Radeon R9 295X2 - The Most Power Hungry Graphics Card Ever
After Nvidia announced a monstrous dual-GPU Titan Z card, AMD’s answer was very expected. There were some weird teasers, and soft launch is finally upon us. Meet the Radeon R9 295X2, which is essentially two R9 290X in one package with no cuts. It has two Hawaii XT GPUs at full clocks and 4 GB VRAM each. As a result, the card has the unprecedented 500 W TDP. To manage this enormous power consumption, just like with 5 GHz FX CPUs, AMD made liquid cooling a default solution for 295X2. As a result, the card runs cool and sustains high clocks without throttling. The liquid cooling is a closed loop Asetek model with 120 mm fan for dissipation. This allows an easy installation, although you have to find some place for the radiator. On the outside, there is also a visual makeover with a metal case, a Radeon logo and a fan booth with a red glow.
The price of all these nice feature is high compared to AMD’s previous offerings – $1500 or € 1099 plus VAT. At least considering the liquid cooling being default at this price and no compromises in performance make this price difference seem more justified than Titan Z’s enormous mark-up. However, this price also puts it right against two GTX 780 Ti in SLI. Then it becomes a question of resolution. AMD has done a lot of work to improve Crossfire over the last year and together with good thermal management, R9 295X2 is a much better contender than HD 7990 ever was. GTX 780 Ti only comes with 3 GB VRAM so far (6 GB models will finally appear soon) and that limits them at 4K in some games, giving R9 295X2 a clear edge. At 2560x1600 or lower GTX 780 Ti SLI outperform R9 295X2 most of the time.
Overall, the situation with R9 295X2 is quite interesting. It is a high quality dual GPU card with enormous power consumption and liquid cooling that can manage it without sounding like a jet. There is no single Nvidia card with both performance and price in the similar range, but GTX 780 Ti SLI configuration offers similar price, performance while not being extremely noisy. While premium price point seems a decent price to pay to avoid the noise and throttling of two R9 290X, the situation against Nvidia strongly depends on specific circumstances. Titan Z is not a competition due to its price, but a cheaper “GTX 790” might appear for the compact systems.