This is it. The ultimate fix to the annoying blackscreen issue on early R9 290 reference models.
You're here because :
Your reference R9 290 is blackscreening on boot, under load, or randomly
You found out that a temporary fix was to underclock it using afterburner
YOU CANNOT update your drivers, and the last driver barely working is probably 14.4 Beta or 13.2 WHQL
You are about to punch a nun in the face
Worry no more fellow 290 user, the solution is here and it baffled me with it's simplicity. As you probably know, there were several batches of 290's back in the day, mainly two: R9 290 cards with ELPIDA memory, and 290's with SK HYNIX memory. HYNYX memory users shouldn't worry because they were most likely not affected by the blackscreen issue, however if you've arrived here, chances are you are an Elpida memory 290 owner. Now, why does it blackscreen ? Because for some freaking reason, the card ships with a stock memory clock of 1200 Mhz. This causes blackscreens 9/10 times at boot since Afterburner isn't running yet to underclock it. The fix is to obviously alter the VBIOS and change the default settings definitely.
You don't have to worry about fucking up your flash, because as you know, there are two VBIOS installed on the card (namely "normal" and "uber"). So if you do fuck it up, just push that switch thingy on the card and try again. Then if you fuck it up again, it's the master race natural selection at work and you should just go buy a console. Don't complain here if you don't understand how flashing BIOS'es work.
Open it (duh)
Locate the BIOS serial number
Click on the little arrow next to it
Select "save to a file"
Name the file "hawaii.rom" (it will name itself automatically)
Download Hawaii Bios Reader, the whole ZIP
Extract it, then go to the "RealeaseBin" folder
Run Hawaii Bios Reader under Admin mode
Locate the '"Hawaii.rom" BIOS file
It will probably look something like this :
Now, go to the Powerplay tab
Please edit the values according to the screen below, you'll want to change every 1200 mhz value in the MEM tab into 1000 mhz
It should then look exactly like this
Save your new modded VBIOS file under another name, something like "MODHawaii.rom"
Download ATI WinFlash
FROM THIS POINT, YOU SHOULD HAVE EXIT AFTERBURNER OR ANY OVERCLOCKING SOFTWARE
Copy the MODDED Hawaii.rom BIOS file into the folder containing ATIWINFLASH
Run ATIWINFLASH in admin mode
Screen WILL flicker, dont shit your undies yet
Click on "load image"
Locate your modded rom file
EXIT EVERY OTHER PROGRAM, ATI WINFLASH SHOULD BE THE ONLY ONE OPENED
Click on "Program"
If everything goes alright, it will flash the new vbios and then ask you to restart your computer
Restart your computer
Enjoy your working R9 290, without blackscreens and with the latest drivers.
I hope this was useful for people like me, who got R9 290's which are still very capable cards, and could not enjoy them without being constantly harrassed by the stupid blackscreen issues. I take no responsibility if you fuck up your card, tutorial is quite clear about the steps. You're grown up and therefore responsible for everything you're doing.
These knockoff displays have a chip attached to them that do not have the proper firmware on them or iOS cannot interface with the fake display on the firmware level for some reason.
And from where I see it, why should a company be obligated to make sure that their products work with knock off parts? Even if Apple is intentionally bricking the display, are they outside of their rights to do so?