With this generation, there is essentially one new silicon, the HBM equipped “Fiji,” which will be launched later this month and will eventually drive up this product from AMD. The previous generation flagship silicon “Hawaii” now drives AMD’s functioning segment products. Headlining the R9 300 series is the R9 390X, a card picks up from where the R9 290X left off.
The Radeon R9 390X is based on the “Hawaii” silicon (now referred to as “Grenada” without any silicon changes) and features the same core-configuration as the R9 290X. The standard memory amount has been doubled to 8 GB across the board and clock speeds see an increase from 1000 MHz to 1050 MHz on the core and from 5.00 Gbps to 6.00 Gbps on the memory. In spite of there being no core layout differences, there have been several tertiary modifications rolled into the Grenada XT-based R9 390X. The core operates about 5% faster than the reference R9 290X did which isn’t all that much but AMD has still managed to lower typical board power to 275-W, down from about 300-W on its predecessor.
AMD’s approach to pricing is interesting. Expected to compete with the $480 GeForce GTX 980, the R9 390X is boldly priced at $429. There have been no tweaks that we know of to the chip’s electricals, and so custom-design boards such as the MSI Radeon R9 390X Gaming 8G is being reviewed today feature the same heavy-spec Twin Frozr V triple-slot cooling solution the company is using on its enthusiast-segment dual-slot GTX 980 Ti Gaming. MSI’s card comes with a minor factory-OC that has the core running at 1100 MHz and memory at 6.10 Gbps.
Rather than a rebrand or rebadge, the R9 390X is more like the end-of-life refreshes car models usually go through before they’re replaced in the next model year. There’s certainly not enough here to call the R9 390X a “new” card but branding consistency and a few very minor, almost transparent changes point towards this being something a bit more than AMD slapping a different name onto an old card and calling it a day.
Overall, there’s perhaps a sense that AMD has dragged the 290X kicking and screaming into a performance envelope comparable with GTX 980 but in the final analysis, there’s no denying that AMD has achieved what it set out to do: R9 390X offers a gaming experience similar to its Nvidia counterpart, though the decent overclocking of the GTX 980 may well give the green team final bragging rights.