We measured the power consumption of computer systems with different graphics cards using a multifunctional panel Zalman ZM-MFC3 which can report how much power a computer (the monitor not included) draws from a wall socket. There were two test modes: 2D (editing documents in Microsoft Word and web surfing) and 3D (the intro scene of the Swamp level from Crysis 3 running four times in a loop at 2560x1440 with maximum visual quality settings but without MSAA). Here are the results:
The peak power consumption of the Radeon R9 290X configuration is 69 watts (14.4%) higher compared to the MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming and only 20 watts (3.8%) higher compared to the standard GeForce GTX 780. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti configuration needs about as much power as the AMD Radeon R9 290X. When the latter is overclocked, the computer's power draw rises to 574 watts (by 4.6%). Any of these configurations can be powered by a 600-watt PSU.
At the time of its announcement in October 2013 the AMD Radeon R9 290X made a worthy opponent to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 despite all the problems with noise and overheat. However, Nvidia was quick to react by cutting the price of its single-GPU flagship (we don't count the Titan in whereas the GTX 780 Ti wasn't yet released then). Today, in early 2014, the reference Radeon R9 290X costs more than original GeForce GTX 780s. Even though it is faster on average, the small difference in performance doesn't make up for the higher noise level and potential GPU frequency drops due to overheat.
If you want to buy a Radeon R9 290X, you should wait for original versions from first-tier brands as all of them have already announced their Hawaii XT based products. If priced lower than the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, they will be quite an attractive buy. We’ll test one such product very soon. We’re also preparing a review of the AMD Radeon R9 290 (without the “X”), so stay tuned to us in the new year!