Looks like a card for a small niche of people.
Let’s start with a look at AMD’s line-up. One Radeon R9 295X2 is almost exactly as fast as two 290Xes. The cheapest models are selling for somewhere between $570 and $600. For around $1200, then, you can have the same two Hawaii GPUs driving 4K resolutions in your ultra-high-end gaming PC. There’s just one problem: all of the partner boards worth buying employ axial fans that fill your case full of Radeon jetwash. Two 290Xes set up quite the cooling conundrum, particularly if you’re trying to overclock your CPU as well. Power users married to the idea of AMD graphics are better off paying the $300 premium for closed-loop liquid cooling, a dual-slot board, and a little extra prestige.
Drawing parallels to Nvidia is harder. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti is a great card, but it sells for $700. It’s good at 2560x1440. Logging memory use suggests that it comes awful close to running out of steam at 4K, though. We’re expecting 6 GB models for an extra $50 right around the time AMD says its new Radeon should start shipping, putting us at the same $1500 for a pair. Two Titan Blacks could be an alternative, though at $2200 combined, AMD’s card makes more sense.
In the end, Radeon R9 295X2 represents an important moment for AMD. Not only is this one product a compelling piece of hardware at a price that can be justified by flush gamers, but the company clearly listened to the feedback we hurled its way and built a board we’d be proud to own. AMD isn’t completely out of the woods, though. We have an estimated price and an estimated date for availability. The past several launches were peppered by misses on both fronts, and we’ve learned our lesson about recommending gear before you can buy it. We’re watching out for delivery on those promises, AMD.- Toms