Monday, December 1, 2014

R9 290/R9 290X Refrence PCB Overclocking Guide

The R9 290 and R9 290X are AMD's current flagship single core GPUs. I have 1 of each running in crossfire and have benched both of them extensively.
I expect that you know what is where in afterburner and you know how to configure custom fan profiles.

Software you will need
For daily use and aircooled benchmarking:
MSI afterburner
Sapphire Trixx
For benching on water or LN2
PT1/PT3 BIOS (link in useful links page)
GPU Tweak 2V (link in useful links page)
AtiWinFlash (link in useful links page)

Air 24/7
The Hawaii GPUs are pretty tanky so they can be overvolted for years without any negative effects. For 24/7 overclocking you will only need MSI Afterburner because going above +100mv on the core voltage generally doesn't help your frequency margin much and is about as high as you want to go for 24/7 overclock. There is no reason not to set the power limit to 150% so just set it to 150% and forget about it.

The Core
Most Hawaii GPUs do about 1100mhz without raising the core voltage. Once your card can't go any higher on stock volts start raising the voltage by 12mV. While voltage does increase frequency ranges AMD cards are really sensitive to temperatures and so the increased operating temperatures can counter act the increase in voltage. This is not an issue for people on water cooling but for people on air coolers I recommend tweaking the fan curve too avoid going above 85C° however if you can tolerate the noise of your cooler at 90% just set it to hit 90% at 70C° and you should be all good temp wise.
Afterburner has an AUX voltage setting for the Hawaii cards. Unfortunately no one really knows what the best setting for it is and I haven't fully test it yet so you will just have to test it at settings between -50mV and +100mV going by 50mV increments. I have mine at +100mv to get 1140/1550mhz on my Windforce R9 290X. I do suspect however that the AUX voltage somehow impacts the core voltage either in stability or how high it is.

The VRAM on Hawaii cards is very different from previous cards. ALL Hawaii cards have a golden ratio of
VRAM clock/core clock. This ratio varies from card to card but is generally between 1.25 and 1.4. Once you find this ratio it will generally allow you to run a much higher memory clock than try to incrementally raise VRAM frequency. For example my R9 290X has a ratio of 1.36 and 1140/1500 is not stable on it but 1140/1550 is even though they are at the same voltage.
While the Hawaii cards do not have memory voltage controls available in any software the memory clock does scale with core voltage so if you are trying to push a high memory clock you wil need to raise the core voltage regardless of your core frequency.

For some reason Hawaii cards don't always downclock  the memory when idling so when you are going above 1350mhz VRAM with an OCed monitor or on a multi monitor setup you will need to set Afterburner to constant voltage. This will not negatively impact the life span of you card because the idle core voltage will still be under 1V. I also recommend trying this if you crash when pressing apply because that happens for the same reason. Your VRAM OC kicks in but the voltage stays at idle levels and you get a crash.

Water 24/7
Do what you did for air 24/7 but use sapphire Trixx to get above +100mv core voltage.

Air Benching
Do what you did for the Air 24/7 but use Afterburner to set your AUX voltage then use Sapphire Trixx to get +200mv core. If you have an air cooler just max the fan speed since you're benching.

Water/LN2 Benching
!! COMING SOON !! NOT because my card does not like the available LN2 BIOSs sorry


  1. How do you find the exact golden ratio for the card?

    1. Find an OC where the core and mem work together, then divide the memory clocks by the core clocks.

      My 290 does 1185/1612 with +200mV...

  2. my 290 trix has a ratio of 1.41. i do about 1110/1565 without crash and artifacts. however raising the voltage does not aid in reaching higher clocks. even if i apply +100mv the core cannot do 1120. memory goes crazy though-up to 1680 stable. i would say the core is limited around 11xx with even voltages and memory can even reach 1700 under voltage.

  3. Have u test the wattman app on r9 290?
    I just put mine and it overclock the memory up to 2000MHz. It has to be some kind of record right?

    I wonder if you know a way to increase the limit on wattman?


    1. result

    2. Really dude? I think your card equip with samsung memory

  4. who is VDDCI voltage and could help on overclocking

  5. VDDCI appears to be the memory interface voltage (GPU<->VRAM?) and I think it's determined by AUX voltage. The Stilt said that raising this just a little might help but too much may not (maybe be a detriment?) Good luck :)