would be unplayable under 30fps especially when lots of crap is going on. LOW DETAIL? Seriously? So Ryan is assuming you'll buy one of these cards (or any single gpu card) to then go out and buy a 1440p monitor (which are still over $550 for any brand you'd recognize the name of on newegg, and start there when you choose NEWEGG ONLY) and then run the details on low to play games? I don't think so. If he's assuming we're all going to buy new monitors, might as well get Gsync instead (though I'd say wait for more models first even if Asus has a decent one out of the gate). Heck some of the games have details DOWN on 1080p here (total war2, medium shadows? still looks like it would hit below 30fps on most cards).

    For anyone saying get a water block...LOL. How much did my card cost if I have to add that and how many regular users even know what water is or are even capable of adding one? I say that as a guy who has as Koolance kit. Or even adding an aftermarket fan. Isn't this upping the cost of the card then?

    Both solutions are unacceptable and attempting to fix a problem caused by shipping a card that already is unacceptably NOISY, hot and sucking up watts vs. it's competition. No games either.

    Add on top reviews elsewhere show other games that give an opposite story. Techpowerup, Techspot, Guru3d, Hardocp show wins for AC3, COD Blackops2, Diablo3 (spanked by NV), FarCry3, SplinterCell Blacklist, Star Craft2 (spanked, heck 770 does well), World of Warcraft (spanked), Skyrim (lost 3 resolutions, 290/x won 1600p, oddly lost upping to 5760), Resident Evil 6.

    So maybe you need to take a bit of a WIDER view than anandtech ;) I don't call 53 more watts than 780 (or 70 more than 770) a victory. Never mind the noise it creates while doing it. Is running 10DB's higher really a better card? Do people here realize that noise in DB's is EXPONENTIAL? A 10Db noise difference is HUGE (ryan did say 2x as loud). 12 degress hotter for this kind of perf isn't good either. I see a clear reason NV should be charging more than AMD's cards. They are better. I can OC and beat them easily without all the noise, heat, watts. I don't need a waterblock to do this either...ROFL. Whatever I already have on my card can do this easily and come in UNDER Ryan's 7970 noise levels that he calls acceptable.

    I see no price cuts, but probably a few more videos poking fun at AMD like this:
    Tell me that isn't funny ;) I'm wondering if someone at NV paid for this vid to be made...LOL. Sparks, dripping fire, ROFL. Great job of getting the message across.
  • rviswas11 - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    i couldn't give two s***ts because when i game i wear noise cancelling headphones that i use for listening to music on the bus Reply
  • rviswas11 - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    so i'm happy. and with the exception of skyrim i could set the graphics card to 10% fan profile and max the game. i run quite afew mods for skyrim don't play it anymore.
    but i can see how the noise can be a major issue for a lot of people.
  • Morawka - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    your not understanding. At this level of noise, not even noise canceling headphones will drown it out. This is louder than a 747 jet from 100 meters away. Reply
  • mgl888 - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    You'd better be trolling.
    60dB is the intensity of a normal conversation.
  • Galidou - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    Comon, a 747 jet 100 meters away... you gotta be freaking stupid to only think it could be true :O Reply
  • ahlan - Saturday, November 9, 2013 - link

    What do expect from nvidia fantards who think higher price is better.
    They are so unsecure and delusional that they comment in every AMD review...

    Nvidia is loving their stupidness...
  • 1Angelreloaded - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    120 decibels is a 747 I would know I work around them, But AMDs new cards are crap, 550$ to add a water cooling system totaling around 200-300$.......either way its not a deal really, Nvidia cards have more headroom on air and water, while AMD's cards are impressive to an extent Hawaii is a bastard step child of sorts, it is probably a failed version of the next chip to compete with Maxwell but had no choice but to release it. Reply

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