Ashes of the Singularity is a futuristic real-time strategy game offering frenetic contests on a large-scale. The huge amount of units scattered across a number of varied environments creates an enthralling experience built around complex strategic decisions. Throughout the game, you will explore unique planets and engage in enthralling air battles. This bitter war revolves around an invaluable resource known as Turinium between the human race and masterful artificial intelligence. If you’re into the RTS genre, Ashes of the Singularity should provide hours of entertainment. While the game itself is worthy of widespread media attention, the engine’s support for DirectX 12 and asynchronous compute has become a hot topic among hardware enthusiasts.
DirectX 12 is a low-level API with reduced CPU overheads and has the potential to revolutionise the way games are optimised for numerous hardware configurations. In contrast to this, DirectX 11 isn’t that efficient and many mainstream titles suffered from poor scaling which didn’t properly utilise the potential of current graphics technology. On another note, DirectX 12 allows users to pair GPUs from competing vendors and utilise multi graphics solutions without relying on driver profiles. It’s theoretically possible to achieve widespread optimization and leverage extra performance using the latest version of DirectX 12.
Of course, Vulkan is another alternative which works on various operating systems and adopts an open-source ideology. Although, the focus will likely remain on DirectX 12 for the foreseeable future unless there’s a sudden reluctance from users to upgrade to Windows 10. Even though the adoption rate is impressive, there’s a large number of PC gamers currently using Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. Therefore, it seems prudent for developers to continue with DirectX 11 and offer a DirectX 12 render as an optional extra. Arguably, the real gains from DirectX 12 will occur when its predecessor is disregarded completely. This will probably take a considerable amount of time which suggests the first DirectX 12 games might have reduced performance benefits compared to later titles.
Asynchronous compute allows graphics cards to simultaneously calculate multiple workloads and reach extra performance figures. AMD’s GCN architecture has extensive support for this technology. In contrast to this, there’s a heated debate questioning if NVIDIA products can even utilise asynchronous compute in an effective manner. Technically, AMD GCN graphics cards contain 2-8 asynchronous compute cores with 8 queues per core which varies on the model to provide single cycle latencies. Maxwell revolves around two pipelines, one designed for high-priority workloads and another with 31 queues. Most importantly, NVIDIA cards can only “switch contexts at draw call boundaries”. This means the switching process is slower and gives AMD and a major advantage. NVIDIA has dismissed the early performance numbers from Ashes of the Singularity due to its current development phase. Finally, the game’s release has exited the beta stage which allows us to determine the performance numbers after optimizations were completed.
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.
Freebies are something that we all like and AMD has now bundled the new Hitman game with some of their graphics cards and processors as well as systems prebuilt with these components. AMD has partnered with IO Interactive again to bring this deal and they also joined the AMD Gaming Evolved program in order to get the best out of the hardware with top-flight effects and performance optimizations for PC gamers.
The bundle deal runs from the February the 16th and it is valid with the purchase of selected products from participating retailers – as it always is. In this round, AMD bundles Hitman with their Radeon R9 390 and 390X graphics cards as well as their FX 6 and 8 core processors (PIB). The bundle will last until 30th of April 2016 or whilst supplies last. Vouchers can be redeemed until 30th of June 2016.
The new Hitman game is offered in a seasonal fashion with a base game and periodic add-ons that will continue the story, but it is handled in the best possible way. The full experience with the full season off new missions won’t cost more than other games costs in themselves without DLCs and this AMD bundle also includes the full game rather than just the initial release. You will also get access to the BETA for Hitman that will run from the 19th to the 22nd February.
Those that have upgraded to Windows 10 will have the best experience with this new game as it has been built to take advantage of DX12, a feature that will make a very noticeable difference for AMD CPU users.
“Hitman will leverage unique DX12 hardware found in only AMD Radeon GPUs, called asynchronous compute engines, to handle heavier workloads and better image quality without compromising performance. PC gamers may have heard of asynchronous compute already, and Hitman demonstrates the best implementation of this exciting technology yet.”
You can find all the fine print and redeem your game code on the official Hitman mini-site. The beta phase is almost here, so it might be time to make that upgrade that you’ve holding back with. The full hardware specifications and recommendations have also been published a few days ago, in case you missed them.
EK WB has expanded their full-cover water blocks a lot lately and that goes for both motherboards and graphics card. The newest cooler is for the last, a graphics card, or more specifically a full-cover water block solution for MSI’s Radeon R9 390X GAMING 8G graphics card and it’s called the EK-FC R9-390X TF5.
The new full-cover water block replaces the original TwinFrozr V cooler that comes with the graphics card out-of-the-box, and while it is an amazing GPU cooler, you can’t integrate it into your full custom loop. The new EK-FC R9-390X TF5 actively cools the GPU, RAM as well as VRM (voltage regulation module) as water flows directly over all these critical areas. In return, it will allow you to run the card at much lower temperatures and higher overclocks.
The base is made of nickel-plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of either quality POM Acetal or acrylic depending on the variant. As usual, both versions are available which allows you to match the design you prefer. The cooler also features EK WB’s pre-installed screw-in brass standoffs that allow for a safe installation procedure.
The EK-FC R9-390X TF5 water block also features EK’s unique central inlet split-flow cooling engine design for best possible cooling performance. The system also works flawlessly with the reversed water flow without adversely affecting the cooling performance and it will also work well in liquid cooling systems using weaker water pumps.
To complete the setup, EK also offers a retention backplate made of black anodized aluminum. The backplate offers additional cooling to the backside of the circuit board, especially around the VRM area, besides giving the card a sleeker look.
The new EK WB EK-FC R9-390X TF5 is available now for an MSRP of €122.95 and the backplate will set you back an additional €29.95
When AMD launched the Radeon R9 Nano mini-ITX graphics card back in September 2015, the card gained a lot of popularity for several reasons. It was one of the smallest graphics cards available and at the same time delivers a punch that is similar to other high-end cards. The performance is thanks to the HBM memory and Fiji GPU while the small size was made possible by the use of optimal clocking of both the GPU and memory for both power consumption and heat. However, the card did have one fault and that was the price. At a price of $649, the AMD R9 Nano was a hard pill to swallow.
It is now January 2016 and it looks like AMD wants a larger cut of the GPU market. Maybe the manufacturing process has caught up and has been refined for cheaper productions costs, or something else. We don’t know why, but that doesn’t matter anyway as long as the result comes in. And it does and AMD announced a price cut from $649 and all the way down to $499. The $150 price cut equals about 23 percent which is quite nice.
There is no doubt that this price cut on the AMD Radeon R9 Nano will convince quite a few people to get this card that previously wanted it but thought it was too expensive. I am sure there will be quite a few more hardcore mITX gaming builds out there this coming time, and most of them will be powered by this little marvel of a graphics card.
After all, the R9 Nano has a peak power draw of 175W and only measures 6-inch while delivering a level of performance that are on par with larger and more power-hungry GPUs. It also blows the GTX 970 Mini-ITX away with up to 30 percent better performance.
Is this enough to convince you to switch to an AMD Radeon R9 Nano graphics card? $499 is still a respectable price and it might not be in everyone’s budget. Oh, and we should naturally consider that these are the manufacturers suggested retail prices. We have previously seen the cards drop in price at various outlets.
It has been a couple of months now since Asetek won over Cooler Master’s appeal in the long-time going legal battle in regards to patent infringement in the all-in-one liquid coolers. Shortly after this victory for Asetek we foresaw some issues for AMD’s liquid cooled Fury X graphics card that uses a Cooler Master system and we were right. A couple of days ago we brought you the news that Asetek had made a Cease & Desist orders to AMD in regards to the Radeon Fury X graphics card.
AMD is naturally not taking this lying down and have officially responded to the issue. They, AMD, argue that the jury in the Asetek versus Cooler Master case didn’t mention the specific cooling solution used in the Radeon R9 Fury X models as infringing on the Asetek held patents.
“We are aware that Asetek has sued Cooler Master. While we defer to Cooler Master regarding the details of the litigation, we understand that the jury in that case did not find that the Cooler Master heat sink currently used with the Radeon Fury X infringed any of Asetek’s patents.”
AMD and Asetek have without a doubt entered some sort of discussion in this matter and it is also clear that AMD will battle this outcome in order to keep their flagship GPU on the market. While it all looks a bit grim right now, it isn’t as bad as it could be. First of all, AMD shouldn’t be hit by with any financial burdens even if they should be found using a patent infringing cooling system. If it’s the case, it should be Cooler Master’s problem again. It could however still be removed from the market as it is, but the way the legal system is built, that could take a long time. And with such a long time to work it out, AMD has plenty of time to find another cooling solution and make a revision of their cards before any legal proceedings can be entered.
It will still be interesting to see how this plays out, whether an agreement will be reached or AMD will revise the Radeon R9 Fury X’s cooling solution.
Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different and we are excited to bring you the CrossFireX review of the newly released R9 380X graphics cards.
Based on the R9 380, which was based on the R9 285, the R9 380X was designed to fit the gap that was obvious between the R9 380 and R9 390. Priced at just under £200, sales have proven strong in the first weeks and board partners have given their models the usual overclocking treatment with the average clock speed of around 1030MHz being around 50MHz higher than the ‘reference’ design.
Through our testing of both the XFX DD and Sapphire Nitro models, it was evident that performance wasn’t as high as I hoped and still left a gap to fill under the R9 390. Reviewing the Rx 200 series lineup, the R9 285 was an extremely late arrival. It was based on architecture we were familiar with, but it introduced GCN 1.2 which is the foundation of the brand new R9 Fury range. To me, this leaves a gap for an R9 385 to be introduced to the market and the next step in the graphics card race for late 2016.
When we test in CrossFireX, we aim to use two identical graphics card to ensure that everything is as similar as possible. When using the same cards, you can almost guarantee the same cooling capabilities, power draw, core clock and other variables. This then gives us the best possible outcome for maximum performance as the computer does not need to compensate for any differences.
If you’ve been reading up on the latest R9 380X range, you may have seen stories and possibly even reviews that the performance wasn’t as high as many expected. I one of those who was very disappointed with the performance when compared to the R9 380 and R9 390 graphics cards by being around 10% faster than the R9 380. I really shouldn’t be complaining, at a sub £200 price point, the R9 380X is poised as a great 1440p graphics card; albeit with some settings lowered to medium or high from ultra.
Today in the test bench we have the Sapphire Nitro R9 380X. Fitting in nicely to the current Nitro range from Sapphire at just £199.99, this card features an identical cooling design as the R9 380 but with one huge visual improvement, which I will disclose later. The card features 16K capacitors for ultra long life and an increased core and memory clock to 1040MHz and 6000MHz respectively, so we should expect improved performance over what we have been witnessing so far.
Before anyone starts chanting “rebrand”, stop! As much as I agree that this is technically a rebrand, I’m now actually re-wording that to remanufacturing. A rebrand would be taking the R9 285, put a new cooling design on there and calling it an R9 380 with no other changes. However, the R9 380 and R9 380X are remanufactured with a much more precise manufacturing procedure to squeeze as much performance as possible from the Antigua GPU Core.
Packaging and Accessories
The Nitro box has changed for this card compared to the rest of the R9 Nitro range. We now have a simple portrait style box without a window to show off the contents.
I really think Sapphire want everyone to know that this card has a back plate fitted.
Accessories are simple, general paper based material, driver disk, case sticker and DVI to VGA adapter.
It looks like AMD are cooking up a big product launch for December, one that could knock Nvidia into the stone age! The as yet un-named graphics card from the red team is currently not officially named, but let’s call this powerhouse the Fury X2 for conversations sake. We’ve already known about this card for a little while now, as Lisa Su was keen to show off a PCB that had not one, but two Fiji GPUs on board. The only problem is when, where and how much it will be, are still unknown.
AMD are to hold a special event in December, where it is believed the Fury X2 will be released. With no rumours pointing to a similar dual-GPU monster from the Nvidia camp, a dual Fiji and HBM equipped card could quickly put AMD back at the top of the GPU power food chain.
The first new teaser comes courtesy of Johan Andersson of DICE, always a reliable source for leaks as he previously teased the 295X2 and the R9 290X. Unfortunately for Johan and no doubt AMD, it seems his “pre-release GPU” had some leaks of its own.
Dat feeling when your just arrived closed liquid cooling pre-release GPU turns out to not be so closed after all pic.twitter.com/umpVUtdVwc
Are you in the market of a new pre-built gaming computer? With the current Black Friday deals, it would be hard to ignore how good some are and system builders Vibox have jumped on the band-wagon with an incredible deal.
Buy one of the appropriate computers from them and checkout with the code “LEVELUP” to upgrade your graphics card to the next model up in the range. So buy a GTX 970 will be bumped to a GTX 980 or R9 380 will be bumped to the R9 390. This excludes the AMD R9 Fury range and the NVIDIA Titan X.
This is an incredible offer meaning you could potentially save yourself hundreds. An example of an incredible saving would be to buy the WARPATH gaming computer, which currently comes in at £1659.59 with a GTX 980 graphics card. This would be bumped up to a GTX 980Ti for free.
If you are on a bit of a budget, the Element PRO at £629.94 would be a logical choice. Currently equipped with an R7 370, this deal allows you to upgrade to a much better R9 380 graphics card.
If I was in the market for a new computer, I know where I would be looking this holiday season. Be quick, limited to just 100 codes!
AMD are in a really strong position right now, with a new series of graphics cards that may not have toppled all of the Nvidia flagships, at least not in every test, but it’s certainly put them back on the map in terms of high-end gaming. Their 3xx series of cards are knocking Nvidia down the charts, with better performance and lower prices than their competitor across a wide range of performance brackets, the new Crimson drivers and now it seems the battle is about to heat up even more, as AMD cards are seeing a range of price cuts.
Everything from the 300 series of cards, as well as the new Fury series which feature HBM memory are currently sporting some exciting deals at major retailers. Of course, it won’t be long before Nvidia play a similar price-cut game, but for now, AMD are tempting peoples wallets a little more.
R9 Fury X was originally $649, but that’s down to $589 and even down to $569 after a rebate! The R9 Nano, dropping from $649, down to $569, $549 after rebate. The R9 Fury, $549 down to a very tasty $499.
What about the 300 series? The R9 390X and 390 are down from $429 and $329 to $359 and $259 after a rebate. That’s exceptional value for money giving the performance of these cards! The R9 380 2GB and the 4GB model are down to a wallet friendly $169 and $179, or even lower with rebate at $139 and $159.
Most major retailers are already honouring these new prices, although Newegg and Amazon are currently the best deals I’ve seen, but it’s certainly worth shopping around and who knows, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, maybe we’ll see even lower prices.
An unforeseen turn of events has taken place over the last few months. AMD split up its Processor and Graphics divisions and we recently heard the demise of Catalyst Control Centre to make way for Radeon Software. I for one was not expecting to see a graphics driver before the Radeon Software: Crimson Edition was released. Why do I think this? If AMD is struggling as much as turnover figures and rumours suggest, why would it waste effort on something that is being discontinued for a new version. That’s like announcing HBMv2 will be released in January but releasing an entire range of graphics cards on HBMv1 in December. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, far from it, I welcome AMD driver updates because it shows that it is still in the running and recent news suggests that more funding will be invested into the graphics drivers in the future to level the playing field with NVIDIA. Early reports suggest that this new driver and the one just before, 15.11, are very good performance enhancing versions for newer games such as Star Wars Battlefront, Fallout 4, Assassins Creed, etc…
So today we take a look at the very last CCC driver, 15.11.1 Beta. If you are unaware, the naming is simply [Year].[Month]; the additional; “.#” is if there are two or more updates within a month and then it would just be named in chronological order. This makes it extremely easy to understand which is the latest drive to work for you and troubleshooting is technically made easier if you can only remember approximately when you started having problems (if driver related).
This new driver doesn’t really bring anything new in terms of features apart from an updated list of graphics cards that are applicable for higher support Virtual Super Resolution modes such as the R9 380 being able to support 3840×2160.
Prepare your wallets, the Force is coming! If you haven’t already heard, Winter 2015 is probably going to be re-branded as Star Wars Season. Not only are we getting Star Wars Episode VII (no more Jar Jar Binks), we are eagerly anticipating Star Wars Battlefront. If you don’t know what Battlefront is, just imagine all of the best Star Wars battles rolled into one game in a huge 40 player laser gun fight and the original score as your motivational music.
The beta was a huge success with hundreds of thousands of players getting in on the action. AMD wants a piece of that and has announced the brand new bundle of Battlefront with every purchase of an R9 Fury graphics cards.
The offer is available From November 17th 2015 to January 31st 2016 and the code can be redeemed up until February 29th 2016, yes I had to double-check that next year was in fact a leap year too.
Following on from our highly popular ’12K’ (Triple 4K Monitor) Upgrade, we have new graphics cards which we can update the results with. Since the original article, things got a bit hectic and cards were coming and going extremely quickly. This meant that we didn’t have enough time in one sitting to correctly configure and run the tests as the second (or even third) card needed to be sent on to another media. We are now happy to bring you a long-awaited update featuring graphics cards such as the R9 Fury, R9 Nano and SLI GTX 980Ti’s. The list still isn’t complete with gaps such as SLI Titan X and CrossFire R9 Fury, but once we get these cards in for long enough, we will carry out another update.
With 4K monitors becoming the norm in today’s enthusiast gaming set-up, thanks to the ever decreasing price of these monitors and the increasing performance supplied by single cards; it’s not surprising that some users are combining multiple units. Some will have these monitors for the simply epic screen size and productivity potential, others will simply use them for an upgrade to the current surround gaming experience. Personally I don’t like 4K resolution unless it’s on a large screen, anything under 32″ makes the pixels so small they are hard to see and then you would just have to increase the sizes of font, which defeats (some of) the object.
We only have two major players left in the consumer graphics card market, AMD and Nvidia, and Nvidia has had the lead for quite some time now. The new AMD Fury, Fury X, and Nano cards are impressive on their own, but they still couldn’t quite beat Nvidia’s cards on the full scale.
The newest Windows 10 drivers seem to have given AMD an edge again as they have shown performance increases on all current generation AMD cards. However, the most impressive result to come out of this is that the Fury X managed to leap ahead of the Nvidia GeForce 980 Ti according to the latest comparisons by TechPowerUp via WCCFtech.
With the older test setup, Nvidia was ahead of AMD most of the way. The GTX 980 Ti was 8% ahead of the R9 Fury X, and the GTX 980 was 2% ahead of the R9 390X at 1440p. Moving up to 4K resolution and the GTX 980 Ti and R9 Fury X come in at the same result and so do the GTX 980 and R9 390X.
Older drivers and test setup
After the move to the newest Windows 10 drivers, which aren’t the recently announced Crimson update, Nvidia’s lead shrinks. At 1440p, the GTX 980 Ti that previously was 8% ahead of the R9 Fury X now comes in at the same result while the R9 390x makes up 5% and gets 3% ahead of the GTX980. Even the R9 290X gets a huge boost of 9% over the GTX 970 card.
Again, moving up to 4K resolution and we see that AMD takes the full lead. The R9 Fury X jumps ahead of the GTX 980Ti by 5%, the R9 390X and 290(X) also stay ahead of the GTX 980 and GTX970/GTX780 Ti respectively. This is pretty impressive and really shows what a driver optimising can do.
Just last month, we heard that the AMD R9 380X was on its way, as a cards specifications, as well as a picture of the card from XFX leaked online. The new AMD card, although admittedly I use the term “new” lightly, looks set to topple the Nvidia Geforce GTX 970, offering impressive performance at a mighty affordable price range, which should make it ideal for 1440p gaming.
The new card features a 28nm chip, with a clock of up to 1100Mhz, 4GB of GDDR5 @ 5500Mhz – 6000Mhz and a 256bit bus. Of course, the specifications seem decent enough and no doubt a few AMD partners such as XFX, Sapphire, Gigabyte and Powercolor will put their own touch of magic in there to get the most of the card using custom cooling and PCB solutions; my money is on Sapphire putting out the best card of the bunch, as we’ve seen so many times with AMD cards in the past.
The card is expected to launch in just a few days time, November 15th to be exact, to the general public. Of course, this is just a rumour at this time, but Hardware Battle have proven a reliable source of leaks in the past.
What’s more exciting, is that the card is expected to retail at just $249, much lower than the GTX 970, which are often north of $300.
Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different and we are excited to bring you the CrossFireX review of the highly anticipated R9 Nano 4GB graphics cards.
The R9 Nano is the third release in the Fiji GPU core range and the third official graphics card to utilise High Bandwidth Memory (HBMv1). We’ve been impressed with the performance of the Fiji range so far with the fully unlocked R9 Fury X providing a good alternative to the NVIDIA GTX 980Ti, the R9 Fury providing a good step up from the R9 390X and the GTX 980 and the R9 Nano being the perfect option for small form factor builds. A single R9 Nano provides the perfect balance of performance, power consumption and mobility, but will combining two still be a worthwhile option?
When we test in CrossFireX, we aim to use two identical graphics card to ensure that everything is as similar as possible. When using the same cards, you can almost guarantee the same cooling capabilities, power draw, core clock and other variables. This then gives us the best possible outcome for maximum performance as the computer does not need to compensate for any differences.
eTeknix has fought hard over the last few months to be able to bring you the Fiji articles that we have, some may have been a little late, but we have managed to get them out to you one way or another. Stock levels of the Fiji core and HBM have been extremely limited, so AMD had to make the tough decision to only allow an severely limited number of media samples and plumb the rest to the consumer market.
So here it is, our R9 Nano article supplied by Club3D. Right up until launch, we covered a lot about the card and something we knew was almost exactly how the card would look. An R9 Fury X copy with a fan instead of a water cooling solution. From there we took guesses at other specifications, would it feature the Fiji core or a cut-down version like in the R9 Fury with my money on the latter due to the massively decreased size and only single fan; I was extremely surprised when I found out that it uses a full Fiji core as found in the R9 Fury X.
Let’s find out how this miniature monster performs in today’s review.
Packaging and accessories
I’m actually really disheartened by this box. If you are paying £500+ for a graphics card, you’d expect at least a little bit more premium quality to the box. It offers everything you could want in a box, but it just feels cheap.
The back of the box has some key features with some images to be more appealing.
Club3D have really cut down on the accessories with this card, just a simple installation leaflet and a driver disc.
While we’ve long know that AMD was preparing a dual Fiji GPU, we’re now getting some hints that the card will be launched and revealed imminently. According to a shipping manifest, a “Fiji Gemini” has just left AMD’s Canada headquarters. AMD Canada has always been the site that handled more graphics since it used to be ATI, and with the Gemini headed off, it probably means the card is done most of its testing is off and ready to be launched soon.
Previous names for the card have revolved around R9 Fury X2 or some variation thereof, but R9 Gemini might now be a contender. The shipping manifest also shows an attached Cooler Master heatsink. Given that ongoing litigation between Cooler Master and Asetek, AMD either has a deal going on with Asetek or they know something we don’t. The card is expected to pack a total of 8192 shader processors and 8GB(2x4GB) of HBM1. While 4GB of VRAM shouldn’t hold things back at 4K, the advent of unified memory with DX12 may help alleviate issues in the future.
With Nvidia also set to launch their own dual-GPU graphics card and having shown off their HBM2 Pascal card, AMD only has a narrow window in which to launch this card. Hopefully, we will be hearing more about Gemini in the days to come. The launch of R9 Gemini may also bring about better Crossfire performance and quality, something which has been lacking a bit.
Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information
We all like free stuff and MSI seem to agree to that, at least they have bundled a free copy of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India with the MSI Radeon R9 380 GAMING or MSI Radeon R7 370 GAMING graphics cards.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China brings you to China in 1526 where you play Shao Jun. Shao Jun is the last remaining Assassin of the Chinese Brotherhood and was he trained by the legendary Ezio Auditore, my personal favourite Assassin in the series. Your job is it to restore the fallen Brotherhood, but not without taking your revenge.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India takes you to the middle of a conflict between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company in 1841. You are taking on the role of Arbaaz Mir and the mission is to return a mysterious item, but that’s likely not going to be as easy as it sounds.
The MSI Radeon R7 370 GAMING and MSI Radeon R9 380 GAMING graphics cards are equipped with MSI’s highly awarded TWIN FROZR V cooling solution that allow them to stay cool and quite throughout your battles.
The promotion and thereby free games started on September 21st and will run until October 31st, 2015, or while supplies last. Game codes that haven’t been redeemed by July 31st, 2016 will expire, so better activate it before the code gets lost in your mail folder somewhere.
The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X could be facing a complicated production issue due to a legal battle surrounding the Cooler Master closed-loop pump. Back in 2014, Asetek, the manufacturer of many all-in-one liquid coolers such as the Corsair H110, won a patient infringement case against Cooler Master. The final verdict awarded Asetek a 14.5% royalty share on all Cooler Master liquid coolers sold throughout the USA. In total this includes the Seidon 120V, 120V Plus, 120M, 120XL, Nepton 140XL, Seidon 240M, Glacer 240L and Nepton 280L.
Cooler Master’s entire range of liquid cooled products are bound by the royalty fee and cannot be sold in the USA due to an injunction. As a result, it’s theoretically possible that the Fury X pump could become a major issue given its Cooler Master branding and manufacturing deal. CoolIT recently settled a lawsuit with Asetek after manufacturing Corsair’s latest H110 GT liquid cooler. In 2013, Swiftech had to halt production of the H220 and H320 all-in-one coolers due to the Asetek lawsuit and produced the revised H220-X and H240-X designs which didn’t infringe on the patent.
This patent war has been an arduous process and other companies selling closed-liquid-coolers could face similar legal wranglings in the future. Yesterday, Cooler Master’s fate was sealed as their appeal was dismissed and increased the royalty rate to 25.375% on infringing products from January 2015. It’s unknown how this will affect the Fury X’s market position in the USA, but the news is rather worrying.
Thank you GamersNexus for providing us with this information.
AMD’s Radeon R9 Nano graphics card was only just released upon the market yesterday, and today Aqua Computer are ready to take on pre-orders on their real full cover water block for just that card. You can get some impressive results by replacing the factory-default air cooler on this already efficient mini card with this new water block.
The kryographics R9 NANO full cover water cooler is a true full cover cooler as it covers the entire PCB area. There is already a single-slot bracket available for the R9 Fury X and that will work on this card too, allowing you to make a true single-slot mITX graphics card with a power that hasn’t been seen before. Internal tests by Aqua Computer showed temperatures of just 35 degrees on the GPU (27 degrees water temperature) when running Furmark. Impressive!
We know that the GPU used on the R9 Nano is the same as the one on the R9 Fury X and as such there is a lot of performance to be had, with a few limitation. The GPU is simply clocked into a more efficient area instead of running it to the maximum. So by adding a full cover water block like this to the card, we should be able to almost the same results. There is the limitation of only one PCIe 8-pin power connector, but otherwise you should be free.
The water block will cool the GPU and onboard memory as effective as possible, and the entire VRM area is properly cooled as well, including the regulators. The base is made from electrolytic copper and there are several top versions available as we’re used to from the kryographics series.
Pre-orders for the Kryographics R9 Nano full cover water block can be placed from today and the actual coolers will start to ship the following week.
It’s that time of the year again folks, AMD is releasing another top end graphics card that is in seriously short supply and we at eTeknix won’t be getting hold of one, at least not from AMD.
We have previously posted articles that shone a bad light on AMD, this was primarily revolving around the performance figures of the R9 Fury X graphics card. This was down to AMD figures being extremely positive, while leaked benchmarks were painting a different picture. We posted what we saw, but kept an open mind ready for our sample to make the final decision, as we would and often do with many products. In fact, you can read our reviews of the new AMD R9 Fury X, R9 Fury X Crossfire and R9 Fury here. We loved the cards, the architecture, and the new HBM which has so much potential, showing very little memory impact at 4K compared to traditional GDDR5.
The official word from AMD is that the Fiji and HBM are in short supply and every effort is being taken to land the product in the hands of the people who want it, i.e. the consumers. Don’t get me wrong, that’s all well and good, cards need to get to consumers. However, media samples are an important factor for consumers too. Most consumers looking to spend £500+ on an extremely niche graphics card will look for reviews first, find out how it compares and without a good range of reviews from multiple sites, it’s hard for a lot of consumers and our readers to build their trust in a product; it’s not like you can take one for a test drive as you would a car.
We are doing everything in our power to source a sample, but sadly we are extremely unlikely to have an article up for launch, as most tech review sites at this time. However, we’ll update you as soon as the Nano lands in our office ready for an independent review.
It was just a matter of time before we got it and here it is: the fastest R9 390 series graphics card. The just launched PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 390 is packed with dual GRENADA cores running at 1GHz and 16GB GDDR5 RAM running at 1350MHz via a new high-speed 512-bit X2 memory interface.
The new Devil 13 card isn’t a small one, it is a monster. The oversized card goes beyond the IO shield despite already being a triple-slot card. That really isn’t a surprise considering the cooling required to keep two such chips running at peak efficiency.
It consists of a massive 15-phase power delivery, PowerIRstage, Super Cap and Ferrite Core Choke that provides the stability and reliability for such high-end graphics solution. Three Double Blades Fans are attached on top of the enormous surface of aluminum fins heatsink that is connected with a total of 10 pieces of heat pipes and 2 pieces of large die-cast panels. This should create a perfect balance between the thermal solution and noise reduction.
The PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 390 has LED backlighting that glows a bright red color where the Devil 13 logo pulsates slowly. It also comes with dual-BIOS and it requires four 8-pin PCI-E power connections. The graphics card even comes with a mouse included as well, and it isn’t just a no-name one. Included is the Razer Ouroboros mouse, just because. The output connections are a two DL-DVI-D, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort.
Powercolor did not announce an MSRP at this time, but it surely won’t come cheap.
It has been rumoured, leaked, and talked about for a while now, the AMD Radeon R9 Nano graphics card, and all those rumours were correct. AMD has just released the Radeon R9 Nano graphics card and it is a beaut.
I could talk a lot about this card right from the start, but let us start with the specifications instead. I’m sure it is those that interest most folks around here, reading this right now. The AMD Radeon R9 Nano comes with a fully configured Fiji GPU based on the 28nm process, with 4096 stream processors, 64 ROPs, 256 Texture Units, and 64 compute units for a compute performance of 8.19TFLOPs. That is also the same chip configuration as the water-cooled Radeon R9 Fury X uses, but I’ll get more into that later. Being a Fiji GPU, it comes with 4GB HBM memory directly on the GPU. The GPU clock can go up to 1000 MHz and the memory is locked at 500MHz/1.0 Gbps on the 4096-bit memory bus for up to 512GB/s bandwidth.
The AMD Radeon R9 Nano isn’t just a very small card, measuring just about 6-inches in length, it’s also very power efficient and that is its key point. As a comparison, a mITX motherboard is 6.7-inch by 6.7-inch and that is already very small. The Nano is even shorter. It only needs a single 8-pin power connector for its typical board power of 175W. With what we know now, it’s easy to say that this is the most powerful mITX card ever created. One of the reasons the card uses so much less power than the R9 290x for example, besides the optimization for performance per watt, is the lower power consumption of the HBM memory. A 4GB GDDR5 equipped card would consume about 50W where the Nano only requires 8w.
The R9 Nano isn’t targeted as a new solo flagship and not intended to perform as good as the Fury X either, as it is. The performance will be around that of the air-cooled R9 Fury, but smaller and more efficient as well as with a lot of headroom for aftermarket cooling solutions. Both the memory and the GPU have been set to the absolute sweet spot where you get maximum performance per watt, and that is this cards strength. While you can overclock the card and get roughly 15% more performance, it will come at a power increase of about 50%. If you want it, you can do it. But whether it’s worth it, is another question.
I’ve previously mentioned that the GPU clock goes up to 1000MHz, but you won’t get that far up under typical situations. It will more likely be around 850-900MHz, again to get the best performance per watt. This can be overwritten in the CCC and set manually, so nothing to worry about if you want to run it to the max.
With such a small card and powerful card, there is worry about the cooling. Both the efficiency, thermal throttling, and noise generation. The GPU is allowed all the way up to 85 degrees before any thermal throttling is happening, and it is designed to run no hotter than 75 degrees in normal setups.
In the first instance, the R9 nano will be released as a reference design only, but it will be opened up to AIB partners later on, allowing them to create their own cooling solutions for the card. Speaking of upgrading it, you can also upgrade the shroud with a custom one like on the Fury X, but it won’t be as easy. AMD promised to release the 3D print files, allowing people to create their own shrouds. But it needs to accommodate for the fan that is mounted on it and isn’t just a square plate like it was on the Fury X.
The Nano comes without any DVI connectors and again, for now it’s reference design only. But this will also be opened up to card partners later on, where a few surely will choose to include the legacy connection. For now you get three DisplayPort connectors and one HDMI. The HDMI port isn’t a 2.0, but you can get that type of connection through a DisplayPort adapter if needed.
Being a mITX design, the AMD R9 Nano is intended to be used mainly in compact and portable gaming rigs, but that doesn’t prevent you from using them in any larger one. The card also features bridgeless CrossfireX support with up to four cards. That ability could create some truly sick mods with all new possibilities in custom case placements.
The three photos below illustrate the cooling solution that is used and that is probably one of the things that many previous AMD customers might be worried about. The Radeon 290x reference card wasn’t exactly what you would call silent.
The first part we see is the dedicated VRM direct touch heat sink, something that probably hasn’t been seen on this type of cards before. A stable and cool VRM goes a long way for a graphics card and having the extra heat sink will allow the fan to spin at a much lower speed.
The second part is the actual cooler that features a dual vapor chamber and heat-pipe thermal solution. This combination again allows the fan to spin at a slower speed as it’s required less. AMD put a lot of work into the cooler, and it shows. Effectively this allows the card to be 16dBA quieter than the R9 290X graphics card and comes in on a noise level of 42 dBA. That is the same noise level you’d find in a library.
The third part of the cooling solution is one that easily could be overlooked and it’s the direction of the fins. Most cards have them turned 90 degrees and that’s simply a bad choice. With this design, most of the hot air will be blown out the rear instead of up onto motherboard and CPU area that is located above the graphics card.
AMD also opted for a matte black PCB on this card next to the full metal shroud and brushed aluminium finish. It sure looks great. It wasn’t entirely sure at the press event what speed the fan will spin on, but it should go up to around 2700 RPM.
So to sum up: The AMD R9 Nano uses the same setup as the R9 Fury X, but it is tuned to a more optimal performance per watt and it’s targeted at compact and mobile gaming rigs. You can overclock it to gain more performance, but it will come at a significant extra power requirement. It is not meant to compete with the Fury X but offer a smaller and more efficient variant of the same. The performance, as it is, will be around that of the air-cooled R9 Fury.
What’s left to say, oh yea the pricing. The card won’t be cheap and it will cost about the same as the Fury X with a $649 USD MSRP. I also got a fun fact, the Amazing AMD micro system displayed at the same time as the Fury X was announced actually used two R9 Nano cards in a dual-board layout. So different PCB, but same GPU configuration.
Are you tempted to get one of the new AMD Radeon R9 Nano cards? I know I am, or perhaps two while I’m at it. Here is also a comparison on what is possible. These two systems have the same CPU, the same amount of memory, same graphics power, and same storage abilities. Which would you pick?
Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different and we are excited to bring you the CrossfireX review of the Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X graphics cards.
Based on the slightly aging Hawaii architecture, performance was expected to be fairly low, however, as we found in our standalone review that really wasn’t the case. Alone, this card has the power to directly take on the GTX 980 and is poised to be at the low-end of the brand new AMD R9 Fury range. At a price of £350, it is perfectly priced to fill in the gap between the R9 390 and R9 Fury.
When we test in CrossfireX, we aim to use two identical graphics card to ensure that everything is as similar as possible. When using the same cards, you can almost guarantee the same cooling capabilities, power draw, core clock, boost clock and so on. This then gives us the best possible outcome for maximum performance as the computer does not need to compensate for any differences.
ASUS and SplitmedaLabs have announced a new partnership where they will be bundling the popular streaming software XSplit Gamecaster V2 along with most of their graphics cards. However, not all types of cards will get an equal amount of free time with the software that requires yearly subscriptions.
Pretty much anyone with a AMD Radeon R7, R9 or Fury based graphics card as well as GeForce GTX 600, 700, 900, and Titan series will get the basic 14-days trial with premium features while those with the best of the best cards get even more. After all, those are the likely ones to be streaming. If you got an NVIDIA GeForce 900 or Titan series, or an AMD based R9 or Fury series, then you can sign up for the full year of free premium features.
XSplit Gamecaster V2 is a live streaming and recording application created by SplitmediaLabs that also features a special ASUS GPU Tweak integration. It allows users that are running the ASUS GPU Tweak utility to be able to set custom profiles and view GPU statistics all from within the XSplit Gamecaster overlay. XSplit Gamecaster uses a discreet and unobtrusive in-game overlay, and allows users to add a webcam, activate a green screen transparency effect and share their broadcast to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all without leaving the game.
Both ASUS and SplitmediaLabs have their own dedicated mini-page for this, where you can read more on the terms or get started with your free XSplit Gamecaster V2 streaming.