Published in Graphics

AMD R9 290-series performance drop issue localized

by on08 November 2013

PowerTune update to reduce fan speed variance

As we already reported here, AMD has optimized the RPM of the R9 290X cooler and it now targets 2200 RPM. Before we got the new driver, our press sample card was working at 2109 RPM maximum, with the Beta 8 driver. Now however, with the Beta 9 driver, it goes slightly faster to 2235 RPM. It keeps the 94 Celsius target and that didn’t change with the new driver.

The frequency fluctuations are much less pronounced with the new Beta 9 driver and as expected the average GPU clock is higher. Apart from that, we didn’t see much of a difference in terms of performance or operation, but we still recommend the driver update, as it turns out that some R9 290X batches are experiencing more issues with the old driver. Our sample is just fine.

We can see a slight performance difference in Sleeping Dogs at 2560x1600 where we got up from 33.1 to 34.1 FPS. Despite the faster average clock speed in Crysis 3 the score in 2560x1600 resolution did not change, so we still ended up with 24.1 FPS.

Here are a couple of charts to illustrate the difference.




We are talking about normal gaming workloads and the data is recorded by Afterburner. It is evident that the GPU clock tends to be more stable with the Beta 9 driver and the fan speed in normal mode is about 2200RPM. Of course, this is the card’s quiet mode. We verified speeds with Afterburner.

In terms of noise, the fan is still a bit louder than the one used on the GTX 780 Ti. We hope that users who experienced performance issues with the R9 290X will give the new driver a go and report whether it helped. Like we said, we had no such issues, so we really can’t say whether the update will resolve them.



All in all, AMD’s reference cooler is clearly subpar and we’re eagerly awaiting non-reference R9 290X cards from AMD AIB partners.


Last modified on 21 November 2013
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