Performance Summary Charts
First of all, let’s see how faster the new single-GPU flagship Radeon R9 290X in comparison with its predecessor (Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition) as represented by the MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming. The latter serves as the baseline:
The average performance growth is 23-26% without antialiasing and 29-31% with antialiasing across all the tests. We can recall the GeForce GTX Titan which was 34-55% faster than the GeForce GTX 680 at the time of its release, but the Titan costs $1000 even now. Moreover, the Gaming card from MSI is pre-overclocked by 50 MHz, which adds 2-3% to the performance of the reference Radeon R9 280X.
The second pair of our summary charts helps compare the Radeon R9 290X and the GeForce GTX 780 at their default clock rates, the latter card serving as the baseline.
The GeForce GTX 780 wins in Sniper Elite V2, Metro: Last Light (with Advanced PhysX) and in Batman: Arkham Origins (without antialiasing). In the rest of the games the Radeon R9 290X is at least as good as the GeForce GTX 780 and even beats the latter in Sleeping Dogs, Hitman: Absolution, GRID 2, Company of Heroes 2, Total War: Rome II and Battlefield 4. The average advantage of the Radeon R9 290X across all the games is 7-8% without antialiasing and 6-10% with antialiasing.
As we mentioned in the Introduction, today even original GeForce GTX 780s with high-efficiency coolers and factory overclocking are considerably cheaper than reference Radeon R9 290X cards, so the new card should also be compared with the slightly more expensive GeForce GTX 780 Ti. Here are the diagrams:
Nvidia wins this round. The Radeon R9 290X is only ahead in Hitman: Absolution, Company of Heroes 2, and in some test modes of Sleeping Dogs and Batman: Arkham Origins. In the rest of the games the GeForce GTX 780 Ti remains the fastest single-GPU gaming card.
The last pair of diagrams indicate the performance scalability of the Radeon R9 290X. We overclocked our sample’s GPU and memory by 130 MHz (13%) and 760 MHz (15.2%) and here are the benefits:
So the overclocked Radeon R9 290X is 9-10% faster at 1920x1080 and 10-11% faster at 2560x1440. That's normal scalability for a top-end graphics card.