Topic Title: Crossfire 3-way R9 290X Issue
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Created On: 11/12/2013 04:04 AM
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 11/12/2013 04:04 AM
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Peon

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Hi,

I've just installed 3 R9 290X in CrossfireX and when I want to play games, the quality of graphics are poor than with only one. Also, in the middle of the game, the picture jam and I cannot do anything, I have to restart my computer manually. I tried to update the BIOS to the last one and formating with a new installation of Windows 8.1. I put the button of the graphic cards to uber mode, to the right. For information, I put all the graphics at max and I play with one monitor and also with Eyefinity. The problem is here for these two cases. I read that I'm not the only one that has problem in the similar case. With one card, no problem but not with 3. I also tried to see if each card works with testing all of them and all is ok. The problem become from another thing, maybe driver or anything else. Please help me because I spend a lot of money for these cards and I'm very disapointed about this problem.

Intel i7 4770k, Asus Maximus VI Formula, x3 R9 290X, Corsair H100i, SSD Samsung 240 Go, PSU EVGA SuperNova 1300W

Thank you

 11/12/2013 09:54 AM
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Thanny
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You cannot use three air-cooled cards with that motherboard.  There's no room for air to reach the second card's fan intake.

Try two cards, and sell or return the third.  Or, if you really must have the extra performance, you'll need to create a water cooling loop.  That means probably another $600 minimum for the blocks, pump, radiator, tubing, fittings, and fans.  On the plus side, if you do it right, you'll get much better temperature control, so the cards would never downclock.

 11/12/2013 12:20 PM
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Peon

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I have a very good airflow in my case, a total of 10 fans in my CoolerMaster Cosmos 2. It have some place to put liquid cooled system but I don't know what I really need and where to purchase that. I'm ready to put the water cooling loop and I'm open to have some suggestions. A precision about the setting, when I check the temperature it's less than 95 °C so I don't know if it's really the problem.

Thank you 

 11/13/2013 01:39 AM
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Thanny
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It doesn't matter how good your case airflow is, as there's simply not enough room for air to enter the cooler on the second card from the top.  There's no gap between it and the next card.

As for the temperature, it will pretty much always be below 95C, because the card is designed to downclock until that temperature is maintained.  Such a severely hampered card won't add any performance to the system, and may even harm it significantly.

Concerning where to start with water cooling, it can seem fairly daunting.  Your case seems to have some potential for it, but much will depend on what you have installed (or plan to have installed).  A picture of the interior with non-visible components highlighted would help.  I can suggest where you might put radiators, and then try to walk you through the basics that I learned when researching my own cooling loop (which I spent roughly $1200 on).

 

 11/14/2013 10:47 PM
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Peon

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Maybe the space between the cards is not really the problem. I saw on other websites that is possible to have Crossfire with the same space I have without issues. 

http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/radeon_r9_290_crossfire_review_benchmarks,3.html

Probably just the beta driver is not working properly, I hope.

I contacted the engineers from the GPU company and they will check what is the problem. 

 11/15/2013 07:16 AM
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Thanny
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Just because they managed to run a few benchmarks with the cards like that doesn't mean it's a good idea to do it.  If you read the review, they explicitly say they were trying to cause heat problems, and recommend you put space between the cards.

While it's certainly possible that there are driver problems with that setup, it is absolutely a problem that you have two cards right next to each other.

 

 11/15/2013 04:06 PM
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Peon

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I had an answer from the tech support and it's a temperature problem. So you're right. I will buy a watercooling system but this will void the warranty. Can you suggest me a setting?

Here is pictures of my case's interior.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/x4mmrkizabclsjv/20131111_170721.jpg

https://www.dropbox.com/s/e6001c4rgf9igcc/20131115_154818.jpg

I will return the Corsair H100i for refund and the top will have 3 fan spaces of lenght, very good for a big radiator. I saw some watercooling setting on the internet but if you have a particular one to suggest, it will be very appreciated.

Thank you

 11/15/2013 06:26 PM
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Thanny
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While there are all-included water cooling kits available, I don't think any of them are suitable for cooling three high-end graphics cards.  You'll need to build a custom loop.

So let me see if I can give you enough information to go on.  You should realize at the outset that you're in for some serious spending.  You're looking at close to $400 just for the GPU water blocks.  Given how much heat you'll need to get rid of, you won't want to go cheap on the rest of the components, either.

Here are the categories of parts you'll need, with some explanation for each:

1)  Radiator(s).  According to the manual for your case, there are three decent spots you can put radiators.  Given your requirements, I'd recommend using at least two of them.

    a)  Triple 120mm radiator at the top.  It looks like you should have quite a bit of room up there.  You'll need to measure just how thick a radiator will fit, taking care to include fan thickness.

    b)  Double 120mm radiator at the bottom.  This will only work if you have no drives in the bottom drive cage, and no plans to add any.  The cage comes out, and a radiator goes in its place.  You'd also need to see how it mounts and measure how thick it can be.  Probably very thick, as it goes sideways.

    c)  Single 140mm radiator at the back.  There are hose ports right above the outlet, so you can just as easily put the radiator on the outside as the inside.

In addition to fan size and thickness, radiators also have varying fin spacing.  With tightly spaced fins, you need fans with more static pressure, which means they'll be louder, but also remove heat more quickly (more surface area, higher air flow).  With fins further apart, you can use much quieter fans, which makes your system as close to silent as it can be.

2)  Water blocks.  As far as I can tell, you need four total water blocks - three for the 290X cards, and one for the CPU.  Your motherboard already has an integrated block.  There are only two companies that have 290X blocks on the market right now - EK and Koolance.  EK had some quality control issues a couple years back, and refused to take responsibility, blaming customers and the like.  It was enough of a bad show to make me avoid EK when I planned my system, and I still have to recommend against them for that reason alone.  But the choice is ultimately yours.

For the CPU, there are many choices.  Almost too many.  You'll want to read some recent reviews to see which ones perform well, and also think about how you're going to route the water, to see if the ports on the block are a good fit or not.

3)  Pump(s).  The two main pumps on the market are the Laing DDC and Laing D5.

    DDC - smaller, louder, runs hot (needs to be mounted with a standoff, and best given a fan for active cooling).  Higher head pressure, so it deals better with heavily restricted loops (high-restriction blocks and a lot of sharp bends will do that).

    D5 - larger, quieter, is cooled by the water it pumps.  Higher flow rate with a normally restricted loop.

It will typically not be necessary to run the pump at full speed.  Beyond a certain flow rate, you get no additional cooling benefits.

There are three ways to adjust the pump speed.  One is to control the input voltage.  The lower the voltage, the slower the pump.  It's quite possible for a pump to continue running on a voltage that's too low to actually start the pump.  Then there's PWM, which is always full voltage, but quickly turns the power on and off, varying how often to control flow rate.  You need a PWM-enabled pump to use it.  The third is to use the pump's built-in speed control, if it's a D5 Vario.  No voltage reduction, so you don't have to worry about the pump not starting.  And no need for a PWM controller.

For redundancy, or higher flow, you can put two pumps in series.  If one fails, the other will keep the loop working.

4)  Reservoir.  Some people don't use a reservoir, instead creating a closed-loop setup, like the Corsair H100.  I recommend against that, because no loop is truly maintenance free, and having a reservoir makes it a lot easier to bleed air out of the system.

There are basically two types of reservoir available.  One is a cylinder that you mount inside or outside the case, somehow.  The other is an insert for one or two 5.25" drive bays.  Some of the drive bay units allow mounting one or two pumps directly to it, which kills two birds with one stone.

5)  Tubing.  There are a number of brands of tubing made for water cooling, in various colors.  They're easy to work with, but because of that, will typically end up precipitating plasticizer into the grooves of your water blocks over time.

Then there's tubing which isn't made for water cooling, but for other industrial uses.  A big name in that market is Tygon, which makes many suitable types of tubing.  Some still has plasticizer, making it easier to work with, while others have none, and are therefore stiffer and harder to work with, but won't contaminate your loop.

Beyond that, there's size to consider.  The two main tubing sizes are 3/8" and 1/2".  The smaller tubing will be easier to work with, but have lower flow rates and higher pressures.  It will also suffer more from restriction from water blocks and sharp bends.  Larger tubing is pretty much the opposite in every way - harder to work with, less prone to restriction.  It will also hold more water.  As water is the heat sink in a water cooled system, more water means more heat capacity, which means a more gradual rise and fall in temperatures, most notably for GPU's.  The same amount of heat per unit time needs to leave the system in either case, for long duration usage.

6)  Fittings.  The obvious fittings are what connect the tubing to the water blocks, pumps, reservoir, and radiators.  There are two types - barbs and compression fittings.  Barbs are cheaper, and require hose clamps to secure the tubing.  They take up less room on a block with tightly-spaced ports (most likely on the CPU block).  Compression fittings are more expensive, but much less likely to leak.  They take up more room, and sometimes can't fit next to each other on a tightly-spaced block.  In that case, you'd have to use something like a 45 degree elbow to give them space.

Beyond that, there are the turns and bends you can't make the tubing do.  If you go with an external 140mm radiator, for example, you'll possibly need two 90 degree fittings to connect the tubes to the radiator after they leave the case.  The alternative would be to have the tubing stick pretty far out and turn around in a big semi-circle.  You might also want a valve, so you can drain the system more easily.  Or a fill port for the reservoir.  It may be best to get tubing first, and figure out how you're going to route it.  Then try to make the bends you need, and see where you'll need an angle fitting of some kind.  You'll also need fittings to go between the two closely-spaced graphics cards, and perhaps the first two as well (might not be enough room for tubing plus tube fittings).

I think that covers the basics for components.

For comparison, here's what I have in my system:

1)  Alphacool 60mm triple-120mm radiator, loose fin spacing, Scythe Gentle Typhoon fans.

2)  Two Swiftech Komodo blocks for a pair of 7970's.  Swiftech Apogee CPU block.  XSPC motherboard block set for Rampage IV Extreme (northbridge and MOSFET).  Koolance GPU-210 block for nVidia GT 640 (for PhysX).

3)  Two Koolance PMP-450 D5 Vario pumps.

4)  Koolance RP-452X2 drive bay reservoir, to which the pumps are directly attached.

5)  Tygon 2275 1/2" ID, 3/4" OD tubing.

6)  Monsoon compression fittings, various elbows, and a valve connected to a T fitting.

As for the construction of the loop itself, it's largely up to you, though there are some guidelines you should follow.

First, the reservoir should be above the pump, and lead straight to the pump's inlet.  If you're using two pumps, then the outlet of pump 1 should go straight to the inlet of pump 2.

After the pump, it doesn't much matter what order you go in.  Water has a very high specific heat capacity, and it's constantly being pumped, so the temperature of the water will vary very little from one end of the loop to the other.    The order I use is CPU, GPU's 1 and 2, GPU 3, motherboard, radiator, then back to the reservoir. 

I have GPU's 1 and 2 running in parallel, which works somewhat better than doing them in series (less restriction, so better flow).  You should probably do the same.

That's probably quite long enough to get you started (or intimidated).  I'll do my best to answer any questions you have.

 

 

 11/15/2013 08:00 PM
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black_zion
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I would see how just two cards perform. Set the fans to 100% to prevent downclocking, then run your benchmarks. Given the power of the 290X, and the fact that most games do not efficiently use three cards as well as two, you may not notice a difference large enough to necessitate three cards. If that's the case, then you can just return the unused one, and get two third party air coolers when they are released for a considerable cost savings. Something else I notice about that board. When using 3 cards the speeds drop to PCIe 3.0 x8/x4/x4, and the x4 slots (PCIe 2.0 x8 speed equivalent) may not have the bandwidth for full performance, especially since Crossfire is handled over the PCIe interface now.

But if you have the money to spend on a liquid loop, then Thanny's solution is the way to go.

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 11/15/2013 11:34 PM
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Thanny
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I didn't notice that the board does x8/x4/x4 with three cards.  That certainly makes for a potential bus bottleneck.  Still, it's the equivalent of x16/x8/x8 with PCIe 2.0, and people have certainly done that before.  It may work.

Hard to find out before converting to water. 

Though if you decide you want to do water cooling regardless, you could always get blocks for just two cards, and run the third on air to see if it's worth keeping.  If so, get another block and reconfigure the loop.

Getting better aftermarket coolers is certainly an option, but that leaves you with two cards only - there is no cooler in existence that will let you put two cards next to each other at the bottom of the board (other than water blocks, of course).   The Arctic Accelero Xtreme III lists compatibility with the 290X, and costs about $75.  So definitely cheaper than water cooling. 

 

 11/16/2013 02:51 AM
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Peon

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Thank you very much for this long explanation. I'm a chemical engineer and the heat transfer, tubing restriction, pump and all of these things are what I do all days at work, it's my passion. I see that maybe my motherboard will bottleneck the third gpu, so I can return this one for refund and take the Maximus VI Extreme. Maybe the problem will disappear. The reason I taken the Formula is that because it have an integrated sound amplifier but I can buy another sound card to compensate that. If I'm correct with the Formula and it will not bottleneck my cards, I will go for watercooling with your suggestions. Is it worth to change my motherboard for the best performance or I'm ok with that? Because it's not very a pleasure to remove all components. 

Thank you again

 11/16/2013 04:12 AM
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Thanny
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As near as I can tell, the Extreme board would do x8/x16x/x8 with three cards in, and you'd still be able to add a sound card.  So you're looking at x16/x4/x4 vs x8/x16/x8.

There's no question it would make a difference, but I have my doubts that it would be a really big difference.  Recall that PCIe 3.0 has nearly 1GB of throughput per lane.  One comparison I've seen of x16/x4 versus x8/x8 with PCIe 2.0, which has 500MB throughput per lane, found an average performance difference of 10%.  I have to think the difference will be a small single-digits percentage with PCIe 3.0.

Changing motherboards would also leave you with having to choose whether or not to get a motherboard water block.  I did, ultimately, because I was venting inside air through my radiator, and I didn't want that air to be heated up by air-cooled items inside the case.  With your current board, you don't need to make a choice.

As far as sound goes, I've found most onboard sound to be pretty pathetic for the past decade or so.  I found the Asus Xonar D2X to be very good quality a few years back, but it had somewhat buggy drivers, and the card ultimately became flaky.  I tried a Creative card after that, and while it was better than onboard sound, it lagged far behind the Xonar.  After I got tired of crackling with that card (all Creative's post-XP drivers are fairly dire), I tried another Asus card - the Xonar Phoebus.  It has a built-in amplifier (they call it a headphone amplifier), and sounds a lot better than onboard and Creative add-on sound.  No driver problems with it thus far, either.

So even if you do stick with that board, I wouldn't rule out an add-on sound card.  The days of Turtle Beach are pretty much past, but you can still find something that does way better than onboard chips.

 

 11/16/2013 01:22 PM
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Peon

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I will change for the Maximus VI Extreme, it will have more space between the cards and maybe no bottleneck. So I will let you know about changes when I'll receive that this week.

 11/18/2013 01:35 AM
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Peon

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Finally, I tried with the Maximus VI Extreme and the problem still there. So, I will go for watercooling, it's the only solution to fix the problem. The Extreme is worse than the Formula for the temperature because we have to put the three cards next to each other. The space between the first and second is the same between the two others. I thought that we could put the cards with a space of a slot but no, the motherboard is not configurated for that. I purchased the Xonar Essence STX sound card to compensate the Formula's integrated one and the sound is better but it's not a big difference. My option now is to return one the two motherboards but I can have a bottleneck if I keep the Formula so, I will return this one. What is the setting that you suggest me for watercooling on the motherboard? I did the test with the game Crysis 3 with all max settings and 3 monitors 5760 x 1080 total resolution. I can play with 60 fps average.  The temperature go up to 94 °C and 100 % usage for all graphic cards. The computer freezes only when I go to menu or finish a level, never directly when I'm playing. I tested the Formula with other games like Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty Ghost too but it's the same thing, it freezes in middle of the game. I tried all what is possible to do for air cooling possibilities but even with the best airflow case with a lot of high static airflow fans, it's not possible to maintain a good temperature for the graphic cards. I cannot wait to play without problems to enjoy my purchase, I'm very tired about that.

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