R9 290x

Adobe started officially supporting the Radeon R9 290 series graphics cards in december and the original list prices for these GPU’s looked pretty nice at $399 for the R9 290 and $549 for the R9 290x. In most tests the R9 290 and R9 290x performs with in about 5% of the GTX 780 at $499 and GTX 780 ti at $699. If the MSRP of the R9 290 cards would have been consistent, the $100 to $150 in savings would have made the Radeon cards very attractive.

Unfortunately there have been two issues plaguing these GPUs. First, up until a few weeks ago virtual currency mining was driving the R9 290 series card prices up as high as $800 to $900 a piece, making the GTX 780 and 780 ti much more attractive for both video editing and gaming. Second, the stock Radeon design for these cards only provided a single, very loud cooling fan.

Thankfully both of these problems are starting to fade away. Virtual currency prices have dropped down low enough that they no longer seem to be effecting Radeon GPU prices. Also brands like Sapphire (Tri-X above) and ASUS have started to release cards with much quieter and more efficient custom cooling shrouds that keep noise levels and operating temperatures down.

R9 290 package

Where things start to get interesting is that as the virtual currency prices fall a lot of people are beginning to unload large amounts of R9 290 and R9 290x cards on to ebay. This has been driving the used prices of these cards down by an extra $100 to $150 on ebay while the GTX Titan, GTX 780, and GTX 780 ti prices stay about the same. If the prices of a Nvidia 780 ti and Radeon R9 290x is the same, i’d say go with an Nvidia card but if you can save a few hundred dollars for 5% less performance and higher operating temperatures, the Radeon cards start to look like a pretty good value.

I ended up winning a Sapphire R9 290x Tri-X card for $380 on ebay yesterday while I was in the doctors office waiting room which is what actually got me started looking at current GPU prices. I was very impressed with the 4k Radeon Adobe CC editing demos and rendering tests I say at NAB this year. They were getting great playback and rendering at 4k on a 4k timeline with nothing more than a R9 290x and a i7 4770. Plus the $319 price savings over a GTX 780 ti is money I can spend on a nice monitor upgrade.

In my two editing bays I currently run a GTX 680 and a Radeon HD 7970. After the updates that were released by Adobe at the end of last year, it seems like both of these cards have been keeping up with editing tasks quite nicely. Each card supports a few different effects in my timeline, but it seems like there is a lot of overlap right now between OpenCL and CUDA support in Adobe CC. Both seem to be helpful in both rendering and real time playback, especially when the layer count gets above 5.

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