AMD Radeon R9 290X & NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Review

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by Rob Williams on March 3, 2014 in Graphics & Displays

More often than not, every battle in the GPU Wars is hotly contested. From performance to appraisals of value, AMD and NVIDIA always engage in apparent mortal combat with each generation of GPU. This current gen of GPU, though, sees a clear-cut winner in most catagories. So did Team Red win, or did Team Green? Read on to find out!

Page 7 – Best Playable: Single Display

For about as long as GPU-accelerated games have existed, an ideal performance target has been 60 frames-per-second. Owing thanks to this is the standard 60Hz monitor, which delivers its best result when the framerate matches its refresh rate. To make sure the monitor’s refresh rate and game’s framerate keep aligned, to avoid visible tearing, VSync should be enabled.

While I believe our Best Playable results will appeal to any gamer, they could especially prove useful to those intrigued by livingroom gaming or console replacements. The goal here is simple: With each game, the graphics settings are tweaked to deliver the best possible detail while keeping us as close to 60 FPS on average as possible.

Because our Metro Last Light and Total War: SHOGUN 2 tests are timedemos, and because this kind of testing is time-consuming, I am sticking to six out of the eight games I test with for inclusion here.

Our regular benchmark tests showed that the R9 290X and 780 Ti perform on an equal level, with NVIDIA getting the slight edge in most tests. That being the case, most of the Best Playable settings are going to be identical between both cards; this is especially true on this page, since we’re dealing with only a single display. Because we’re dealing with just two cards; one from AMD, and the other from NVIDIA, the results here are in alphabetical order like in the rest of our results.

 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
2560×1440MinimumAverage
AMD Radeon R9 290X5161
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Environment:Very HighShadow:High
Texture:HighReflection:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGod Rays:High
Ambient Occlusion:SSAOVolumetric Fog:On
Motion BlurOn 
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable - AMD Radeon R9 290X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti5261
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Environment:Very HighShadow:High
Texture:HighReflection:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGod Rays:High
Ambient Occlusion:SSAOVolumetric Fog:On
Motion BlurOn 
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

With AC IV’s foolish design of a 60 FPS cap, it should come as no surprise that we’re able to retain the same settings used in our normal benchmarking and keep achieve playable framerates. Given the results here, neither card gets an edge, though it must be said that NVIDIA’s screenshot has a cat in it. So there’s that.

 Battlefield 4
2560×1440MinimumAverage
AMD Radeon R9 290X4360
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Texture Quality:UltraTexture Filtering:Ultra
Lighting:UltraEffects:Ultra
Post Processing:UltraMesh:Ultra
Terrain:UltraTerrain Decoration:Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred:2x MSAAAnti-aliasing Post:Medium
Ambient Occlusion:SSAO  
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable - AMD Radeon R9 290X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti4362
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Texture Quality:UltraTexture Filtering:Ultra
Lighting:UltraEffects:Ultra
Post Processing:UltraMesh:Ultra
Terrain:UltraTerrain Decoration:Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred:2x MSAAAnti-aliasing Post:Medium
Ambient Occlusion:SSAO  
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

Both the R9 290X and 780 Ti might be extremely powerful, but 2560×1440 might still prevent you from topping out ingame settings – such is the case here, with Battlefield 4. Fortunately, the tweaks needed to hit 60 FPS are minimal: Reduce anti-aliasing slightly, and move from HBAO to SSAO.

 Crysis 3
2560×1440MinimumAverage
AMD Radeon R9 290X4161
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Anti-aliasing:FXAATexture:High
Effects:HighObject:High
Particles:HighPost Processing:High
Shading:HighShadows:High
Water:HighAnisotropic Filtering:x16
Motion Blur:MediumLens Flares:Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable - AMD Radeon R9 290X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti4266
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Anti-aliasing:FXAATexture:High
Effects:HighObject:High
Particles:HighPost Processing:High
Shading:HighShadows:High
Water:HighAnisotropic Filtering:x16
Motion Blur:MediumLens Flares:Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

As with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the “Best Playable” results for Crysis 3 match those from the regular benchmarking. These are not the maximum settings the game can utilize, but for the Ultra profile to be playable at this resolution, multi-GPU is required.

 GRID 2
2560×1440MinimumAverage
AMD Radeon R9 290X6776
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Multisampling:4x MSAANight Lighting:High
Shadows:UltraAdvanced Fog:On
Particles:UltraCrowd:Ultra
Cloth:HighAmbient Occlusion:Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion:OnGround Cover:High
Vehicle Details:HighTrees:Ultra
Objects:UltraVehicle Reflections:Ultra
Water:HighPost Process:High
Skidmarks:OnAdvanced Lighting:On
Global Illumination:OnAnisotropic Filtering:Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable - AMD Radeon R9 290X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti7383
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Multisampling:4x MSAANight Lighting:High
Shadows:UltraAdvanced Fog:On
Particles:UltraCrowd:Ultra
Cloth:HighAmbient Occlusion:Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion:OnGround Cover:High
Vehicle Details:HighTrees:Ultra
Objects:UltraVehicle Reflections:Ultra
Water:HighPost Process:High
Skidmarks:OnAdvanced Lighting:On
Global Illumination:OnAnisotropic Filtering:Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

Once again, the settings used in the normal benchmarking gets carried over here, and overall, the results are impressive for both cards.

 Sleeping Dogs
2560×1440MinimumAverage
AMD Radeon R9 290X5970
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Anti-aliasing:HighHigh-res Textures:On
Shadow Resolution:HighShadow Filtering:High
Ambient Occlusion:HighMotion Blur:High
World Density:Extreme 
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable - AMD Radeon R9 290X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti5471
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Anti-aliasing:HighHigh-res Textures:On
Shadow Resolution:HighShadow Filtering:High
Ambient Occlusion:HighMotion Blur:High
World Density:Extreme 
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

I hate to sound like a broken record, but with Sleeping Dogs, the same settings as used in the normal benchmarking can be retained. It could be noted that AMD’s card proved 5 FPS better at the minimum side of things, but overall both cards offer nearly identical performance.

 Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
2560×1440MinimumAverage
AMD Radeon R9 290X5465
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Texture Detail:UltraShadow:Ultra
Parallax:OnTessellation:On
Texture Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Field AO & HBAO+
Anti-aliasing:FXAA 
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable - AMD Radeon R9 290X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti5871
Graphics Settings
& Screenshot
Texture Detail:UltraShadow:Ultra
Parallax:OnTessellation:On
Texture Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Field AO & HBAO+
Anti-aliasing:FXAA 
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti

I can’t wait to get into the next page, because it’s a little boring to say the same thing over and over. So with that, let’s move onto what’s considered “best” for 5760×1080.

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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