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At E3 last month, AMD announced that it would bring launch multiple GPUs under its new Fury brand. First up was the Fury X, a $ 649 card meant to compete with the GTX 980 Ti and sporting its own custom water cooler. Today, the company is launching its follow-up to the Fury X, the $ 549 Radeon R9 Fury. This new card uses the same base Fiji GPU as the Fury X, but with fewer cores (3584 as opposed to 4096). The modest reduction in total compute units is matched by a slight cut to texture mapping units (down to 226, from 256), but the total number of ROPS stayed the same, at 64. The Radeon Fury’s clock speed has been cut slightly, to 1GHz (down from the Radeon Fury X’s 1050MHz), but the GPU packs the same 500MHz, 4096-bit HBM interface, 275W maximum board power, and dual 8-pin PCIe connectors.
One of the factors that sets the new Radeon R9 Fury apart from the Fury X is the size of the card. While neither the Sapphire Tri-X or Asus Strix R9 Fury are that much bigger than other high-end air-cooled GPUs, they’re far larger than AMD’s diminutive Radeon Fury X. Granted, that GPU used a water-cooler while the Strix (the card we have in-house) is air-cooled, but it’s not just the cooler that’s large — Asus mounted the Fury on a standard-length high-end PCB as well.
The resulting card is the Asus Strix R9 Fury DirectCU III OC, but don’t let the OC get your hopes up. AMD’s reference card is clocked at 1GHz standard, while the Strix clocks in at a maximum of 1020MHz out of the box. That 2% OC isn’t going to push the envelope, and like the Fury X, Fury isn’t expected to have much overclocking headroom. One thing to like about the R9 Fury Strix, particularly if you have older monitors, is that the GPU supports a wide range of ports. Unlike the Sapphire version of the card, which offers 3x DisplayPort and 1x HDMI, the Strix packs 3x DisplayPort, 1x DVI-D, and 1x HDMI.
According to Asus, the GPU cooler is designed to maintain a maximum temperature of 85C. That’s not nearly as low as AMD’s 50C target for Fury X, but for an air-cooled card, 85C is quite good. It’s particularly impressive given that AMD’s last high-end air-cooled cards, the R9 290 and R9 290X, often ran right up to their 95C thresholds. Asus is bringing the Strix R9 to market at $ 579, marginally higher than the $ 549 AMD is targeting for the R9 Fury in general. The heatsink and attached GPU are huge compared to previous cards, at 11.75 inches long and with significant cooler overhang.
We asked Asus why the Strix was so large, given that AMD was able to build both Fury X and the upcoming Fury Nano into much smaller cards, but the company declined to comment in detail, saying only “[W]e went with what works best for the chipset and cooling options.” We’ll have to wait and see if other vendors introduce Fury’s in smaller form factors, or if that capability is reserved for the upcoming Fury Nano.
One thing we can say about the R9 Strix — the card may be long and the fans + heatsink are large, but this card delivers excellent performance for very little noise.
Fury’s positioning, tiny review window
To say that this review is coming in hot would be an understatement. We received our Asus test card on Wednesday at 5 PM for an 8 AM Friday launch. Given my other responsibilities for ET, the time I had to spend with this GPU was further compressed. It’s not clear why Asus sampled on such short notice; manufacturers typically give much longer lead times when testing new hardware. Add in some significant problems with testbed configuration (a series of unfortunate events so mind-boggling, I’m considering writing a post about them), and the end result was a badly compressed launch cycle.
Fortunately, Fury’s positioning is relatively straightforward. AMD is bringing the card in at $ 549, or roughly $ 50 more than the GeForce GTX 980. At that price point, the GPU needs to hit about 10% faster than its Team Green counterpart. AMD’s Fury X reliably delivered this kind of performance delta, but was priced to compete against the GTX 980 Ti, not the GTX 980. Fury is going after ostensibly easier prey.
Unfortunately, AMD’s rocket launch means that the 4GB HBM RAM comparisons I’ve wanted to do and wide-scale power consumption comparison are both on-hold for now. But let’s see what we can see from a quick run around the block, shall we?
All of our tests were run on a Haswell-E system with an Asus X99-Deluxe motherboard, 16GB of DDR4-2667, and Windows 8.1 64-bit with all patches and updates installed. The latest AMD Catalyst Omega drivers and Nvidia GeForce 353.30 drivers were used. Our power consumption figures are going to be somewhat higher in this review than in some previous stories — the 1200W PSU we used for testing was a standard 80 Plus unit, and not the 1275 80 Plus Platinum that we’ve typically tested with.
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