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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 6, 2014 - 03:21 PM | Ryan Shrout
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!
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.
Amazon.com also has several R9 290 cards for $299
- Gigabyte R9 290 Windforce - $299
- Powercolor AX R9 290 - $299
- ASUS R9 290 DirectCU II - $329
- More R9 290 Card on Amazon.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 29, 2014 - 05:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: whql, radeon, Catalyst 14.9, amd
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
- 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
- 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)
- Improves performance for single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations
- Star Craft II
- AMD Radeon R9 290X (2560x1440, AA, 16x AF) – improves up to 20%
- 3DMark Sky Diver improvements
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
- 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
Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2014 - 02:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD's Radeon R9 285 @ The Tech Report
- PowerColor Radeon R9 285 TurboDuo 2GB @ Custom PC Review
- PowerColor R9 285 Turbo Duo Review @ OCC
- PowerColor R9 285 TurboDuo Review @ Neoseeker
- PowerColor Radeon R9 285 2GB Review @HiTech Legion
- Sapphire R9 285 Dual-X OC @ Kitguru
- AMD’s GTX 760 Killer? MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV Review @ Techgage
- Sapphire Dual-X AMD R9 285 @ eTeknix
- Asus R9 285 STRIX @ Kitguru
- Radeon R9-285 @ HardwareHeaven
- Sapphire R9 285 Dual-X OC 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- AMD Radeon R9 285 @ Legion Hardware
- MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G GPU Review @ Modders-Inc
- Sapphire R7 260X OC 1GB @ eTeknix
- AMD Radeon R9 290: Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Drivers @ Phoronix
- The Most Energy Efficient Radeon GPU For AMD Linux Gaming @ Phoronix
- 20-Way Radeon Comparison With Open-Source Graphics For Steam On Linux Gaming @ Phoronix
- AMD FirePro W9100 Professional Graphics Card @ X-bit Labs
- The Fastest NVIDIA GPUs For Open-Source Nouveau With Steam Linux Gaming @ Phoronix
- Examining Nvidia’s Driver Progress Since Launch Drivers: GTX 780 Ti & GTX 680 @ eTeknix
Tonga GPU Features
On December 22, 2011, AMD launched the first 28nm GPU based on an architecture called GCN on the code name Tahiti silicon. That was the release of the Radeon HD 7970 and it was the beginning of an incredibly long adventure for PC enthusiasts and gamers. We eventually saw the HD 7970 GHz Edition and the R9 280/280X releases, all based on essentially identical silicon, keeping a spot in the market for nearly 3 years. Today AMD is launching the Tonga GPU and Radeon R9 285, a new piece of silicon that shares many traits of Tahiti but adds support for some additional features.
Replacing the Radeon R9 280 in the current product stack, the R9 285 will step in at $249, essentially the same price. Buyers will be treated to an updated feature set though including options that were only previously available on the R9 290 and R9 290X (and R7 260X). These include TrueAudio, FreeSync, XDMA CrossFire and PowerTune.
Many people have been calling this architecture GCN 1.1 though AMD internally doesn't have a moniker for it. The move from Tahiti, to Hawaii and now to Tonga, reveals a new design philosophy from AMD, one of smaller and more gradual steps forward as opposed to sudden, massive improvements in specifications. Whether this change was self-imposed or a result of the slowing of process technology advancement is really a matter of opinion.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 23, 2014 - 10:46 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, r9 285, R9, amd, 285
Today during AMD's live stream event celebrating 30 years of graphics and gaming, the company spent a bit of time announcing and teasing a new graphics card, the Radeon R9 285X and R9 285. Likely based on the Tonga GPU die, the specifications haven't been confirmed but most believe that the chip will feature 2048 stream processors, 128 texture units, 32 ROPs and a 256-bit memory bus.
In a move to help donate to the Child's Play charity, AMD currently has an AMD Radeon R9 285 on Ebay. It lists an ASUS built Strix-style cooled retail card, with 2GB of memory being the only specification that is visible on the box.
The R9 285X and R9 285 will replace the R9 280X and R9 280 more than likely and we should see these shipping and available in very early September.
UPDATE: AMD showed specifications of the Radeon R9 285 during the live stream.
For those of you with eyes as bad as mine, here are the finer points:
- 1,792 Stream Processors
- 918 MHz GPU Clock
- 3.29 TFLOPS peak performance
- 112 Texture units
- 32 ROPs
- 2GB GDDR5
- 256-bit memory bus
- 5.5 GHz memory clock
- 2x 6-pin power connectors
- 190 watt TDP
- $249 MSRP
- Release date: September 2nd
These Tonga GPU specifications are VERY similar to that of the R9 280: 1792 stream units, 112 texture units, etc. However, the R9 280 had a wider memory bus (384-bit) but runs at 500 MHz lower effective frequency. Clock speeds on Tonga look like they are just slightly lower as well. Maybe most interesting is the frame buffer size drop from 3GB to 2GB.
That's all we have for now, but I expect we'll have our samples in very soon and expect a full review shortly!
UPDATE 2: Apparently AMD hasn't said anything about the Radeon R9 285X, so for the time being, that still falls under the "rumor" category. I'm sure we'll know more soon though.
Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2014 - 12:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tonga, radeon, FirePro W7100, amd
A little secret popped out with the release of AMD's FirePro W7100, a new family of GPU that goes by the name of Tonga, which is very likely to replace the aging Tahiti chip that has been used since the HD 7900 series. The stats that The Tech Report saw show interesting changes from Tahiti including a reduction of the memory interface to 256-bit which is in line with NVIDIA's current offerings. The number of stream processors might be reduced to 1792 from 2048 but that is based on the W7100 and it the GPUs may be released with the full 32 GCN compute units. Many other features have seen increases, the number of Asynchronous Compute Engines goes from 2 to 8, the number of rasterized triangles per clock doubles to 4 and it adds support for the new TrueAudio DSP and CrossFire XDMA.
"The bottom line is that Tonga joins the Hawaii (Radeon R9 290X) and Bonaire (R7 260X) chips as the only members of AMD' s GCN 1.1 series of graphics processors. Tonga looks to be a mid-sized GPU and is expected to supplant the venerable Tahiti chip used in everything from the original Radeon HD 7970 to the current Radeon R9 280."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- No more turning over a USB thing, then turning it over again to plug it in: Reversible socket ready for lift off @ The Register
- 12 Linux-Based Home Automation Systems for Under $300 @ Linux.com
- The IPv4 Internet Hiccups @ Slashdot
- Password manager LastPass goes titsup: Users LOCKED OUT @ The Register
- Seagate to splash MILLIONS on LAND, FACTORIES @ The Register
- Hardware Asylum Podcast - Computex 2014 Wrap Up and MSI MOA Americas Qualifier
- Netis Beacon N300 Wireless Gaming Router @ TechwareLabs
- Canadian ISP Shaw stumbles around internet with mystery 'routing' sickness @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 6, 2014 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: radeon, Gallium3D, catalyst 14.6 Beta, linux, ubuntu 14.04
The new Gallium3D is up against the open source Catalyst 14.6 Beta, running under Ubuntu 14.04 and both the 3.14 and 3.16 Linux kernels, giving Phoronix quite a bit of testing to do. They have numerous cards in their test ranging from an HD 6770 to an R9 290 though unfortunately there are no Gallium3D results for the R9 290 as it will not function until the release of the Linux 3.17 kernel. Overall the gap is closing, the 14.6 Beta still remains the best performer but the open source alternative is quickly closing the gap.
"After last week running new Nouveau vs. NVIDIA proprietary Linux graphics benchmarks, here's the results when putting AMD's hardware on the test bench and running both their latest open and closed-source drivers. Up today are the results of using the latest Radeon Gallium3D graphics code and Linux kernel against the latest beta of the binary-only Catalyst driver."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Phison announces new quad-core SATA 6Gb/s SSD controller chip @ DigiTimes
- Microsoft KILLS Windows 8.1 Update 2 and Patch Tuesday @ The Register
- Yes, we know Active Directory cloud sync is a MESS, says Microsoft @ The Register
- Paypal ignores bug discovery that lets anyone bypass two factor authentication @ The Inquirer
- How To Emulate Rare and Retro Platforms on the Raspberry Pi @ MAKE:Blog
- European Rosetta Space Craft About To Rendezvous With Comet @ Slashdot
- How To Give Adobe Photoshop A Performance Boost With Your GPU @ Tech ARP
- How to Set up Server-to-Server Sharing in ownCloud 7 on Linux @ Linux.com
- It's official: You can now legally carrier-unlock your mobile in the US @ The Register
- Facebook goes down, people dial 911 @ The Register
- NikKTech And XSPC Worldwide Giveaway
The Radeon R9 280
Though not really new, the AMD Radeon R9 280 GPU is a part that we really haven't spent time with at PC Perspective. Based on the same Tahiti GPU found in the R9 280X, the HD 7970, the HD 7950 and others, the R9 280 fits at a price point and performance level that I think many gamers will see as enticing. MSI sent along a model that includes some overclocked settings and an updated cooler, allowing the GPU to run at its top speed without much noise.
With a starting price of just $229 or so, the MSI Radeon R9 280 Gaming graphics cards has some interesting competition as well. From the AMD side it butts heads with the R9 280X and the R9 270X. The R9 280X costs $60-70 more though and as you'll see in our benchmarks, the R9 280 will likely cannibalize some of those sales. From NVIDIA, the GeForce GTX 760 is priced right at $229 as well, but does it really have the horsepower to keep with Tahiti?