Once again we’ve got another price war on our hands between the two graphics giants, and let’s not forget for a single second that this is only good for one group of people – the consumer. Here at Play3r we’ve most recently checked out XFX’s R9 290 card, and MSI’s GTX 970 (You can check out Gav’s reviews for both of them here and here respectively), but now that the prices are shifting, which of the two should you be buying? Both are their respective manufacturers main bang for buck card, offering very good performance for what they cost.
First of all lets take a look at the performance of the two. Overall the 970 is faster than the 290, even in AMD favourable games such as Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite making it a better buy if you’re after all out performance, and with the relatively new drivers for the GTX 900 series that are only going to improve over time, it’s a clear win for the 970. But what about temperature and power consumption?
Well it’s no lie that the 290/X is a hot and power hungry card, however in our tests the two cards were almost neck and neck in the temperature test with just 0.2C separating the two, however on the whole the 290 is a much hotter running card than the 970, and as a consequence it’s a lot louder too. And Maxwell’s very efficient design gave the 970 a significant lead in power consumption too, with the 290 being the most power hungry card we’ve tested in a non overclocked state, a full 75W higher in than the GTX 970.
So the 290 is slower than the 970, runs at roughly the same temperature (with the coolers we’ve tested), and will come at the cost of a little more on your electric bill. So what should you go for? Well the 970 surely I hear you saying! And yes, the GTX 970 has the advantage of being a newer card – it’ll be supported for longer. It’ll also save you a little on your bills if you’re going to be running it flat out for a long period of time, but it’ll also cost you more at first. In response to Nvidia slaughtering AMD’s price/performance mindset with the £250 and up price tag for the new 970, (The MSI sample we tested comes in at around the £280 mark) it’s not a surprise that AMD has dropped it’s prices significantly in the last few days. In fact an R9 290 can be had for under £230 right now, and that includes the Sapphire Toxic version – one of, if not the most highly rated 290 cards going. So really it’s down to your budget, and it’s also back to the same as before – if you’re on a tight budget and want good performance then a 290 will be just fine, whilst an extra £50 will net you a cooler, quieter, more efficient card with better drivers and a small increase in performance. Personally we’d recommend the 970, it really is a game changer, and at the moment nothing comes close, so get saving those pennies!
Have you picked up either of these cards, and which would you buy if it was your money? Let us know.