Overclocking, Power and Temperature


Pushing your new R9 290X is going to be quite a bit different than previous AMD Radeon GPUs going forward, thanks to the new PowerTune implementation that Hawaii includes.  Instead of simply increasing voltage and clock speeds, you have to manage power envelopes and requested maximum clock speeds. 

With this new method is a new CCC for OverDrive.

That heat map you see there can be adjusted by click around inside of it or it can be adjust manually through power limit and GPU clock settings.  First, it should be noted that this UI is pretty awful.  You cannot type in a GPU clock or power setting nor can you drag the target reticule (only click) to the desired location.  That aside, the functionality is likely as you'd expect it: setting the clock rate that you think you can hit, and adjust the power limit to your comfort level.

The slides below the heat map for memory clock, target temperature and fan speeds are just as important.  Memory clocks are increased by percentages now rather than just pure clock rate.  The temperature slider comes in the default position at 95C (!!) but if you want you can move it to the left to get a lower target temperature.  Fan speed is set to 40% maximum in "Quiet" mode and 55% in "Uber" mode, and in my testing I wasn't even able to reach that fan speed with my overclocking testing.

In my quick testing, getting anything over 1100 MHz on the maximum clock rate resulted in lock ups and reboots.  Even pushing the power limit up by 20% and increasing the maximum fan speed to 60% really did not change anything for me.  And, based on the results I showed you when it comes to actual average, in-game clocks, it might not make that much of a difference in the long run either.

More testing needs to be done!!

Power Consumption

With a graphics card running at 95C, what kind of power consumption does the new Hawaii GPU have compared to NVIDIA's Kepler or even the R9 280X?

That was kind of expected – the R9 290X system is using 56 watts more power than the R9 280X and the GeForce GTX 780 configurations and 49 watts more than the GTX Titan.  Even with the efficiency improvements that AMD is claiming, clearly Hawaii wants a lot of juice to produce the performance we are seeing today.


It has more or less been touched on already, but we need to point out just how hot the R9 280X is running in standard gaming scenarios.

At 95C, AMD is pushing Hawaii 15C higher than both of the Kepler designs reference configurations, all to make sure that it can catch up in terms of performance as well.  The team at AMD is confident that they can run Hawaii at 95C without a problem in long term reliability or stability but that is something we'll have to judge over a course of months, not days. 

Also, don't touch the card edges while gaming.  Just a warning.

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