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The GTX 970 vs. R9 390 thread to (theoretically) end them all

Note: TL;DR pros/cons list is below this text.

 

I see these kinds of threads all the time, and there's a lot of misconception about them. So I wanna tackle it.  

 

First, let's talk about the R9 390. Gaming, for the most part, it's on par with a 970 or above it, especially in VRAM-based scenarios (Assassin's Creed Unity, Grand Theft Auto V) or compute-based scenarios (TressFX, Sony Vegas, coin mining). That being said, it comes with a price, and that's with its heat dissipation. You must have a decent case in order to compensate for most 390s and its heat dissipation levels, as most 390s can get pretty toasty in smaller cases. In short, the 390 benefits in VRAM-based and compute-based scenarios, but it dissipates more heat and most 390s are significantly longer, wider, and thicker than most 970s. It also suffers from how AMD drivers are. They are kind of heavy on the CPU, and poorly threaded. It's not bad, especially if you have an i7. But it's still something to take into consideration, especially if you are using a Core i3, where it gets the messiest.  

 

Now, let's get onto the GTX 970. In gaming-based scenarios, the card benefits heavily in tessellation-based scenarios (The Witcher 3, Batman Arkham Knight) and CPU-bound scenarios (Grand Theft Auto V, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), to the point where the 970 can almost slaughter the 390 in some cases. This is due to the nature of Maxwell and Nvidia drivers in general. Nvidia drivers are slightly heavier than AMD drivers, but are nicely multithreaded, making them a great fit for an i3 or an FX-8320. Most 970s are smaller in almost every aspect than most 390s. However, there are not a whole lot of good 970s that aren't from EVGA, MSI, or Zotac. The most notable of these is the Asus Turbo 970, infamously known for being very mediocre in the cooling department. The GTX 970 is best used with CPU-bound applications, places where it will be cramped, or CUDA. Most 970s are moderately sized to large, and almost none of them are as big as most 390s are. Most 970s are also much better overclockers than 390s are.  
  

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

TL;DR pros/cons list below  

 

R9 390
Pros:  

* significantly better compute performance than a 970, to the point where it can give a 980 Ti a run for its money  

* more VRAM which is very useful for 2160p gaming, especially if you decide to Crossfire them  

* works best with a Sandy Bridge or above i7 or a Sandy Bridge or above hyperthreaded Xeon  

* slaughters the 970 in OpenCL tasks  

* achievable OCs benefit the card far greater than the equivalent clockspeed on a 970  

* Arguably better multi-monitor support

Cons:  

* It uses more power, and that's a fact. It's not significant, but it can add up, especially if you live in a country with bad prices on electricity.  

* Almost all of them are significantly longer, and thicker, than most 970s. This is especially noticeable with the MSI GAMING 4G 970 and 8G 390s, and the Sapphire Nitro R9 390 vs. most of EVGA's 970s.  

* It dissipates more heat, however, the better cards like the Sapphire Nitro R9 390 or the XFX Core Edition R9 390 are still nicely cooled even in tighter spots.  

* AMD's drivers are more reliant on a single core and makes the 390 a bad choice for an i3.  

 

GTX 970
Pros:  

* CUDA cores. Need I say more?  

* Better threaded drivers, making it more suitable with an i3 or an FX chip.  

* Better suited in CPU-bound games or tessellation-bound games  

* Shadowplay might be a card seller for you (personally isn't for me, but "personally" is "me" and not "you")  

* Most 970s are smaller than most 390s  

* better on power consumption, even if heavily overclocked.  

Cons:  

* better threaded drivers are kind of rendered null on an i7  

* It fucking sucks at compute tasks. Like, I'm not even kidding. The R9 390 will beat it in those scenarios.  

* We all know that Nvidia lied about the card's specs, so if ethics matter, then there's that.  

* Poor performer in OpenCL tasks

 

Any questions? Comment here.

Edited by Dan Castellaneta
I've been listening, and I made a small change or two.

Local dickhead and VHS collector who also has an unhealthy obsession with the 6th generation of consoles.

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On 2/18/2016 at 10:47 PM, Dan Castellaneta said:

-snip-

CSGO? You can use anything to run that

Edited by Blade of Grass
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Please post here as soon as you see a post where someone asks which card they should get. My money's on 2 hours.

Tip to those that are new on LTT forum- quote a post so that the person you are quoting gets a notification, otherwise they'll have no idea that you did. You can also use a tag such as @Ryoutarou97 (replace my username with anyone's. You should get a dropdown after you type the "@")to send a notification, but quoting is preferable.

 

Feel free to PM me about absolutely anything be it tech, math, literature, etc. I'll try my best to help. I'm currently looking for a cheap used build for around $25 to set up as a home server if anyone is selling.

 

If you are a native speaker please use proper English if you can. Punctuation, capitalization, and spelling are as important to making your message readable as proper night theme formatting is.

 

My build is fully operational, but won't be posted until after I get a GPU in it and the case arted up.

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Just now, Ryoutarou97 said:

Please post here as soon as you see a post where someone asks which card they should get. My money's on 2 hours.

yes

 

Just now, jkeasley said:

CSGO? You can use anything to run that

ik just saying though, csgo is ridiculously cpu bound

Local dickhead and VHS collector who also has an unhealthy obsession with the 6th generation of consoles.

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not related but when I read CUDA cores I instantly thought of myself LOL

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Number one reason to get a 970 over a 390 is Nvidia support. That includes the drivers and features. On power consumption my 980ti uses the exact amount of wattage my 290/390 did, like almost to the watt, spooky close. So I believe it that they could give it a run for its money in compute. 

 

But it's all subjective, everyone has different priorities.

 

If anyone asks you never saw me.

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3 minutes ago, CUDA_Cores said:

not related but when I read CUDA cores I instantly thought of myself LOL

Is... is your profile picture a bunch of hotdogs taped together? Is it supposed to represent a GPU die? Can I eat it?

 

BTW OP, nice thread. Maybe stick it into your signature?

Tip to those that are new on LTT forum- quote a post so that the person you are quoting gets a notification, otherwise they'll have no idea that you did. You can also use a tag such as @Ryoutarou97 (replace my username with anyone's. You should get a dropdown after you type the "@")to send a notification, but quoting is preferable.

 

Feel free to PM me about absolutely anything be it tech, math, literature, etc. I'll try my best to help. I'm currently looking for a cheap used build for around $25 to set up as a home server if anyone is selling.

 

If you are a native speaker please use proper English if you can. Punctuation, capitalization, and spelling are as important to making your message readable as proper night theme formatting is.

 

My build is fully operational, but won't be posted until after I get a GPU in it and the case arted up.

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Just now, Ryoutarou97 said:

Is... is your profile picture a bunch of hotdogs taped together? Is it supposed to represent a GPU die? Can I eat it?

 

BTW OP, nice thread. Maybe stick it into your signature?

Sure.

Local dickhead and VHS collector who also has an unhealthy obsession with the 6th generation of consoles.

Volume / Normalized 100% / 94% (content loudness 0.6dB)

 

 

@handymanshandle x @pinksnowbirdie | Jake x Brendan :^

moo floof enthusiast, pm me moo rabbit pics

 

monchin moo dash

89mph!!!

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Just now, Ryoutarou97 said:

Is... is your profile picture a bunch of hotdogs taped together? Is it supposed to represent a GPU die? Can I eat it?

 

BTW OP, nice thread. Maybe stick it into your signature?

Actually, It is a giant battery made of 18650 cells like this:

lifepo4_battery_cell_18650.jpg

 

I made it as a project to allow me to use my power-hungry gaming laptop over the week while I was camping over the summer. That battery is made of 60 of these cells and has as much capacity as two car batteries. I was even able to start my car with it!

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On 2/18/2016 at 10:13 PM, CUDA_Cores said:

Actually, It is a giant battery made of 18650 cells like this:

 

I made it as a project to allow me to use my power-hungry gaming laptop over the week while I was camping over the summer. That battery is made of 60 of these cells and has as much capacity as two car batteries. I was even able to start my car with it!

So I can eat it?

That looks really cool, is there a thread for it where it could be discussed without derailing this thread which may have accidentally cut traffic to the forum in half after solving most of the problems with build that are proposed here? If you put one up about PSU wattage and SSD's this place would become a ghost town.

Tip to those that are new on LTT forum- quote a post so that the person you are quoting gets a notification, otherwise they'll have no idea that you did. You can also use a tag such as @Ryoutarou97 (replace my username with anyone's. You should get a dropdown after you type the "@")to send a notification, but quoting is preferable.

 

Feel free to PM me about absolutely anything be it tech, math, literature, etc. I'll try my best to help. I'm currently looking for a cheap used build for around $25 to set up as a home server if anyone is selling.

 

If you are a native speaker please use proper English if you can. Punctuation, capitalization, and spelling are as important to making your message readable as proper night theme formatting is.

 

My build is fully operational, but won't be posted until after I get a GPU in it and the case arted up.

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Just now, Ryoutarou97 said:

So I can eat it?

That looks really cool, is there a thread for it where it could be discussed without derailing this thread which may have accidentally cut traffic to the forum in half after solving most of the problems with build that are proposed here? If you put one up about PSU wattage and SSD's this place would become a ghost town.

yeah sure why not. I'll post a topic in a minute and ask everyone to guess what the heck my profile picture is of.

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Just now, CUDA_Cores said:

yeah sure why not. I'll post a topic in a minute and ask everyone to guess what the heck my profile picture is of.

Bet you I can guess first :).  Actually I have to go to bed so someone might beat me to it. Noooooooooo. Will definately check this out, it looks really cool. I might even wind up building one myself.

Tip to those that are new on LTT forum- quote a post so that the person you are quoting gets a notification, otherwise they'll have no idea that you did. You can also use a tag such as @Ryoutarou97 (replace my username with anyone's. You should get a dropdown after you type the "@")to send a notification, but quoting is preferable.

 

Feel free to PM me about absolutely anything be it tech, math, literature, etc. I'll try my best to help. I'm currently looking for a cheap used build for around $25 to set up as a home server if anyone is selling.

 

If you are a native speaker please use proper English if you can. Punctuation, capitalization, and spelling are as important to making your message readable as proper night theme formatting is.

 

My build is fully operational, but won't be posted until after I get a GPU in it and the case arted up.

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obligatory OC vs OC = same performance video

 

 

 

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You forgot to mention for the 970 is that most games currently (such as Fallout 4) incorporate Gameworks and thus being an unfair advantage to AMD based cards. Although, on the other side, AMD just released GPUOpen so it'll be interesting to see what future games will be like.

 

Freesync monitors are a lot cheaper than the G-Sync counterpart. 

 

The R9 390's heat output isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you lived in places where heating is a luxury during the Winter (like here in Hong Kong) it helps! xD

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On 2/18/2016 at 10:56 PM, Dan Castellaneta said:

yes

 

ik just saying though, csgo is ridiculously cpu bound

200 fps masterrace

 

On 2/18/2016 at 11:13 PM, CUDA_Cores said:

Actually, It is a giant battery made of 18650 cells like this:

 

I made it as a project to allow me to use my power-hungry gaming laptop over the week while I was camping over the summer. That battery is made of 60 of these cells and has as much capacity as two car batteries. I was even able to start my car with it!

*goes on an airplane*

dis guy has a bomb!

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i just purchased a msi r9 390 today and i dont think ill be regretting it at all!

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This thread needs to be stickied. WAY too many 970 vs 390 threads every day. 

 

The main TL;DR is; they are both very much even. Just pick which ever has the features you prefer and best suits your needs/budget. ;)

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Just wanted to clarify a few points... My comments in orange.

10 hours ago, Dan Castellaneta said:

 

R9 390
Pros:  

* significantly better compute performance than a 970, to the point where it can give a 980 Ti a run for its money  

* more VRAM which is very useful for 2160p gaming, especially if you decide to Crossfire them  

* works best with an i7 or a Xeon  - Works fine with an i5 or FX-83XX as well. A single 390 will not be held back by one of those in majority of scenarios. So this is a bit exaggerated. 

* slaughters the 970 in OpenCL tasks  

* achievable OCs benefit the card far greater than the equivalent clockspeed on a 970  

Cons:  

* It uses more power, and that's a fact. It's not significant, but it can add up, especially if you live in a country with bad prices on electricity.  

* Almost all of them are significantly longer, and thicker, than most 970s. This is especially noticeable with the MSI GAMING 4G 970 and 8G 390s, and the Sapphire Nitro R9 390 vs. most of EVGA's 970s.  

* It dissipates more heat, however, the better cards like the Sapphire Nitro R9 390 or the XFX Core Edition R9 390 are still nicely cooled even in tighter spots.  

* AMD's drivers are more reliant on a single core and makes the 390 a bad choice for an i3.  - More CPU-heavy, yes. More single-threaded? Not sure about that. Do you have data to support this? 

 

GTX 970
Pros:  

* CUDA cores. Need I say more?  

* Better threaded drivers, making it more suitable with an i3 or an FX chip.  - More CPU overhead available, in other words. 

* Better suited in CPU-bound games or tessellation-bound games  

* Shadowplay might be a card seller for you (personally isn't for me, but "personally" is "me" and not "you")  

* Most 970s are smaller than most 390s  

* better on power consumption, even if heavily overclocked.  

Cons:  

* better threaded drivers are kind of rendered null on an i7  - This isn't a con. It just means there's slightly more CPU overhead available.

* It fucking sucks at compute tasks. Like, I'm not even kidding. The R9 390 will beat it in those scenarios.  

* We all know that Nvidia lied about the card's specs, so if ethics matter, then there's that.  - To clarify; 3.5GB Vram available at full effective bus speed and the remaining 0.5GB is accessible, but at lower speeds. The first 3.5GB is prioritized to minimize performance loss. 

* Poor performer in OpenCL tasks

 

Any questions? Comment here.

Not much to add/change, more so just the way you worded a few things. ;)

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FX-8350 // Deepcool Neptwin // MSI 970 Gaming // AData 2x 4GB 1600 DDR3 // 2x Gigabyte RX-570 4G's // Samsung 840 120GB SSD // Cooler Master V650 // Windows 10

 

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It's leading the audience a bit too much, those comments. And they're not true either. Read my topic @MEC-777

 

They aren't more threaded, they have more drawcall throughput. A GTX 970 performs the same on a 9590 as a 4570 in Crysis 3 for example. The R9-390 gets 14% less. But half the framerate in more IPC heavy titles.

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11 minutes ago, Majestic said:

R9-390 isn't only a bad choice for an i3 or FX CPU. Locked i5's aswell.

 

I disagree. I have an i5-4570. Ran a single 290 for about a year. Was never bottlenecked. Not until I ran CF 290's, which is understandable. 

 

A single 390 runs just fine paired with locked i5's and FX 8 core CPUs. Anything less than that, yeah for sure. 

My Systems:

Main - Work + Gaming:

Spoiler

Woodland Raven: Ryzen 2700X // AMD Wraith RGB // Asus Prime X570-P // G.Skill 2x 8GB 3600MHz DDR4 // Radeon RX Vega 56 // Crucial P1 NVMe 1TB M.2 SSD // Deepcool DQ650-M // chassis build in progress // Windows 10 // Thrustmaster TMX + G27 pedals & shifter

F@H Rig:

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FX-8350 // Deepcool Neptwin // MSI 970 Gaming // AData 2x 4GB 1600 DDR3 // 2x Gigabyte RX-570 4G's // Samsung 840 120GB SSD // Cooler Master V650 // Windows 10

 

HTPC:

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SNES PC (HTPC): i3-4150 @3.5 // Gigabyte GA-H87N-Wifi // G.Skill 2x 4GB DDR3 1600 // Asus Dual GTX 1050Ti 4GB OC // AData SP600 128GB SSD // Pico 160XT PSU // Custom SNES Enclosure // 55" LG LED 1080p TV  // Logitech wireless touchpad-keyboard // Windows 10 // Build Log

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EXPERIMENTAL: Pinebook // 11.6" 1080p // Manjaro KDE (ARM)

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3 minutes ago, Majestic said:

It's leading the audience a bit too much, those comments. And they're not true either. Read my topic @MEC-777

 

Fight!

 

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2 minutes ago, MEC-777 said:

I disagree. I have an i5-4570. Ran a single 290 for about a year. Was never bottlenecked. Not until I ran CF 290's, which is understandable. 

 

A single 390 runs just fine paired with locked i5's and FX 8 core CPUs. Anything less than that, yeah for sure. 

That's not how drawcalls work. You can have 99% GPU load but still get much less framerate than with an i7-6700K. Look at the results please.

 

 

 

 

I linked it to this forum specifically to rule out your argument. It does not "run fine" with an AMD FX CPU. 

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8 minutes ago, Majestic said:

That's not how drawcalls work. You can have 99% GPU load but still get much less framerate than with an i7-6700K. Look at the results please.

 

 

 

 

I linked it to this forum specifically to rule out your argument. It does not "run fine" with an AMD FX CPU. 

I went back and looked at that chart you posted. Damn, the FX gets hammered. But is that not simply because that game is CPU-intensive (IPC per core heavy)? (Not necessarily due to driver CPU load)?

 

I actually have your driver overhead thread open in another tab to read next. ;) I'll go read that before I comment further. I [thought] I had a somewhat general idea of how AMD/Nvidia's drivers are handled by the CPU, but I could be wrong. 

My Systems:

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F@H Rig:

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FX-8350 // Deepcool Neptwin // MSI 970 Gaming // AData 2x 4GB 1600 DDR3 // 2x Gigabyte RX-570 4G's // Samsung 840 120GB SSD // Cooler Master V650 // Windows 10

 

HTPC:

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SNES PC (HTPC): i3-4150 @3.5 // Gigabyte GA-H87N-Wifi // G.Skill 2x 4GB DDR3 1600 // Asus Dual GTX 1050Ti 4GB OC // AData SP600 128GB SSD // Pico 160XT PSU // Custom SNES Enclosure // 55" LG LED 1080p TV  // Logitech wireless touchpad-keyboard // Windows 10 // Build Log

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MY DAILY: Lenovo ThinkPad T410 // 14" 1440x900 // i5-540M 2.5GHz Dual-Core HT // Intel HD iGPU + Quadro NVS 3100M 512MB dGPU // 2x4GB DDR3L 1066 // Mushkin Triactor 480GB SSD // Windows 10

 

WIFE'S: Dell Latitude E5450 // 14" 1366x768 // i5-5300U 2.3GHz Dual-Core HT // Intel HD5500 // 2x4GB RAM DDR3L 1600 // 500GB 7200 HDD // Linux Mint 19.3 Cinnamon

 

EXPERIMENTAL: Pinebook // 11.6" 1080p // Manjaro KDE (ARM)

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5 minutes ago, MEC-777 said:

I went back and looked at that chart you posted. Damn, the FX gets hammered. But is that not simply because that game is CPU-intensive (IPC per core heavy)? (Not necessarily due to driver CPU load)?

The games are all CPU intensive yes, so it gets compounded somewhat. Fallout 4 is IPC heavy, Crysis3 is CPU intensive over multiple cores (8).

 

But with DX12 I can see this become an even bigger issue. Since FX chips don't really translate to DX12 very well. And the developers will utilize the extra drawcall limits of DX12.

 

ashesheavy-r9390x.png

 

The FX chips actually still do pretty ok on Nvidia chips, in DX11. But DX12 they perform just as bad on Nvidia hardware as AMD hardware. Since the common denominator which plagues AMD drivers is gone.

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