A Review of the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 4K GPU
Continuing its competition with Nvidia, AMD has now released the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X GPU and this time around, the company has also actually introduced a whole new set of technologies that go into the card.
Unlike the Radeon R9 390X, which we’d reviewed here too, the Fury X isn’t just a moderate augmentation of a previous AMD card (the older 290X being the base architecture of the 390X), it’s a whole new piece of technology in many ways.
Featuring a newly developed High Bandwidth (HBM) memory, a hugely powerful new 8.9 billion transistor Fiji XT processing core and a number of other innovations, the Fury X is a solid effort at developing an all new 4K gaming card by AMD.
While the Fury X is designed to be the direct competitor of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980 Ti, and does a fine job of pulling this off, it doesn’t quite match the power of the 980 Ti in several benchmarks, as we’ll soon see, but points to AMD for making a hardcore effort and to their new processing and memory architectures, the strong suites of the Fury X.
AMD’s Fury X is a definite high performer when it comes to gaming at 1440p resolutions and can decently manage 4K graphics. This means it can thus be classified as one of the few cards on the market that’s really built with ultra HD performance in mind. When it comes to HD gaming, the card does even better and is in fact overspecced for HD, unless you’re a fan of hardcore high frame rate HD gaming at 100fps or more. Thus, the single best aspect of the Fury X is the simple fact that it definitely holds some weight as a 4K GPU and can certainly be called one of the 5 best 4K gaming graphics cards on the market right now.
Part of the reason for the excellent specs of this graphics card lies in its new architecture developments and these are worth mentioning as some of its fundamental “good features”. Without going into too much detail that we’ll cover further down, the Fury X features a brand new HBM architecture that outperforms the older and overloaded GDDR5 memory found in the 980 Ti and other older AMD cards. Naturally, as its name implies, the HBM of the Fury X also results in a much larger memory bandwidth that definitely delivers a large benefit to rendering 4K graphics smoothly and quickly.
On top of this, there is the Fury X’s new Fiji XT processor architecture. In this too, AMD has taken things beyond the construction of other new 4K or UHD GPUs like the 390 and 390X, which, while new still come with the Hawaii/Granada architecture of older cards like the 290X.
The Fiji processor and HBM along with some other technologies work together to confer some considerable benefits in the AMD Fury X. Most notably, the card comes with a 1050MHz GPU clock that slightly beats out the 1000MHz of the 980 Ti. On top of this, the Fury X really does deliver on its memory bandwidth, giving up data at a very nice 512 GB/s as opposed to Nvidia’s 336.5GB/s in the 980 Ti. Finally, the cards 4096-bit memory bus is considerably superior to that of the Fury X’s GTX counterpart.
Finally, AMD’s Fury X has finally managed to improve heavily on two problems faced by many other AMD cards: heat and power consumption. While both still could use improvement, the Fury X definitely heats up much less than previous AMD cards and even outdoes the Nvidia 980 Ti on this, largely thanks to its power-efficient HBM memory and liquid cooling infrastructure.
On energy consumption, the Fury X still underperforms but by smaller margins than previous AMD cards.
4.1 - 10 Reviews
On the other hand, despite all the above improvements and powerhouse new specs, the AMD Radeon Fury X doesn’t offer nearly superior a performance as we’d expect of it:
The Fiji core is a direct competitor to Nvidia’s Maxwell processor design in the 980 Ti and Titan X cards, which is already 9 months old. So in this, AMD has actually been a bit tardy in getting the ball rolling, especially considering that Fiji’s final performance, now that we finally see it, doesn’t offer any truly marked benefits over those offered by the GTX 980 Ti.
In fact, and this is a major issue with the card, it either slightly underperforms or only slightly outperforms Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti across various frame rate benchmarks, and the overall trend noted across several different reviews from other sources is towards underperformance, with frame rates that are slightly or moderately lower than those of the 980 Ti, particularly during high frame rate HD gaming. Specifically, as we’ve noted in a previous quick overview of the Fury X, the card generally seems to underperform the Nvidia 980 Ti by roughly 15% when all is averaged out.
Another highly important negative factor of the Fury X is its performance at overclocking. Here is where the actual specs don’t reflect practical gaming reality. The Nvidia 980 Ti seems to consistently overclock more easily than the Fury X, which not only barely exceeds its stock GPU clock speed of 1050MHz but is also physically limited from memory overclocking thanks to hardware-level limits imposed by the manufacturer.
Our final general opinion of the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X is simply this: this new card from AMD has made some fine advancements from the limitations of its predecessors and offers one very good high frame rate HD and 1440p gaming experience at a very competitive price while also offering very decent performance at 4K resolution. On the other hand, despite still being one of the best 5 GPUs on sale today for ultra HD gaming, the Fury X is not quite as strong a card as its competitor from Nvidia, the GTX 980 Ti.
• Stream Processors 2 x 2816
• Memory Bus Width: 4096-bit
• Base Clock: 1,050 MHz
• Texture Units: 256
• ROPs: 64
• GPU Clock: 1,050MHz
• Memory Clock: 4000 MHz HBM
• VRAM: 4GB HBM
• Form Factor: single slot
• Total Memory Bandwidth: 512 GB/s
• GPU: Fiji XT
• Architecture: Fiji
• Transistors: 8.9 billion
• Manufacturing Process: 28nm
• Power Supply: 500 watts
For starters, we should talk about the Fury X’s cooling system. AMD, having noted that its previous cards haven’t exactly been cool runners in this department, really invested in making the Fury X break the mold on high temperature load running and introduced a new closed loop liquid cooling system that really has done a lot to reduce the peak temperatures this GPU runs at.
The result has been a card that manages to keep things at around the 60 degree Celsius mark even when put under plenty of strain. This is a level of performance that’s better even than that of Nvidia’s better cards. Of course, it should be kept in mind that the HBM memory’s power efficiency helps the cooling of the Fury X along and that even if Nvidia cards perform hotter, they’re still managing tolerable temperatures while only using air cooling architecture.
Nonetheless, the closed loop liquid cooler is a big highlight of the Fury X. A large radiator and 120mm fan effectively push waste heat right out of your chassis and manage to do so with making a surprisingly low amount of noise. Best of all, this new cooling architecture allows for superior overclocking thanks to the enhanced thermal capacity it delivers in the Fury X.
And speaking of the HBM memory in the Fury X: the single processor Fiji GPU is stacked right next to the very efficient 4GB stacked high bandwidth memory on a silicon interposer. This means a more efficient and compact overall design that not only fits more easily into a PC chassis but is also consequently easier to cool with the above-mentioned liquid cooling system.
Furthermore, the HBM of the Fury X gives the card a much larger amount of memory bandwidth that outdoes the 980 Ti’s by nearly 200 GB/s and that bandwidth comes together with the Fiji XT GPU’s superior processing resources to at least give Nvidia’s 980 Ti a run for its money, even if the Fury X doesn’t quite always perform as well as its counterpart.
Finally, that Fiji processor we’re describing is a real innovation over its predecessor the Hawaii chip. AMD has packed it with a massive amount of transistors, 8.9 billion of them to be exact, and then mounted the whole chip onto a 1011mm2 silicon interposer, which is, as we’d mentioned, installed right alongside four stacks of HBM memory. Without going into all sorts of technical details about the internal architecture of the new Fiji processor, we can definitely say that it has been built to perform at new levels of efficiency and definitely gives Nvidia’s Maxwell chips a run for their money in terms of overall capacity.
Finally we get down to the real meat of this review, the assorted performance benchmarks of the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and associated notes about how they compare to other GPU’s and mainly to the Nvidia 980 Ti.
As you’ll see reading through these, the test data show that the R9 Fury X is definitely a solid, high end GPU which offers a genuinely good performance with 1440p ultra HD graphics at decent frame rates and full 4K graphics at pretty good frame rates (though not 60fps) on your brand new 4k monitor. Unlike the AMD R9 390X, the Fury X is the true 4K graphics card in AMD’s newest batch of GPUs.
General performance during gameplay
In terms of overall gameplay performance, the R9 Fury X is a very solid performer. Like we already mentioned, this card comes to within 10 to 15% of the peak performance of the Nvidia 980 Ti, sometimes surpassing the competitor card but usually underperforming it at 4K settings.
The Fury X delivers on graphics at decent frame rates and sometimes managed to at least come close to the gold standard 60 frames per second of true 4K PC gaming. However, its real strength seems to lie more with gaming at 1440p resolutions and a full 4K experience is better left to the Titan X or AMD’s Radeon 295X2.
For HD gaming, the Fury X is in fact more than you need, even if you’re a fan of high frame rate HD gameplay and you’re much better off in terms of price with AMD’s also very new 390X/390 GPUs, which are much cheaper than the Fury X and excellent for HD and 1440p 4K gaming. As far as performance against Nvidia’s much older flagship, the formerly top-shelf R9 290X, the Fury X is miles ahead of the former. It delivers at least 50% better performance overall and does so with far less heat generation.
4.1 - 10 Reviews
As far as power consumption goes, the Fury X doesn’t quite perform at the nominal figure of 375 watts listed as part of its official specs. However, neither does it go drastically over this amount except under testing with the highest levels of stress.
For idle performance, we’re seeing average wattage that can vary quite a bit, but apparently no more than between 25 and 79 watts, with an average of roughly 45 watts. These are decent figures and compare very nicely against those of the GTX 980 Ti, which can average in the same range.
However, at full load power consumption during gameplay, the Fury X outdoes its own supposed power usage of 375 watts or at least sometimes. It uses up about 380 watts on average but can dip down to 340 watts or peak to a high of 449 watts. In comparison to the average of 360 to 400 watts for the 980 Ti, this is still a high power load but not as bad as what other AMD cards have been known to use.
b> Heat generation
Heat generation has been a problem in previous AMD GPUs and the company has now made some serious efforts to combat this in their latest cards. The 390X and Fury X both manage to perform better than the 290X or even the 295X2 from AMD in this regard and they do so partly due to superior cooling structures and, in the Fury X’s case, due to a much more efficient, compact design.
Here, the Fury X, thanks largely to its own built-in cooling system, manages idle temperatures of just 29 to 35 degrees Celsius and under heavy load testing conditions quickly (within about 12 to 15 minutes) reaches absolute peak temperatures of between 55 and 65 degrees Celsius. Quite frankly, these are great temperature performance benchmarks and definitely better than those of both the AMD 390X, which isn’t even a 4K GPU and the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti, which is known to perform well at temperature generation.
The Fury X is not a particularly noisy card, and though it grumbles a bit, AMD has definitely improved its noise-making under load conditions from the roar of the old 290X card from early days.
Under idle testing, the Fury X manages noise levels of just 32 to 33 decibels and even under full load testing, this noisiness moves up only marginally to about 35 to 37 decibels. This makes the Fury X quitter than pretty much all air-cooled GPUs (Nvidia’s 980 Ti being one of these) and definitely quieter than other AMD GPU’s we’ve reviewed so far.
Finally, we get down to the real core of the Fury X’s performance benchmarks, its performance in terms of frame rates when put through 4K ultra HD gaming at high or ultra detail settings.
To summarize here, the final result is definitely of high caliber. This card is certainly not as powerful as Nvidia’s Titan X or AMD’s own Radeon R9 295X2 and it doesn’t quite match the overall frame rate performance of the GTX 980 Ti but it still performs relatively well.
In other words, for a mid-level truly 4K-oriented GPU, the Fury X is a fine choice even if it doesn’t deliver a complete 4K gaming experience by reaching very close to 60 frames per second
To summarize some concrete figures: The overall average frame rate performance of the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X across several different games indicates an ability to reach about 42 frames per second at 4K resolution under “high” detail settings and an ability to reach a very solid, smooth 70 frames per second at a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. This is pretty good even if it doesn’t quite make this a truly 4K-ready GPU.
In contrast, the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti can manage a performance of 47 frames per second at 4K settings and of 80 fps at 1440p settings, when its performance is averaged out across several 4K-ready PC games.
Specifically, the AMD Radeon Fury X performed as follows at 4K resolution in very high details settings for several key games:
Batman: Arkham Origins: 55 frames per second
Grand Theft Auto V: 42 frames per second
Metro: Last Light: 38 frames per second
Tomb Raider: 42 frames per second
The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X is currently retailing for about $679, though its price may vary a bit depending on online retailers
4.1 - 10 Reviews
• Excellent for HD and 1440p PC gaming
• superb cooling system
• Very efficient design for minimized noise and heat
• HBM memory
• New Fiji processor
• Compact design
• Not as powerful as it could be during 4K gameplay
• Inferior to the GTX 980 Ti
• Expensive relative to performance