CS:GO and TF2 on Linux and Radeon

Subject: General Tech | November 12, 2014 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: linux, amd, radeon, CS:GO, tf2

With the new driver from AMD and a long list of cards to test, from an R9290 all the way back to an HD4650, Phoronix has put together a rather definitive list of the current performance you can expect from CS:GO and TF2.  CS:GO was tested at 2560x1600 and showed many performance changes from the previous driver, including some great news for 290 owners.  TF2 was tested at the same resolution and many of the GPUs were capable of providing 60FPS or higher, again with the 290 taking the lead.  Phoronix also did testing on the efficiency of these cards, detailing the number of frames per second, per watt used, this may not be pertinent to many users but does offer an interesting look at the efficiency of the GPUs.  If you are gaming on a Radeon on Linux now is a good time to upgrade your drivers and associated programs.

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"The latest massive set of Linux test data we have to share with Linux gamers and enthusiasts is a look at Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 when using the very newest open-source Radeon graphics driver code. The very latest open-source Radeon driver code tested with these popular Valve Linux games were the Linux 3.18 Git kernel, Mesa 10.4-devel, LLVM 3.6 SVN, and xf86-video-ati 7.5.99."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Phoronix

AMD Gaming Evolved Goes Beyond Earth with Hawaii

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 6, 2014 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 295x2, R9 290X, r9 290, R9, hawaii, civilization, beyond earth, amd

Why settle for space, when you can go Beyond Earth too (but only if you go to Hawaii)!

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The Never Settle promotion launched itself into space a couple of months ago, but AMD isn't settling for that. If you purchase a Hawaii-based graphics card (R9 290, R9 290X, or R9 295X2) then you will get a free copy of Civilization: Beyond Earth on top of the choice of three games (or game packs) from the Never Settle Space Gold Reward tier. Beyond Earth makes a lot of sense of course, because it is a new game that is also one of the most comprehensive implementations of Mantle yet.

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To be eligible, the purchase would need to be made starting November 6th (which is today). Make sure that you check to make sure that what your buying is a "qualifying purchase" from "participating retailers", because that is a lot of value to miss in a moment of carelessness.

AMD has not specified an end date for this promotion.

Source: AMD

8 GB Variants of the R9 290X Coming This Month

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 5, 2014 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, R9, amd, 8gb

With the current range of AMD’s R9 290X cards sitting at 4 GB of memory, listings for an 8 GB version have appeared on an online retailer. As far back as March, Sapphire was rumored to be building an 8 GB variety. Those rumours were supposedly quashed last month by AMD and Sapphire. However, AMD has since confirmed the existence of the new additions to the series. Pre-orders have appeared online and are said to be shipping out this month.

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Image Credit: Overclockers UK

With 8 GB of GDDR5 memory and price tags between $480 and $520, these new additions, expectedly, do not come cheap. Compared to the 4 GB versions of the R9 290X line, which run about $160 less according to the online retailer, is it worth upgrading at this stage? For the people using a single 1080p monitor, the answer is likely no. For those with multi-screen setups, or those with deep enough pockets to own a 4K display, however, the benefits may begin to justify the premium. At 4K though, just a single 8 GB R9 290X may not provide the best experience; a Crossfire setup would benefit more from the 8 GB bump, being less reliant on GPU speed.

AMD’s 8 GB R9 290X’s are currently available for preorder: a reference version for £299.99 + VAT (~$480) and a Vapor-X version for £324.99 + VAT (~$520). They are slated to ship later this month.

AMD Radeon R9 290X Now Selling at $299

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 24, 2014 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, leaderboard, hwlb, hawaii, amd, 290x

When NVIDIA launched the GTX 980 and GTX 970 last month, it shocked the discrete graphics world. The GTX 970 in particular was an amazing performer and undercut the price of the Radeon R9 290 at the time. That is something that NVIDIA rarely does and we were excited to see some competition in the market.

AMD responded with some price cuts on both the R9 290X and the R9 290 shortly thereafter (though they refuse to call them that) and it seems that AMD and its partners are at it again.

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Looking on Amazon.com today we found several R9 290X and R9 290 cards at extremely low prices. For example:

The R9 290X's primary competition in terms of raw performance is the GeForce GTX 980, currently selling for $549 and up. If you can find them in stock, that means NVIDIA has a hill of $250 to climb when going against the lowest priced R9 290X.

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The R9 290 looks interesting as well:

Several other R9 290 cards are selling for upwards of $300-320 making them bone-headed decisions if you can get the R9 290X for the same or lower price, but considering the GeForce GTX 970 is selling for at least $329 today (if you can find it) and you can see why consumers are paying close attention. 

Will NVIDIA make any adjustments of its own? It's hard to say right now since stock is so hard to come by of both the GTX 980 and GTX 970 but it's hard to imagine NVIDIA lowering prices as long as parts continue to sell out. NVIDIA believes that its branding and technologies like G-Sync make GeForce cards more valuable and until they being to see a shift in the market, I imagine that will stay the course.

For those of you that utilize our Hardware Leaderboard you'll find that Jeremy has taken these prices into account and update a couple of the system build configurations.

Source: Amazon.com
Author:
Manufacturer: Firaxis

A Civ for a New Generation

Turn-based strategy games have long been defined by the Civilization series. Civ 5 took up hours and hours of the PC Perspective team's non-working hours (and likely the working ones too) and it looks like the new Civilization: Beyond Earth has the chance to do the same. Early reviews of the game from Gamespot, IGN, and Polygon are quite positive, and that's great news for a PC-only release; they can sometimes get overlooked in the games' media.

For us, the game offers an interesting opportunity to discuss performance. Beyond Earth is definitely going to be more CPU-bound than the other games that we tend to use in our benchmark suite, but the fact that this game is new, shiny, and even has a Mantle implementation (AMD's custom API) makes interesting for at least a look at the current state of performance. Both NVIDIA and AMD sent have released drivers with specific optimization for Beyond Earth as well. This game is likely to be popular and it deserves the attention it gets.

Testing Process

Civilization: Beyond Earth, a turn-based strategy game that can take a very long time to complete, ships with an integrated benchmark mode to help users and the industry test performance under different settings and hardware configurations. To enable it, you simple add "-benchmark results.csv" to the Steam game launch options and then start up the game normally. Rather than taking you to the main menu, you'll be transported into a view of a map that represents a somewhat typical gaming state for a long term session. The game will use the last settings you ran the game at to measure your system's performance, without the modified launch options, so be sure to configure that before you prepare to benchmark.

The output of this is the "result.csv" file, saved to your Steam game install root folder. In there, you'll find a list of numbers, separated by commas, representing the frame times for each frame rendering during the run. You don't get averages, a minimum, or a maximum without doing a little work. Fire up Excel or Google Docs and remember the formula:

1000 / Average (All Frame Times) = Avg FPS

It's a crude measurement that doesn't take into account any errors, spikes, or other interesting statistical data, but at least you'll have something to compare with your friends.

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Our testing settings

Just as I have done in recent weeks with Shadow of Mordor and Sniper Elite 3, I ran some graphics cards through the testing process with Civilization: Beyond Earth. These include the GeForce GTX 980 and Radeon R9 290X only, along with SLI and CrossFire configurations. The R9 290X was run in both DX11 and Mantle.

  • Core i7-3960X
  • ASUS Rampage IV Extreme X79
  • 16GB DDR3-1600
  • GeForce GTX 980 Reference (344.48)
  • ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II (14.9.2 Beta)

Mantle Additions and Improvements

AMD is proud of this release as it introduces a few interesting things alongside the inclusion of the Mantle API.

  1. Enhanced-quality Anti-Aliasing (EQAA): Improves anti-aliasing quality by doubling the coverage samples (vs. MSAA) at each AA level. This is automatically enabled for AMD users when AA is enabled in the game.
     
  2. Multi-threaded command buffering: Utilizing Mantle allows a game developer to queue a much wider flow of information between the graphics card and the CPU. This communication channel is especially good for multi-core CPUs, which have historically gone underutilized in higher-level APIs. You’ll see in your testing that Mantle makes a notable difference in smoothness and performance high-draw-call late game testing.
     
  3. Split-frame rendering: Mantle empowers a game developer with total control of multi-GPU systems. That “total control” allows them to design an mGPU renderer that best matches the design of their game. In the case of Civilization: Beyond Earth, Firaxis has selected a split-frame rendering (SFR) subsystem. SFR eliminates the latency penalties typically encountered by AFR configurations.

EQAA is an interesting feature as it improves on the quality of MSAA (somewhat) by doubling the coverage sample count while maintaining the same color sample count as MSAA. So 4xEQAA will have 4 color samples and 8 coverage samples while 4xMSAA would have 4 of each. Interestingly, Firaxis has decided the EQAA will be enabled on Beyond Earth anytime a Radeon card is detected (running in Mantle or DX11) and AA is enabled at all. So even though in the menus you might see 4xMSAA enabled, you are actually running at 4xEQAA. For NVIDIA users, 4xMSAA means 4xMSAA. Performance differences should be negligible though, according to AMD (who would actually be "hurt" by this decision if it brought down FPS).

Continue reading our article on Civilization: Beyond Earth performance!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Rebellion

Quick Performance Comparison

Earlier this week, we posted a brief story that looked at the performance of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor on the latest GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD. Last week also marked the release of the v1.11 patch for Sniper Elite 3 that introduced an integrated benchmark mode as well as support for AMD Mantle.

I decided that this was worth a quick look with the same line up of graphics cards that we used to test Shadow of Mordor. Let's see how the NVIDIA and AMD battle stacks up here.

For those unfamiliar with the Sniper Elite series, the focuses on the impact of an individual sniper on a particular conflict and Sniper Elite 3 doesn't change up that formula much. If you have ever seen video of a bullet slowly going through a body, allowing you to see the bones/muscle of the particular enemy being killed...you've probably been watching the Sniper Elite games.

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Gore and such aside, the game is fun and combines sniper action with stealth and puzzles. It's worth a shot if you are the kind of gamer that likes to use the sniper rifles in other FPS titles.

But let's jump straight to performance. You'll notice that in this story we are not using our Frame Rating capture performance metrics. That is a direct result of wanting to compare Mantle to DX11 rendering paths - since we have no way to create an overlay for Mantle, we have resorted to using FRAPs and the integrated benchmark mode in Sniper Elite 3.

Our standard GPU test bed was used with a Core i7-3960X processor, an X79 motherboard, 16GB of DDR3 memory, and the latest drivers for both parties involved. That means we installed Catalyst 14.9 for AMD and 344.16 for NVIDIA. We'll be comparing the GeForce GTX 980 to the Radeon R9 290X, and the GTX 970 to the R9 290. We will also look at SLI/CrossFire scaling at the high end.

Continue reading our performance results in Sniper Elite 3!!

AMD Dropping R9 290X to $399, R9 290 to $299

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 6, 2014 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, r9 290, hawaii, GTX 980, GTX 970, geforce, amd

On Saturday while finishing up the writing on our Shadow of Mordor performance story, I noticed something quite interesting. The prices of AMD's flagship Radeon products had all come down quite a bit. In an obvious response to the release of NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970, the Radeon R9 290X and the Radeon R9 290 have lowered prices in a very aggressive fashion.

UPDATE: A couple of individual cards appear to be showing up as $360 and $369 on Newegg!

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Amazon.com is showing some R9 290X cards at $399

For now, Amazon.com is only listing the triple-fan Gigabyte R9 290X Windforce card at $399, though Newegg.com has a couple as well.

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Amazon.com also has several R9 290 cards for $299

And again, Newegg.com has some other options for R9 290 cards at these lower prices.

Let's assume that these price drops are going to be permanent which seems likely based on the history of AMD and market adjustments. That shifts the high end GPU market considerably.

     
GeForce GTX 980 4GB $549  
  $399 Radeon R9 290X 4GB
GeForce GTX 970 4GB $329  
  $299 Radeon R9 290 4GB

The battle for that lower end spot between the GTX 970 and R9 290 is now quite a bit tighter though NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture still has a positive outlook against the slightly older Hawaii GPU. Our review of the GTX 970 shows that it is indeed faster than the R9 290 though it no longer has the significant cost advantage it did upon release. The GTX 980, however, is much tougher sell over the Radeon R9 290X for PC gamers that are concerned with price per dollar over all else. I would still consider the GTX 980 faster than the R9 290X...but is it $150 faster? That's a 35% price difference NVIDIA now has to contend with.

NVIDIA has proven that is it comfortable staying in this position against AMD as it maintained it during essentially the entire life of the GTX 680 and GTX 780 product lines. AMD is more willing to make price cuts to pull the Radeon lineup back into the spotlight. Though the market share between the competitors didn't change much over the previous 6 months, I'll be very curious to see how these two strategies continue to play out.

Author:
Manufacturer: WB Games

Testing Notes

In what can most definitely be called the best surprise of the fall game release schedule, the open-world action game set in the Lord of the Rings world, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has been receiving impressive reviews from gamers and the media. (GiantBomb.com has a great look at it if you are new to the title.) What also might be a surprise to some is that the PC version of the game can be quite demanding on even the latest PC hardware, pulling in frame rates only in the low-60s at 2560x1440 with its top quality presets.

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Late last week I spent a couple of days playing around with Shadow of Mordor as well as the integrated benchmark found inside the Options menu. I wanted to get an idea of the performance characteristics of the game to determine if we might include this in our full-time game testing suite update we are planning later in the fall. To get some sample information I decided to run through a couple of quality presets with the top two cards from NVIDIA and AMD and compare them.

Testing Notes

Without a doubt, the visual style of Shadow of Mordor is stunning – with the game settings cranked up high the world, characters and fighting scenes look and feel amazing. To be clear, in the build up to this release we had really not heard anything from the developer or NVIDIA (there is an NVIDIA splash screen at the beginning) about the title which is out of the ordinary. If you are looking for a game that is both fun to play (I am 4+ hours in myself) and can provide a “wow” factor to show off your PC rig then this is definitely worth picking up.

Continue reading our performance overview of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor!!

AMD Catalyst 14.9 for Windows

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 29, 2014 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: whql, radeon, Catalyst 14.9, amd

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The full release notes are available here or take a look at the highlights below.

The latest version of the AMD Catalyst Software Suite, AMD Catalyst 14.9 is designed to support the following Microsoft Windows platforms:

Highlights of AMD Catalyst 14.9 Windows Driver

  • Support for the AMD Radeon R9 280
  • Performance improvements (comparing AMD Catalyst 14.9 vs. AMD Catalyst 14.4)
    • 3DMark Sky Diver improvements
      • AMD A4 6300 – improves up to 4%
      • Enables AMD Dual Graphics / AMD CrossFire support
    • 3DMark Fire Strike
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series - improves up to 5% in Performance Preset
    • 3DMark11
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series - improves up to 4% in Entry and Performance Preset
    • BioShock Infinite
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series – 1920x1080 - improves up to 5%
    • Company of Heroes 2
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series - improves up to 8%
    • Crysis 3
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 10%
    • Grid Auto Sport
      • AMD CrossFire profile
    • Murdered Soul Suspect
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X (2560x1440, 4x MSAA, 16x AF) – improves up to 50%
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 6%
      • CrossFire configurations improve scaling up to 75%
    • Plants vs. Zombies (Direct3D performance improvements)
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X - 1920x1080 Ultra – improves up to 11%
      • AMD Radeon R9290X - 2560x1600 Ultra – improves up to 15%
      • AMD Radeon R9290X CrossFire configuration (3840x2160 Ultra) - 92% scaling
    • Batman Arkham Origins:
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X (4x MSAA) – improves up to 20%
      • CrossFire configurations see up to a 70% gain in scaling
    • Wildstar
      • Power Xpress profile Performance improvements to improve smoothness of application
      • Performance improves up to 30% on the AMD Radeon R9 and R7 Series of products for both single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations
    • Tomb Raider
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series – improves up to 5%
    • Watch Dogs
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 9%
      • AMD CrossFire – Frame pacing improvement
      • Improved CrossFire performance – up to 20%
    • Assassin's Creed IV
      • Improves CrossFire scaling (3840x2160 High Settings) up to 93% (CrossFire scaling improvement of 25% compared to AMD Catalyst 14.4)
    • Lichdom
      • Improves performance for single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations
    • Star Craft II
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X (2560x1440, AA, 16x AF) – improves up to 20%

AMD Eyefinity enhancements

  • Mixed Resolution Support
    • A new architecture providing brand new capabilities
    • Display groups can be created with monitors of different resolution (including difference sizes and shapes)
    • Users have a choice of how surface is created over the display group
      • Fill – legacy mode, best for identical monitors
      • Fit – create the Eyefinity surface using best available rectangular area with attached displays
      • Expand – create a virtual Eyefinity surface using desktops as viewports onto the surface
    • Eyefinity Display Alignment
      • Enables control over alignment between adjacent monitors
      • One-Click Setup Driver detects layout of extended desktop
      • Can create Eyefinity display group using this layout in one click!
      • New user controls for video color and display settings
      • Greater control over Video Color Management:
        • Controls have been expanded from a single slider for controlling Boost and Hue to per color axis
        • Color depth control for Digital Flat Panels (available on supported HDMI and DP displays)
        • Allows users to select different color depths per resolution and display

AMD Mantle enhancements

  • Mantle now supports AMD Mobile products with Enduro technology
    • Battlefield 4: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1366x768; high settings) – 21% gain
    • Thief: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1920x1080; high settings) – 14% gain
    • Star Swarm: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1920x1080; medium settings) – 274% gain
  • Enables support for Multi-GPU configurations with Thief (requires the latest Thief update)
  • AMD AM1 JPEG decoding acceleration
    • JPEG decoding acceleration was first enabled on the A10 APU Series in AMD Catalyst 14.1 beta, and has now been extended to the AMD AM1 Platform
    • Provides fast JPEG decompression Provides Power Efficiency for JPEG decompression

Resolved Issues

  • 60Hz SST flickering has been identified as an issue with non-standard display timings exhibited by the AOC U2868PQU panel on certain AMD Radeon graphics cards. A software workaround has been implemented in the AMD Catalyst 14.9 driver to resolve the display timing issues with this display
  • Users seeing flickering issues in 60Hz SST mode are further encouraged to obtain newer display firmware from their monitor vendor that will resolve flickering at its origin.
  • Users are additionally advised to utilize DisplayPort-certified cables to ensure the integrity of the DisplayPort data connection.
  • 4K panel flickering issues found on the AMD Radeon R9 290 Series and AMD Radeon HD 7800
  • Series Screen tearing observed on AMD CrossFire systems with Eyefinity portrait display configurations
  • Instability issues for Grid Autosport when running in 2x1 or 1x2 Eyefinity configurations
  • Geometry corruption in State of Decay
Source: AMD

MSI's overclocked R9 285 GAMING OC

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2014 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: video, tonga, radeon, r9 285, gcn. gcn 1.1, freesync, factory overclocked, amd, 285

MSI's Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC does not yet show up for sale but with it's factory overclock may arrive at a slightly higher price than the MSRP of $250.  The RAM remains at the default 5.5 GHz but the GPU has been bumped up 55MHz to 973MHz out of the box and could likely be pushed higher as MSI has included the usual suspects on this card, Twin Frozr IV Advanced and Military Class 4 components.  In [H]ard|OCP's testing the card was well matched by the GTX 760, the HD 285 won more than it lost, but not always and not by much.  Compared to the HD 280 not only did the new Tonga card usually provide better performance but the additional feature the GPU supports, of which FreeSync is only one, make the HD 285 the clear winner in that contest.  Check their full review for benchmarks.

Ryan reviewed Sapphire's model here.

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"AMD has launched the $249 AMD Radeon R9 285 video card. We dive into this somewhat confusing GPU. We compare it to the GeForce GTX 760 as well as an AMD Radeon R9 280. We'll discuss GCN differences in this new video card that may give it the edge with some feedback from AMD."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP