Overall and Final Verdict
Even going into this review I had very high expectations of the R9 290 Gaming. All of my past experiences with MSIs Gaming Series of video cards have been very good setting the bar high for this card as well. With the R9 290 Gaming, MSI didn’t really change anything up. We had the same Twin Frozr cooling that always performs well, the same red and black packaging, and frankly the same styling as the rest of their top level gaming cards. This isn’t a bad thing though, the black and red theme looks amazing and the performance numbers don’t lie. The R9 290 Gaming out performed all of the other 290’s that I have had a chance to check out due to its slightly higher overclock. Even in our cooling and noise testing it did well, even when having to cool a slightly warmer GPU due to the higher overclock.
What really sets the 290 Gaming apart though are the details. MSI included a full backplate on the 290 Gaming that goes perfectly with the black and red fan shroud on the other side of the card. Additionally MSI has really stepped it up on the software side over the past few years. With this being a gaming card you get a small app that lets you quickly flip between three different overclocks to give you more performance or a quieter card, depending on what you need at the time. As always their tuning utility Afterburner is also top notch, letting you do the tuning yourself if you would like to as well. The software also includes a built in benchmark utility, the ability to video capture on the fly while gaming, and even a matching smartphone app that will let you overclock from it as well.
Really my only complaints about the 290 Gaming are small nitpicks. The card is taller than most cards, so you will have to keep that in mind to make sure it will fit in your case. I also found it a little hard to unplug the power plugs due to how close the heatsink is, but let’s be real who is going to want to remove this card?! The biggest issue right now isn’t MSIs fault though, currently the price of this and all other AMD cards are up over the MSRP of $469 due to the demand from all of the crypto currency mining. Hopefully the price drops soon so everyone can have a chance to get one or two of their own.