Just a reminder of the state of Hawaii

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2014 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, r9 290, hawaii, catalyst, amd

Confirming the results that Ryan and other sites have seen are the results of [H]ard|OCP's testing of two different retail R9 290X GPUs against a pair of press sample cards.  Much as with Ryan's findings even using the newer Catalyst 13.11 Beta 5 driver, Quiet mode performance varies far more than Uber mode does but even Uber mode displays some differences between models.  However they draw a slightly different conclusion based on their experiences, determining that the variance is not just a matter of press samples versus retail cards but a variance between any and all 290X GPUs.  The complexity of this huge chip is such that the differences in manufacturing process and tolerances are to blame and some cards will simply be better than others.  They also are disappointed by AMD's marketing team, citing that the key is 'With NVIDIA GTX 600 and 700 series the video cards are "running faster than advertised" and with AMD R9 290X the video card is running "slower than advertised."'

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"The AMD Radeon R9 290X arrived recently with a high level of performance, and a high level of controversy. There have been reports of performance variance between Radeon R9 290X video cards. We have two purchased retail cards today with stock cooling that we will test and see if performance variances exist."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

CES 2014: VisionTek Launches Liquid Cooled CryoVenom R9 290 Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 10, 2014 - 02:19 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, VisionTek, r9 290, liquid cooling, CES 2014, CES, amd

VisionTek unveiled a new custom liquid cooled graphics card based on AMD's R9 290 GPU. The CryoVenom R9 290 900675 card uses a custom engineered full cover EK water block that allows VisionTek to wring the full potential out of AMD's Hawaii GPU by overclocking it 24% over stock clockspeeds while running much cooler than the fan cooled reference cards.

VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290_Close Up.jpg

As a refresher, the AMD R9 290 GPU at the heart of the new graphics card is based on AMD's latest Hawaii architecture and features 2,560 shaders, 160 texture units, and 64 ROPs. The GPU interfaces with 4GB of GDDR5 memory on a 512-bit bus. The reference R9 290 GPUs have a GPU clockspeed of 947 MHz and memory clockspeed of 1250 MHz (note the clockspeed problems of reference cards due to the coolers used).

The VisionTek card ditches a fan HSF in favor of a full cover waterblock that cools the GPU, memory, and VRMs. It has a nickel-plated copper base with an acrylic top. Water is channeled through a micro-fin array designed to cool the card without putting strain on low pressure pumps. A black anodized aluminum backplate adds support and passive (additional) VRM cooling to the graphics card. The CryoVenom maintains the two DL-DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort video output connections of reference cards, however.

VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290_top.jpg

Going with a liquid cooler has allowed VisionTek to ratchet up the clockspeeds to an impressive 1,175 MHz for the GPU and 1,450 MHz for the memory. That is a respectable 24% and 16% increase over stock, respectively and is estimated to offer up to 38% better overall performance at those overclocked speeds. Perhaps even more impressive than the overclocks themselves is that VisionTek claims to be able to keep the card just under 52-degrees C under load which is a significant improvement over stock!

VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290_display output.jpg

According to VisionTek, each Cryovenom R9 290 graphics card is custom build and put through a variety of burn in tests to ensure that it can operate at the rated overclocks and is free of water leaks when attached to a loop.

The liquid cooled cards have an MSRP of $550 and will be available shortly (the cards are currently out of stock on the VisionTek site). Here's hoping that VisionTek is able to keep the cards at MSRP, because even at a $150 premium over the MSRP of reference cards it would still be a good deal at a time when reference cards are being sold at prices well over MSRP.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: VisionTek

PowerColor at CES 2014: Bigger is Better!

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 8, 2014 - 08:25 PM |
Tagged: triple fans, R9 290X, r9 290, powercolor, liquid cooling, cooling, CES 2014, amd

The nice folks at PowerColor were foolish enough to invite us into their suite full of video cards.  Unhappily, we were unable to abscond with a few items that we will list here.  PowerColor has a smaller US presence than other manufacturers, but they are not afraid to experiment with unique cooling solutions for their cards.

pc_lcs01.jpg

A sharp looking card that is remarkably heavy.

pc_lcs02.jpg

Cooling is provided by EKWB.

In their suite they were showing off two new products based on the AMD R9 290X chips.  The first was actually released back in December, 2013.  This is the liquid cooling version of the AMD R9 290X.  This little number comes in at a hefty $799.  When we think about this price, it really is not that out of line.  It features a very high end liquid cooling block that is extremely heavy and well built.  The PCB looks like it mimics the reference design, but the cooling is certainly the unique aspect of this card.  Again, this card is extremely heavy and well built.

pc_pcs01.jpg

Three fans are too much!

pc_pcs02.jpg

The display outputs are the same as the reference design, which is not a bad thing.

The second card is probably much more interesting to most users.  This is a new cooling solution from PowerColor that attaches to the AMD R9 290X.  The PCS+ cooler features three fans and is over two slots wide (we can joke about it being 2.5 slots wide, but I doubt anyone can use that extra half slot that is left over).  PCS+ stands for Professional Cooling Systems.  The board again looks like it is based on the reference PCB, but the cooler is really where the magic lies.  This particular product should be able to compete with the other 3rd party coolers that we have seen applied to this particular chip from AMD.  As such, it should be able to not only keep the clockspeed at a steady state throughout testing/gaming, but it should also allow a measure of overclocking to be applied.

pc_pcs03.jpg

The back is protected/supported by a large and stiff plate.  Cooling holes help maximize performance.

This card will be offered at $679 US and will be available on January 15.  The amount of units shipped will likely be fairly small, so keep a good eye out.  AMD is ultimately in charge of providing partners with chips to integrate into their respective products, and so far I think those numbers have been a little bit more limited than hoped.  It also doesn’t help that the market price has been inflated by all the coin miners that have been purchasing up the latest GCN based AMD cards for the past several months.

pc_pcs04.jpg

There is no denying that this is a large cooler.  Hopefully cooling performance will match or exced that of products Ryan has already reviewed.

We also expect to see the R9 290 version of this card around the same timeframe.  This is supposed to be released around the same time as the bigger, more expensive R9 290X.  There should be more PowerColor content at PCPer over the next few months, so please stay tuned!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

 

Source: PowerColor

Another Custom Hawaii: MSI R9 290 & 290X GAMING 4G

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 24, 2013 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: R9 290X, r9 290, msi

MSI just announced their two customized Hawaii GPUs. One of the two new boards will be based on the R9 290 and the other based on the R9 290X. The design is based around the Twin Frozr IV Advanced two-fan model found on previous cards.

msi-r9-290x-hero.png

The specifications of the 290X version include three different modes: OC, Gaming and Silent.  The Silent mode will run at 1000 MHz which is the same clock speed as the reference models were set at.  In Gaming mode the card will run at 1030 MHz and in OC mode it will clock at 1040 MHz.  Obviously there will be some slight noise level variances between them but I am pretty sure that the difference between Gaming and OC mode is going to be negligible.  

msi-r9-290x.png

The R9 290 version has the same three settings, but the clock speeds are 947 MHz, 977 MHz and 1007 MHz respectively.  

As a final note: MSI's press release claims, "Available Now". It does not appear to be available on either Amazon or Newegg but NCIX claims that it is estimated to arrive February 26th, 2014 for $700. I seriously hope that there are a few typoes... maybe they meant December 26? Maybe they meant not a more-than-$100 premium?

It is, unfortunately, still a wait and see game with these custom AIBs.

Source: MSI

Video Perspective: GPU Shortages and Litecoin Mining Discussion

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 12, 2013 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: video, amd, radeon, hawaii, r9 290, R9 290X, bitcoin, litecoin, mining

If you already listened to this weeks PC Perspective Podcast, then feel free to disregard this post.  For the rest of you - subscribe to our damned weekly podcast would you already?!?

In any event, I thought it might be interesting to extract this 6 minute discussion we had during last nights live streamed podcast about how the emergence of Litecoin mining operations is driving up prices of GPUs, particularly the compute-capable R9 290 and R9 290X Hawaii-based cards from AMD.

Check out these prices currently on Amazon!

The price of the GTX 770 is a bit higher than it should be while the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti are priced in the same range they have been for the last month or so.  The same cannot be said for the AMD cards listed here - the R9 280X is selling for $130 more than its expected MSRP at a minimum but you'll see quite a few going for much higher on Amazon, Ebay (thanks TR) and others.  The Radeon R9 290 has an MSRP of $399 from AMD but the lowest price we found on Amazon was $499 and anything on Newegg.com is showing at the same price, but sold out.  The R9 290X is even more obnoxiously priced when you can find them.

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Do you have any thoughts on this?  Do you think Litecoin mining is really causing these price inflations and what does that mean for AMD, NVIDIA and the gamer?

Podcast #279 - R9 290 Variance Issues, OCZ's Bankruptcy, Kaveri Leaks and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: video, ultrasharp, toshiba, R9 290X, r9 290, podcast, ocz, Kaveri, dell, amd, A10-7850K, A10-7700K, 4k

PC Perspective Podcast #279 - 12/04/2013

Join us this week as we discuss R9 290 Variance Issues, OCZ's Bankruptcy, Kaveri Leaks and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Scott Michaud

 
Program length: 1:18:11
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:31:05 This episode is brought to you by Carbonite.com! Use offer code PC for two free months!
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro

So Apparently Some R9 290 Cards Can Flash in to a 290X?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 26, 2013 - 03:18 AM |
Tagged: R9 290X, r9 290, amd

Multiple sites are reporting that some AMD's Radeon R9 290 cards could be software-unlocked into 290Xs with a simple BIOS update. While the difference in performance is minor, free extra shader processors might be tempting for some existing owners.

"Binning" is when a manufacturer increases yield by splitting one product into several based on how they test after production. Semiconductor fabrication, specifically, is prone to constant errors and defects. Maybe only some of your wafers are not stable at 4 GHz but they can attain 3.5 or 3.7 GHz. Why throw those out when they can be sold as 3.5 GHz parts?

amd-gpu14-06.png

This is especially relevant to multi-core CPUs and GPUs. Hawaii XT has 2816 Stream processors; a compelling product could be made even with a few of those shut down. The R9 290, for instance, permits 2560 of these cores. The remaining have been laser cut or, at least, should have been.

Apparently certain batches of Radeon R9 290s were developed with fully functional Hawaii XT chips that were software locked to 290 specifications. There have been reports that several users of cards from multiple OEMs were able to flash a new BIOS to unlock these extra cores. However, other batches seem to be properly locked.

This could be interesting for lucky and brave users but I wonder why this happened. I can think of two potential causes:

  • Someone (OEMs or AMD) had too many 290X chips, or
  • The 290 launch was just that unprepared.

Either way, newer shipments should be properly locked even from affected OEMs. Again, not that it really matters given the performance differences we are talking about.

Source: WCCFTech

Podcast #277 - GTX 780Ti, OCZ Vector 150 SSD, Details about Kaveri, and much more from APU13!

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2013 - 12:38 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, gtx 780ti, Vector 150, ocz, r9 290, R9 290X, 290, 290x, WD, My Cloud, EX 4

PC Perspective Podcast #277 - 11/14/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the GTX 780Ti, OCZ Vector 150 SSD, Details about Kaveri, and much more from APU13!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

 
Program length: 1:09:03
  1. Reminder about Halloween contest - update when I get home
  2. Week in Review:
  3. 0:30:50 This episode is brought to you by Carbonite.com! Use offer code PC for two free months!
  4. Closing/outro

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

An issue of variance

AMD just sent along an email to the press with a new driver to use for Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290 testing going forward.  Here is the note:

We’ve identified that there’s variability in fan speeds across AMD R9 290 series boards. This variability in fan speed translates into variability of the cooling capacity of the fan-sink.

The flexibility of AMD PowerTune technology enables us to correct this variability in a driver update. This update will normalize the fan RPMs to the correct values.

The correct target RPM values are 2200RPM for the AMD Radeon R9 290X ‘Quiet mode’, and 2650RPM for the R9 290. You can verify these in GPU-Z.

If you’re working on stories relating to R9 290 series products, please use this driver as it will reduce any variability in fan speeds. This driver will be posted publicly tonight.

Great!  This is good news!  Except it also creates some questions. 

When we first tested the R9 290X and the R9 290, we discussed the latest iteration of AMD's PowerTune technology. That feature attempts to keep clocks as high as possible under the constraints of temperature and power.  I took issue with the high variability of clock speeds on our R9 290X sample, citing this graph:

clock-avg.png

I then did some digging into the variance and the claims that AMD was building a "configurable" GPU.  In that article we found that there were significant performance deltas between "hot" and "cold" GPUs; we noticed that doing simple, quick benchmarks would produce certain results that were definitely not real-world in nature.  At the default 40% fan speed, Crysis 3 showed 10% variance with the 290X at 2560x1440:

Crysis3_2560x1440_OFPS.png

Continue reading our coverage of the most recent driver changes and how they affect the R9 290X and R9 290!!

PC Perspective Podcast #276 - AMD Radeon R9 290, Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H, SSD Torture tests and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2013 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: Z87X-UD5H, video, R9 290X, r9 290, podcast, nvidia, gtx 780, grid, ec2, amd, amazon

PC Perspective Podcast #276 - 11/07/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon R9 290, Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H, SSD Torture tests and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

 
Due to a recording error, portions of the audio track are missing. Because of this, the audio will skip around in various places. This is actually happening, and you aren't crazy (well maybe, but not because of the audio). Considering these files were almost not recovered, it's a miracle we have this much of the recording.
 
Program length: 0:47:56
  1. Week in Review:
  2. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  3. podcast@pcper.com
  4. Closing/outro