Finally, AMD has released its new 300 series of graphics cards, with 5 cards available as of June 18th: The Radeon R7 360, R7 370, R9 380, R9 390 and R9 390X.
If you take the time to view benchmarks and read through reviews (linked below), you will find that AMD did not really release any new cards in the 300 series, but has only refreshed the 200 series. They have taken the same GPUs from the 200 series, slightly raised the clock speeds (by ~5%), and added slightly faster RAM. The result is very similar performance to the 200 series.
R7 360, R7 370, and R9 380
Let’s look at the three new mid-range cards first:
- The 360 is basically the same as the 260. It sells for $110, roughly the same price as before.
- The 370 is basically the same as the 265. It sells for $150, roughly the same price as before.
- The 380 is basically the same as the 285. It sells for $200, exactly the same price as before.
So, in theory, we have three new cards. In reality, they are pretty much the same old cards at the same old prices.
While this is not good news, it is also not terrible news. The older versions of these three cards were worth recommending at their price points, so we will be recommending their replacements. The new cards have marginally improved performance due to the higher clock speeds, so AMD can technically say that this is not a pure rebadge. The R7 360 also gets one extra GB of VRAM over its predecessor.
Also worth noting is that the 370 is based on GPU architecture that originally powered the 7850, a card released three years ago. Like the 270, it lacks some now-standard features such as DirectX 12 support and hardware video decoding above 1080p. The 360, 380, 390 and 390X all support these features.
R9 390 and 390X
Unfortunately, it is not easy to recommend AMD’s two new higher-end cards: The R9 390 and R9 390X.
- The 390 is nearly the same as the 290. It sells for $330, while the old version sold for $270.
- The 390X is nearly the same as the 290X. It sells for $430, while the old version sold for $300.
These two cards also have slightly improved clock speeds (~5%). They also come with 8GB of VRAM, as opposed to the 4GB of VRAM on the 290 or 290X, and that RAM has 20% higher clock speeds. The higher clock speeds are welcome, as they improve performance by 5% to 10%. The additional price is less welcome, however, as you can overclock the older cards for free.
The extra VRAM is puzzling, as it is only really useful at 4K resolution, and these cards don’t perform very well at 4K, even with the extra VRAM. Even then, if you have a specific need for the extra RAM, factory-overclocked R9 290Xs with 8GB RAM have been available for some time at lower prices than the 390X.
AMD clearly wants to pit the 390 and 390X against NVIDIA’s GTX 970 and 980, and they want the prices to reflect that. Unfortunately, this means that AMD is willing to charge a large premium (up to $130 extra) for slightly faster versions of its old cards. The small improvements may have been more acceptable if AMD offered these new cards for the same price as the originals, but they chose a different path.
What does this mean for Logical Increments? We will add the lower-end cards to our recommendations, as they are an easy replacement for older cards at the same prices. The 390 and 390X are not very appealing at their current prices. If you want similar performance at resolutions below 4K, get a 290 or 290X. If you want to game at 4K, you’ll want a faster card anyway.
We can still take some solace in the knowledge that AMD’s Fury and Fury X cards — which use the company’s new Fiji GPU and high-bandwidth memory technology — are expected to launch soon. We have reason to believe those cards will produce more exciting benchmarks, but we will wait and see.
In the meantime, feel free to enjoy the reviews that are available. Some sites have chosen to only compare the new cards to NVIDIA’s lineup, which we feel does readers a disservice by not showing how similar the 300 series is to the previous generation.
Head over to logicalincrements.com to track our latest recommendations. As always, we’ll continue to monitor price changes and developments in the market, and hopefully we’ll be able to recommend more of AMD’s new cards in the future.
Read in-depth reviews and view benchmarks for the 300 series here: