Do AMD Drivers Really Deserve Such a Hostile Reception?

Introduction


AMD has a serious image problem with their drivers which stems from buggy, unrefined updates, and a slow release schedule. Even though this perception began many years ago, it’s still impacting on the company’s sales and explains why their market share is so small. The Q4 2015 results from Jon Peddie Research suggests AMD reached a market share of 21.1% while NVIDIA reigned supreme with 78.8%. Although, the Q4 data is more promising because AMD accounted for a mere 18.8% during the last quarter. On the other hand, respected industry journal DigiTimes reports that AMD is likely to reach its lowest ever market position for Q1 2016. Thankfully, the financial results will emerge on April 21st so we should know the full picture relatively soon. Of course, the situation should improve once Polaris and Zen reach retail channels. Most importantly, AMD’s share price has declined by more than 67% in five years from $9 to under $3 as of March 28, 2016. The question is why?

Is the Hardware Competitive?


The current situation is rather baffling considering AMD’s extremely competitive product line-up in the graphics segment. For example, the R9 390 is a superb alternative to NVIDIA’s GTX 970 and features 8GB VRAM which provides extra headroom when using virtual reality equipment. The company’s strategy appears to revolves around minor differences in performance between the R9 390 and 390X. This also applied to the R9 290 and 290X due to both products utilizing the Hawaii core. NVIDIA employs a similar tactic with the GTX 970 and GTX 980 but there’s a marked price increase compared to their rivals.

NVIDIA’s ability to cater towards the lower tier demographic has been quite poor because competing GPUs including the 7850 and R9 380X provided a much better price to performance ratio. Not only that, NVIDIA’s decision to deploy ridiculously low video memory amounts on cards like the GTX 960 has the potential to cause headaches in the future. It’s important to remember that the GTX 960 can be acquired with either 2GB or 4GB of video memory. Honestly, they should have simplified the process and produced the higher memory model in a similar fashion to the R9 380X. Once again, AMD continues to offer a very generous amount of VRAM across various product tiers.

Part of the problem revolves around AMD’s sluggish release cycle and reliance on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.1 architecture. This was first introduced way back in 2013 with the Radeon HD 7790. Despite its age, AMD deployed the GCN 1.1 architecture on their revised 390 series and didn’t do themselves any favours when denying accusations about the new line-up being a basic re-branding exercise. Of course, this proved to be the case and some users managed to flash their 290/290X to a 390/390X with a BIOS update. There’s nothing inherently wrong with product rebrands if they can remain competitive in the current market. It’s not exclusive to AMD, and NVIDIA have used similar business strategies on numerous occasions. However, I feel it’s up to AMD to push graphics technology forward and encourage their nearest rival to launch more powerful options.

Another criticism regarding AMD hardware which seems to plague everything they release is the perception that every GPU runs extremely hot. You only have to look on certain websites, social media and various forums to see this is the main source of people’s frustration. Some individuals are even known to produce images showing AMD graphics cards setting ablaze. So is there any truth to these suggestions? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and a pertinent example comes from the R9 290 range. The 290/290X reference models utilized one of the most inefficient cooler designs I’ve ever seen and struggled to keep the GPU core running below 95C under load.

Unbelievably, the core was designed to run at these high thermals and AMD created a more progressive RPM curve to reduce noise. As a result, the GPU could take 10-15 minutes to reach idle temperature levels. The Hawaii temperatures really impacted on the company’s reputation and forged a viewpoint among consumers which I highly doubt will ever disappear. It’s a shame because the upcoming Polaris architecture built on the 14nm FinFET process should exhibit significant efficiency gains and end the concept of high thermals on AMD products. There’s also the idea that AMD GPUs have a noticeably higher TDP than their NVIDIA counterparts. For instance, the R9 390 has a TDP of 275 watts while the GTX 970 only consumes 145 watts. On the other hand, the Fury X utilizes 250 watts compared to the GTX 980Ti’s rating of 275 watts.

Eventually, AMD released a brand new range of graphics cards utilizing the first iteration of high bandwidth memory. Prior to its release, expectations were high and many people expected the Fury X to dethrone NVIDIA’s flagship graphics card. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition and the Fury X fell behind in various benchmarks, although it fared better at high resolutions. The GPU also encountered supply problems and emitted a large whine from the pump on early samples. Asetek even threatened to sue Cooler Master who created the AIO design which could force all Fury X products to be removed from sale.

The rankings alter rather dramatically when the DirectX 12 render is used which suggests AMD products have a clear advantage. Asynchronous Compute is the hot topic right now which in theory allows for greater GPU utilization in supported games. Ashes of the Singularity has implemented this for some time and makes for some very interesting findings. Currently, we’re working on a performance analysis for the game, but I can reveal that there is a huge boost for AMD cards when moving from DirectX11 to DirectX12. Furthermore, there are reports indicating that Pascal might not be able to use asynchronous shaders which makes Polaris and Fiji products more appealing.

Do AMD GPUs Lack Essential Hardware Features?


When selecting graphics hardware, it’s not always about pure performance and some consumers take into account exclusive technologies including TressFX hair before purchasing. At this time, AMD incorporates with their latest products LiquidVR, FreeSync, Vulkan support, HD3D, Frame rate target control, TrueAudio, Virtual Super resolution and more! This is a great selection of hardware features to create a thoroughly enjoyable user-experience. NVIDIA adopts a more secretive attitude towards their own creations and often uses proprietary solutions. The Maxwell architecture has support for Voxel Global Illumination, (VGXI), Multi Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), VR Direct and G-Sync. There’s a huge debate about the benefits of G-Sync compared to FreeSync especially when you take into account the pricing difference when opting for a new monitor. Overall, I’d argue that the NVIDIA package is better but there’s nothing really lacking from AMD in this department.

Have The Drivers Improved?


Historically, AMD drivers haven’t been anywhere close to NVIDIA in terms of stability and providing a pleasant user-interface. Back in the old days, AMD or even ATI if we’re going way back, had the potential to cause system lock-ups, software errors and more. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of updating a 7850 to the latest driver and after rebooting, the system’s boot order was corrupt. To be fair, this could be coincidental and have nothing to do with that particular update. On another note, the 290 series was plagued with hardware bugs causing black screens and blue screens of death whilst watching flash videos. To resolve this, you had to disable hardware acceleration and hope that the issues subsided.

The Catalyst Control Center always felt a bit primitive for my tastes although it did implement some neat features such as graphics card overclocking. While it’s easy enough to download a third-party program like MSI Afterburner, some users might prefer to install fewer programs and use the official driver instead.

Not so long ago, AMD appeared to have stalled in releasing drivers for the latest games to properly optimize graphics hardware. On the 9th December 2014, AMD unveiled the Catalyst 14.12 Omega WHQL driver and made it ready for download. In a move which still astounds me, the company decided not to release another WHQL driver for 6 months! Granted, they were working on a huge driver redesign and still produced the odd Beta update. I honestly believe this was very damaging and prevented high-end users from considering the 295×2 or a Crossfire configuration. It’s so important to have a consistent, solid software framework behind the hardware to allow for constant improvements. This is especially the case when using multiple cards which require profiles to achieve proficient GPU scaling.

Crimson’s release was a major turning point for AMD due to the modernized interface and enhanced stability. According to AMD, the software package involves 25 percent more manual test cases and 100 percent more automated test cases compared to AMD Catalyst Omega. Also, the most requested bugs were resolved and they’re using community feedback to quickly apply new fixes. The company hired a dedicated team to reproduce errors which is the first step to providing a more stable experience. Crimson apparently loads ten times faster than its predecessor and includes a new game manager to optimize settings to suit your hardware. It’s possible to set custom resolutions including the refresh rate, which is handy when overclocking your monitor. The clean uninstall utility proactively works to remove any remaining elements of a previous installation such as registry entries, audio files and much more. Honestly, this is such a revolutionary move forward and AMD deserves credit for tackling their weakest elements head on. If you’d like to learn more about Crimson’s functionality, please visit this page.

However, it’s far from perfect and some users initially experienced worse performance with this update. Of course, there’s going to be teething problems whenever a new release occurs but it’s essential for AMD to do everything they can to forge a new reputation about their drivers. Some of you might remember, the furore surrounding the Crimson fan bug which limited the GPU’s fans to 20 percent. Some users even reported that this caused their GPU to overheat and fail. Thankfully, AMD released a fix for this issue but it shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Once again, it’s hurting their reputation and ability to move on from old preconceptions.

Is GeForce Experience Significantly Better?


In recent times, NVIDIA drivers have been the source of some negative publicity. More specifically, users were advised to ignore the 364.47 WHQL driver and instructed to download the 364.51 beta instead. One user said:

“Driver crashed my windows and going into safe mode I was not able to uninstall and rolling back windows would not work either. I ended up wiping my system to a fresh install of windows. Not very happy here.”

NVIDIA’s Sean Pelletier released a statement at the time which reads:

“An installation issue was found within the 364.47 WHQL driver we posted Monday. That issue was resolved with a new driver (364.51) launched Tuesday. Since we were not able to get WHQL-certification right away, we posted the driver as a Beta.

GeForce Experience has an option to either show WHQL-only drivers or to show all drivers (including Beta). Since 364.51 is currently a Beta, gamers who have GeForce Experience configured to only show WHQL Game Ready drivers will not currently see 364.51

We are expecting the WHQL-certified package for the 364.51 Game Ready driver within the next 24hrs and will replace the Beta version with the WHQL version accordingly. As expected, the WHQL-certified version of 364.51 will show up for all gamers with GeForce Experience.”

As you can see, NVIDIA isn’t immune to driver delivery issues and this was a fairly embarrassing situation. Despite this, it didn’t appear to have a serious effect on people’s confidence in the company or make them re-consider their views of AMD. While there are some disgruntled NVIDIA customers, they’re fairly loyal and distrustful of AMD’s ability to offer better drivers. The GeForce Experience software contains a wide range of fantastic inclusions such as ShadowPlay, GameStream, Game Optimization and more. After a driver update, the software can feel a bit unresponsive and takes some time to close. Furthermore, some people dislike the notion of GameReady drivers being locked in the GeForce Experience Software.  If a report from PC World is correct, consumers might have to supply an e-mail address just to update their drivers through the application.

Before coming to a conclusion, I want to reiterate that my allegiances don’t lie with either company and the intention was to create a balanced viewpoint. I believe AMD’s previous failures are impacting on the company’s current product range and it’s extremely difficult to shift people’s perceptions about the company’s drivers. While Crimson is much better than CCC, it’s been the main cause of a horrendous fan bug resulting in a PR disaster for AMD.

On balance, it’s clear AMD’s decision to separate the Radeon group and CPU line was the right thing to do. Also, with Polaris around the corner and more games utilizing DirectX 12, AMD could improve their market share by an exponential amount. Although, from my experience, many users are prepared to deal with slightly worse performance just to invest in an NVIDIA product. Therefore, AMD has to encourage long-term NVIDIA fans to switch with reliable driver updates on a consistent basis. AMD products are not lacking in features or power, it’s all about drivers! NVIDIA will always counteract AMD releases with products exhibiting similar performance numbers. In my personal opinion, AMD drivers are now on par with NVIDIA and it’s a shame that they appear to be receiving unwarranted criticism. Don’t get me wrong, the fan bug is simply inexcusable and going to haunt AMD for some time. I predict that despite the company’s best efforts, the stereotypical view of AMD drivers will not subside. This is a crying shame because they are trying to improve things and release updates on a significantly lower budget than their rivals.

XFX Brings Back Blower Style R9 390X

When AMD first launched their R9 290 and 290X GPUs back in 2013, many had mixed feelings for the blower style cooler. While the cooler was one of the best efforts yet from AMD, it was not enough for the hot Hawaii chips, leading to high temperature, throttling and noisy operation. In the end, many opted for custom coolers which were not blowers and did a better job at cooling. Two years later, it looks like XFX is planning on releasing the 390/X series cards equipped with what appears to be the original 290X cooler.

Using the Grenada core, the R9 390X is fundamentally the same as the 290X, with maybe better binning and process improvements to differentiate them. XFX is also using the older cooler and not the revamped one AMD launched with the R9 390X in a while ago. The new 390X blower cooler take’s its design cues from the Fury X and Nano. Given XFX’s choice of using the 2013 cooler and not the 2015 model, either XFX has a lot of stock left or there is little difference between the 2015 and 2013 models. You can check out the 2015 model below.

There is undoubtedly a market for blower style GPUs as they tend to exhaust more of the GPU heat out of the case. This is especially important for SFF and builds with poor case cooling. If the cooler is still lacking though, there won’t be many users who will pick it up. The biggest advantage is that with a reference board, watercooling blocks will be easier to source. It will be interesting to see how well the blower card does, both performance and sales wise.

Radeon R9 390X Teardown Reveals R9 290X

The new AMD graphics cards are almost here and as with most hardware launches, cards are already finding their way into the wild. Now it seems someone has taken their brand new XFX Radeon R9 390X to pieces and what they found was rather interesting.

The teardown of the new GPU revealed that the interior of the card is virtually identical to that of the current AMD Radeon R9 290X, confirming any rumours and speculation of the card in a rebrand of the current/last generation. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the new card features 8GB of Vram and higher clock speeds when compared with its 290X counterpart, so it is for all intents and purposes a better card, but how much better, remains to be seen.

390X

290X

What’s interesting, is that the BIOS for these new cards is already finding its way online, prompting some users to flash their 290X to a 390X, although at this early stage, I’m not sure that’s entirely a good idea.

Will you be buying one of these “new and improved” cards, or are you holding out for the new Fury series of cards, of which we do know are a fresh design?

Thank you Legit Reviews for providing us with this information.

PowerColor Clarifies Details on AMD 390X Photos at Computex

Computex 2015 – As we are live at Computex, we wanted to find out of the leaked photos actually were of the upcoming AMD Radeon R9 390X or not. So we caught up with PowerColor and asked them some questions to find out.

And we now know it for sure and sadly have to debunk the previous news. The pictured card is NOT the new R9 390X, nor is it an official cooling design.

The representative at the PowerColor booth confirmed this. Underneath the beefy cooler is an AMD Radeon R9 290X card and it is equipped with a prototype DEVIL 13 Hybrid cooling solution. So sadly, this is neither a finished new card nor the highly expected Radeon R9 390X card.

PowerColor could however confirm that they are working on the new AMD R9 300 series and will have their cards ready shortly after the official reveal June 16th at E3, so stay tuned and we’ll make sure to keep you updated as soon as we have more information.

AMD Hawaii GPUs Returning With Radeon 300 Series

It’s not uncommon for current generation graphics cards to be tweaked, improved and rebranded to become part of the next-generation launch. This time around, it seems that the current line-up of Hawaii GPUs, such as the Radeon R9 290 cards, will be treated to an overclock and the addition of more VRAM However, it’s important to point out that any rebranded cards will not feature the upcoming HBM memory that the new flagship cards will feature.

It’s hard to nail down what new cards are what, as they’ve not yet been given a confirmed codename. We suspect that cards such as the R9 380 will be a rebrand of the current R9 285, but that information will no doubt become clearer closer to the launch. The Hawaii HX has a mild overclock, but a significant boost in memory speed, as well as a move from 4GB to 8GB of VRAM; the same goes for the Hawaii Pro.

Check out this list of expected 300 series cards below. It’s incomplete, but given that many of the cards aren’t confirmed yet, only rumoured and leaked, there’s still plenty more information to discover.

Personally, I’m happy to see the better picks from the current range get a boost, as they offer some great price vs performance ratios, while the bump in VRAM will help push 4K gaming into the mainstream. However, I’m personally sitting and waiting for the higher-end all-new cards with HBM, such as the R9 380X and 390X.

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

More AMD Radeon R9 390X Specifications Leaked

Following on from earlier rumoured leak of the R9 300 series cooling and card length, it seems the specification of the highly anticipated R9 390x has slipped as well.

From earlier, we know that the R9 390x is rumoured to ship with two options of cooling, the first a typical air cooling design similar to what AMD currently produce; however, the second appears to be no longer than the NVIDIA GTX 970 reference design PCB and will include a similar cooling feature to the current R9 295×2. The new High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) has been integrated onto the GPU core, which is how AMD has managed to squeeze all of the features onto such a small PCB design.

Now onto the specification:

“The Fiji XT-enabled R9 390X is said to feature 8GB video memory, GCN 1.2 architecture, 4,096 stream processors, 256 TMUs, 128 ROPs, and a 4096-bit wide interface resulting in a total bandwidth of 640GB/s.”

If these specifications are true, it will be based on a very similar architecture to the R9 285 and aims to be more powerful than the R9 295×2; very impressive for a single GPU, short PCB card.

Are you looking forward to the launch in approximately a month time? I personally can’t wait to get my hands on the R9 390x, especially if the specs and water cooling is as rumoured. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you to VRworld for providing us with this information.

Sapphire Tri-x Radeon R9 290x 8GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


The AMD R9 200 range has been with us now for around 18 months, much longer than a normal graphics card range. AMD produced some very high-quality products here that allowed them to initially beat NVIDIA offerings and lately just fall short with the release of the GeForce GTX 900 range. To counteract this, AMD have recently cut the prices of most of its graphics card range and no pose an amazing performance vs price argument. In recent months, 4K gaming has boomed and most consumers are noticing a lacking performance at this resolution due to a shortage of VRAM. In most cases, most general games use below this amount, but some niche games, such as ‘modded’ Skyrim and GTA IV use around 6GB. To counteract this, AMD has allowed its sub-vendors to add an additional 4GB of VRAM to its R9 290x range, revealing the highest single core VRAM card to date.

Today we have the Sapphire Tri-x R9 290x 8GB, boasting high overclocks and some amazing features; this card should impress. We’ve recently had another of Sapphires 8GB offerings, the Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290x 8GB. This graphics card had given us a taste of how useful 8GB of VRAM is and it disappointed us with all of our benchmarking games only using 3.5GB VRAM maximum. This particular model gives us more hope, with newer games being released that hope to break into the 4GB+ realm, such as Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and The Evil Within both supposedly requiring 5-7GB. The Tri-x model differs from the Vapor-X model with its different cooling solution, colour scheme and the bundled Tri-x utility software

This particular model is priced $479.99  (VX), a very competitive price for an absolutely amazing cooling solution and a tasty factory overclock.

Sapphire follow their standard boxing methods, small bubbles along the bottom outlining key information and a colour scheme to match the graphics card on the inside. The keywords on the box are “Never Stop Evolving” which could be applied to the Vapor-X and Tri-x models in which they are both different variations of one graphics card. The box contains a Sapphire based mouse pad, 1.8m HDMI cable, driver CD, quick install guide contact information and a product registration guide.

The cooling shroud follows a similar design to that of the Vapor-X model, triple 90mm fans designed to get the best airflow into the heat sink while keep it silent during low load operation.

At the far end of the card, we see a honeycomb effect at the end of the shroud, ending it off nicely. We also see 3 of the massive copper heat pipes protruding the end of the heat sink.

Along the top of the card, business as usual with Sapphire style. Clean crisp edges with a raised brushed metal effect “Sapphire” logo. You can see that this power-hungry card demands 2x 8 pin PCI-e connectors.

Around the back of the card, things get a little disappointing, with such a premium cooling shroud, it would have made sense to use a backplate, even if it was basic, just something to cover the PCB.

Typical Sapphire style, clean and simple outputs, 2x DVi, 1x DisplayPort and 1x HDMi.

Sapphire Reveals New 8GB R9 290x With Tri-X Cooler

Sapphire are no stranger to pushing the boundaries of their graphics cards. In recent months, they released the industry leading R9 290X 8GB graphics card, with their outstanding Vapour-x cooling solution. Well they’re here again, offering an alternative version, again with 8GB of RAM, but with their acclaimed Tri-X cooling solution.

“The SAPPHIRE R9 290X Tri-X 8GB features the latest GCN (graphics core next) architecture from AMD with 2816 stream processing units and an enhanced engine clock of up to 1020Mhz. It is equipped with 8GB of the latest high performance GDDR5 memory on a 512-bit interface and now clocked at 1375 MHz (5.5GHz effective) delivering higher bandwidth than earlier models. Built on a SAPPHIRE original pcb, the layout incorporates a 6-phase VDDC power design. Two 8-pin power connectors ensure adequate system power is available (up to 375 Watts total including PCI-Express power).”

Using AMD’s Eyefinity technology, powering multiple screens, the visual experience will be extremely immersive. This particular graphics card will provide outstanding performance at all resolutions, but its primary target audience is the high-end, Ultra-HD (4k resolution) market. The 8GB VRAM will not only help those at higher resolutions, but also help those interested in running extreme mods on games such as Skyrim and the GTA series; we already know that at some points, modified GTA-IV can hit as high at 4GB VRAM.

Along with its immense VRAM quantity, the Tri-X R9 290x will offer the same standard technology that AMD released it with, such as AMD TrueAudio, HD3D, Powertune and more. Sapphire also bundles in its own TRIXX software to help overclock and monitor the graphics card during operation.

The Tri-X model is currently in production and expected to hit retail in the coming weeks.

Thank you Sapphire for providing us with this information

Corsair Releases Hydro Series HG10 GPU Liquid Cooling Bracket

Corsair announced the immediate availability of the Hydro Series HG10 A1 Edition GPU liquid cooling bracket for AMD Radeon R9 290X and 290 graphics cards. The HG10 isn’t just an AIO bracket with a fan, it’s also a heatsink at the same time, a thing that has been missing on current competitor offers.

You can combine a Corsair AIO cooler with this black anodized aluminium bracket to create an effective full-coverage GPU liquid cooling solution for all the vital parts of your graphics card. Adhesive heat-transfer pads have been aligned to cover RAM and VRMs while a fan blows cold air over the entire PCB in the same fashion a reference cooler would; but a lot less force is needed and a huge sound reduction is achieved.

The HG10 solution is said to be so effective that it can drop peak temperatures as much as 50 degrees while having significant lower noise levels. This should eliminate any form of thermal throttling as well as increase the overclocking headroom.

It also looks like the fan is a lot easier to remove and clean than what we’ve seen up until now on the Kraken G10, a small but very useful feature.

The Hydro Series HG10 A1 Edition GPU liquid cooling bracket is designed to support all stock reference versions of AMD Radeon R9 290X and 290X graphics cards. A full list of compatible cards can be found at corsair.com. New HG10 editions compatible with NVIDIA GeForce Titan, 7 Series, and other GPUs will be available in early 2015.

The MSRP is set to just $39.99 and should be available now or very shortly.

Thanks to Corsair for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Corsair

PowerColor Release PCS+ 290X 8GB Graphics Card

The current hot topic is certainly 8GB graphics cards, with more and more manufacturers hitting the market with revised graphics cards. The most recent addition to the party is the PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X, which now comes with 8GB instead of the standard 4GB VRAM.

The card has been designed to boost 4K performance, which is a very demanding resolution, even for current flagship hardware. The PCS+ R9 290X comes with 2816 stream processors, a core speed of 1030MHZ and a memory speed of 1375MHz (5.5Gbps effective) over a 512-bit wide memory interface.

The card has been equipped with the PowerColor Gold Power Kit, Digital PWM, PowlRstage, a Multi Phase Design and more; all of which should help improve overall performance, efficiency and clock speeds. The cooler features a triple fan design, with three 8015 fans, two sets of aluminium fins and 5 heat pipes. There is also a high quality metal back plate and shroud on fitted to the card.

Currently no details on price, but we’ll update you as soon as we know.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of PowerColor.

8 GB XFX Radeon R9 290X Graphics Card Spotted

Eager to get your graphics card loving hands on more VRAM? Then check out one of the first 8GB R9 290X graphics cards from XFX! We’ve already heard that Sapphire, MSI and PowerColor are working on similar hardware, but the more manufacturers giving their hardware a VRAM boost, the better.

Images have leaked that show the popular XFX R9 290X sporting an 8GB sticker. It still looks like the previous card, with their lovely Ghost2 cooler, but with double the amount of VRAM of the old model. This is good news for those pushing for better 4K performance levels and should reap huge rewards for those running multi-GPU configurations.

Are you excited about 8GB cards, or are you currently happy with a 4GB (or less) GPU?

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of VideoCardz.

AMD Slashes R9 280 & R9 290 Cards

AMD’s R9 290X

AMD have always strived to offer great value for money and their price vs performance ratios have always proven to be a thorn in the side of Nvidia. While Nvidia may be plowing through the industry with a few higher performance cards, AMD are dropping their prices on higher performance products to better compete with Nvidia in their respective price ranges.

While some may say this is AMD trying to keep up, I say “who cares!”, fact is that as a consumer, we’re the ones who win in this graphics card battle and with AMD now dropping the prices of their R9 290 and R9 280 series graphics cards even further, despite the fact they lowered them just last month! It’s never been a better time to buy an AMD card.

The Radeon R9 290X is down from $449 to $399, a far cry from the $549 starting price when the card was launched. The standard Radeon R9 290 is down from its $399 launch price to a very reasonable $299; that’s right, a 290 is now less than $300!

The R9 280X is down to just $270, only $30 short of the 290, but the cards are quite close in terms of performance. One of the best discounts is that the recently launched R9 285 “Tonga” is now down to just $229, putting it within $10 of the GTX 760 price.

There are now a wide range of very high performance cards available for around $300 and with the GeForce GTX 970 available for $329, high-end PC gaming has never been so affordable.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information.

AMD Radeon R9 290X Gets a Price Cut

AMD have dug out the slashing-knife for another round of price cuts, as apparently AMD are working with their add-in board manufacturers and retailers to bring down the price on their current flagship graphics card; the AMD Radeon R9 290X. The prices are expected to settle between $450 and $500 and follows nicely with AMD’s recent move to cut a third of the price on their dual-GPU graphics card.

Nvidia are about to launch their new GeForce GTX 970 and 980 cards, so it could be seen as a preventive attempt from AMD to give more bang for the buck. Many users however see it as long overdue considering its age.

The cheapest version of the current single-GPU flagship can be had at newegg for just $449,99 as a reference model and another $40 for the cheapest after-market version. In the UK they’re even cheaper, with Scan listing the cheapest reference card for just £269.99 inc VAT. Adding an after-market cooling solution however increases the price to £336.35. Overclockers UK are offering the reference design at the same price of £269.99, while the cheapest after market solution can be had for £329.99 inc VAT.

Reports are coming in from users in many different areas around the world, that the cards have dropped there as well. So if you’re in the market for a new graphics solution, keep your eyes out for great Radeon R9 290X deals.

Thank you TechpowerUp for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Overclockers UK

Swiftech Komodo R9-LE GPU Water Block Released

Swiftech has just revealed their new Komodo R90LE VGA water block, and as the name might suggest it is fully compatible with the AMD Radeon 290 and 290X graphics cards. This follows in the footsteps of the company launching their Apogee XL and Komodo-NV LE cooling blocks for the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan, Titan Black, 780 and 780ti.

The new cooler will run on the reference AMD PCB designs for the 290 and 290X, offering massive improvements in cooling for those willing to setup a custom radiator and pump loop for their GPU. The coolant will pass over all the major components for these cards, taking care of the GPU, memory and power MOSFETs.

No components will be left exposed as the block covers the full PCB, and this means you get to see more of that gorgeous brushed aluminium black plate which comes included with the block. Those wanting an extra touch of style can take advantage of the interchangeable colour strips which light up the coolant window and front logo plate in a choice of four colours; green, red, blue or clear. The cooler is available now from all your usual online retailers and is priced around $179.95

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of TechPowerUp.

Fan Control Bug Causes MSI R9 290X Lightning Cards To Burnout!

While this news isn’t exactly new to some people out there, it’s now gotten to the point where it’s been discovered to be a wider issue that one or two cards having problems with their fans. It’s no secret that a small percentage of any type of technology will have defects, but the issue here seems to be with the Catalyst 14.3 drivers.

The MSI R9 290X Lightning is a very power-hungry card, it needs to be kept cool, the 290X cores are hot enough as it is and overclocking doesn’t do them any favours in terms of thermals, this is why MSI uses a triple fan configuration to keep it in check. Unfortunately it looks like a very serious software bug is causing the outer two fans to stop spinning, causing severe and sometimes fatal heat build up.

Simple solution to this is to downgrade to Catalyst 13.12 if you’re having fan speed issues, and while this seems limited to the MSI R9 290X, it’s always best to double-check your GPU in both idle and load states to make sure the Beta drivers aren’t causing any issues.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WCCF.

First Retail Asus Radeon R9 295X2 Pictured

It looks like the guys over at WCCFtech have got their hands on some images of the new R9 295X2, AMD’s latest dual Hawaii based graphics card which is set to be launched very soon. We’ve already seen images and specifications for the new card, but now we see the first card from a manufacturer other than AMD reference.

OK so this is still a reference card design, as you can see it just features the Asus sticker on the fan, another on the radiator and Asus packaging. The only real difference for the consumer maybe price and warranty, which typically varies from brand to brand.

One thing we do like about the new packaging is that it confirms that the 295X2 is in fact an 8GB GDDR5 equipped card, as we did have some rumours that it was 16GB, but of course 8GB is more than enough, 16GB is just crazy. The card is also DirectX 11.2 ready, features the Hydra cooler which was specially made by Asatek and is expected to cost around $1500.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of WCCFTech.

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Stripped Down, New Images Leaked

It looks like the team over at Videocardz are happy to leak even more information on the upcoming Radeon R9 295X2 graphics card. The 295X2 is set to be the latest and greatest card from AMD, featuring two graphics 290x graphics cores and a high end hybrid cooling solution.

As you can see from the pictures here the card features two Hawaii based GPUs, each with their own 5+1 phase power delivery systems, a PLX chip that will handle the on-board CrossFire between the two cores and support for XDMA CrossFire which will allow you to hook up two R9 295X2 cards, technically quad-GPU’s.

The dual slot design of the card means that mounting it shouldn’t be much of an issue, and while we don’t have official sizes it’s obviously quite a long graphics cards. A single 92mm fan cools the ram and the VRM from the centre of the card and you’ll also find a pair of liquid cooling pumps running in tandem via a 120mm water cooling radiator, something that was said to be custom made by Asetek as part of AMD’s Project Hydra cooling system for this card.

Rumour has it that the card will set you back $1500, half of the price of the Nvidia GTX Titan Black, no doubt each card will have their own set of strength and weaknesses when we finally get to put them side by side on our test bench.

Thank you Hardware-360 for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of VideoCards.

Official Radeon R9 295X2 Pictures And Specifications Unveiled

While we’ve been quick to bring you all the latest rumours and leaks we can find about the new king of AMD graphics cards, it looks like the leaks have now become a full blown storm as the folks over at VideoCardz blow the lid off everything we wanted to know about the new dual-GPU graphics card.

As you can see from the image below, we can confirm that the R9 295X2 will feature two full Hawaii-XT graphics processors on a single PCB, giving it a staggering 5632 stream processors, 352 TMUs and a core clock speed of 1018 MHz.

The card will be backed up by 8GB of GDDR5 memory which runs on the 512-bit x2 memory bus at a speed of 1250 MHz (5000 MHz effective).

The card runs from dual 8pin power connectors, so there is no doubt that this will be a power hungry beast, in fact it’ll be able to churn up a TDP of 500W! Each Hawaii-XT core will have a 5+1 VRM, much like that of the 290X.

Both cores will be connected via the PLA chip and xDMA to help improve scaling and given that this card will be able to push video via its four DisplayPorts and a single DVI port, Eyefinity and 4K should be easy work for the 295X2.

The whole thing is cooled by what AMD are calling Project Hydra, which is just a fancy name for a 120mm water cooling radiator which comes with a push pull fan configurations, and two cooling tubes which are hooked up to individual GPU blocks. In the middle of the card is a red LED back-lit 92mm fan and you’ll also find a red LED light up Radeon logo on the side of the card.

That’s all for now, and while some of these cards show performance figures, I’ve always been wary of manufacturers in-house performance figures, we’ll wait for the real world results before we start weighing this thing up against the competition.

Thank you VideoCards for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of VideoCards.

Final Specifications And First Images OF R9 295X2 Leaked

While the new card from AMD isn’t due to be fully revealed (officially) for another week, that hasn’t stopped a few leaks from getting through the cracks in the internet, just like every other major hardware reveal. As you may already know, the Radeon R9 295×2 is a single GPU that features two 290X cores on one PCB, offering massive power gains from its two full-Hawaii XT cores.

While the specifications above are just a rumoured leak, this close to the reveal we have little reason to doubt they’re as close to final as can be. As you can see above we have 5632 SPs, up to 4-8GB GDDR5, which can be doubled in a 4+4 or 8+8 format on a per GPU basis. A huge memory bus, dual 8-pin power connections and a retail price that is half of the Titan Z. Does this card have any hope of competing with the Titan Z? Nope, not really, but in terms of price vs performance it could smash Nvidia into the ground.

The cards have already started to surface in the tech world, but that hasn’t stopped someone from leaking two images of what is belived to be the new card and the water cooler that has been rumoured. We long suspected the card would be water cooled, especially given that the 290X Radeon cores run very hot, putting two on one card runs the risk of the card melting through the Earths crust without sufficient cooling.

Only one week to go and well know for certain what this card is capable of and with this and the Titan Z hitting the market, it’s going to be a very exciting month for ultra-high-end graphics cards.

Thank you PC Max for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Chiphell.

AMD Continues To Tease R9 295X2 On Twitter

AMD recently revealed their new Radeon R9 295X2 dual GPU that will offer significant performance boosts when compared to the current R9 290X offering. Unfortunately we don’t know what the graphics card even looks like, nor do we know how much it is going to cost! With AMD teasing us with this information slowly overtime, they’ve left them self open for a beating from Nvidia, who fully detailed and launched the monstrously expensive, but ridiculously powerful Titan Z last week.

AMD have taken to twitter to tweet a sneaky image of part of the GPU. While some reports think that the Radeon logo, as well as the bolts around the outer edge suggest that it is water cooled, given that it’s often the design of water cooling blocks, I think otherwise. I think we’ve looking at the back edge of the card from a top down perspective and the the rest of the card is obscured from view. I will however admit that I hope it is water cooled, the R9 290X wasn’t exactly a cool running card, two of them on the same PCB may actually melt through the Earth’s crust.

Will it compete with the Titan Z in terms of performance, or will they just beat Nvidia when it comes to price vs performance? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Twitter.

Club 3D Radeon R9 290 and 290X royalACE GPUs Revealed

Club 3D have just announced two new entries to their royalAce range of graphics cards. As you may know, Club 3D have been using their Poker Series of graphics card classification for a while now and royalAce grade cards are top of the pack. Adding to their flagship series of graphics cards is the all new Radeon R9 290 and the R9 290X.

The new royalAce Radeon R9 290 is packed with features, with 2560 stream processors and 4GB of GDDR5 RAM packed under its triple fan cooler and a clock speed of 1040GHz, making it one of the fastest graphics  cards available on the market.

The 290 may be one of the fastest, but it’s still a runt compared to the beast that is the new royalAce R9 290X. With all the settings dialled up to 11, the 290X featured 2816 stream processors, 4GB of GDDR5, a core clock speed of 1050MHz (10MHz faster than the R9 290).

Both cards are much faster than the reference Hawaii 290 and 290x designs, with custom hardware that has been tweaked and tuned to offer faster and more reliable performance.

We don’t have exact pricing at the moment, but you can expect they’ll be expensive given that they’re some of the best GPU’s around, and expect to pay a 10-20% premium over reference cards retail prices.

Thank you Club-3D for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Club-3D.

Upgraded R9 290X LIGHTNING Revealed By MSI

MSI have just revealed their latest graphics card, and while we are already familiar with their epic LIGHTNING range, their latest one has been tweaked to offer even faster performance! There are dozens of improvements that have been implemented to the MSI 290X LIGHTNING already that make it one of the most powerful single GPU’s on the market today, such as a 2 x 8-pin and 1 x 6-pin power connectors that ensure the card always has a minimum of 450W available to it for high-end overclocking. With serious power comes serious responsibility, for powerful cooling. The TriFrozr cooler has been optimized to offer class-loading cooling performance, and since we know how toasty the 290X hardware can get, it’s certainly a welcome upgrade.

Optimized memory has been implemented to improve overclocking performance, and as part of the MSI OC series, the card has been given their official stamp of approval for extreme overclocking, handy if you have a passion for applying lots of LN2 cooling to your expensive new hardware then you can take advantage of a special LN2 BIOS on the card, no need for special modifications to push the card to its limits.

“Equipped with Military Class 4 components, the R9 290X LIGHTNING is built to withstand the toughest conditions, like sub-zero freezing or the high temperatures that occur when exorbitant amounts of power are used to crush world records. Because only the best components can provide the continued support of multiple world-record attempts.” said MSI in a recent release.

This card was already an absolute beast in terms of performance, and with a few little tweaks and improvements, it is now better than ever! While you may not want to chill it to sub-zero temperatures, this is still one of the greatest enthusiast level gaming graphics cards, should be pretty decent at crypto-currency mining too.

Thank you MSI for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of MSI.

Radeon R9 290 Series Double Dissipation Released By XFX

XFX rolled out its first non-reference design Radeon R9 290 series graphics cards, the Radeon R9 290X Double Dissipation (model: R9-290X-EDFD), and the R9 290 Double Dissipation (model: R9-290A-EDFD).

Both Radeon R9 290X DD and R9 290 DD look exactly the same. The difference lays under the clocks, the difference is also quite disappointing as most would think. XFX did not overclock these cards, so they come with default clocks: 947 and 1000 MHz. The cards however are fully custom-built. They feature something known as XFactor, which stands for Solid Capacitors, Ferrite Core Chokes and Dust-Free IP-5X Fan. At this point we don’t know how modified is the board of these cards (I expect PCB to be the same for both Hawaii PRO and XT).

XFX also released a teaser with an illuminating logo. I’m not sure if this is actually a new feature, because XFX does not mention that in their overview, but it does look different than R9 280X cooling system so this has to be a glowing thing.

Unfortunately XFX equipped both cards with default power connectors (6+8pin). No price and availability date were mentioned. Personally I think this is one of the best looking R9 290X on the market, so it’s definitely worth a wait.

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of VideoCardz

MSI Announces Its Radeon R9 290 GAMING 4G and Radeon R9 290X GAMING 4G

The long expected MSI R9 290 GAMING 4G and R9 290X GAMING 4G are now available. Packed with all of the power and features to drive UltraHD gaming resolutions the MSI Twin Frozr IV Advanced now ensures your card runs cool so you can enjoy maximum performance because AMD’s PowerTune technology enables the R9 290 GAMING 4G and R9 290X GAMING 4G to run at their highest clock speeds. With support for the latest industry standards and exciting new technology such as Mantle support in Battlefield 4.

Thanks to the bundled MSI GAMING App gamers can quickly switch between three pre-sets including a silent mode optimized for power efficiency and an overclocking and OC Mode to get the most power out of your graphics card, without worrying about learning how to overclock. The R9 290 GAMING 4G and R9 290X GAMING 4G have been designed to give you a gaming experience that delivers you true next-gen performance for ultra HD resolutions without sacrificing on thermals to kick-start your gaming rig for 2014.

MSI Radeon R9 290X Gaming 4G
MSI Radeon R9 290 Gaming 4G

Stay cool in combat
The MSI Twin Frozr IV Advanced has been completely customized for the R9 290 GAMING 4G and R9 290X GAMING 4G to deliver the best thermal experience. The design uses a larger copper base for heat absorption and the heat pipes are in contact with a bigger part of the heat sink and exposed to more airflow to ensure the highest performance of the GPU because of optimal temperatures. Combined with the dual form-in-one heat sinks that add both cooling ability and structural reinforcement the R9 290 GAMING 4G and R9 290X GAMING 4G stay cool and safe.

Optimized for Gamers
The new R9 290 GAMING 4G and R9 290X GAMING 4G are packed with features that benefit every gamer. AMD TrueAudio technology allows far more realistic positional audio and the added benefit of surround sound over connected displays. Mantle allows game developers to directly speak to the GPU optimizing GPU performance. This can all be displayed in a glorious UltraHD / 4K resolution as the new R9 290 GAMING 4G and R9 290X GAMING 4G is leading in performance at 4K resolutions. This can be easily connected through the DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. Up to six dedicated displays can be connected to the R9 290 GAMING 4G and R9 290X GAMING 4G for an amazing Eyefinity experience.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of MSI

EK Working On A New Water Block For The ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC

Reports show that EK Water Blocks, Ljubljana based premium water cooling gear manufacturer, is currently working on a new Full Cover water block for the latest ASUS non-reference design DirectCU II series AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics card named the R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5.

The EK-FC R9-290X DCII will be a high performance full-cover water block for engineered specifically for the latest revision of ASUS design Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II series graphics cards. With a direct cooling line to the GPU, RAM as well as VRM (voltage regulation module), water will flow over these critical areas and allow the graphics card and its VRM to remain stable under high overclocking stats.

A refined 0.6 mm wide microchannel structure will be used, similar to the EK-FC R9-290, in order to even further improve the heat transfer while not sacrificing the famous low hydraulic restriction design. Thus, the product can be used in liquid cooling systems using less powerful water pumps. It will be available in three visually different variations and an aesthetic backplate will be available for optional purchase. Up to four water blocks could be used on a single ATX form factor motherboard by using EK-FC Terminal (DUAL, TRIPLE or QUAD type) system or other means of interconnectivity.

The Water Block is in production and will be released onto the market through EK Webshop and other partner retailers starting from February 2014.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

Koolance Radeon R9 290X Water Block Released

Koolance has announced its own Radeon R9 290X-compatible full-cover water block, the VID-AR290X. Based on nickel-plated copper with clear acrylic and opaque acetal covers, the new VID-AR290X water block is designed to keep the chips (GPU, memory and the VRM) at a reasonable temperature for overclockers to play around with it and push their cards to the limit.

With the R9 290 chipset we are most likely looking at the same PCB design, the VID-AR290X water block from Koolance should be compatible with that graphics card as well. Featuring nickel-plated copper primary block, nickel-plated brass fittings and stainless steel bolts as well as the clear acrylic and opaque acetal covers, the new VID-AR290X will also feature micro-fin lattice of the GPU are which should improve heat dissipation as well as support for standard G 1/4 BSPP fitting threading.

A price for the Koolance VID-AR290X has been set at $129.99 / €97 / £81, a reasonable price for overclockers out there looking to test their skills and fiddle with their cards more than an air cooling system permits.

Thank you Ocaholic for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Koolance