When AMD introduced their latest top model graphics card the Radeon 290X, rumours started surfacing very quickly about AMD working on a dual GPU version of their latest chips. As AMD has marketed a dual GPU card of their high end GPU's over the last years the prediction of a new dual GPU card is not a hard one to make. The rumors and codename "Vesuvius" that surfaced in november 2013 have proven to be correct, as today AMD introduces their Radeon R9 295X, basically two Radeon 290X on one PCB with water cooling.
The Radeon R9 295X2 is the latest in a long range of AMD dual GPU cards, after the AMD Radeon HD 7990, AMD Radeon HD 6990, ATI Radeon HD 5970, ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2, ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 and, for people with long memories, the ATI Rage Fury Maxx. The introduction of its predecessor, the 7990, was not the best that AMD could have had. A few weeks before AMD introduced it nVidia provided hardware sites with a FCAT-benchmark, that showed that a lot of the frames rendered by the second GPU were not shown properly on the screen. nVidia managed to damage the card's reputation before it was even officially on the market.
The new Hawaii GPU on the 290 and 290X however has a completely overhauled crossfire system. Not only is a crossfire bridge no longer needed to put two of these card in crossfire mode due to the XDMA system, smarter drivers also add frame pacing , making the problems shown in the FCAT benchmark as well as micro-stuttering largely a thing of the pas. The Hawaii chip is better suited to dual GPU solutions than any of its predecessors.
AMD has shown us quite a few teasers over the last few weeks about the new graphics card. With the tag #2betterthan1 AMD sent several hints to the American press. We did not receive these in Europe but it should not be a surprise to anyone that the new Radeon R9 295X2 has its introduction today.
Already hinted upon earlier by AMD but also due to the nature of the GPU's on the new R295X it is quite logical that the card comes with watercooling as standard. A single 290X can already consume around 250W, so two of these chips would be impossible to keep cool with standard air cooling without compromising the noiselevels of the system. AMD called in the help of Asetek and they came up with a custom solution with a 120mm radiator.
Pricing: not exactly affordable...
The cards price is quite steep as can be imagined, its official RRP is $1499, which would end up around £1200 in the UK. This is considerably more than buying two seperate R9 290X cards, which would set you back approximately £900. Of course a single slot solution has advantages over a crossfire setup, it only occupies a single slot in your case and the noise level, which is covered later on in this review, is considerably lower than that of two R9 290X cards. However, the high price compared to a crossfire setup is something that should be considered when you are interested in having a card like this in your system.