Hello users of Guru3D. I'm hoping someone with a better understanding of AMD cards and drivers can help me out and point me in the right direction. To start, here are my system specs to prevent any sort of hardware confusion: ASrock Z77 Pro4 Motherboard Intel Core i5 3550 @ 3.3 GHz G.Skill DDR3 RAM 8GB @ 1866 MHz ASUS Radeon R9 280 DirectCU II Crucial M4 64GB SSD Western Digital 750 GB 7200 RPM HDD Creative Sound Blaster ZxR Rosewill 550W Gold Certified PSU On the software side, I am running: Windows 8.1 x64 Catalyst Driver 13.251 (from ASUS); Driver Packing Version 13.251-131206a-168005C-Asus Intel Rapid Storage 184.108.40.2066 Creative Sound Blaster drivers with support for Windows 8.1 (can't find exact version information) Now to the problem I'm having. Recently I purchased and installed an R9 280 series card from ASUS (not the 280X). Initial benchmarks and testing were very promising, and I am happy with the enhanced image quality this card can provide me. During my testing, though, I have been experiencing a lot of framerate stuttering in certain situations, a problem I had with my old Radeon HD 6850. I have tested both DirectX 11 and DirectX 9 games, and both exhibit the same issue (some games worse than others). The games I have tested are: Borderlands 2 Crysis 2 Battlefield 4 I have been extensively testing Borderlands 2 and Battlefield 4, since these are the games I have tried that seem to exhibit this issue quite severely. In Borderlands 2, the issue is only prevalent when initially loading in a new level. What happens is there is a lot of stuttering and hitching when things are loading in. For example, if I attempt to turn the camera around in a full circle horizontally, there is noticeable stuttering in the camera movement. After that, I can turn around as much as I want and the framerate will be smooth. This was a huge problem for me on my Radeon HD 6850. I have spent many hours on Google searching for forum posts trying to find a solution, but I have not found anyone who appears to have the same problem as me. On my HD 6850, I tried to pinpoint if this was a software issue by doing things like changing values in the .ini files as recommended by other online users, reinstalling Catalyst drivers, reinstalling Windows 8.1, installing Windows 7, adjusting quality settings within Borderlands 2, changing the window mode, setting frame rate caps (both inside and outside of Borderlands 2), turning VSync on, turning VSync off, forcing triple buffering and VSync with D3DOverrider and Radeon Pro, forcing VSync within Catalyst, disabling Catalyst AI (not sure if that's relevant anymore), playing in offline mode, disabling network adapters within Windows, adjusting priority to High, creating a "gaming" power profile within Windows (based off Max Performance settings), disabling Intel SpeedStep and CPU power saving features within the BIOS, disabling HPET, enabling HPET and forcing Windows to use it with debug boot options as recommended by other online users, overclocking the GPU, flashing different VBIOS's, and flashing different BIOS updates for my motherboard. I have tried many different things based on any information I could find online not just because I was having framerate issues with Borderlands 2, but because I was having framerate issues with other games. Many times I came to the conclusion that it was a hardware problem with my GPU, and that replacing the GPU was the only thing that would fix it. However, because I didn't have the money at the time to purchase a more powerful GPU, I continued, in frustration and obsession, to search the Internet and try any software fixes that I could find relating to my issue. In the end, nothing I tried worked. So when I got enough money to upgrade, I took to the Internet again to research which GPU was the best value price to performance in 1080p gaming. I have had my eye on the GTX 760 for the past few months now, but, with the recent price drops on equivalent AMD cards, I was able to score an R9 280 for cheaper than the 760. This was after I had concluded that, in theoretical performance, the R9 280 was on par with the GTX 760. Before the new card was shipped to my door, I reinstalled Windows 8.1 (using Intel integrated GPU) to make sure that there wouldn't be any driver issues after installing the card. As I mentioned before, performance has been great. The Unigine Valley benchmark was very smooth at high quality settings (framerates ranging from the low 60's to the 90's), and I do not experience framerate dips during combat in Borderlands 2 (another problem I had with my HD 6850). However, the stuttering issues that plagued my HD 6850 are still occurring with the R9 280 in the games I have tested. Testing the campaign in Battlefield 4 (I haven't tried multiplayer), the framerate was reported a constant 60 and the image was smooth. During gameplay, though, I experienced minor stuttering at certain points, and I realized that the stutter would occur every time the game autosaved. Using the in game FPS counter and enabling the performance graph, I discovered that at points when the game autosaved, there was a spike in the CPU usage, and, as a result, the framerate would drop anywhere from 1 to 3 frames. That's not much, but is enough to cause a noticeable stutter that gets in the way of the experience. Based on the information I have gathered, the spike in CPU usage is caused by the game performing a read and/or write operation to my SSD, where the save file for the game is located. This was an interesting find for me, because similar read/write operations in Borderlands 2, such as many textures streaming in after the level has loaded from the HDD, would cause the same stuttering issue. I was not aware that these I/O operations were causing a sudden spike in CPU usage until testing Battlefield 4, and could explain why the frames would skip, causing stuttering. I had my brother test the campaign of Battlefield 4 on his machine to see if he would experience the same stutter caused by a spike in CPU usage. His specs are very similar to mine: ASrock Z77 Extreme4 Motherboard Intel Core i5 3570k 16 GB of DDR3 RAM @ 1600 MHz 256 GB Samsung 840 series SSD Multiple Western Digital 7200 RPM HDD's Corsair 650W PSU The only major difference is he has an EVGA GTX 680. During his testing, he would see a similar spike in CPU usage during autosave points, but it would not cause his game to stutter. He also has very smooth performance during spawning and level loading in Borderlands 2. I had my brother test the R9 280 with his hardware, and he had similar stuttering issues in Borderlands 2 with the 14.4 Catalyst drivers. After reinstalling the NVIDIA card, the stutter during spawning was brought down to a minimum. So what's going on with AMD hardware that is causing the frames to skip? With the GCN architecture, I was hoping all the stuttering issues I was experiencing would be eliminated. Unfortunately, my assumption on different architectures was wrong. It now seems like an issue with AMD's Catalyst drivers and the way frames are handled in DirectX games. I would love to replace this card with the GTX 760 I was originally going to get, but I cannot refund the card. So now I am just trying to figure out a solution that does not involve replacing the hardware, as I do not have the money to spend at the moment. It looks like replacing the hardware will probably be the easiest, but I want to figure out WHY my AMD card is suffering from this issue before I try to sell it.