15 Replies Latest reply on Jun 15, 2015 4:35 PM by kingfish

    Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.

    purist284

      Hello, I have a severely underperforming R9 290X. But here's the catch, when I updated to the latest drivers from this website, my video card began to self-identify as an HD8970M. So I'm confused about that firstly. In any event, I get pretty severe framerate dips after about 30-45 seconds of playing F.E.A.R., which is an older game admittedly. While some newer games seem to perform generally better (such as F.E.A.R. 2, Aliens Vs Predator), they're not performing anywhere near what I'd expect from a fairly new video card with 4GB of dedicated video RAM. One game in particular seems to give my video card an especially hard time - Dead Island. You can just tell by the look and feel of it, that the video card is barely able to run it.

       

      I ran 3DMark and got very disappointing results. Not the kind of thing you'd expect from an Alienware.

       

      So, what might account for a 4GB GPU behaving like a 512MB? That's how I feel about this video card, anyhow. Here are some system specs:

       

      Alienware 17 (mid 2013)

      2.5 GHZ Quad Core (i7)

      16 GB RAM

      Radeon R9 290X and/or HD8970M

        • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
          Cornugon

          What you forgot to mention is that the Alienware 17 is a laptop.

           

          And it's not equipped with an R9 290X, but an R9 M290X, which is not  the same thing. Th R9 M290X is based on the Pitcairn core, which happens to be the same as the 4GB HD8970M (at least that is 'solved' for you, they're exactly the same chip ), or the desktop 78x0 series of cards, which have been rebranded in their turn as the R9 270(X) range.

           

          However the first FEAR should run without issues on your hardware, so I'm guessing the problem is something else.

           

          Did you try to disable Switchable Graphics and/or your integrated Intel graphics?

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            • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
              purist284

              Hello, thanks for the clarification. It's odd that my video card would self-identify as the R9 290X (and not R9 M290X)... but in any event... I'm willing to try whatever is necessary to get this machine running up to speed. Like I mentioned, I'm able to play certain newer games at high resolution/high framerates (particularly AVP). So I'll be very interested to see if disabling switchable graphics will help. I presume this is to be done with the Catalyst Control Center? Perhaps you might indulge me with a couple of screenshots on how to go about that. When you suggest disabling integrated intel graphics, would I do that through the Device Manager? Thanks again.

               

              EDIT: Here's what happened when I disabled Intel HD Graphics in my Device Manager:

              AMD Problem 01.PNG

                • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                  Cornugon

                  Hi there. I don't have a laptop myself so I don't know for certain how exactly it is done, but another thing you might try is performing a clean installation. In your case you should update the Intel drivers first.

                   

                  Here is an excellent (formerly sticky) thread made by our supreme ruler kingfish, an entity formerly know as stumped. Halfway you can find how to update your Switchable graphics (it's worth a shot):

                   

                  **STICKY** Perform a 'clean install' of AMD driver suites

                    • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                      kingfish

                      Supreme Ruler here:

                      Don't use that...use this > Laptops Installing drivers on switchable Intel + AMD graphics

                       

                       

                      ..and, to disable the IGP, use the bios. There will be a entry for display or graphics, change the setting from 'switchable' or 'dynamic' to 'fixed' or 'static'. That forces the laptop to only use the discrete (AMD) graphics.

                        • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                          purist284

                          Hi Kingfish, thanks for the reply, unfortunately I didn't see it in time and followed the instructions posted by Cornugon. This had the end result of causing my video card to properly self identify as an R9 M290X. I was excited about that at least. It did not resolve the issue I'm having with F.E.A.R., however, and a subsequent test of 3DMark also showed no improvement. So while I mentally prepare to undertake the instructions you've posted, I have a couple of questions. In the case of an Alienware laptop, should I be using the drivers recommended specifically for it from Dell? Or should I get my drivers from AMD? On the upside, I now have the very latest driver for my Intel integrated graphics installed. Would I have to repeat that installation if undertaking the instructions you posted? Getting into the BIOS scares me. Is it scary?

                           

                          EDIT: I had a look at my UEFI Firmware settings, these are the setup options I have available. Was unable to locate anything that appears to be graphics related:

                          UEFI Settings 01.jpg

                            • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                              Cornugon

                              Not all BIOSes allow disabling the on-chip Intel graphics. Apparently you can control Switchable Graphics behaviour (on a per-application basis) from within CCC.

                               

                              I looked at the drivers provided for your Alienware laptop at Dell's website, but they're severely outdated. It's recommended that you use the more recent ones offered by AMD. Nevertheless, it wouldn't make much of a difference for old games like the first two FEAR's ofcourse

                              • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                                kingfish

                                What happens when you click on 'performance options' in the bios? If you have the latest Intel and AMD drivers installed then you should be good to go. You can see the driver version of each in the device manager. Have you been to Dell support and checked for updates, especially chipset drivers and bios updates? In the CCC, do you have a 'performance' tab? Do you have 'Overdrive? What options are in 'Overdrive'? Is your computer power plan set to 'high performance"?

                                When you right click on your desktop, does the AMD control panel option show up? Some laptops have a keyboard combination that allows you to choose between switchable graphics mode and dedicated (high power) mode. Your owners manual will tell you which keys, if this is enabled. I have seen the Fn+F5 used before.

                      • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                        tekkiaussie

                        Due to some customization on Alienware laptops they generally require custom drivers directly from Dell in order to perform correctly. As such, I personally would recommend uninstalling the current drivers and visiting the follow DELL page for their last drivers for your Alienware 17 laptop.

                         

                        http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/19/product-support/product/alienware-17/drivers

                         

                        While I realize that these drivers are quite old, they are also correctly customized for your laptop.

                         

                        The other option would be trying to use the AMD released drivers from the following page.

                         

                        http://support.amd.com/en-us/download/mobile?os=Windows%208.1%20-%2064

                          • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                            kingfish

                            Alienware does not use 'custom' drivers. They will use the same AMD and Intel graphics as any other computer. Further more, Alienware set the pace during the 'Enduro' debacle in offering bios selection for disabling the 'switchable' option to a dedicated graphics mode. All laptop manufacturers with that type set-up followed suit. Some recent changes in some models/configurations have moved the selection to a Fn + key to accomplish the same thing....which is why I suggest reading the owners manual (which is stored on the computer). The first thing to do is update the bios and chipset to the latest version. Then use the guide I furnished for installing the graphics drivers using the drivers I linked to.

                            The latest bios version is Version A14 ...you can use Speccy to check your current version.

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                              • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                                kingfish

                                From Dell:

                                 

                                The Alienware M17x R3, R4, M18x R1, R2, Alienware 14, 17 and 18 includes an integrated graphics adapter, whose main purpose is to provide video display in an energy-efficient, power saving way (i.e. when running the system on battery with no AC outlets available).

                                This mode can be manually set by:

                                1. Pressing [Fn]+[F7] (for Alienware M17x R3, R4, M18x R1, R2) and [Fn]+[F5] (for Alienware 14, 17, 18) in the Windows desktop, and restarting the computer when requested.
                                1. It is automatically set, whenever the computer is started in battery mode (not connected to a plugged AC Adapter) and systems equipped with nVidia Optimus Technology (Integrated gpu + 1 Nvidia Discrete gpu).

                                When the Alienware M17x R3, R4, R5 (Running an ATI Discrete Video card) & M18x R1, R2, R3 running SLI / Crossfire (Dual Discrete Video cards) or Single ATI GPU, mobile system is running on integrated graphics card mode, Windows' Device Manager will only show the Intel HD Graphics as the Alienware Mobile current video adapter.

                                1. Solution

                                To use all the Alienware M17x R3, R4, R5 & M18x R1, R2, R3 video adapter(s), it is required that you to switch the computer to Discrete mode. To do so, follow the next procedure:

                                1. Connect the Alienware M17x R3, R4, R5 or M18x R1, R2, R3 to its AC Adapter. Then, connect the AC adapter to a wall outlet.
                                2. Press [Fn]+[F7] or [Fn]+[F5] to switch from integrated graphics mode to discrete graphics mode. Restart the computer when requested.
                                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                                  tekkiaussie

                                  I may be completely incorrect, but from what I know of Dell Alienware drivers, while they are not "custom" drivers per se, they at times, repackage them with specific part ID information which allows the driver to correctly recognize the built in cards? This is the reason why I call them "custom".

                                   

                                  For example when checking the download page for the Dell drivers for this specific system I see that the driver package version is 14.251.3.5 which means it is from the AMD 13.12 driver (AMD Driver Packaging Version 13.251).

                                   

                                  From what I know official AMD drivers ONLY started supporting the R9 M200 series in 14.9 driver packages, and the first "customized" driver that I know of which supported the R9 M200 series was a 14.4 custom driver which LeeKM released.

                                   

                                  Based on that information I made the assumption that the 13.12 drivers which Dell have on their site to support this laptop must have been customized after some faction. While I realize that the R9 M290X is basically a re-branded HD8970M, which had support with the 13.12 driver package, the fact that the driver which Dell have been hosting as fully supporting this card (with this specific Laptop model), plus the fact that it is a "re-packaged" driver package version (Dell - 14.251.3.5 vs AMD 14.521) I assume that they must have included some form of customization into it.

                                   

                                  I realize this does not mean that DELL rebuilt the driver itself, but wouldn't product recognition and integration be effected in this case?

                                    • Re: Radeon R9 290X or HD8970M? + Severe graphics problems.
                                      kingfish

                                      Not really....Dell and the other major laptop suppliers, with the exception of Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic, were very careful in allowing their graphics to be updated by AMD....meaning 'generic' drivers. This is a pure opt-in/opt-out choice. The only hiccup was with the Intel drivers. Intel had to make some changes. Still, a older version of the Intel graphics will not work correctly (switchable-wise) with a newer version of AMD drivers.

                                      I believe the problem is going to be one of the questions I asked the OP.

                                      There is no logical reason for a older version of the AMD drivers performing as expected, and not a newer one, unless the Intel driver has not been updated to the current version. Or, especially with Win7, the .netframework updated. Some people set their WU to show only available updates for Windows. That is not the correct setting. The correct setting is 'show updates for Windows and other Microsoft programs' which will include updates for .netframeworks and others.

                                      There is, of course, the possibility the user is expecting too much from his chip. As Cornugan rightly pointed out...there is a huge difference between a desktop R9 290x and a laptop version. If the chip is performing well in other games and applications, then it is game specific and should be reported to AMD and/or the game developer.

                                      A simple way to install the needed drivers is to use Leshcat. This accomplishes  the same thing that we are doing manually...it installs the latest Intel driver with the latest AMD driver.