AMD Radeon R9 390X Review: Specifications and Features

AMD Radeon R9 390X

The AMD Radeon R9 390X is a high-end desktop graphics card released in the summer of 2015. It uses the same hardware as its predecessor, the Radeon R9 290X, but with significantly higher clock rates. AMD provides a core clock rate of 1050 MHz and a memory clock speed of 6000 MHz for the R9 390X. Read this article to learn more about its feature and benchmarks.

AMD Radeon R9 390X Overview

The Radeon R9 390X uses the same basic 28nm “Hawaii” GPU as the 290X, however the retuned version is dubbed “Grenada.” The following core GPU specifications remain unchanged: The R9 390X retains 2,816 stream processors, 176 texture units, 64 ROPs, and a 512-bit memory bus from its predecessor. 

There’s not much new here, especially because the new Catalyst 15.7 drivers added formerly R300 series-exclusive software functionality to the older R200 series cards. However, AMD engineers spent almost a year tuning the GPU to squeeze more power out of it. This allowed the company to increase core clock rates by 50MHz to 1,050MHz and memory clock speeds by 1,250MHz to 1,500MHz. 

This results in an increase in overall memory bandwidth from 320GBps to 384GBps. There’s also additional memory, with all R9 390 and 390X models packing an impressive 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. AMD claims that the GPU’s power management micro-architecture has also been totally rebuilt, despite the fact that it is still a power-hungry hardware.

AMD has improved performance by changing specific sections of the CPU. Thermal advantages allow the core clock to be increased. The TDP of the card has been reduced from 290W to 275W. It features 6.2 billion transistors and uses a 28nm manufacturing process to produce a peak frequency of 5,914 GFLOPs – about 300 GFLOPs greater than the R9 290X.

More about AMD Radeon R9 390X

The AMD Radeon R9 390X competes with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, which costs more. Although Nvidia’s GPU only has 2,048 stream processors, the core is clocked at 1,126MHz and may be increased by 100MHz via GPU boost. On paper, the Nvidia card has half the memory and a lower frequency of 224GB/sec, and its frequency of 4,612 GFLOPs is lower.

It does, however, fight back in terms of power consumption. The Maxwell architecture is significantly more efficient than AMD’s hardware, thus the GTX 980 has a far lower TDP of 165W.

AMD’s card includes HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.2 a connectors. That should suffice for most purposes, but there are a handful of caveats. Because HDMI 1.4a can’t convey a 4K signal at 60Hz, you’ll need to use the DisplayPort connector – and HDMI 1.4a can’t control as many audio channels as more recent connectors.

The R9 390X is a large GPU that must have single eight- and six-pin connectors, however certain third-party cards may require more power; our sample required two eight-pin connectors. The card we examined also has three fans, which do not promise well for noise levels. However, AMD has included a new technology that switches off the fans when they are not in use.

Gaming Benchmarks 

The AMD Radeon R9 390X and its major competition, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980, swapped blows – it’s one of the tightest graphics fights we’ve seen in a long time. Our first benchmark, 3DMark, is a theoretical test of a GPU’s power, and the two cards traded victories right away. The AMD technology performed better at 1080p, trailed at 2,560 x 1,440, and afterwards took a little lead at 4K.

In Battlefield 4, the competition remained fierce. The R9 390X’s 1080p average of 81 fps trailed the GTX 980 by five frames. The AMD GPU was one frame ahead at 1440p – and then kept its single-frame advantage at 4K. However, at 3,840 x 2,160, its 29 fps average isn’t nearly smooth enough to be termed playable, particularly with a low frame rate of 23 fps.

In Batman the R9 390X frequently behind the Nvidia card. The AMD processor failed to impress in BioShock – its 114 fps average was seven frames faster at 1080p. But just two frames above at 1440p and lower than Nvidia at 4K.

When installed Crysis, a significantly more demanding game than Batman and BioShock, AMD’s GPU drew its finger out. It performed better at all three settings, with the best result coming at 1440p: an average of 54 fps, which are eight frames slower than the GTX 980.

The R9 390X performed admirably in Metro: Last Light and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. It is better in every test with stable margins at 1080p and 1440p. And a few frames ahead when increased the resolution to 4K. It also outperformed the GTX 980 in Tomb Raider, with a 7 fps advantage at 1440p and a 4 fps advantage at 4K.


The AMD card performed admirably, but it’s not all positive thing. The Graphics Core Next architecture isn’t known to be the most efficient, and it lags behind Nvidia’s Maxwell designs. The top power drain of the R9 390X setup is 410 W, which is significantly more than the GTX 980’s 273W – and more than the GTX 980 Ti and Titan X require. 

In a disappointing show, it even requires more power than the Fury X. This is more efficient in drawing 369W from the mains. That’s bad for your power bill, but it also implies overclocking on this GPU isn’t as good. Third-party producers may have difficulty keeping noise levels low because it requires larger cooling blocks.

Final Verdict

The AMD Radeon R9 390X directly compete with the GTX 980. And it does it admirably. It’s less than Nvidia’s card and, in many games. It’s a touch faster – and in titles where it isn’t, it’s never far behind. AMD’s clock and memory upgrades have certainly worked.

Aside from that, the R9 390X continues to amaze. It’s excessive for 1080p, but it’s powerful enough for 1440p gaming and powerful enough for most 4K games. Top titles, on the other hand, will require lower graphical settings to run properly because their average frame counts are limited by lower minimums.

It’s more than capable of 1080p and 1440p monitors, and it’s just about ready of 4K gaming as well. Many titles will run at their top settings, and even more difficult games will run smoothly at decent quality levels.

In terms of raw performance, the R9 390X is competitive, but it lags below Nvidia in other aspects. It uses significantly more power, which affects noise, heat, and overclocking. Moreover, third-party cards are becoming rare.

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