MSI Radeon R9 290X May Have Fan Problem in Catalyst 14.3

Reference Radeon R9 290(X) graphics cards run warm, we all know that. They are designed to warm up to a temperature of 95 C and stay there, hitting a fan speed limit and playing with the core clocks in order to keep thermals at that level. Unfortunately, there is a report on the web that MSI’s Radeon R9 290X Lightning has a bug when running with Catalyst 14.3 Beta drivers – namely that the side fans on the cooler don’t spin up and that it can result in damaging the card -- at least, so says a report that is floating around the internet. We think it is (partially) bogus.

Image Source: The Internet

Igor Wallossek from Tom’s Hardware DE, who just reviewed this graphics card, tested the card with the Catalyst 14.2 and 14.3 drivers, and neither of them showed any negative symptoms except that the fan speed readout being at 0 percent. The fans themselves though were physically spinning as they are supposed to, and both performance and temperature were perfectly fine, as you can see below:

Igor's Test

According to MSI, this is a bug in the AFC (Advanced Fan Control) in the Catalyst driver that affects all graphics cards using this part of the driver. MSI is an early adopter of this API -- and it is known that new stuff can have a bug here and there. To control the speed of the fans you have to use MSI's VGA Fan Control software, though under these circumstances Igor found that the manual mode doesn't actually work. The auto mode (in the MSI utility) works perfectly fine though, and no problems present except the fan speed showing up as 0 percent.

We're not sure exactly what is going on, but the worst we found in our testing is that the fan speed could not be controlled manually and that the fan speed of the side fans will show up as 0 percent. We're not sure where this rumor came from, and we couldn't actually find a forum thread with folks complaining about these cards burning up. Our testing concluded that there is no immediate danger.

Update to the MSI VGA Fan Control utility will appear here in due time, on MSI's website. With the newest utility, at the time of writing the middle fan can be controlled.

Read more: MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning Review

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • blppt
    The 14.x betas have been awful for my all-AMD box (9590/290x)---the one benefit they have (Mantle support) is negated by the fact that these betas all have a bug in them that affects all DirectX games---hitching in places that the 13.12 WHQL are glass smooth. And even using Mantle on BF4 has hitching in places where the DirectX/WHQL combo are smooth.

    I just wish they'd get a move on with a WHQL mantle driver. Its been a long time since 13.12.
  • ckleuser
    I had to give up on those betas because on my 7970s crossfire setup they were overheating badly and hanging the system with very high temps. I've rolled back to 13.12 and all problems went gone.