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GeForce GTX 970 vs Radeon R9 290X

Intro

The GeForce GTX 970 features a GPU clock speed of 1050 MHz, and the 4096 MB of GDDR5 memory is set to run at 1750 MHz through a 256-bit bus. It also is comprised of 1664 Stream Processors, 104 Texture Address Units, and 64 ROPs.

Compare all that to the Radeon R9 290X, which has core speeds of 800 MHz on the GPU, and 1250 MHz on the 4096 MB of GDDR5 RAM. It features 2816 SPUs as well as 176 Texture Address Units and 64 ROPs.

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Benchmarks

These are real-world performance benchmarks that were submitted by Hardware Compare users. The scores seen here are the average of all benchmarks submitted for each respective test and hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike Graphics Score

GeForce GTX 970 10867 points
Radeon R9 290X 10609 points
Difference: 258 (2%)

Zcash Mining Hash Rate

Radeon R9 290X 369 Sol/s
GeForce GTX 970 262 Sol/s
Difference: 107 (41%)

Ethereum Mining Hash Rate

Radeon R9 290X 29 Mh/s
GeForce GTX 970 19 Mh/s
Difference: 10 (53%)

Power Usage and Theoretical Benchmarks

Power Consumption (Max TDP)

GeForce GTX 970 145 Watts
Radeon R9 290X 300 Watts
Difference: 155 Watts (107%)

Memory Bandwidth

Performance-wise, the Radeon R9 290X should theoretically be a lot better than the GeForce GTX 970 overall. (explain)

Radeon R9 290X 320000 MB/sec
GeForce GTX 970 224000 MB/sec
Difference: 96000 (43%)

Texel Rate

The Radeon R9 290X is a lot (approximately 29%) more effective at texture filtering than the GeForce GTX 970. (explain)

Radeon R9 290X 140800 Mtexels/sec
GeForce GTX 970 109200 Mtexels/sec
Difference: 31600 (29%)

Pixel Rate

The GeForce GTX 970 will be a lot (more or less 31%) more effective at anti-aliasing than the Radeon R9 290X, and also should be able to handle higher resolutions while still performing well. (explain)

GeForce GTX 970 67200 Mpixels/sec
Radeon R9 290X 51200 Mpixels/sec
Difference: 16000 (31%)

Please note that the above 'benchmarks' are all just theoretical - the results were calculated based on the card's specifications, and real-world performance may (and probably will) vary at least a bit.

Price Comparison

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GeForce GTX 970

Amazon.com

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Radeon R9 290X

Amazon.com

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Please note that the price comparisons are based on search keywords - sometimes it might show cards with very similar names that are not exactly the same as the one chosen in the comparison. We do try to filter out the wrong results as best we can, though.

Specifications

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Model GeForce GTX 970 Radeon R9 290X
Manufacturer nVidia AMD
Year September 2014 October 2013
Code Name GM204-200 Hawaii XT
Memory 4096 MB 4096 MB
Core Speed 1050 MHz 800 MHz
Memory Speed 7000 MHz 5000 MHz
Power (Max TDP) 145 watts 300 watts
Bandwidth 224000 MB/sec 320000 MB/sec
Texel Rate 109200 Mtexels/sec 140800 Mtexels/sec
Pixel Rate 67200 Mpixels/sec 51200 Mpixels/sec
Unified Shaders 1664 2816
Texture Mapping Units 104 176
Render Output Units 64 64
Bus Type GDDR5 GDDR5
Bus Width 256-bit 512-bit
Fab Process 28 nm 28 nm
Transistors 5200 million 6200 million
Bus PCIe 3.0 x16 PCIe 3.0 x16
DirectX Version DirectX 11.2 DirectX 11.2
OpenGL Version OpenGL 4.5 OpenGL 4.3

Memory Bandwidth: Memory bandwidth is the maximum amount of information (measured in MB per second) that can be transported past the external memory interface in a second. The number is worked out by multiplying the card's interface width by the speed of its memory. If it uses DDR RAM, it should be multiplied by 2 once again. If DDR5, multiply by 4 instead. The higher the memory bandwidth, the faster the card will be in general. It especially helps with anti-aliasing, HDR and high resolutions.

Texel Rate: Texel rate is the maximum number of texture map elements (texels) that are processed per second. This number is worked out by multiplying the total texture units of the card by the core speed of the chip. The higher this number, the better the graphics card will be at texture filtering (anisotropic filtering - AF). It is measured in millions of texels applied in one second.

Pixel Rate: Pixel rate is the maximum amount of pixels that the graphics chip can possibly record to the local memory in one second - measured in millions of pixels per second. The number is worked out by multiplying the number of Raster Operations Pipelines by the the core clock speed. ROPs (Raster Operations Pipelines - sometimes also referred to as Render Output Units) are responsible for outputting the pixels (image) to the screen. The actual pixel fill rate is also dependant on lots of other factors, especially the memory bandwidth of the card - the lower the bandwidth is, the lower the potential to get to the max fill rate.

Display Prices

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GeForce GTX 970

Amazon.com

Check prices at:

Radeon R9 290X

Amazon.com

Check prices at:

Please note that the price comparisons are based on search keywords - sometimes it might show cards with very similar names that are not exactly the same as the one chosen in the comparison. We do try to filter out the wrong results as best we can, though.

Comments

13 Responses to “GeForce GTX 970 vs Radeon R9 290X”
alistair says:

is the r9 290x a better card than the 970

theavacado says:

yes, the 290x performs better than a 780, quite a bit in some situations. the 970, with some overclocking can get 780 performance. even then the 780 is a beast of a card. if you are looking at buying either of the cards, i would go with the 290x if you arent planning on playing above 1080p or multi-monitor. if planning on playing at higher resolutions i would go with the 970 because ONLY THE NEW MAXWELL BASED GPUS are more efficient and faster at displaying more pixels. that would be the only reason to buy the 970 over the 290x

theavenger says:

Wow dude you really know about this, but do you say GTX 970 will keep his performance? remember just released in september of this year. Anyways i'm going for the r9 290x as you say...

Anonymous says:

So buying the r9290x was a mistake right? The 970

ITAngel says:

No in new benchmarks show that the R9 290X takes off at 4K resolution versus the GTX 970 due to the issue with the 3.5GB vram. At 1080p the GTX 970 does great but if you push it hard with games that re heavy modded you will notice issues with it. The r9 290X will give you room to play at 4k. Base on my test using the EVGA GTX 970 SSC Edition and the MSI R9 290X Ligghtning Edition.

Only down side is that the 290X uses alot more power than the 970. Also the new drivers coming up should provide an additional 5% performance to all 290X cards. I think NVIDIA is not going to support the 970 for to long due to the issues with the 3.5GB Memory that is a physical issue not drivers related.

Good Luck!

Vicious_One says:

IMO R9 290X is a better card. I will explain why. R9 290X can use all 4GB of its VRAM. While GTX 970 can only use 3.5GB and if you go above it starts stuttering. At 1080P GTX 970 might be 2% faster but @ 1440P - 4K R9 290X starts gaining on a GTX 970.

I have owned X2 R9 290X's in Crossfire for a year now. I can honestly say, it's a pretty solid card. This whole year two of my 290X's have been driving @ 1440P 60+ FPS in "most" games.

The problem with GTX 970 is: Nvidia itself admitted, both segments can't be used at the same time, so you cannot therefore add the two bandwidth numbers. When any game that uses large texture files (Skyrim mods, etc) will start to approach and exceed the prioritized 3.5GB threshold. As soon as the VRAM usage exceeds that 3.5GB, the remaining 512MB is 1/8th the speed of the [primary segment <---- 196 GB/s]
So with 512MB (28 GB/s) of very slow memory compared to the rest, that will definitely be a performance impact. If you are running near 4GB.

*Actual GTX 970 Specs*
ROPs - 56
L2 Cache - 1.75 MB
196 GB/s (3.5 GB) & 28 GB/s (512MB).

Micheal says:

so im playing on a 1080p monitor which one should i go for a 970 or 290x?

Brendan says:

In over clocking tests I have seen, the Strix 970 performs equally or better than the R9.

You can get boost speed up to 1450+ MHz and memory up to 7.8GHz.

It's also quieter and uses much less power, do you get good performance without needing a huge power supply and cooling.

4k monitors are still expensive, so if you didn't already have one I'd choose the ASUS Strix 970. It's big... But a nice looking card. Very easy to install.

Woop says:

I am planning on buying a gpu, MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GB Twin Frozr V, but then I came across the 290x. If I am only going to be using a single 1080p monitor, what would be better?

Lordowar says:

Brendan is talking one sided rubbish. Yes you can OC a 970 but you can also OC a 290X so point is moot.

@Woop
The 970GTX is slightly worse in real world gaming than the 290X, especially in newer titles where the drivers aren't as tuned as AMD's. WIll you notice in game? Probably not. Both are great cards, i'd probably go whichever is cheapest for you and be happy.

Kaan says:

Am i the only one realising r9 is %30 more expensive than the nvdia ? And i dont think it %30 price worths %1-2 performance i would definately choose nvidia over amd

motorpsycho says:

LOL! Kaan, you are right!

i DEFINATELY will buy a EVGA 970 FTW+

Abi Hakim says:

Think i can join this debate,
I've used MSI GTX 970 ME(Limited Edition), and gotta say it's a pretty solid card.
But when i play AC: Syndicate with ULTRA SETTINGS in ALL SETTINGS.
It pushes the VRAM Above 4GB in 1080P.
It LAGS like crazy! so yes, the 3,5GB eventually WILL make your card becomes IRRELEVANT sooner as i would imagine (TBH, i know the issues about 3,5GB but coninues to ignoring it as i only play 1080p).
I Sold the card, which luckily i got 20$ Profit. and bought newly used Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X.
YES, i know it runs much hotter (10 C More), but performance wise and the specs are really future proofing, Couldn't be happier

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