AMD Issues Statement on Radeon R9 290X Speed, Heat and Variance Issues

It looks like our article about the performance variance wasn’t enough to get AMD to issue a statement on the matter, but Scott Wasson’s article  over at The Tech Report did the trick.  After sites like PCPer, Toms Hardware , Tech Report, and Legit Reviews brought the issue to the attention of the gaming community we figured that it was only time until AMD had to issue a statement about why some are finding some of the retail AMD Radeon R9 290X video cards are slower than press samples. Our friends at NVIDIA who wanted to speak on the side of anonymity have told us they expect  to see a 1-3% performance variance between their cards. We expect to see some performance variance on AMD’s graphics cards, but some are finding double digit differences and that is rather significant from how we look at it. AMD says that they are looking into the issue and will provide an update with their investigation concludes. We look forward to what they find and we are also working with AMD on the matter.

Based on feedback from the enthusiast community, we’ve implemented an all new PowerTune mechanism in the AMD Radeon R9 290 series that exploits the full capability of the individual GPUs rather than clamping performance to a least-common-denominator type of capability level. This has the advantage of improving overall performance but does result in some degree of performance variability. These changes will also result in some degree of run-to-run test variability based on environmental and operational conditions in un-controlled test environments.

The range of performance differential is not expected to meaningfully change the user experience but we’ve taken note of recent reports that the degree of variability is higher than expected. Reasonably we would expect the variability to occur both above and below the performance of the press samples, however it appears that most reported performances are biased towards the low side. We are actively investigating these reports and we will update when we have completed our investigation.

It is important to note that is it to be expected that the more thermally limited the setting the more variation can naturally occur. AMD Radeon R9 290X, by default, ships with two default BIOS settings for different acoustic levels and the “Uber” setting was designed to limit the level of thermal throttling and comparisons in this test mode are more consistent. Furthermore, AMD have implemented comprehensive PowerTune controls within the OverDrive panel of Catalyst Control Center and users can tweak to their own desired balance between acoustics and performance. – AMD PR



  • Sanjay Saini

    This whole variance issue is way overblown, though I enjoy laughing at reviewers. Understanding PowerTune, throttling and beta drivers are all factors…ah nevermind!

  • Strider

    NZXT Kraken G10 + compatible cooler = moot issue.

    Would love to see a Legit Review of this.

    These cards are designed to run hot, but throttle once they hit that thermal limit. So as with any hardware, keep it under than limit and you can push it to it’s limits and beyond.

    These 290X’s are great cards, people have three main complaints, and all of them are related. Heat, noise, not much OC headroom because of the thermal throttling.

    Two solutions. Wait for non-reference cards, drop a water block on there and liquid cool it. Some people don’t want to wait, and GPU water cooling options can be expensive and require more work/maintenance than many wish to do.

    Now there is a third option, check out that Kraken G10. Inexpensive way to get the best out of your 290X if you don’t want to wait, or go with traditional GPU water blocks and cooling solutions.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on one of these. Like I said, would LOVE to see Legit Reviews look into a 290X and this Kraken G10, and see how it pans out.

    As always, great articles, keep them coming!

    • basroil

      The Fermi cards are also designed to boost until power, heat, or an artificial 10% limit are reached. Difference is that nvidia states minimum clock speeds while AMD states maximums. Noise isn’t linear with heat though, AMD just chose to use really bad fan design and made the situation worse.

      • john

        Because frequency in and of its own has any meening… you are however right marketing & pr just blew it. They knew about the fan problem otherwise there wouldn’t have been a quiet mode. Still they advertised up to frequency… so to sum it up bad ref cooler + immature drivers and powertune + bad marketing and pr = the buzz of the internet, the scandal of tje century…

        • basroil

          “Because frequency in and of its own has any meening.”

          You mean “meaning”, and yes, it does. The maximum frequency is the maximum processing rate a certain GPU configuration can achieve. Given everything else equal, a 950MHz GPU will be faster than a 900MHz GPU if they are the same core makeup. AMD advertises an unachievable maximum performance, Nvidia advertises an absolute minimum performance that their chip will give.

          Sure comparing frequencies of different models is pointless (GT3 at 1100MHz will gets it’s ass handed to it by a GK110 at just 550MHz), but within the same make the frequency is the only measure of performance difference that matters.

        • john

          do you have any proof to sustain your claim that it can’t achieve advertised maximum frequency??(They never advertised FPS or other performance metric just frequency of up to 1ghz…) All reviews show even quiet mode hitting 1ghz… uber mode actually keeping it without problems…

          Frequency has meaning only if we’re talking about the exact same make&model … anything else is just speculation with a lower or higher degree of probability.

      • Eita.K

        Fermi … Boost? Since when can they do that?

  • john

    In short… lots of guys reviewing quiet mode and playing dumb… to cover their own ignorance and incompetence point the finger at amd… nothing new about it…

    The cooler is bad and powertune tries to keep the card quiet in quiet mode meaning it scales frequency/performance to achieve this. The cards behave within 1% variance on uber mode and also with updated or press release bios in quiet mode…

    So the story is: why is amd’s pr so bad and why do we trust reviewers that don’t go indepth enough before publishing a review…??

    • bob

      so how much is AMD paying you?

      • john

        haven’t looked at the account balance it’s in the caymans and it doesn’t have a home banking I need to get on a jet to check it… wanna join?

    • Nathan Kirsch

      exploding GeForce GTX 780 Ti video cards? I guess I missed that one. Where is information on that? I have a couple 780 Ti cards and none have issues. If you know how yours or whoevers card blew up, I’d be happy to try to recreate it here.

      • tacobravo
        • Nathan Kirsch

          Looks like that has been solved and was an add-in-board partner issue where they were using conductive stickers on the PCB (face palm). That recall only impacted 55 cards. Any other cases? “GTX
          780 Ti graphics card burned causes have been identified, GALAXY GTX 780
          Ti graphics card PCB sticker is conductive, and there is no requirement
          attached to the PCB area, causing a short circuit PCB easily, leading
          graphics card burned. It
          is reported GALAXY official has issued a formal announcement, said 2013
          sales of between 11.7-11.10 GTX 780 Ti existence of quality defects,
          serial number 13B0020705-13B0020759 a total of 55 cards between the user
          can call the official customer service phone 400-700 -3933 for a free

        • john

          Yes it’s only affecting one shady AIB but still the quiet mode variance thing is as ridiculous as the conductive sticker problem… My reaction was the same: face palm…

          Basically the problem everybody is so inflamed about is that a 500$+ flagship GPU has variances in its low power setup in which it needs to adjust to a set RPM for the blower so it doesn’t exceed certain noise levels… read again so you can have a laugh: LOW power setting in a FLAGSHIP PGU… who the hell gives a f about it?? You’re not going to use it to play solitaire on it

          + The exploding 780Ti story is as hilarious as the variance one… with the right marketing it would have been as ridiculously overinflated as this story… I pointed that incident out just to prove a point…

        • Solaris17

          You know Galexy isnt a “shady” partner right? Their one of the top 5 AIBs…….idiots

        • john

          well to me it is… never heard about it before.. First I heard about it was exactly the announcement of the 780Ti(leaked specs I think it was)… so pardon my ignorance but I know more then 5 names that come to mind before Galaxy. Might be a big name over the ocean but here I never heard about it sorry.

        • Jimmy Henderson

          Nice!! Fanboys are always stepping in it, so to speak.

        • john

          By the way i did not imply that lr was one of the said reviewers! I love you guys, not quite as indepth as tom’s review but a very good ballanced write up. Keep it up!

  • 13trwg5243bt34

    AMD. just fuck off and die already

    • Paul Margettas

      no competition is no good.

    • BamBam

      Fucking hate fanboys. Nvidia would suck if it wasnt for amd. Triple monitor gaming, MLAA(which has led to shader based aa like TXAA for nvidia). Your an ignorant fuck.

    • Will Lyon

      Need I remind you of the Fermi disaster?

      • Jimmy Henderson

        I remember that, how funny, AMD did a great job of poking fun at a power hog, loud running flagship from Nvidia even though it took the crown…. shoe’s on the other foot now I guess 🙂

        • john

          Kind of but nvidia is much less creative and funny… they just buy amd cards and ship them to review sites… so yeah the shoe’s on the other foot now but instead of making fun of amd they just want to mislead or misinform or both… not that ati/amd wouldn’t have done it in the past it’s just the way it is now.

    • Nigger

      Go fuck off and die yourself. AMD has made me very rich and wealthy mining bitcoins. GO AMD!

    • Nigger

      Your precious nvidia cards get less than half the mining performance of AMD cards.

      • MjFrosty

        Who gives a **** about mining it’s a graphics card, the key is in the name you idiot. There are devices that are worth less than a bag of sweets that mine better/more efficently than poxy heatbox AMD cards.

        • Serpent of Darkness

          This reply to Nigger, is no different then making the following statement: “Who gives a **** about making more money it’s a graphic card, the key is in the name you idiot.”