MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning 4 GB Review 35

MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning 4 GB Review



MSI Logo

AMD's Radeon R9 290X is built on the company's Hawaii GPU, the first truly new high-end graphics chip from the company in a very long time (21 months). Using 6.8 billion transistors, the GPU is built on a 28 nanometer process at TSMC, Taiwan. It features 2816 shaders and 64 ROPs connected to 4 GB of memory using a 512-bit wide memory bus.

We are reviewing MSI's flagship R9 290X Lightning today. It comes with a large triple-slot, triple-fan cooler and MSI says it to be equipped with everything hardcore overclockers need to break world records. MSI overclocked GPU frequency by 80 MHz out of the box, while memory remains unchanged.

The MSI R9 290X Lightning is currently available online for $699.

MSI R9 290X Lightning Market Segment Analysis
 HD 7970
GHz Ed.
GTX 680
GTX 780
R9 290
R9 290X
MSI R9 290X
HD 7990
GTX Titan
GTX 780 Ti
Shader Units2048153623042560281628162x 204826882880
ROPs3232486464642x 324848
Graphics ProcessorTahitiGK104GK110HawaiiHawaiiHawaii2x TahitiGK110GK110
Transistors4310M3500M7100M6200M6200M6200M2x 4310M7100M7100M
Memory Size3072 MB2048 MB3072 MB4096 MB4096 MB4096 MB2x 3072 MB6144 MB3072 MB
Memory Bus Width384 bit256 bit384 bit512 bit512 bit512 bit2x 384 bit384 bit384 bit
Core Clock1050 MHz1006 MHz+863 MHz+947 MHz1000 MHz1080 MHz1000 MHz837 MHz+876 MHz+
Memory Clock1500 MHz1502 MHz1502 MHz1250 MHz1250 MHz1250 MHz1500 MHz1502 MHz1750 MHz


Package Front
Package Back


You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Driver CD + documentation
  • 3x Voltage measurement cable
  • 2x PCIe 6-pin to 8-pin adapter
  • PCIe Molex to 6-pin adapter
  • VRM heatsink for liquid-nitrogen use

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

MSI is using a predominantly black cooler with a yellow fan that has a few yellow highlights radiating outward. The shroud looks exactly the same as that of the GTX 770 Lightning. Dimensions of the card are 30 cm x 13 cm.

Graphics Card Height

With the thick heatsink, the card takes up three slots when installed in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include two DVI ports, one HDMI port and one DisplayPort. You may use all outputs at the same time, so triple-monitor surround gaming is possible with one card, even more so if you use a MST DisplayPort hub.

The GPU also includes an HDMI sound device. It is HDMI 1.4a compatible, which includes HD audio and Blu-ray 3D movies support.

A physical CrossFire connector is not present as all Hawaii-based GPUs send their CrossFire data via the PCI-Express bus.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back).
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