I’ve been with nVidia for a very, very long time. The last AMD GPU I had was in-fact so old that it was still ATI; I can’t even remember its name. Since then I’ve had a standard, passively-cooled 400 series card, a PNY 550Ti, an MSI Twin Frozr II 560Ti OC, and most recently, an ASUS 760 OC.
I’ve just upgraded to a new GPU, but this time it’s not nVidia, this time it’s an MSI R9 290 OC, “Gaming” iteration, courtesy of AMD. There are two versions of these cards: 4G and 8G, which is stupid marketing crap for 4GB and 8GB, respectively! Mine’s the 4GB version, which should suit my needs well enough.
If you’re confused as to why I’m upgrading to a card that was released late 2013, from a card that was also released that year, despite their vast difference in performance, it’s because I got it free along with some more Corsair XMS3 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, putting my current total up to 10GB.
As I cannot find this card on Amazon, I’ll point you to Sapphire’s version, which is currently selling as new for approximately £260, whereas the ASUS 760 OC isn’t even on there anymore. However, the 960—performing very similar to the former, but more modern and efficient—is selling for about £163, new.
Once I removed nVidia from my system as best I could, I got this chunky, hefty beast into the rig (t’was a tight fit in a Zalmon Z11!) and began downloading, then installing AMD’s software and drivers.
The first thing I noticed once everything had started up, is that everything was very sharp, and dark. Black now truly looks as dark as night, which is wonderful on my IPS display from ASUS. At first thing I thought something went wrong, but I did a quick Google search and found that this is actually a common attribute of AMD GPUs: color clarity.
I had a quick peek at AMD’s control panel and found it to be easy on the eyes, while still maintaining functionality; a considerable difference from the old days! I also had little issue in finding the right driver package for the job.
Prior to running any games, a concern of mine is whether the lack of PhysX will prevent me playing games like Borderlands, a game I’ve been happily revisiting as of late. Heat and power are two other concerns of mine, particularly the former.
I’m particularly excited because the R9 290 has 4GB VRAM to the 760’s 2GB, which really was becoming a problem in newer games like Fallout 4, GTA5, and Doom. On top of that, a much higher memory bus interface width of a whopping 512-bit, next to the 760’s 256-bit.
I’m looking forward to testing this GPU and seeing what AMD has to offer.
To be continued…