The Test

For the review of the R9 380X we’ve had to make a few accommodations to our GPU testing protocol since our last major video card review, which we'd like to note.

Civilization: Beyond Earth has been deprecated, as the Rising Tide update has removed the built-in “lategameview” benchmark. Meanwhile AMD’s launch drivers for the R9 380X, Catalyst 15.11.1 Beta, are unfortunately not as solid as we’d like to see, as they have a repeatable issue with Far Cry 4 that causes it to crash with various AMD cards, including the R9 380X. As a result we’re unable to benchmark Far Cry 4 on the 380X at this time. Finally, we’re also unable to include compute benchmarks for R9 380X at reference clocks, as AMD’s drivers do not honor underclocking options with OpenCL programs.

CPU: Intel Core i7-4960X @ 4.2GHz
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i
Hard Disk: Samsung SSD 840 EVO (750GB)
Memory: G.Skill RipjawZ DDR3-1866 4 x 8GB (9-10-9-26)
Case: NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition
Monitor: Asus PQ321
Video Cards: AMD Radeon R9 390
AMD Radeon R9 380X
AMD Radeon R9 380
AMD Radeon R7 370
AMD Radeon HD 7970
AMD Radeon HD 7850
ASUS STRIX R9 380X
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 (2GB)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660
Video Drivers: NVIDIA Release 358.50 Beta
AMD Catalyst Cat 15.11.1 Beta
OS: Windows 8.1 Pro
Meet the ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC Battlefield 4
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  • FriendlyUser - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    This is not a bad product. It does have all the nice Tonga features (especially FreeSync) and good tesselation performance, whatever this is worth. But the price is a little bit higher than what would make a great deal. At $190, for example, this card woule be the best card in middle territory, in my opinion. We'll have to see how it plays, but I suspect this card will probably find its place in a few months and after a price drop. Reply
  • Samus - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    Yeah, it's like every AMD GPU...overpriced for what it is. They need to drop the prices across the entire line about 15% just to become competitive. The OC versions of the 380X is selling for dollars less than some GTX970's, which use less power, are more efficient, are around 30% faster, and you could argue have better drivers and compatibility. Reply
  • SunnyNW - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    To my understanding, the most significant reason for the decreased power consumption of Maxwell 2 cards ( the 950-60-70 etc.) was due to the lack of certain hardware in the chips themselves specifically pertaining to double precision. Nvidia seems to recommend Titan X for single precision but Titan Z for DP workloads. I bring this up because so many criticize AMD for being "inefficient" in terms of power consumption but if AMD did the same thing would they not see similar results? Or am I simply wrong in my assumption? I do believe AMD may not be able to do this currently due to the way their hardware and architecture is configured for GCN but I may be wrong about that as well, since I believe their 32 bit and 64 bit "blocks" are "coupled" together. Obviously I am not a chip designer or any sort of expert in this area so please forgive my lack of total knowledge and therefore the reason for me asking in hopes of someone with greater knowledge on the subject educating myself and the many others interested. Reply
  • CrazyElf - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    It's more complex than that (AMD has used high density libraries and has very aggressively clocked its GPUs), but yes reducing DP performance could improve performance per watt. I will note however that was done on the Fury X; it's just that it was bottlenecked elsewhere. Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    At the end of the day, is AMD making GPU's for gaming or GPU's for floating point\double precision professional applications?

    The answer is both. The problem is, they have multiple mainstream architectures with multiple GPU designs\capabilities in each. Fury is the only card that is truly built for gaming, but I don't see any sub-$400 Fury cards, so it's mostly irrelevant since the vast majority (90%) of GPU sales are in the $100-$300 range. Every pre-Fury GPU incarnation focused too much on professional applications than they should have.

    NVidia has one mainstream architecture with three distinctly different GPU dies. The most enabled design focuses on FP64\Double Precision, while the others eliminate the FP64 die-space for more practical, mainstream applications.
    Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    @Samus:: "At the end of the day, is AMD making GPU's for gaming or GPU's for floating point\double precision professional applications?"

    Both

    @Samus: "The answer is both."

    $#1+

    @Samus: " Fury is the only card that is truly built for gaming, but I don't see any sub-$400 Fury cards, so it's mostly irrelevant since the vast majority (90%) of GPU sales are in the $100-$300 range. Every pre-Fury GPU incarnation focused too much on professional applications than they should have."

    They tried the gaming only route with the 6xxx series. They went back to compute oriented in the 7xxx series. Which of these had more success for them?

    @Samus: "NVidia has one mainstream architecture with three distinctly different GPU dies. The most enabled design focuses on FP64\Double Precision, while the others eliminate the FP64 die-space for more practical, mainstream applications."

    This would make a lot of sense save for one major issue. AMD wants the compute capability in their graphics cards to support HSA. They need most of the market to be HSA compatible to incentivize developers to make applications that use it.
    Reply
  • CiccioB - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    HSA and DP64 capacity have nothing in common.
    People constantly confuse GPGPU capability with DP64 support.
    nvidia GPU have been perfectly GPGPU capable and in fact they are even better than AMD ones for consumer calculations (FP32).
    I would like you to name a single GPGPU application that you can use at home that makes use of 64bit math.
    Reply
  • Rexolaboy - Sunday, January 03, 2016 - link

    You asked a question that's been answered in the post you reply to. Amd wants to influence the market to support fp64 compute because it's ultimately more capable. No consumer programs using fp64 compute is exactly why amd is trying so hard to release cards capable of it, to influence the market. Reply
  • FriendlyUser - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    It's not just DP, it's also a lot of bits that go towards enabling HSA. Stuff for memory mapping, async compute etc. AMD is not just building a gaming GPU, they want something that plays well in compute contexts. Nvidia is only being competitive thanks to the CUDA dominance they have built and their aggressive driver tuning for pro applications. Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    @FriendlyUser: "It's not just DP, it's also a lot of bits that go towards enabling HSA. Stuff for memory mapping, async compute etc. AMD is not just building a gaming GPU, they want something that plays well in compute contexts."

    This. AMD has a vision where GPU's are far more important to compute workloads than they are now. Their end goal is still fusion. They want the graphics functions to be integrated into the CPU so completely that you can't draw a circle around it and you access it with CPU commands. When this happens, they believe that they'll be able to leverage the superior graphics on their APUs to close the performance gap with Intel's CPU compute capabilities. If Intel releases better GPU compute, they can still lean on discrete cards.

    Their problem is that there isn't a lot of buy-in to HSA. In general, there isn't a lot of buy-in to GPU compute on the desktop. Sure there are a few standouts and more than a few professional applications, but nothing making the average non-gaming user start wishing for a discrete graphics card. Still, they have to include the HSA (including DP compute) capabilities in their graphics cards if they ever expect it to take off.

    HSA in and of itself is a great concept and eventually I expect it will gain favor and come to market (perhaps by another name). However, it may be ARM chip manufacturers and phones/tablets that gain the most benefit from it. There are already some ARM manufacturers who have announce plans to build chips that are HSA compatible. If HSA does get market penetration in phones/tablets first as it looks like may happen, I have to wonder where all the innovative PC programmers went that they couldn't think of a good use for it with several years head start.
    Reply

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