AMD Fury X Reviews are coming in strong on 4K performance, but the GPU doesn’t beat the Nvidia 980 Ti

by on June 25, 2015

Stephan Jukic – June 25, 2015

The AMD Fury X is a fairly impressive debut of the new High Bandwidth Memory technology and Fiji GPU developed by AMD but it isn’t quite as incredible a performer as anticipated by some.

The first reviews of AMD’s Radeon R9 Fury X top-shelf, near flagship GPU are coming in and the graphics card is showing performance that’s almost as good as that of its identically priced counterpart from Nvidia, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. The performance comparisons aren’t quite as good as some AMD fans might have hoped for but they do at least show a decent competitive margin between AMD and Nvidia in the GPU market as far as performance goes. Previously, while AMD offered better prices, its performance benchmarks were often inferior to those of comparable Nvidia cards.

The Radeon Fury X offers users the first ever iteration of what is called High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) for faster processing of RAM and also comes with a hugely powerful 8.9-billion transistor Fiji GPU core.

Compared to the 980 Ti, the Fury X performs particularly poorly when it comes to HD graphics but this is something that has to be understood in terms of fundamental design differences. The HBM of the Fury X is much better suited for moving larger textures in and out of memory, while the GDDR5 of the 980 Ti is definitely friendlier to very fast HD.

The Nvidia GTX 980 Ti performs better than the AMD RadeonFury X on reviews and benchmark tests done so far in 4K

The Nvidia GTX 980 Ti performs better than the AMD RadeonFury X on reviews and benchmark tests done so far in 4K

However, both the Fury X and 980 Ti, with their $600+ price tags aren’t really built with HD gamers in mind. No, these are 4K gaming cards and that’s where their real performance benchmarks have maximal importance.

The site Tom’s Hardware recently did some testing of the Fury X against the GTX 980 Ti and even the Titan X and found that the Fury X does better than its two Nvidia counterparts in gaming Far Cry 4 at 1440p resolution, by a margin of a solid 10fps better than the Nvvidia cards. Similar leads were reached when Tom’s Hardware tested the cards at 4K resolutions and this indicated some serious performance edge at 4K resolutions against Nvidia’s cards with their older GDDR5 memories.

However, the results obtained by Tom’s Hardware don’t seem to be reflected in the review testing done by other sites. Instead, the Fury X performed below par against the GTX 980 Ti for most games. Sites like Tech Report and Maximum PC found superior frame rates with the GTX 980 Ti across a wide range of games at resolutions of 1440p and 4K. In the case of Tom’s Hardware on the other hand, just about the only game in which the Fury X lost to the 980 Ti was “Grand Theft Auto V”.

If we average out results from a wide range of sources, the basic rule seems to be that the Radeon Fury X is an excellent 4K performer, like the GTX 980 Ti, but that it is the slightly inferior performer, to the tune of 10% less frames per second, which is the most attention grabbing gaming benchmark for 4K games or games in HD and anything between the two.

However, some real performance lag against the 980 Ti becomes notable in the Fury X when other benchmarks are looked at. Thus, in terms of overclock performance, reviewers from PC World noted that the AMD Fury X barely managed an extra 50MHz of overclock speed, as opposed to the more freely overclocking GTX 980 Ti.

Most deficient of all was the temperature and power consumption of the Fury X in comparison to the Nvidia counterpart. In this regard –as our own previous reviews of both Nvidia and AMD cards have shown—AMD simply GPUs simply don’t work as efficiently as Nvidia cards. Whether you’re comparing the Radeon 295X2 and Titan X (it’s counterpart from Nvidia) or other Nvidia cards against their AMD counterparts, temperature  and wattage consumed are almost always higher in the AMD cards. The AMD 290X was particularly bad at keeping its temperatures reasonable and some reviewers even complained of temps in excess of 95 degrees Celsius!

The Radeon Fury X does much better than this but it still underperformance the GTX 980 Ti.

Finally, as noted by Tech Report’s reviews, the biggest issue of the Fury X is its frame rate variance. It’s drastically high in the card. In other words, despite high performance capability, the card very frequently drops frame rates down to slow, almost stutter levels, especially in 4K gaming. AMD has been known for having this problem and Nvidia seems to have it much more under control, even if its cards sometimes run at slightly lower frame rates.

In summary, the AMD Radeon Fury X is a fantastic 4K gaming GPU and it comes very close to the performance it’s supposedly capable of, but Nvidia seems to have things locked down better in this area, at least for now, even with AMD’s new technologies like HBM and the Fiji processor core.

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