Never would I have imagined it would be so much hassle returning to an AMD graphics card. It wasn’t even a day before the MSI “Gaming” R9 290 OC was drop-kicked out the window. Performance isn’t always everything.
The ability to successfully cap a game’s fps was sorely lacking, at least with this GPU and driver package, the latter of which was the latest. AMD’s capping feature within the control panel was a nice attempt which completely failed to cap Borderlands, GTA 5 or Fallout 4. Furthermore, Fallout 4 refused to even start with it enabled to even 60fps.
This was a real issue for me because I’m a stickler for a consistent frame rate. I play games at 60fps only if they can keep it consistently, or at least the great majority of the time. Otherwise, I typically cap to 30fps and max it; it’s not ideal, but it’s somewhat like the best of both the console and PC worlds.
A few other things that were off-putting with this graphics card is that it ran very hot, and the fans would start to squeal upon ramping up. Sure, AMD says the R9 290 safely supports 95c; I’m not convinced, and still feel that is too hot, especially when all that heat is being chucked around the rig. My Zalmon Z11 is pretty well air-cooled, and I’m not in a particularly hot country, but none-the-less I don’t feel comfortable with that kinda heat. The card ramped up to 88c and would’ve gladly gone higher had it the chance.
It wasn’t all bad, as the 2012 game Hitman Absolution ran well, maintaining 60fps from what I saw. Every setting, bar 1, was maxed with 4x AA. However, the game would drop a lot of frames during certain scenes which seemed to be down to the “Level of Detail” setting which I lowered a little. Problem was solved, but on the other card I cap to 30fps and max it all; no problem. I also enjoyed the display colors the red corner offered, as opposed to nVidia’s more washed-out look.
I’m finally seeing that performance is not the most important thing: functionality is, at least to me. I had a headache with the drivers. Sure, they installed fine the first time around, but when I tried to uninstall the driver to put on a different version, I lost visuals completely and upon restarting the computer, both screens were entirely corrupted beyond any use. It was reminiscent of the instability I’d experienced before with Linux.
I decided that was enough. I opened my bitch up, shoved that ASUS 760 OC back where it belongs, sealed her tight, and loaded this rig up with a vengeance. Now things “just work” as they should’ve done in the first place.
Fallout 4 and GTA 5 were fine, but they couldn’t consistently keep 60fps, or at least without stuttering. I could’ve lowered lots of settings, but I had expected more from this card, given its specs. I was so close with GTA 5, though; I would get stuttering which I can only assume was down to the occasional dip below 60fps. I’m realising that obsessing over 60fps is causing more harm than good.
I’ve tried to keep an open mind with regards to what people have said about AMD’s drivers over the years, but this has left a very bad impression. I’m just relieved I didn’t throw down a bunch of monies on that card!
I shan’t be revisiting AMD graphics cards any time soon, for the simple reason that nVidia’s cards and/or drivers—currently and in my experience—work and have features I consider absolutely essential.