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AMD Radeon R9 Nano Video Card Review - The Fury X Is Dead

By: Anthony Garreffa | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Sep 10, 2015 12:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 90%Manufacturer: AMD

This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the super-small AMD Radeon R9 Nano.

 

What's Hot

 

It's So Small, It's Almost Cute: The AMD Radeon R9 Nano is impossibly small. It's just so tiny, and even for someone like myself who gets in countless video cards per month, this is one of, if not, the most impressive yet. It's shorter than the x16 PCIe port that it gets installed into.

 

The Best Use of HBM Yet: If there are benefits to HBM, which we aren't seeing in performance just yet, it's in the physical size of HBM-powered video cards. The Fury X was small, but the R9 Nano is like the Ant-Man of video cards.

 

 

It May Be Small, But It Packs A Performance Punch: While it's small, the R9 Nano is damn close to the performance of the full-blown Fury X. It keeps up with a GTX 980 Ti in some ways, but ultimately loses to NVIDIA's GM200 GPU. But, the GTX 980 Ti is also double the length.

 

175W TDP: The Fury X has a TDP of 275W, while the R9 Nano shaves off 100W. AMD has done some nifty things inside of the card and to the power management of the Fiji architecture achieve this, which is great. A single 8-pin PCIe power connector is all that's needed.

 

The Best Video Card For Tiny Gaming PCs: There's nothing that comes close to the R9 Nano when it comes to mini-ITX video cards. If you're building a mini-ITX gaming PC, the R9 Nano should be at the top of your shopping list.

 

UltraWide Champion: 4K gaming is great, but UltraWide gaming at 3440x1440 is truly something else. It requires far less stress on the GPU, and it provides even better results. We had an average of 50% more performance at 3440x1440 on the R9 Nano versus 4K. This is definitely something you should think about when picking up the R9 Nano. You could build yourself a tiny UltraWide gaming PC and enjoy 60FPS+ without a problem.

 

 

What's Not

 

Major Coil Whine: This is seriously annoying, but only in an open test bed. Inside of a system it will be much better, but I need to question this. Is AMD having issues with the Fiji-based cards? Because the Fury X had serious whine from the cooler too, but the R9 Nano doesn't have a watercooler or a pump. What gives?

 

There's Now No Reason For The Fury X: Our testing shows that the R9 Nano falls within around 10% less performance of the Fury X, making the Fury X mostly completely useless in our eyes. Why would you want a massive cooler that needs to be installed somewhere in your system when you can go with a card that has a standard cooler, and 100W less power consumption? It's a no brainer for me.

 

Lack of HDMI 2.0: Seriously, AMD? We talked about this when you unveiled the cards, and you said there will be active DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 adapters, but this shouldn't be needed. A card that is marketed towards gamers wanting a tiny gaming PC in the living room and it doesn't have HDMI 2.0? That means you're limited to 4K at 30Hz... 1080p gamers will be fine, but this is a $649 card aimed at enthusiasts. 4K 60FPS gaming is what it should be aiming for. Tsk, tsk!

 

 

Final Thoughts 1.0

 

If I was in charge of marketing the new AMD cards, I would've made the R9 Nano the card I pushed most. It's the most 'new', the most 'exciting' and the most impressive card out of the entire Fiji-powered lineup. It's the best demonstration of High Bandwidth Memory and its far-reaching benefits, too. I would've held off on the Fury X and waited until the dual-GPU was ready, launching just the R9 Nano in as many numbers as possible. The normal Fury would've been something I would've allowed AIB partners to overclock the absolute hell out of, while I waited in the wings with the dual Fiji GPU card. I would not have cared if the card consumed 500W+ of power, because I would've made the performance worth it.

 

In an ideal world, the Fury X would be a dual-GPU with 8GB of HBM1 (4GB per GPU) and then the R9 Fury would be single GPU version, at 275W TDP. The R9 Nano should've been the bragging rights card for competing against NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980, while the R9 Fury fought the 980 Ti and the Fury X (a dual-GPU card in my world) could've been the new R9 295X2 that smashed everything NVIDIA has to offer.

 

Instead, what we have here today is a product stack that is confusing. The R9 Nano is just a few percentage points slower than the R9 Fury, and the R9 Fury is a few percentage points slower than the Fury X. The R9 Nano is air cooled and super-small, while the R9 Fury - which is just a bit faster - is a gigantic behemoth. Leaving the Fury X with a massive AIO cooler and 100W more power consumption on top of the R9 Nano. What the hell?!

 

The R9 Fury is now useless - there's absolutely no point for this card to exist, apart from the fact that AIB partners need to make a Fiji-powered product. The Fury X, as I said in the headline of my review, is dead. The R9 Fury X is now dead. The R9 Nano is everything the Fury X should've been, and if AMD made it a bit bigger and let it enjoy some more power, the AIO cooler fiasco could've been avoided.

 

This is why my 'Final Thoughts' has been split into two. There's so much going on with the R9 Nano that it really deserves to be talked about in detail to wrap it all up. We finish up on the next page.

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