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I’ve Seen What It’s Like To Game At 4K And I Don’t Want To Go Back

My day job offers me some pretty cool perks. I work for Tom’s Hardware by day writing news, and doing hardware reviews. For AYBOnline, I’m the curator of the computer hardware used for our demo stations. In both of these positions I get to play around with some pretty cool technology that many people don’t get the privilege to, but even I get blown away sometimes.

One of those times was this week. As I prepare for BaseLAN 29, I consider myself a lucky man, despite being busier than you would believe. Right now, I have some of the world’s most powerful graphics cards at my disposal to do some really interesting benchmark tests. Among the hardware in my possession right now are two different AMD Radeon R9 390X graphics cards. One of them procured through Tom’s Hardware, the other sent to us a prize for this month’s event. I figured this is probably my best shot at doing some crossfire tests, so I capitalized on the event.msir9390x

Now, I regret to say, I can’t do a formal review for you today. It would be a conflict of interest to use Tom’s Hardware’s equipment to do a review for AYBOnline, and TH takes ownership of anything I post on their site, so I can’t do a double post. What I can do, is describe to you the feeling I had when I witnessed the glory of dual R9 390X GPUs with 8GB of memory each.

I’ve always been a proponent of dual GPU setups. I’ve had a few of my own but always with lower end cards. I’ve never had the chance to take two top tier cards and put them together. Before this year I didn’t have anything that would push that kind of setup anyway. Now that I have a 4K display for benchmarking, I do.farcry4

I’ve run many benchmarks on this monitor in the three months that I’ve owned it, and I’ve always come out disappointed. I’ve tried a GTX 980, a pair of GTX 970s, an R9 Fury, an R9 390 8GB and an R9 390X 8GB. All of these game up short of what I would consider a good gaming experience at 4K. Settings had to be cut back, and all that you could hope for was around 30 FPS, if you’re lucky. I wanted to see what two R9 390Xs could do, since they are both sitting here.

I always knew that two GPUs would be necessary for 4K, but holy crap was I surprised. I tried a variety of game benchmarks, some synthetic, some actual game play. In practically all of them there was more than a doubling of performance. In Shadow of Mordor, the frame rate went from under 30, to well over 80.

Playing at 4K with over 60 frames per second performance is nothing short of delightful. Far Cry 4 was running buttery smooth and it was truly something to behold. It’s honestly going to be difficult to go back to playing with my normal graphics card. I’m a changed man. This is going to cost me a fortune.

I haven’t had much of a desire to upgrade my computer recently. I don’t even really have time to play games these days, but I think I’ve scratched an itch that’s going to spread. I really can’t afford $1200 in graphics cards, and a bigger power supply to run them (the power draw touched 800w on an 850w power supply), but holy hell do I want to spend the money anyway!farcry4-rhino

Be sure to pop in at BaseLAN 29 in the Winnipeg Convention Center as part of Central Canada Comic Con this Halloween to find out how you can win the MSI R9 390X used for these tests… and a computer to go with it!

Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Editor for He knows a little about a lot, and a lot about a little. The opinions in his columns are his and his alone, but you are free to have them.

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