Nvidia GTX 560ti to AMD R9 280X Upgrade

It was time to update my graphics card. I decided this because I’d been playing a lot of Battlefield 4 and there was some occasional screen ripping. So, did I see much of an improvement with this jump?

My system specs are:

Motherboard: AsRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3
CPU: Intel i5-2500K CPU @3.3Ghz
HDD: Corsair Force 3 SSD 120gb
RAM: 2 x 4gb 1333mhz DDR3 G.Skill
Graphics: 1GB NVidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti with GeForce driver 334.57 Beta

First I thought I’d run the inbuilt Windows Experience Index to see how that went. In Windows 8.1 I was surprised to not actually find this option, and found out after reading this article that Microsoft had now made it command line only.

WP_20140215_08_52_42_ProNVIDIA GTX 560ti

My results were:

CPUScore : 7.8
D3DScore : 8.2
DiskScore : 7.3
GraphicsScore : 8.2
MemoryScore : 7.8

Next up was a 3DMark Demo, which had the following results:

http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/2456981
(note – no idea why RAM is running at 800mhz, so will investigate later)

FIRE STRIKE 1.1 3132

CLOUD GATE 1.1 14936

ICE STORM 1.2 156208
Enough tests, time to replace a graphics card!

I purchased a 3GB Sapphire AMD R9 280X. I could have gone the NVIDIA GTX 760 for a little less, but that was the 2GB variant. There was a 4GB variant, but that was slightly more expensive than the AMD card, so I decided the 3GB was a good middle ground and should last a bit longer with the extra memory.

The install went rather smoothly, until I installed the AMD drivers via Windows Update. They successfully installed, but then doing simple things like right clicking on the desktop took ages to bring up a menu. I decided to uninstall anything NVIDIA I could find, but some of the programs just wouldn’t uninstall.

I decided to use Display Driver Uninstaller which promises to clean up everything relating to the display driver you choose. Word of warning – when it has three options and one is ‘unrecommended’ but you’re being lazy trying to avoid reboots, don’t choose that option. I ended up getting screens that wouldn’t display anything properly, so had to recover to a last known working version of Windows 8.1 (which is rather easy to do!).

Attempt #2 I ran the safe mode option to uninstall NVIDIA using the above tool, and it worked perfectly. After rebooting, right clicking on the desktop was instant and everything NVIDIA related was gone from Programs and Features in Windows.

  WP_20140215_08_52_48_ProAMD R9 280X

So, first up is an updated Windows Experience:

CPUScore : 7.8
D3DScore : 8.2
DiskScore : 7.3
GraphicsScore : 8.2
MemoryScore : 7.8

The exact same scores. Weird as I’d run the ‘winsat prepop’ and saw it rerun all the tests. I thought I’d try a tool that ran a GUI interface over the command with probably a few extra smarts – CHRISPC WIN EXPERIENCE INDEX which worked easily and is a neatly written and designed bit of software.

This gave different results of 8.5 for the GraphicsScore and D3DScore.

How about the 3DMark results? Here’s the updated results:

http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/2457909

FIRE STRIKE 1.1 7244

CLOUD GATE 1.1 19054

ICE STORM 1.2 173745

A huge improvement in numbers.

Back to Battlefield 4 and without changing any settings, everything felt a lot more fluid for movement. I changed the settings back to ‘auto’ and noticed even more improvements – a lot of textures were smoother and generally better looking.

WP_20140215_08_52_36_ProAbove: AMD R9 280X – Below: NVIDIA GTX 560ti

Size wise, the newer AMD card is much larger, but this is partly because it’s a higher end video card than the NVIDIA. At time of purchase the AMD was $388AU.

Overall I’m happy with my decision as it gave me the better experience I was looking for. If you’re considering a similar upgrade then keep in mind the added power requirements for a higher end video card.

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