This high end multi-GPU 4k showdown includes overclocking

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 29, 2014 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, gtx 780, R9 290X DC2 OC, sli, crossfire, STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB, R9 290X

We have seen [H]ard|OCP test ASUS' STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB and R9 290X DirectCU II before but this time they have been overclocked and paired up for a 4k showdown.  For a chance NewEgg gives the price advantage to AMD, $589 versus $599 at the time of writing (with odd blips in prices on Amazon).   The GTX 780 has been set to 1.2GHz and 6.6GHz while the 290X is 1.1GHz and 5.6GHz, keep in mind dual GPU setups may not reach the same frequencies as single cards.  Read on for their conclusions and decide if you prefer to brag about a higher overclock or have better overall performance.

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"We take the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card and run two in SLI and overclock both of these at 4K resolutions to find the ultimate gameplay performance with 6GB of VRAM. We will also compare these to two overclocked ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II CrossFire video cards for the ultimate VRAM performance showdown."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

Lightning Returns

With the GPU landscape mostly settled for 2014, we have the ability to really dig in and evaluate the retail models that continue to pop up from NVIDIA and AMD board partners. One of our favorite series of graphics cards over the years comes from MSI in the form of the Lightning brand. These cards tend to take the engineering levels to a point other designers simply won't do - and we love it! Obviously the target of this capability is additional overclocking headroom and stability, but what if the GPU target has issues scaling already?

That is more or less the premise of the Radeon R9 290X Lightning from MSI. AMD's Radeon R9 290X Hawaii GPU is definitely a hot and power hungry part and that caused quite a few issues at the initial release. Since then though, both AMD and its add-in card partners have worked to improve the coolers installed on these cards to improve performance reliability and decrease the LOUD NOISES produced by the stock, reference cooler.

Let's dive into the latest to hit our test bench, the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning.

The MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning

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MSI continues to utilize the yellow and black color scheme that many of the company's high end parts integrate and I love the combination. I know that both NVIDIA and AMD disapprove of the distinct lack of "green" and "red" in the cooler and box designs, but good on MSI for sticking to its own thing. 

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The box for the Lightning card is equal to the prominence of the card itself and you even get a nifty drawer for all of the included accessories.

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We originally spotted the MSI R9 290X Lightning at CES in January and the design remains the same. The cooler is quite large (and damn heavy) and is cooled by a set of three fans. The yellow fan in the center is smaller and spins a bit faster, creating more noise than I would prefer. All fan speeds can be adjusted with MSI's included fan control software.

Continue reading our review of the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning Graphics Card!!

What if you can't afford that second R9 295X2?

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 26, 2014 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, r9 295x2, R9 290X

Through hard work or good luck you find yourself the proud owner of an R9 295X2 and a 4K display but somehow the performance just isn't quite good enough.  You can't afford another X2 though there is an R9 290X in your price range but you just aren't sure if it will help your system out at all.  That is where [H]ard|OCP steps in with this review where they prove that tri-fire in this configuration does indeed work.  Not only does it work, it allows you to vastly increase your performance over a 295X2 or to improve the performance somewhat while raising your graphics settings to new highs.  For those using 5760x1200 Eyefinity you probably already have your graphics options cranked; this upgrade will still offer you a linear increase in performance.  Not bad if you have the money to invest!

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"Will adding a single AMD Radeon R9 290X video card to the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 work? Will you get triple-GPU performance, ala TriFire CrossFire performance? This just might be a more financially feasible configuration for gamers versus QuadFire that provides a great gaming experience in Eyefinity and 4K resolutions."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Radeon R9 Prices Have Leveled Out, R9 280 Drops to $249

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 15, 2014 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, r9 290, r9 280x, r9 280, amd

Just the other day AMD sent out an email to the media to discuss the current pricing situation of the Radeon R9 series of graphics cards. This email started with the following statement.

You’ve seen many articles, discussions online about the AMD Radeon™ R9 lineup – especially chatter about pricing and availability. As we’ve talked about it before, the demand for the R9 lineup has been nothing but astonishing, and went well beyond our most optimistic expectations. That created a situation where gamers weren’t able to purchase their desired R9 graphics card.

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Clearly AMD would not bring up the subject if the current situation was BAD news so guess what? All seems to be back normal (or expected) in terms of AMD Radeon R9 pricing and card availability. Take a look at the table below to get an idea of where Radeon's currently stand.

  Amazon.com Newegg.com
Radeon R9 295X2 $1524 $1499
Radeon R9 290X  $549 $529
Radeon R9 290 $379 $399
Radeon R9 280X $289 $299
Radeon R9 280 $249 $249
Radeon R9 270X $199 $189
Radeon R9 270 $169 $179

There is one price change that differs from the products' launch - the SEP of the Radeon R9 280 has dropped from $279 to $249. Nothing dramatic but a nice change.

Maybe most interesting is this line from the AMD email.

Now that product is available and at suggested pricing, these prices will remain stable. No more madness like you saw in Q1.

That emphasis is AMD's. I'm not quite sure how the company thinks they can keep a tight control on pricing now if it wasn't able to do so before, but more than likely, with the rush for coin mining hardware somewhat dying off, the prediction will hold true. (As a side note, there appears to be some discounts to be found on used Radeon hardware these days...)

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Of course the AMD bundling promotion known as Never Settle Forever is still going strong with these new prices as well. Scott wrote up a story detailing this latest incarnation of the promotion and he and I both agree that while free is always good great, the age of most of the titles in the program is a bit of a problem. But AMD did note in this email that they have "lined up a few brand new games to add to this promotion, and they'll [sic] be sharing more info with you in the next few weeks!"

An overclocked flagship GPU duel

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 17, 2014 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: amd, nividia, gigabyte, asus, R9 290X, GeForce GTX 780 Ti, factory overclocked

In the green trunks is the ASUS GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II OC which [H]ard|OCP overclocked to the point they saw in game performance of 1211MHz GPU and 7.2GHz on the memory.  In the red trunks we find Gigabyte's R9 290X 4GB OC weighing in at 1115MHz and 5.08GHz for the GPU and memory respectively.  Both cards have been pushed beyond the factory overclock that they came with and will fight head to head in such events as Battling the Field, Raiding the Tomb and counting to three twice, once in a Crysis and again in a Far Cry from safety.  Who will triumph?  Will the battle be one sided or will the contenders trade top spot depending on the challenge?  Get the full coverage at [H]ard|OCP!

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"Today we look at the GIGABYTE R9 290X 4GB OC and ASUS GeForce GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II OC video cards. Each of these video cards features a custom cooling system, and a factory overclock. We will push the overclock farther and put these two video cards head-to-head for a high-end performance comparison."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI's R9 290X GAMING 4G sports a variety of overclocked settings and a Twin Frozr IV

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 7, 2014 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: msi, R9 290X GAMING 4G, amd, hawaii, R9 290X, Twin Frozr IV, factory overclocked

The familiar Twin Frozr IV cooler has been added to the R9 290X GPU on MSI's latest AMD graphics card.  The R9 290X GAMING 4G sports 4GB of GDDR5 running at an even 5GHz and a GPU that has three separate top speeds depending on the profile you choose; 1040 MHz with OC Mode, 1030 MHz for Gaming Mode and 1000 MHz in Silent Mode.  [H]ard|OCP also tried manually overclocking and ended up with a peak of 1130MHz GPU and 5.4GHz for the GDDR5, not a bad bump over the factory overclock.  Check out the performance of the various speeds in their full review.

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"On our test bench today is MSI's newest high-end GAMING series graphics cards in the form of the MSI Radeon R9 290X GAMING 4G video card. We will strap it to our test bench and compare it to the MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti GAMING 3G card out-of-box and overclocked to determine which card provides the best gameplay experience."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

BF4 Integrates FCAT Overlay Support

Back in September AMD publicly announced Mantle, a new lower level API meant to offer more performance for gamers and more control for developers fed up with the restrictions of DirectX. Without diving too much into the politics of the release, the fact that Battlefield 4 developer DICE was integrating Mantle into the Frostbite engine for Battlefield was a huge proof point for the technology. Even though the release was a bit later than AMD had promised us, coming at the end of January 2014, one of the biggest PC games on the market today had integrated a proprietary AMD API.

When I did my first performance preview of BF4 with Mantle on February 1st, the results were mixed but we had other issues to deal with. First and foremost, our primary graphics testing methodology, called Frame Rating, wasn't able to be integrated due to the change of API. Instead we were forced to use an in-game frame rate counter built by DICE which worked fine, but didn't give us the fine grain data we really wanted to put the platform to the test. It worked, but we wanted more. Today we are happy to announce we have full support for our Frame Rating and FCAT testing with BF4 running under Mantle.

A History of Frame Rating

In late 2012 and throughout 2013, testing graphics cards became a much more complicated beast. Terms like frame pacing, stutter, jitter and runts were not in the vocabulary of most enthusiasts but became an important part of the story just about one year ago. Though complicated to fully explain, the basics are pretty simple.

Rather than using software on the machine being tested to measure performance, our Frame Rating system uses a combination of local software and external capture hardware. On the local system with the hardware being evaluated we run a small piece of software called an overlay that draws small colored bars on the left hand side of the game screen that change successively with each frame rendered by the game. Using a secondary system, we capture the output from the graphics card directly, intercepting it from the display output, in real-time in an uncompressed form. With that video file captured, we then analyze it frame by frame, measuring the length of each of those colored bars, how long they are on the screen, how consistently they are displayed. This allows us to find the average frame rate but also to find how smoothly the frames are presented, if there are dropped frames and if there are jitter or stutter issues. 

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Continue reading our first look at Frame Rating / FCAT Testing with Mantle in Battlefield 4!!

Just Delivered: MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, msi, just delivered, amd, 290x lightning, 290x

While Ryan may be en route to the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco right now, work must go on at the PC Perspective office. As it happens my arrival at the office today was greeted by a massively exciting graphics card, the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning.

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While we first got our hands on a prerelease version of this card at CES earlier this year, we can now put the Lightning edition through its paces.

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To go along with this massive graphics card comes a massive box. Just like the GTX 780 Lightning, MSI paid extra detail to the packaging to create a more premium-feeling experience than your standard reference design card.

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Comparing the 290X Lightning to the AMD reference design, it is clear how much engineering went into this card - the heatpipe and fins alone are as thick as the entire reference card. This, combined with a redesigned PCB and improved power management should ensure that you never fall victim to the GPU clock variance issues of the reference design cards, and give you one of the best overclocking experiences possible from the Hawaii GPU.

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While I haven't had a chance to start benchmarking yet, I put it on the testbed and figured I would give a little preview of what you can expect from this card out of the box.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning and our full review, coming soon on PC Perspective!

Source: MSI

AMD Radeon R9 Graphics Stock Friday Night Update

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2014 - 10:17 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, r9 290, r9 280x, r9 280, amd

While sitting on the couch watching some college basketball I decided to start browsing Amazon.com and Newegg.com for some Radeon R9 graphics cards.  With all of the stock and availability issues AMD has had recently, this is a more frequent occurrence for me than I would like to admit.  Somewhat surprisingly, things appear to be improving for AMD at the high end of the product stack.  Take a look at what I found.

  Amazon.com Newegg.com
ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II $599 -
Visiontek R9 290X $599 -
XFX R9 290X Double D $619 -
ASUS R9 290 DirectCU II $499 -
XFX R9 290 Double D $499 -
MSI R9 290 Gaming $465 $469
PowerColor TurboDuo AXR9 280X - $329
Visiontek R9 280X $370 $349
XFX R9 280 Double D - $289
Sapphire Dual-X R9 280 - $299
Sapphire R7 265 $184 $149

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It's not perfect, but it's better.  I was able to find two R9 290X cards at $599, which is just $50 over the expected selling price of $549.  The XFX Double D R9 290X at $619 is pretty close as well.  The least expensive R9 290 I found was $469 but others remain about $100 over the suggested price.  In reality, having the R9 290 and R9 290X only $100 apart, as opposed to the $150 that AMD would like you to believe, is more realistic based on the proximity of performance between the two SKUs.  

Stepping a bit lower, the R9 280X (which is essentially the same as the HD 7970 GHz Edition) can be found for $329 and $349 on Newegg.  Those prices are just $30-50 more than the suggested pricing!  The brand new R9 280, similar in specs to the HD 7950, is starting to show up for $289 and $299; $10 over what AMD told us to expect.

Finally, though not really a high end card, I did see that the R7 265 was showing up at both Amazon.com and Newegg.com for the second time since its announcement in February. For budget 1080p gamers, if you can find it, this could be the best card you can pick up.

What deals are you finding online?  If you guys have one worth adding here, let me know! Is the lack of availability and high prices on AMD GPUs finally behind us??

Author:
Manufacturer: NZXT

Installation

When the Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X first launched last year, they were plagued by issues of overheating and variable clock speeds.  We looked at the situation several times over the course of a couple months and AMD tried to address the problem with newer drivers.  These drivers did help stabilize clock speeds (and thus performance) of the reference built R9 290 and R9 290X cards but caused noise levels to increase as well.  

The real solution was the release of custom cooled versions of the R9 290 and R9 290X from AMD partners like ASUS, MSI and others.  The ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II model for example, ran cooler, quieter and more consistently than any of the numerous reference models we had our hands on.  

But what about all those buyers that are still purchasing, or have already purchased, reference style R9 290 and 290X cards?  Replacing the cooler on the card is the best choice and thanks to our friends at NZXT we have a unique solution that combines standard self contained water coolers meant for CPUs with a custom built GPU bracket.  

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Our quick test will utilize one of the reference R9 290 cards AMD sent along at launch and two specific NZXT products.  The Kraken X40 is a standard CPU self contained water cooler that sells for $100 on Amazon.com.  For our purposes though we are going to team it up with the Kraken G10, a $30 GPU-specific bracket that allows you to use the X40 (and other water coolers) on the Radeon R9 290.

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Inside the box of the G10 you'll find an 80mm fan, a back plate, the bracket to attach the cooler to the GPU and all necessary installation hardware.  The G10 will support a wide range of GPUs, though they are targeted towards the reference designs of each:

NVIDIA : GTX 780 Ti, 780, 770, 760, Titan, 680, 670, 660Ti, 660, 580, 570, 560Ti, 560, 560SE 
AMD : R9 290X, 290, 280X*, 280*, 270X, 270 HD7970*, 7950*, 7870, 7850, 6970, 6950, 6870, 6850, 6790, 6770, 5870, 5850, 5830
 

That is pretty impressive but NZXT will caution you that custom designed boards may interfere.

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The installation process begins by removing the original cooler which in this case just means a lot of small screws.  Be careful when removing the screws on the actual heatsink retention bracket and alternate between screws to take it off evenly.

Continue reading about how the NZXT Kraken G10 can improve the cooling of the Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X!!