Feature Articles

AMD Radeon R9 Series Performance Examined

AMD Radeon R9 Series Performance Examined


3DMark 2013 & Crysis 3

3DMark 2013 Results

3DMark 2013 is made up of a pair of tests, and they put graphics cards through their paces with extreme levels of tessellation and volumetric illumination, as well as complex smoke simulation using compute shaders and dynamic particle illumination. Fire Strike is the first test and is designed for enthusiast-level graphics cards and dual-GPU setups; while the second, called Fire Strike Extreme, ramps up the difficulty with more tessellation, more particle effects and more taxing DirectCompute calculations.

The Radeon R9 290X turned in an impressive performance to show the strengths of the improved Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. When compared against the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, the R9 290X was trailing less than 1% behind the latest and fastest NVIDIA GPU. Looking at how the winning margin of the GTX 780 Ti narrowed at the more demanding Fire Strike Extreme test, this shows the direct benefits of having more compute units for the new "Hawaii" core. At the same time, with the increase in compute units for the new core, the supporting processing engines and blocks, as well as L2 cache, have increased in tandem with the total count of the compute units. The new 290X also has a wider memory bus interface of 512-bit, and its memory bandwidth has a theoretical ceiling of 320GB/s. However, it still falls slightly behind the memory bandwidth of the GTX 780 Ti, rated at 336GB/s.

Against the GTX Titan, the Radeon R9 290X managed to pull ahead for both tests. We can see the Radeon R9 290 faltering against the Titan; however that doesn't matter as the R9 290 has positioned itself ahead of the GTX 780 by an average margin that is slightly over 5%. As for the R9 280X, from our earlier experience with the ASUS Radeon R9 280X DirectCU II TOP 3GB GDDR5 card, we knew that it would outperform its directly NVIDIA competitor, in the form of the GTX 770.

The performances turned in by the 270X and 270 weren't impressive, but they've a far more compelling price point than the competing GeForce GTX 760. Given its circumstance, we think the Radeon R9 270 series are managing rather well, just losing out marginally to the more expensive GTX 760.

 

Crysis 3 Results

Crysis 3 is a graphically-taxing game title as its gameplay involves  extreme amounts of tessellation, per-pixel per-object motion blur, Bokeh Depth of Field, displacement mapping on small terrain, particle and volumetric lighting and fog shadows, improved dynamic cloth and vegetation, dynamic caustics and diffuse shadows.

The results of the R9 cards were generally disappointing as it was clear that the NVIDIA GeForce 700 series were better. At the resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels and with anti-aliasing, the top three cards from NVIDIA churned out frame rates that were above 30fps; while only the R9 290X managed to scrap by with a score of 30.7fps. At the highest resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixles, it was evident that cards were heavily taxed by the game engine; however, it was still obvious that the NVIDIA cards were outperforming their AMD R9 counterparts.

It's also fairly apparent that AMD is missing a "Radeon R9 280" part and that the R9 270 series are mainstream performance cards that aren't cut out for the extremes presented in this benchmark. At this point of time, it seems that the GeForce GTX 760 is the minimum gamers should consider for their gaming rig if they are serious about gaming with a high level of detail and quality. Read on to see if this still holds true in other tests.