Power, Sound and Closing Thoughts
I figured since I had this data already, I might as well share it. How does the CrossFire and SLI comparison look in terms of power consumption and sound levels?
Adding in the second R9 290X boosts our power consumption up to 605 watts (191 watts more than single card) which is 15% more than the pair of GTX 780 cards running in SLI. Sound levels are another sore spot for AMD; you could run BOTH GTX 780 cards at full load under the sound level you have with a single Radeon R9 290X.
XDMA CrossFire Frame Pacing – It Works!!!
As you might be able to tell: we didn't get this second AMD Radeon R9 290X card from AMD. They preferred us to wait a bit for our CrossFire testing and, in particular, our 4K CrossFire testing. But sometimes hardware finds its way to our office; when it does, we test!
And to be honest, I am not sure why AMD wouldn't have wanted this story out. When I published an article in September that looked at the severe problems that plagued the Radeon HD 7000 series in Eyefinity configurations (and thus tiled 4K ones, by association) that also used CrossFire, we wanted to push the company forward to release a fix sooner rather than later. Today's release of the Radeon R9 290X, based on a new architecture with a completely new CrossFire implementation, proves that the GCN design can be improved! Our testing with the 4K ASUS PQ321Q monitor with a pair of R9 290X cards clearly shows that to be the case.
The results are not perfect though. Notice I said the issues have been "improved" and not "fixed." There are clearly some games and situations that need more work to get to a point where game stutter is no longer noticeable. Metro: Last Light, for example, no longer drops frames when in an Eyefinity/4K configuration but it clearly has a need for tighter frame variances to improve the gaming experience.
And of course, this fix, that comes with a combination of a new driver and a completely new hardware level implementation of CrossFire, doesn't help users of the R9 280X, 270X or even the Radeon HD 7000 series cards that are already out in the wild. We are still waiting on the promised answer from AMD for those consumers that bought into the idea of CrossFire as well as multi-display gaming.
That is all we have for now – I had only a single day with the second R9 290X and thus testing was short and sweet. You can expect some more detailed analysis, video comparisons and benchmarks of Eyefinity in the days to come.