Ah good, this isn't just me then. Also this guy.
I've got a Sapphire R9 280X (Vapor-X) card, and on 13.9, 13.11 beta 4, 13.11 beta 5, and 13.12 the OpenGL performance has been utterly terrible.
I did bring this up with AMD support with this message:
Hi there, I'm writing about some poor performance issues spanning across a few OpenGL based games I use. Mainly Minecraft and Sven Co-op (Half-Life 1 based), but also Natural Selection 2 if I put that on OpenGL mode. GPU is the R9 280X on a Sapphire board (Vapor-X model), and I'm using Catalyst drivers 13.11 (B4). Direct3D games have shown a good performance increase over my previous card so I would suspect the issue is specific to OpenGL applications, however my previous card ran these same games much faster. (nVidia GTX 560T)
I understand that you have questions regarding performance issue. If this is incorrect, please let me know as the information provided may change.
Now the Beta driver is focus on the performance optimization on D3D.
Would you mind try the 13.9 WHQL driver and see it will make any differences?
If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reply to this e-mail directly and I will try to provide any additional information that you may require. Thank you for contacting AMD!
I downgraded from 13.11 beta 4 to 13.9 and saw no improvement in OpenGL performance. In fact THE only difference I could see is my card is now called a HD 7900 series instead of R9 200 series. I responded with:
Thanks for your quick reply. I've downgraded to 13.9 WHQL driver but there is no improvement with OpenGL performance. Direct3D is the same as it was in 13.11 beta 4.
Got a reply:
Hi Adam Reece,
Would you mind take a short time report this issue in detail on our website AMD Issue Reporting Form and we truly hope for that.
Your feedback is helpful and important to our driver improvement, thank you.
I promptly put in an issue report and replied with:
Submitted. As the Radeon R9 280X isn't listed, so I selected HD 7970. (as far as I know it's the same GPU chip?)
If it helps I can take a video with my phone showing the issues with OpenGL. Direct3D is certainly unaffected as I got an average of ~670FPS on the Half-Life 2 video test.
I then noticed that 13.11 beta 5 had been released so I thought I'd give it a go. I did see some slight performance improvements over 13.9 and 13.11 beta 4, but still way off acceptable levels. I then put in this message:
Not sure if you're looking for any additional feedback on driver performance. I updated to 13.11 beta 9.5 a couple of days ago and tried some OpenGL games -- mainly Minecraft, Half-Life, and Natural Selection 2.
On the plus side the frame rates do seem a little better. I've noticed frame rates improve quite well when setting a game to use a true full-screen mode rather than windowed full-screen mode. In Minecraft I was able to achieve a stable frame rate of 60-120 depending on chunk loading activity. Still a long way off my previous card, but much better than the beta 9.4 drivers. Certainly faster than just using a maximized window.
Using VSync in a true full-screen mode is also able to maintain a stable frame rate (60) where as VSync in windowed full-screen mode stutters around 30-40 FPS for some reason -- which also causes noticeable input lag. However because SDL containers in games are becoming much more popular (what with the easy implementation and cross-platform features) only a windowed full-screen mode (as evident by the instant ALT+TAB responses) is becoming increasingly available -- exclusively. This is true in Half-Life, though Natural Selection 2 does still offer a true full-screen mode with faster performance.
Direct3D in windowed full-screen mode appears to be unaffected though, great frame rates in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Natural Selection 2. This R9 280X is performing significantly faster than my GeForce GTX 560Ti ever did in this rendering condition.
Got a reply:
Hi Adam Reece,
As you can see when you run the game in windowed mode, the graphic card will spend a part of performance for rendering the windows background (in D3D?), so the frame rate and efficiency will lower than the game run at full screen mode.
Thank you for your feedback :-)
AMD Global Customer Care
None of this really answers the issue that OpenGL performance is especially unsatisfactory considering the processing power available. Though you can improve performance slightly by using a true full-screen mode rather than a windowed full-screen mode not all games have this available. Games that use SDL are certainly moving across to windowed full-screen modes more commonly now. Even still -- windowed or not, the HD 7900 series and R9 200 series are very fast GPU's indeed. The fact that the application is windowed or not should not impact the rendering performance of the game this substantially, especially with older games, and even more so when older slower GPU's handle the same job much faster.
Switching off VSync will also improve the frame rate smoothness, but that kind of defeats part of the point in VSync (no tearing and smooth frame rate with monitor limit).
Updated to 13.12 today. No improvement at all with OpenGL performance, and these drivers are considered a standard release coming with WHQL seal of approval. Clearly something has gone seriously wrong in the driver department. Is it even worth filing a new issue report for these new drivers?