UK price (as reviewed):
Approx. £350 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed):
MSRP $430 (ex Tax)
AMD's R9 300 series of graphics processing units extends the shelf-life of the company's existing Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture at a variety of different price points and performance segments. The R9 390X, which sits atop the R9 300 series but below the R9 Fury line, makes use of a slightly reworked Hawaii silicon and AMD has named this revised GPU Grenada.
The Radeon R9 390X in particular takes the previous generation Hawaii XT and applies some incremental upgrades to deliver the new Grenada XT-based product. The most apparent change is an increase in the default memory size from 4,096MB of GDDR5 to 8,192MB - a move designed to make the R9 390X capable and future-proof for higher resolutions like UHD "4K". To get the most of that increased framebuffer the memory frequency has risen from 5,000MHz to 6,000MHz aided by the deployment of higher-specification SK hynix GDDR5 memory chips.
There are also some less obvious changes which have taken place on the manufacturing side to make Grenada XT more refined versus its predecessor. AMD has been able to mature the ASIC design and introduce microcode enhancements which result in some thermal benefits and a reduced TDP while being able to maintain higher clock speeds. More specifically, the graphics core clock has increased from 1,000MHz to 1,050MHz with a TDP reduction of 295W to 275W.
AMD's board partners have been out in force with an array of genuinely new R9 390X-based graphics card designs, as opposed to merely repurposing previous-generation products with the new GPU and increased memory capacity. MSI's particular implementation, the MSI R9 390X Gaming 8G, deploys the company's fifth-generation Twin Frozr cooler as well as increased frequencies across the board - 1,100MHz on the core and 6,100MHz on the memory. A hybrid fan mode that shuts down the fans below 60 degrees Celsius, dubbed Zero Frozr, brings the AMD R9 390X on competitive terms with many Nvidia GPUs that have sported hybrid fan modes for some time.
The MSI R9 390X Gaming 8G has a boldly styled red-and-black metal shroud that signifies this product's membership into MSI's Gaming line of products, with the styling aligning closely with the updated cooler MSI has also deployed on Nvidia's GTX 900-series graphics cards.
MSI outfits the card with a full-sized backplate and additional structural supports to add increased rigidity and prevent PCB flex over time.
The cooling solution increases in width over the previous generation MSI R9 290X gaming, rising from a 2- to a 2.5-slot design. The extra width allows MSI to add more cooling fins and heat pipes with an anticipated end result of improved cooling performance with less noise output. 8- and 6-pin PCIe power connectors are tasked with powering AMD's latest 275W GPU.
Display connectivity is provided by a duo of DVI ports, a single HDMI 1.4a port and a DisplayPort 1.2 connection, so gamers wanting to indulge in 60Hz 4K gaming will have to make use of DisplayPort.