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.
I love AMD but it's true it's hard buy their products when I know there are better
Gods be praised.
Great article Rob. I saw the title and came in ready to comment on how this really isn't all that exciting of a deal but you covered all the reasons why already! NVIDIA's GTX 970 was a killer blow for the end of this year. AMD better liquidate their R9 290 stock quick before too many people catch on.
Unless you like AMD and the experience, as well as the tech available, such as mantle. I'd take one of these 290xs over a nvidia card anyday. As well as all the consoles use AMD tech, so optimization will be in AMD's corner. Those damn miners have kept the prices of these card high in the past. Luckily that is settling down.
More incoming when the GTX 960 gets released
I don't see either AMD card as a old option for the price versus the competition. What bothers me more is how little the AMD cards have dropped in price. $150 price drop on the R9 290x when the card has been out already a year and it is new/better competition that drops the price that much? I wouldn't pay anything near that for a card that old that is already beat on the market. I expect the SRP for these cards to be the price they are at now and the Nvidia cards should be further dropping that price.
Basically AMD should have discounted their cards months ago but without competition forcing them to do so they kept the hugely inflated prices and are only now dropping them because of the competition. Too little too late.
This is a nice gesture and all, but the power usage in the 970 and 980 are really hard to overlook, especially when I think that it will be spring when I can probably afford these cards. But it gives fans of AMD cards something to be happy about.
Looks like they r getting ready for new graphics card next year!
Well they need to bring out something soon. I really cant remember the last time i got an amd card. The 970-980 are good however I'll stick with my 780 OC card for now, its running at Ti speeds so its comes out a head of the amd cards
I think that they've (AMD) sold a lot of product to partners who are wondering how to make their money back at the prices they paid to AMD. So a more realistic price reduction is still a month or more away, after partners unload some product.
I really hope the 960 is good to further push prices down. 299 is still a bit high for me and I think I would pay the slight premium for the 970 still (once prices come back to MSRP from the gouging). The 290 is a great card but the 970 does everything it does, but does it better and its slightly more future proof with HDMI 2.0 , newer Architecture, etc...
I'm currently on a 7950 that I bought for 179 of the exact model I wanted (MSI TF with 7970 PCB) before the mining boom. At that time it was basically barely below the best card you could get in performance, the price:performance was pretty dang exceptional for its time.
not enough AMD... not enough...