Update: AMD Levies Promotional Pricing On Radeon R9 290 And Radeon R9 290X To Better Compete With NVIDIA
NVIDIA's latest high-end GeForce cards, the GTX 980 and 970, are powerful - a fact we well-established in our in-depth look last month. In fact, I'd wager that the cards are so powerful - and not to mention so power-efficient - that even AMD itself was taken by surprise. To me, it felt like NVIDIA pulled out all the punches to make AMD feel it. I think that the company could have released both the 970 and 980 scaled-back a little bit, and they still would have impressed us.
Nonetheless, with NVIDIA's latest cards totally ruining AMD's value proposition at the high-end, the red team has finally decided to drop the prices on a number of its Radeon graphics cards. The high-end R9 290X, for example, is now priced at $399, which is a $150 drop from the $549 SRP that the card launched with last October. The R9 290 has also seen a drop, of $100, to settle at $299.
Of these two cards, it's the R9 290 that has the most attractive pricing. $299 puts it $30 less than an SRP'd GTX 970, and if you get a factory OC'd model (which are available for the same price), that makes it pretty good competition compared to a reference-clocked GTX 970. However, many 970s in the wild are also factory OC'd, and plus, it's hard to ignore all of the goodness that Maxwell brings with it, including vastly-improved power efficiency.
At $399, the R9 290X isn't a great value, since a factory OC'd GTX 970 at least matches its performance and can cost at least $50 less. And once again, it's hard to ignore the fact that the R9 290X will draw about 100W more at load over any GTX 970.
For AMD to truly push these cards out the door, I think its pricing has to be dropped even further. As I see it, you'd have to want to really go out of your way to support AMD to purchase these cards at least prices, because NVIDIA is simply offering the better bang-for-the-buck, better power-efficiency, and offers worthwhile Maxwell features we covered last month.
What AMD needs more than anything at this point is for its rumored 300 series to drop, and for it to mimic (or at least come close) to the impressive launch that NVIDIA had with its 900 series.
October 14th Addendum: AMD contacted us to clarify a couple of points regarding these alleged price drops. First and foremost, AMD hasn't officially dropped any prices at all, despite the reports that state otherwise. Instead, the dropped pricing we're seeing is the result of promotions that are running in the channel. While AMD isn't a missing party in promotions like these, this latest move wasn't meant to signify any price drop. We asked AMD if it would be able to tell us when official price drops would come, but not surprisingly, that's a question the company can't answer at this time.
Further, the 290 and 290X were not the only cards affected by this promotion; other cards include the 280 and 270 series. The 280X, for example, can be had for $250, while the 280 dips well below $200 when a mail-in rebate is taken into consideration. While the $299 we quoted for the R9 290 is largely holding true, the R9 290X is seeing lower pricing than what was originally quoted. Currently, some models at Newegg are going for $370, with one settling in at $350 after mail-in rebate. AMD would also like to highlight that its cards include some free games, which is a fair point - NVIDIA's GTX 970 and 980 do not. At the moment, Alien Isolation and a Star Citizen pack are included, with others available through AMD's latest Never Settle bundle, in addition to some other perks.