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AMD Card Fear

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
In the market for a new video card, and tempted to go AMD this round considering the prices of R9 290's on eBay are in the $350-400 range. Saw a Sapphire Tri-X R9 290 on eBay with a Buy It Now for $380 with a custom bios and it officially caught my interest over going the GTX 780 route.

Already knowing the performance of the 290 and 290X I'm not really hesitant to go that route because of it lacking in performance. I know what they can do and what numbers I can expect. So there are no doubts that the card can perform (if and when they do perform)

Only issue I have is whether or not I want to become a part of the horror stories that is AMD Drivers. Are they really that difficult to deal with? Is running into conflicts with games really that often of a problem? Random driver crashes or blank screens etc. ?

The last Radeon I owned was an All-in-Wonder Radeon back around in 2000. I don't recall having any issues with drivers then, but the stories seem to have accumulated in more recent years.

I mostly hesitant to go back to a Radeon because of this conflict. I love getting a new nVidia card, installing it, installing drivers, overclock the card and starting to play games immediately without any issues. Has been going that way since I went back to nVidia over to a 6800 GT a few years later.

Would appreciate some unbiased insight on the subject, along with true stories of the types of conflicts you do face if you do come across them.

I'm really thinking about sweeping up one of the's Tri-X's for my Birthday because of the power of the card and the 4GB of VRAM future proofing. The cost is right around my price point, the only thing holding me back is the foresight of regretting the purchase after accumulating an onslaught of driver related issues wishing I just went with a GTX 780.
post #2 of 13
you should stick with what you are used to. they are similar perfromance after all. i was in the same boat as you last year. i was about the buy a 670, then 320.18 came out.

and may i add . . . i play battlefield. can't take a chance.
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post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiG StroOnZ View Post

Only issue I have is whether or not I want to become a part of the horror stories that is AMD Drivers. Are they really that difficult to deal with. Is running into conflicts with games really that often of a problem?

No.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiG StroOnZ View Post

Would appreciate some unbiased insight on the subject, along with true stories of the types of conflicts you do face if you do come across them.

Biggest annoyances I have with AMD drivers that I generally do not have with NVIDIA are:

-Forcing AA in some titles is more difficult or impossible, and downsampling from higher resolutions than one's monitor is very difficult.

-Flip queue size/frames render ahead can only be adjusted from the registry or with third party utilities.

-Setup and organization of 3D profiles is a bit more cumbersome.

-Only really relevant for multi-card configs, but frame pacing still does not work in D3D9 or OGL.

Other than these areas, I have very few problems with AMD's drivers, and almost never encounter situations where something just doesn't work. If anything I tend to have more anomalies with NVIDIA's drivers (I can still see lights through walls in the Witcher on my GTX 780, which was a bug I noticed when the GTX 460 was new). I also tend to have far more idle/2D clock issues with NVIDIA hardware/drivers.

Not a driver issue, but the Hawaii based parts are generally cooled inadequately and have overly aggressive throttling. Both solvable problems but still annoying.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiG StroOnZ View Post

the only thing holding me back is the foresight of regretting the purchase after accumulating an onslaught of driver related issues wishing I just went with a GTX 780.

The issues with AMD's drivers are often overstated, but the GTX 780 is still a very competitive part. It OCs better on stock cooling, is not as loud, and after OCing, the performance differential evaporates.

If you'd otherwise get the 780, I'm not convinced the larger memory pool is enough of an incentive to get a 290/290X.
Edited by Blameless - 4/4/14 at 6:31pm
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post #4 of 13
I've had them all. With a single card AMD is fine, with two I get random driver crashes once in a while, I also get microstutter in WoW but it's an older game. If I didn't mine I would still have my 780 or 780 ti. I've also had 2 gigabyte windforce 290Xs die randomly after 2-3 days of use. My xfx dbd has been chugging along nicely though. I prefer nvidia but I wouldn't ignore the 4gb vram with 290. Just make sure you get a highly rated aftermarket version.
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post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless View Post


The issues with AMD's drivers are often overstated, but the GTX 780 is still a very competitive part. It OCs better on stock cooling, is not as loud, and after OCing, the performance differential evaporates.

If you'd otherwise get the 780, I'm not convinced the larger memory pool is enough of an incentive to get a 290/290X.

This, more often then not driver issues are PECKAC problems. Been using ATi since 2003 with the 9000 AIW card and I have yet to have any problems with the drivers to make me want to stop using their hard ware.
post #6 of 13
I cannot speak of AMD's current drivers and gaming, as I haven't used them in over a year (6970). I game on a 780 TiC.

I would ask the seller what fan RPM does it take to keep the card under 70C if noise is a concern for you. I have 10 R9 290s Tri-X. 5 are excellent, 50-60% is all it takes to keep the card at <65 C while mining, the other 5 cards are awful if noise is a concern to you. Fans are at 85% and core temps are at 85-90C which means they are loud. If you get a good one and don't mind higher temps, you can probably run it at ~40% fan speed and barely hear it. Excellent card for miners and those looking for a low to moderate overclock if you don't get one that runs hot. You can't remove the sapphire cooler to change TiM without voiding the warranty, although if you are buying used, that may be a moot point.

All but one cards memory will run at 1500, I have one that is damaged goods and won't run stock memory or core. None will run 1600 memory. In terms of core speeds, 2 hit 1100, 3 hit 1080, 4 hit 1040, and my bad card is at 900/1200. These are at stock voltages and stable for days on end mining.

I figured I'd post this so you'd have a better idea of the range of cards you can get. More information never hurts for large purchases.
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post #7 of 13
As a long time AMD and Nvidia user I can tell you this... on a simple fire a game up and expect it to work properly scale, both companies are about even.. as others have said.. step into multi card usage and the strength goes back to nvidias hands.. although amd has made some strides last year with that. I personally find the user interface for the catalyst suite easier to use than on the nvidia side, however be aware that stepping into the 290 series might shock you a bit as it did me.. even coming from a previous gen 7970.. this whole new era of managing tdp against heat and having clock speeds adjust down rather than up on the fly caused some headaches.. but it only took 2 days to iron it out.. and the card is performing alot better now.. and as you said if you can get a non reference 290 for around 350-400 you really cannot go wrong with the price to performance ratio that amd is offering right now compared to nvidia.
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post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdr09 View Post

you should stick with what you are used to. they are similar perfromance after all. i was in the same boat as you last year. i was about the buy a 670, then 320.18 came out.

and may i add . . . i play battlefield. can't take a chance.

I'm thinking about just going with one of those EVGA GTX 780 6GB for $550 but I'm not really sure when they coming out. Being an avid BF4 player, I really don't want to take a chance either but seeing these deals on R9 290's is making me second guess my possible 780 purchase. I more than likely want to stick with what I'm used to but I regret not getting a 4GB 670 when I bought my 670. Because right now I would be just picking up a second 4GB 670 and going SLI for more power. Going SLI on my 2GB 670 is nonsensical because I'll have the power but won't be able to utilize it because of the VRAM limitations. At least for games in the future, and my modded Skyrim.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blameless View Post

No.
Biggest annoyances I have with AMD drivers that I generally do not have with NVIDIA are:

-Forcing AA in some titles is more difficult or impossible, and downsampling from higher resolutions than one's monitor is very difficult.

-Flip queue size/frames render ahead can only be adjusted from the registry or with third party utilities.

-Setup and organization of 3D profiles is a bit more cumbersome.

-Only really relevant for multi-card configs, but frame pacing still does not work in D3D9 or OGL.

Other than these areas, I have very few problems with AMD's drivers, and almost never encounter situations where something just doesn't work. If anything I tend to have more anomalies with NVIDIA's drivers (I can still see lights through walls in the Witcher on my GTX 780, which was a bug I noticed when the GTX 460 was new). I also tend to have far more idle/2D clock issues with NVIDIA hardware/drivers.

Not a driver issue, but the Hawaii based parts are generally cooled inadequately and have overly aggressive throttling. Both solvable problems but still annoying.
The issues with AMD's drivers are often overstated, but the GTX 780 is still a very competitive part. It OCs better on stock cooling, is not as loud, and after OCing, the performance differential evaporates.

If you'd otherwise get the 780, I'm not convinced the larger memory pool is enough of an incentive to get a 290/290X.

- I never really got forcing AA to work with my 670 for certain titles so that doesn't bother me.
- I usually use default settings for frame rendering, so that shouldn't be too much of a complication
- I use a global profile for all of my games, so that doesn't bother me either
- If I do go Crossfire/SLI after getting this upgrade card, it wont be for another year or so. So in the mean time single card should be adequate.

The only reason why I'm not so sure on a 780 is the 3GB of memory is what makes me uncomfortable. When I bought my 670 I was all Gung-ho about 2GB being enough for 1080p gaming. Then I soon discovered my modded Skyrim proved to be impossible to play because of the lack of extra memory. Then a few games came out that weren't well optimized that were using more than 2GB of memory like Titan Fall and Call of Duty Ghosts. This made me feel like more VRAM usage in games is right around the corner. Had I gotten a 4GB 670 I would have just grabbed a second and went SLI. At the moment though SLI'ing my 670 seems like an unfortunate purchase considering it only has 2GB of memory and doesn't solve my Skyrim issues and whatever other games coming out. Modded GTA 5 comes to mind. Because of that, I noticed EVGA releasing a 6GB 780 at some point for $550. Which strikes my interest. But then if that's the case I'm paying an extra $150 or so over the R9 290 for not really a performance increase but mainly having a comfortable amount of VRAM. I just don't want to get a standard 3GB 780 and a year or two be looking to upgrade the card again as this initial upgrade needs to last me a while with the ability to Crossfire/SLI for extra power when needed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by batman900 View Post

I've had them all. With a single card AMD is fine, with two I get random driver crashes once in a while, I also get microstutter in WoW but it's an older game. If I didn't mine I would still have my 780 or 780 ti. I've also had 2 gigabyte windforce 290Xs die randomly after 2-3 days of use. My xfx dbd has been chugging along nicely though. I prefer nvidia but I wouldn't ignore the 4gb vram with 290. Just make sure you get a highly rated aftermarket version.

Having an nVidia preference, when you went to your 290 was installation and setup as simple as with your nVidia cards? How was overclocking the card?
Quote:
Originally Posted by XAslanX View Post

This, more often then not driver issues are PECKAC problems. Been using ATi since 2003 with the 9000 AIW card and I have yet to have any problems with the drivers to make me want to stop using their hard ware.

By saying they are PECKAC problems, clarify what would be considered a user error? Can you elaborate your experience with the cards you have used and do you game often? More often than not in gaming threads (Like BF4 for instance) I see people complaining of having some sort of issue with playing and typically they have an AMD card.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaf Jam View Post

I cannot speak of AMD's current drivers and gaming, as I haven't used them in over a year (6970). I game on a 780 TiC.

I would ask the seller what fan RPM does it take to keep the card under 70C if noise is a concern for you. I have 10 R9 290s Tri-X. 5 are excellent, 50-60% is all it takes to keep the card at <65 C while mining, the other 5 cards are awful if noise is a concern to you. Fans are at 85% and core temps are at 85-90C which means they are loud. If you get a good one and don't mind higher temps, you can probably run it at ~40% fan speed and barely hear it. Excellent card for miners and those looking for a low to moderate overclock if you don't get one that runs hot. You can't remove the sapphire cooler to change TiM without voiding the warranty, although if you are buying used, that may be a moot point.

All but one cards memory will run at 1500, I have one that is damaged goods and won't run stock memory or core. None will run 1600 memory. In terms of core speeds, 2 hit 1100, 3 hit 1080, 4 hit 1040, and my bad card is at 900/1200. These are at stock voltages and stable for days on end mining.

I figured I'd post this so you'd have a better idea of the range of cards you can get. More information never hurts for large purchases.

Noise isn't too much of a concern to me, I have my current card running at 100% and imagine that would be too loud for most people. I would probably run it at 80-90% anyway if it allowed me to overclock higher. Is mining still popular? I was under the impression people are pulling out of GPU mining? Is there even money to be made with a single 290?

What's a decent overclock for a 290? My 670 games at 1280MHz/6600MHz and benches at 1320MHz/7300MHz which is a pretty good overclock for a 670. It seems you have a decent amount of them, and can tell me what's the average overclock for them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dandraseth View Post

As a long time AMD and Nvidia user I can tell you this... on a simple fire a game up and expect it to work properly scale, both companies are about even.. as others have said.. step into multi card usage and the strength goes back to nvidias hands.. although amd has made some strides last year with that. I personally find the user interface for the catalyst suite easier to use than on the nvidia side, however be aware that stepping into the 290 series might shock you a bit as it did me.. even coming from a previous gen 7970.. this whole new era of managing tdp against heat and having clock speeds adjust down rather than up on the fly caused some headaches.. but it only took 2 days to iron it out.. and the card is performing alot better now.. and as you said if you can get a non reference 290 for around 350-400 you really cannot go wrong with the price to performance ratio that amd is offering right now compared to nvidia.

Explain what you mean that having clock speeds adjust down rather than up. Is overclocking really a headache with the R9 290? I have very adequate cooling. I imagine that heat won't be a problem with my case at all. Even during bench runs overclocked to the max my 670 stays under 60C. The price to performance ratio is what is making me consider the R9 290. Having to pay almost another $150 to have a 780 that has a decent amount of VRAM for the future is what is making me mostly hesitant to just jump the gun and stick to what I'm used to; knowing that there are other options available to help me save money and provide similar results
post #9 of 13
If your mining for day to day profits, that time is pretty much over. I'm mining for trading and long term. If it pans out, great. If it doesn't, that's why I have other investments. All the people here who hate miners guts will get my cards at that discount they have been waiting months and months for.

In regards to average overclock, that is tough for me to say. I got the Tri-X for three reasons. Better resale value, hynix ram, and supposedly better cooling. The Hynix ram makes it easier to get a better overclock because it is a bit more friendly to the memory controller than Elpidia ram. R9 290s can suffer from blank screen issues when overclocked. Screen goes blank when entering 3D mode. Hynix makes it a lot less likely and Tri-X are the only cards with Hynix guaranteed. There is a thread about this blank screen issue in the AMD section somewhere I urge you to read if you go this route so your educated on it. This is usually mitigated by adding a bump in voltage to the core. I also haven't added more than stock voltages as I am on linux, so I can't tell you how far they will go.

The Tri-X is a good card though, just wonky QC on the TiM application. If a clock is stable for mining, it is more than stable for gaming. So you have a good chance of a 10% core gain and an almost guaranteed 20% memory overclock (they are rated for 1500 mhz, they ship at 1250) at stock voltages. You have the Stilt bios on your card, so the timings have been tuned to provide it's best performance at 1350 mhz IIRC. For non-Stilt Tri-X (all newer models, as they have a different Hynix memory), they have to clock to 1500 to get the best memory/core ratio. This ratio may be irrelevant for gaming, but it matters immensely when mining scrypt coins.

The Tri-X would be the card I would get if I was gaming/overclocking on air and looking at 290s without a doubt. It is a reference PCB with improved component quality in general. Chokes may be a little bit smaller, but it won't matter to an air OC. There is a fire-sale on ebay right now from miners who poorly invested running from their investments. Take advantage of it, just be careful.
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post #10 of 13
Well this generation amd cards dont boost up like thier nvidia counterparts.. they actually start at the core clock you set them at and adjust themselves down dependant on heat temps and load usage.. I was just freaking out about the whole situation the last couple days.. seeing my gpu clocks bounce around from 750-1050 and everywhere inbetween.. honestly though I never noticed the performance drop.. and this was only an issue in titanfall and rage, all other games and benchmarks I have thrown at it have held onto the 1050 core clock that I set it to. It took a little more registry tweaking than I am used to to get full control over power limits and voltages than on my old 7970 but now that I have things ironed out.. as I said the card is just fantastic.. damn near silent, I have gotten the clocks upto 1100 on the core with a .2 vcore bump.. and the card is cool and most importantly games like bf4 and titanfall are so smooth even at higher AA settings than I have ever used before.. plus the 4gb of ram will help future titles perform better against the 780s of the world.. titanfall is one recent example.. on insane texture settings, the game is using up 3200mb@ 1080p with 8xmsaa.. on my 7970 if I used insane texture settings it would run well but stutter a bit as the textures were swapped out to other areas.. that stutter is now gone completely with the 290.
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i5 2500K @ 4.6 ghz Idle=32 Load=62 Gigabyte Z68 MA-DH2 Msi Radeon R9 290 Gaming 4GB 8Gb Corsair Vengeance @ 1600mhz 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Seagate 1TB 7200rpm sata II Seagate 2TB SSHD Hybrid Sata 3 Lg DVD Rom Corsair Hydracool H80 
OSOSMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 home x64 Windows 8.1 x64 80" Sharp Lc80le632u Logitech mx 550 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Corsair Tx750 v2 Thermaltake Level 10GT Snow Edition Logitech mx 550 Logitech Z550 Digital 5.1 
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