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.

AMD Catalyst 15.7 WHQL Driver Adds Cross Generation Crossfire Support

Something that AMD have been falling behind on lately is the WHQL drivers, well drivers in general. Beta drivers are released every few months, but a certified WHQL driver has taken over 200 days to reach us. Let’s not dwell on the past, we have one here, we’ve tested it and it works perfectly fine. However, it seems AMD has returned to form and opened up cross generation Crossfire again. Over at VideoCardz.com, Crossfire has been tested between the new R9 390X and an R9 290X.

The cards used weren’t matching, so the R9 390X 8GB was the only available variation, but it was tested with an R9 290X 4GB. This then limits the R9 390X to use just 4GB as Crossfire utilises the lowest VRAM quantity. Scores are around where we previously tested 2x R9 290X 8GB cards, so there is little a performance penalty for using the previous generation.

We will be confirming this new feature for ourselves by testing the R9 390 with an R9 290 and an R9 380 with an R9 285. If it works across most of the new generation, it could prove a nice upgrade to those who already own the 200 series equivalent.

With the Crossfire options opened up, would you be willing to purchase one of the newer cards to Crossfire or even buying an older card to bridge the gap until a 300 series card becomes cheaper? Let us know in the comments.

First R9 390X Appears on eBay

Almost every time someone manages to get their hands on a piece of tech early, they try and sell it on eBay. User MoNkEyHuGgEr369 from Youtube seems to be no exception and has posted his AMD XFX R9 390X for sale on eBay already. From his unboxing video on Youtube, the card appears to be legit but don’t take our word on it.

With bidding starting at $550 USD, that’s about a $100 markup over the purchase price of $450 though sales tax might eat up half of that. So far there are no bids yet but there’s still almost 3 days left. Those who can’t wait can shell out $715 to grab the first on market R9 390X. With heavy import fees as well, the price balloons for anyone outside the US.

Even with International Priority shipping at $47, the card won’t be reaching anywhere outside the United States till about June 20th. That means you’ll be getting the card about 4 days after the official launch meaning you might actually get your card first if you wait till June 16th. Of course, the bragging rights to claiming the first ever R9 390X available to the public may be well worth the money and time to some.

Thank you reader Craig Ferrie for the tip!

XFX AMD 390X Unboxing Appears on Youtube

While most of the attention is focused on AMD’s upcoming Fury flagship, the regular Rx 300 series also set to get some new faces. Rumoured to be a largely the same as the current Rx 200 series of cards, images purporting to be an XFX R9 390X popped up on XFx’s R9 290X page. Now one lucky fellow has posted a unboxing video of his XFX 390X itself, reportedly from Best Buy of all places.

While the video is scant on details, the R9 390X logo and box art matches up well with the image from XFX’s site.There is a chance that this could be a sophisticated fake, but there are some reasons it might not be. If AMD is aiming for a hard launch on June 16th next week, retailers probably already have stock and all their POS systems ready for the cards. The card also reportedly cost $450 which is close to the $480 previous leaks have suggested. What probably happened is a hapless Best Buy employee  mistakenly placed the 390X out early or the store manager messed up by putting it on display early.

There have been scant details if the R9 390X will be a straight up rebrand of the R9 290X or would it feature a minor tweak. The mid range Tonga, set to replace the complete Tahiti line is based on GCN 1.2, an update from GCN 1.0. Code named Grenada, the chip powering the 390X might also see an update from GCN 1.1 to GCN 1.2. With less than a week to go, the wait shouldn’t be too bad for those waiting on AMD’s latest cards. For those that are impatient, MoNkEyHuGgEr369, the uploader might have some benchmarks coming soon.

AMD 300 Series GPU Pricing Leaked

With the launch of AMD’s Radeon 300 series GPU imminent, some pricing and specification details have leaked out. Sweclockers was able to find a leak detailing the pricing for a large number of 300 series GPU. Somewhat unexpectedly, the prices quoted by Sweclockers are a bit higher than the prices the original chips launched at. However, once we take away the VAT which is 25% in Sweden, the prices are much more reasonable, especially once you consider the current street price. The table below is after conversion from SEK to USD and with VAT subtracted.

At $480 the 390X is about $65 cheaper than the 290X was at launch a few years. It’s still about $100 more than the current street price for some 290X models, but once you consider the 8GB of VRAM, it’s about right for 290X 8GB. The same is true of the 390 as it’s nearly $100 more than the 290, but it does come with an extra 4GB of VRAM. Moving onto Tonga, the two R9 380 variants are priced competitively considering their VRAM endowment. The R9 370 4GB is interesting as it’ll be rare that it can make use of that extra 2GB of VRAM though the 2GB model is priced decently. Bonaire is pretty much where we expect to be.

Overall, pricing isn’t all that novel, with AMD preferring to slot in their new series into the current pricing market. Deal hunters will be disappointed as it’s unveiled that there won’t be any revolutionary changes in card pricing this generation. With only a short period till the real launch of the cards, those looking to buy soon are well advised to wait, either to pick up cheap last gen cards or snag a new one. Whether or not this will be enough to help AMD start growing market share remains to be seen. As this is an unconfirmed leak, it’s best to take the pricing with a grain of salt but the data largely checks in.

GIGABYTE’s Take on the AMD Radeon R9 380 Leaked

AMD’s launch of the Radeon R9 300 series is eminent, but we don’t know yet whether it will be at Computex or not. AMD does have a press event scheduled, but we’ll have to be a little more patient in that regards.

However, a Russian technology site managed to pick up slides of the upcoming GIGABYTE Radeon R9 380 graphics card. While the card itself isn’t pictured, we still get the important information surrounding it.

The GIGABYTE R9 380 G1 Gaming is equipped with the WindForce dual-fan cooler and comes with 4GB GDDR5 memory. The card also features a black backplate and direct heat pipe touch with the GPU. The cooler features the fan stop principle where the whole thing only is spun up when needed. When one isn’t used to that feature, it can be weird that one can’t hear the fans. GIGABYTE added small LEDs on the top to show you the fan state and ensure you that the card actually is running.

The graphics card also comes with the Super Over Clock label, giving you all the performance that the GPU is able to deliver

Included in the same leak we got a banner naming the Radeon R9 390 and 390X. While not pictured we know by now that these will be based on the Hawaii GPU while the new Fiji will be named the Radeon Fury instead. They could however still feature HBM memory. I’m sure we’ll know more really soon.

AMD Officially Announce Details of High Bandwidth Memory

We’ve been waiting for details on the new memory architecture from AMD for a while now. Since we heard the possible specifications and performance of the new R9 390x all thanks to the new High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) that will be utilised on this graphics card.

Last week, we had a chat with Joe Macri, Corporate Vice President at AMD. He is really behind HBM and has been behind it since product proposal. Here is a little bit of background information, HBM has been in development for around 7 years and was the idea of a new AMD engineer at the time. They knew, even 7 years ago, that GDDR5 was not going to be an ever-lasting architecture and something else needed to be devised.

The basis behind HBM is to use stacked memory modules to save footprint and to also integrate them into the CPU/ GPU itself. This way, the communication distance between a stack of modules is vastly reduced and the distance between the stack and the CPU/ GPU core is again reduced. With the reduced distances, the bandwidth is increased and required power dropped.

When you look at graphics cards such as the R9 290x with 8GB RAM, the GPU core and surrounding memory modules can take up around a typical SSD size footprint and then you also need all of the other components such as voltage regulators; this requires a huge card length to accommodate all of the components and also the communication distances are large.

The design process behind this, in theory, is very simple. Decrease the size of the RAM footprint and get it as close to the CPU/ GPU as possible. Let’s take a single stack of HBM, each stack is currently only 1GB in capacity and only four ‘DRAM dies’ high. What makes this better than conventional DRAM layout is the distance between them and the CPU/ GPU die.

With the reduced distance, the bandwidth is greatly increased and also power is reduced as there is less distance to send information and fewer circuits to keep powered.

So what about performance figures? The actual clock speed isn’t amazing, just 1GBps when compared to GDDR5, but that shows just how powerful and refined they are in comparison. Over three times the bandwidth and lower voltage; it’s ticking all the right boxes.

There was an opportunity to ask a few questions towards the end, sadly only regarding HBM memory, so no confirmed GPU specifications.

Will HBM only be limited to 4GB due to only 4 stacks (1GB per stack)?

  • HBM v1 will be limited to just 4GB, but more stacks can be added.

Will HBM be added into APU’s and CPU’s?

  • There are thoughts on integrating HBM into AMD APU’s and CPU’s, but current focus is on graphics cards.

With the current limitation only being 4GB, will we see negative performance in high demanding games such as GTA V at 4K that require more than 4GB?

  • Current GDDR5 memory is wasteful, so despite lower capacity, it will perform like higher capacity DRAM

Could we see a mix of HBM and GDDR5, sort of like how a SSD and HDD would work?

  • Mixed memory subsystems are to become a reality, but nothing yet, main goal is graphics cards.

I’m liking the sound of this memory type; if it really delivers the performance stated, we could see some extremely high power GPU’s enter the market very soon. What are your thoughts on HBM memory? Do you think that this will be the new format of memory or will GDDR5 reign supreme? Let us know in the comments.

Rumors of Radeon R9 390X Water Cooled Edition Surface under the Shape of a Slide

VideoCardz leaked part of a slide from an in-house presentation called “2015 Future of Radeon” which is said to be shown next week to AIB partners. The slide seems to confirm rumors that the R9 390X 8GB HBM and that it will have a WCE variant as well.

The slide seems to show some key features of what seems to be the WCE variant of the R9 390X, though the information should be taken with a grain of salt as it might turn out to be just a rumor.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

AMD Radeon R9 390X Will Reportedly Come in 4GB and 8GB Variants

AMD’s latest Fiji-based Radeon R9 390X cards have been reported to come in both 4GB and 8GB variants in order to compete with its NVIDIA rival, the GeForce Titan X with 12GB VRAM.

It has been revealed a while back that the company will be using High Bandwidth Memory on these cards. This means that the 8GB variant will not have the numbers to go mainstream compared to the 4GB variant, requiring 8Gbit chips, 1GB per chip, which will provide it with an outstanding 1024 MB/s bandwidth.

The Radeon R9 390X will be a true competitor against the GeForce Titan X and considering that the GeForce GTX 980 already handles 4K extremely well with its 256-bit memory interface, the 1024-bit interface and its next-gen HBM RAM should reveal some 4K numbers never seen before. AMD is planning to reveal the R9 390X at Computex in June.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information

Alleged AMD “Bermuda” R9 390X Specifications Detailed – 20nm, DX12 and More!

With AMD’s RX-2XX series now seemingly complete after the recent launches of the R9 295X2 and the R5 230, speculation is already hotting up for what might come next. Since AMD’s RX-X00 branding is relatively young we can safely assume the next series will go by the same naming conventions but transition from 2 to 3. At the top end WCCFTech reports that we should expect the R9 390X, R9 380X and R9 370X as the successors to the R9 290X, R9 280X and R9 270X. These next-generation cards should take advantage of TSMC’s 20nm process which is a shrink down from the current 28nm generation of AMD GCN based GPUs. 

These new 20nm parts will be codenamed “Pirate Islands” and succeed the current “Volcanic Islands” based RX 200 series. There will be three main GPU cores available which will probably be sub-divided to form multiple graphics card SKUs. Bermuda is the replacement for Hawaii (R9 295X2, R9 290X, R9 290), Fiji is the replacement for Tahiti (R9 280X and R9 280) and Treasure Island is the replacement for Curacao (R9 270X and R9 270). This new generation of AMD graphics cards is expected around late November 2014, that’s still 7 months away. Given that AMD and Nvidia are both relying on the same 20nm TSMC process we should also expect Maxwell to be delivered in a similar Q4 2014 time frame. The above specifications are all subject to change, as you might expect this early on in the development cycle. However, it’s great to see AMD will be continuing to increase stream processor count while shrinking the process node size and maintaining high clock speeds. If these early specifications are anything to go by AMD’s RX 300 series will be impressive to say the least.

Image #1 courtesy of PCGamesHardware.de, Image #2 courtesy of WCCFTech