Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 v AMD Radeon R9 290X

Metro Last Light

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 v AMD Radeon R9 290X: Metro: Last Night Performance

The R9 290X proved to be more consistent in Metro’s 1080p test: its 70fps average might not be able to match the 95fps average of the GTX 980, but its 34fps minimum is almost twice as good as the Nvidia card’s lowest speed. That means gameplay, at this resolution, will be smoother.

The GTX 980’s 63fps average at 1440p is better than the R9 290X’s 52fps result, but both GPUs scored minimums of 20fps in this test – so neither will be completely smooth, especially throughout graphically intensive sections.

Neither card could quite handle 4K gameplay, either. The GTX 980’s 32fps average was two frames better than the R9 290X, but the AMD card’s 19fps minimum was two frames faster than the GTX 980’s 17fps minimum.

This is the closest set of results in this group, with both cards trading blows – AMD’s hardware has better minimum framerates, but Nvidia’s GPU fights back with faster averages. The R9 290X also fought against the GTX 970; quicker at 1080p and 4K, but a little slower at 1440p.

WINNER: Draw

Metro Last LightMetro Last Light

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 v AMD Radeon R9 290X: Synthetic Benchmarks

Our collection of synthetic benchmarks demonstrate the increased amount of raw horsepower available from Nvidia’s card.

In 3D Mark’s standard Fire Strike test the R9 290X’s 9,993 result paled in comparison to the 11,102 scored by the GTX 980, and the Nvidia hardware led the way in the 1440p Extreme test. Its score of 5,620 was several hundred points ahead of the R9 290X’s 4,973 result.

It’s a similar story in our Unigine Heaven tests. In the 1080p version of the benchmark Nvidia’s card averaged 57fps, which was three frames ahead of its rival. That three-frame gap was maintained at 1440p, where the GTX 980 scored 36fps.

Neither card proved playable at 4K: the GTX 980’s average of 16fps was one frame faster than the R9 290X.

WINNER: Nvidia

3D Mark FireUnigine

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 v AMD Radeon R9 290X: Power and Heat

The GTX 980 has dominated our performance tests, and its scores are even more impressive given the efficiency of the new Maxwell architecture.

With the GTX 980 installed and with no applications running our test rig required 68W – a modest amount compared to the 106W required with the R9 290X slotted into the motherboard. The gap between the two cards was even starker when the GPUs were stress-tested: the GTX 980 contributed to a 273W power draw, while the R9 290X required 99W more.

It was a similar story in the temperature tests. The GTX 980’s 41°C idle temperature was nine degrees less than the R9 290X, and it maintained that nine-degree gap with its top temperature of 81°C.

We’re confident that the more efficient Maxwell architecture generates less heat than its AMD-branded rival, but these results must always be taken with a pinch of salt. Both of our test GPUs are reference cards provided by the manufacturers, and board partners will produce their own coolers – many of which will return lower temperatures than the ones we’ve recorded here. 

WINNER: Nvidia

Heat and Noise

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