For about 9 months now my desktop has been experiencing flickering at the desktop with my dual R9 290X setup. I figured out what the issue is, but sadly I am going to have to part ways because it is very annoying and wastes power. At the bottom of the post, you can see the issue that is being discussed in this post.

Issue:

AMD PowerPlay is clocking the GPU at 300mhz and the RAM at 150mhz while at the desktop. This is too low for computers with 2 or more 1440p displays and it causes corruption and stability issues when at the desktop.

Troubleshooting:

I have spent close to 26 hours collectively (probably more) trying to get a permanent resolution. I have tried the following:

  • Rolling back to older drivers, 15.6 seemed promising but it still happened
  • Modifying the video card BIOS to not have profiles for the lower speed. This was the most promising, but it caused stability issues as I believe the voltage was still the lower voltage for the slower clock speed
  • Updating the BIOS to a newer revision from a similar reference board
  • Rolling back to Windows 7 (issue was present on 7, 8, 8.1, and 10)

The modified BIOS seemed to work but then the AMD software took over and started clocking the cards down again and/or crossfire stopped working. The common thing I noticed was 1 or more R9 series cards running 2 or more 1440p monitors. If you run other monitors and have the same issue try the fix anyways.

Resolution:

In the video I show the ASUS GPU Tweak II utility and clicking the “Always 3D Clocks” button fixes it. This works if you have ONE card but does not always set on boot up. Instead download the MSI Afterburner Utility and install that. The options you need to set in settings are (pictures are below as well):

  • Enable Start with Windows
  • Enable Start minimized
  • Disable ULPS
  • Unofficial overclocking mode – Select “without PowerPlay support”
  • Set your Core clock to 10mhz over stock
  • Set your Memory clock to 10mhz over stock
  • Set the fan speed curve to 100% using the user defined settings
  • Click the User Define icon for the fan speed
  • Save the settings to Profile 1
  • Check the “Apply overclocking at system startup” on the main screen

Closing:

Using these settings my system has been 100% stable. I have aftermarket coolers on my cards that are quiet so setting the fan speed to 100% is fine. Those of you with the stock reference coolers will not enjoy this but if you do not set the fan speed the card will overheat. My 2 cards are sitting at 65C(top) and 55C (bottom) at the desktop and hit about 75C and 65C under load.

While I found this fix I am not happy with wasting power and running the cards at full speed. I will be replacing these with a pair of 980 TI’s and leaving AMD for a while. I hope this helped someone out with this weird issue.

Just for reference this is my build:

  • ASUS Z97-WS
  • Intel Core i7 4790K
  • 32GB Crucial DDR3-1600
  • 500GB Samsung EVO SSD
  • 3x 3TB Western Digital Red HDD
  • HIS R9 290X Reference card with Accelero Cooler Installed (Stock BIOS)
  • Sapphire R9 290X Reference card with Accelero Cooler Installed (Stock BIOS)
  • EVGA 1000W Gold PSU
  • NZXT H630 Case
  • 3x HP Z2740W Monitors (1 via DisplayPort, 2 via Dual Link DVI)
  • Windows 10 Enterprise x64

MSI Afterburner Settings:

 

 

Video showing the display corruption: