The AMD Radeon R9 Fury Review, Feat. Sapphire & ASUSby Ryan Smith on July 10, 2015 9:00 AM EST
A bit over two weeks ago AMD launched their new flagship video card, the Radeon R9 Fury X. Based on the company’s new Fiji GPU, the R9 Fury X brought with it significant performance improvements to AMD’s lineup, with AMD’s massive Fiji greatly increasing the card’s shading resources. Meanwhile Fiji also marked the introduction of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) in to consumer products, giving the R9 Fury X a significant leg up in memory bandwidth. Overall AMD put together a very impressive card, however at $649 it fell just short of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMD needed it to beat.
Meanwhile alongside the announcement of the R9 Fury X, AMD announced that there would be three other Fiji-based cards. These include the R9 Fury, the R9 Nano, and a yet-to-be-named dual-GPU Fiji card. The first of these remaining cards to launch would be the R9 Fury, the obligatory lower-tier sibling to AMD’s flagship R9 Fury X. Today we will be taking a look at the first of those remaining cards, the R9 Fury, which launches next week.
While R9 Fury X remains the fastest Fiji card – and by virtue of being introduced first, the groundbreaking card – the impending launch of the R9 Fury brings with it a whole slew of changes that make it an interesting card in its own right, and a very different take on a Fiji product altogether. From a performance standpoint it is a lower performing card, featuring a cut-down Fiji GPU, but at the same time it is $100 cheaper than the R9 Fury X. Meanwhile in terms of construction, unlike the R9 Fury X, which is only available in its reference closed loop liquid cooling design, the R9 Fury is available as semi-custom and fully-custom cards from AMD’s board partners, built using traditional air coolers, making this the first air cooled Fiji card. As a result the R9 Fury at times ends up being a very different take on Fiji, for all of the benefits and drawbacks that comes with.
|AMD GPU Specification Comparison|
|AMD Radeon R9 Fury X||AMD Radeon R9 Fury||AMD Radeon R9 290X||AMD Radeon R9 290|
|Memory Clock||1Gbps HBM||1Gbps HBM||5Gbps GDDR5||5Gbps GDDR5|
|Memory Bus Width||4096-bit||4096-bit||512-bit||512-bit|
|Typical Board Power||275W||275W||250W||250W|
|Manufacturing Process||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm|
|Architecture||GCN 1.2||GCN 1.2||GCN 1.1||GCN 1.1|
Starting things off, let’s take a look at the specifications of the R9 Fury. As we mentioned in our R9 Fury X review, we have known since the initial R9 Fury series launch that the R9 Fury utilizes a cut-down Fiji GPU, and we can now reveal just how it has been cut down. As is usually the case for these second-tier cards, the R9 Fury features both a GPU with some functional units disabled and a slightly reduced clockspeed, allowing AMD to recover partially defective GPUs while easing up on the clockspeed requirements.
The Fiji GPU in the R9 Fury ends up having 56 of 64 CUs enabled, which brings down the total stream processor count from 4,096 to 3,584. This in turn ends up being the full extent of the R9 Fury’s disabled functional units, as AMD has not touched the front-end or back-end, meaning the number of geometry units and the number of ROPs remained unchanged.
Also unchanged is the memory subsystem. All Fiji-based cards, including the R9 Fury, will be shipping with a fully enabled memory subsystem, meaning we’re looking at 4GB of HBM attached to the GPU over a 4096-bit memory bus. With Fiji topping out at just 4GB of memory in the first place – one of the drawbacks faced by the $650 R9 Fury X – cutting back on memory here to a smaller capacity is not a real option for AMD, so every Fiji card will come with that much memory.
As for clockspeeds, R9 Fury takes a slight trim on the GPU clockspeed. The reference clockspeed for the R9 Fury is a flat 1000MHz, a 5% reduction from the R9 Fury X. On the other hand the memory clock remains unchanged at 500MHz DDR, for an effective memory rate of 1Gbps/pin.
All told then, on paper the performance difference between the R9 Fury and R9 Fury X will stand to be between 0% and 17%; that is, the R9 Fury will be up to 17% slower than the R9 Fury X. In the best case scenario for the R9 Fury of a memory bandwidth bottleneck, it has the same 512GB/sec of memory bandwidth as the R9 Fury X. At the other end of the spectrum, in a shader-bound scenario, the combination of the reduction in shader hardware and clockspeeds is where the R9 Fury will be hit the hardest, as its total FP32 throughput drops from 8.6 TFLOPs to 7.17 TFLOPs. Finally in the middle, workloads that are front-end or back-end bound will see a much smaller drop since those units haven’t been cut-down at all, leading to just a 5% performance drop. As for the real world performance drop, as we’ll see it’s around 7%.
Power consumption on the other hand is going to be fairly similar to the R9 Fury X. AMD’s official Typical Board Power (TBP) for the R9 Fury is 275W, the same as its older sibling. Comparing the two products, the R9 Fury sees some improvement from the disabled CUs, however as a second-tier part it uses lower quality chips overall. Meanwhile the use of air cooling means that operating temperatures are higher than the R9 Fury X’s cool 65C, and as a result power loss from leakage is higher as well. At the end of the day this means that the R9 Fury is going to lose some power efficiency compared to the R9 Fury X, as any reduction in power consumption is going to be met with a larger decrease in performance.
Moving on, let’s talk about the cards themselves. With the R9 Fury X AMD has restricted vendors to selling the reference card, and we have been told it will be staying this way, just as it was for the R9 295X2. On the other hand for R9 Fury AMD has not even put together a complete reference design, leaving the final cards up to their partners. As a result next week’s launch will be a “virtual” launch, with all cards being semi or fully-custom.
Out of the gate the only partners launching cards are Sapphire and Asus, AMD’s closest and largest partners respectively. Sapphire will be releasing stock and overclocked SKUs based on a semi-custom design that couples the AMD reference PCB with Sapphire’s Tri-X cooler. Asus on the other hand has gone fully-custom right out of the gate, pairing up a new custom PCB with one of their DirectCU III coolers. Cards from additional partners will eventually hit the market, but not until later in the quarter.
The R9 Fury will be launching with an MSRP of $549, $100 below the R9 Fury X. This price puts the R9 Fury up against much different competition than its older sibling; instead of going up against NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 980 Ti, the closest competition will be the older GeForce GTX 980. The official MSRP on that card is $499, so the R9 Fury is more expensive, but in turn AMD is promising better performance than the GTX 980. Otherwise NVIDIA’s partners serve to fill that $50 gap with their higher-end factory overclocked GTX 980 cards.
Finally, today’s reviews of the R9 Fury are coming slightly ahead of the launch of the card itself. As previously announced, the card goes on sale on Tuesday the 14th, however the embargo on the reviews is being lifted today. AMD has not officially commented on the launch supply, but once cards do go on sale, we’re expecting a repeat of the R9 Fury X launch, with limited quantities that will sell out within a day. After that, it seems likely that R9 Fury cards will remain in short supply for the time being, also similar to the R9 Fury X. R9 Fury X cards have come back in stock several times since the launch, but have sold out within an hour or so, and there’s currently no reason to expect anything different for R9 Fury cards.
|Summer 2015 GPU Pricing Comparison|
|Radeon R9 Fury X||$649||GeForce GTX 980 Ti|
|Radeon R9 Fury||$549|
|$499||GeForce GTX 980|
|Radeon R9 390X||$429|
|Radeon R9 290X
Radeon R9 390
|$329||GeForce GTX 970|
|Radeon R9 290||$250|
|Radeon R9 380||$200||GeForce GTX 960|
|Radeon R7 370
Radeon R9 270
|$130||GeForce GTX 750 Ti|
|Radeon R7 360||$110|
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SolMiester - Saturday, July 11, 2015 - linkWOW, so much fail from AMD...might as well kiss their ass goodbye!
Pimping the Fury at 4k, when really even the 980Ti is borderline on occasion, and releasing a card with no OC headroom at the same price as its competitor!
ES_Revenge - Saturday, July 11, 2015 - linkI didn't have too high hopes for the "regular" Fury [Pro] after the disappointing Fury X. However I have to say...this thing makes the Fury X look bad, plain and simple. With a pretty significant cut-down (numerically) in SPs and 32 fewer TMUs, you'd expect this thing to be more of a yawn. Instead it gives very near to Fury X performance and still faster than a GTX 980.
The only problem with it is price. At $550 it still costs more than a GTX 980 and Fury has less OC potential. And at only $100 less than Fury X it's not really much of a deal considering the AIO/CLC with that is probably worth $60-80. So really you're only paying $30 or so for the performance increase of Fury X (which isn't that much but it's still faster). What I suggest AMD "needs to do" is price this thing near to where they have the 390X priced. Fury Pro at ~$400 price will pull sales from Nvidia's 980 so fast it's not funny. Accordingly the 390X should be priced lower as well.
But I guess AMD can't really afford to undercut Nvidia at the moment so they're screwed either way. Price is high, people aren't going to bother; lower the price and people will buy but then maybe they're just losing money.
But imagine buying one of these at $400ish, strapping on an Asetek AIO/CLC you might have lying around (perhaps with a Kraken bracket), and you have a tiny little card* with a LOT of GPU power and nice low temps, with performance like a Fury X. Well one can dream, right? lol
*What I don't understand is why Asus did a custom PCB to make the thing *longer*??? One of the coolest things about Fury is how small the card is. They just went and ruined that--they took it and turned it back into a 290X, the clowns. While the Sapphire one still straps on an insanely large cooler, at least if you remove it you're still left with the as-intended short card.
FlushedBubblyJock - Thursday, July 16, 2015 - linkcan you even believe the 390x is at $429 and $469 and $479 ... the rebrand over 2.5 years old or so... i mean AMD has GONE NUTS.
akamateau - Sunday, July 12, 2015 - link@Ryan Smith
You ran a whole suite of synthetic Benchmarks yet you completely ignored DX12 Starswarm and 3dMarks API Overhead test.
The question that I have is why did you omit DX12 benchmarks?
Starswarm is NOW COMPLETE AND MATURE.
It is also NOT synthetic but rather a full length game simulation; but you know this.
3dMark is synthetic but it is THE prime indicator of the CPU to GPU data pipeline performance.
They are also all we have right now to adequately judge the value of a $549 dollar AMD GPU vs a $649 nVidia GPU for new games coming up.
Since better than 50% of games released this Christmas will be DX12 don't you think that consumers have a right to know how well a high performance API will work with a dGPU card designed to run on both Mantle and DX12?
AMD did not position Fiji for DX11. This card IS designed for DX12 and Mantle.
So show us how well it does.
Ryan Smith - Monday, July 13, 2015 - linkThe Star Swarm benchmark is, by design, a proof of concept. It is meant to showcase the benefits of DX12/Mantle as it applies to draw calls, not to compare the gaming performance of video cards.
Furthermore the latest version is running a very old version of the engine that has seen many changes. We will not be able to include any Oxide engine games until Ashes of the Singularity (which looks really good, by the way) is out of beta.
Finally, the 3DMark API Overhead test is not supposed to be used to compare video cards from different vendors. From the technical guide: "The API Overhead feature test is not a general-purpose GPU benchmark, and it should not be used to compare graphics cards from different vendors."
FlushedBubblyJock - Thursday, July 16, 2015 - link" Since better than 50% of games released this Christmas will be DX12 "
I'LL BET YOU A GRAND THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN.
It's always the amd fanboy future, with the svengali ESP blabbed in for full on PR BS...
akamateau - Sunday, July 12, 2015 - link@Ryan Smith
Do you also realise that Fiji completely outclasses Maxwell and Tesla as well?
Gaming is a sideshow. AMD is positioning Fury x to sell for $350+ as a single unit silicon for HPC. With HBM on the package!!!
HPGPU computing is now up for grabs. Compaing the Fiji PACKAGE to the Maxwell or Tesla PACKAGE has AMD thoroughly outclassing the Professional Workstation and HPC silicon.
HBM stacked memory can be configured as cache and still feed GDDR5 RAM for multiple monitors.
AMD has several patents for just that while using HBM stacked memory.
I think that AMD is quietly positioning Fiji and Greenland next for High Performance Computing.
Fury X2 with 17 Tflps of single precision and almost 8Tflops dual precison is going to change the cluster server market.
Of course Fury X2 will rock this Christmas.
What will be the release price? I think less than $999!!!
AMD has made a habit of being the grinch that stole nVidias Christmas.
Ryan Smith - Monday, July 13, 2015 - linkNote that Fiji is not expected to appear in any HPC systems. It has no ECC, minimal speed FP64, and only 4GB of VRAM. HPC users are generally after processors with large amounts of memory and ECC, and frequently FP64 as well.
AMD's HPC product for this cycle is the FirePro S9170, a 32GB Hawaii card: http://www.amd.com/en-us/products/graphics/server/...
FlushedBubblyJock - Thursday, July 16, 2015 - linkROFLMAO delusion after delusion...
loguerto - Sunday, July 12, 2015 - linkLooking at what happened with the old generation AMD and nvidia gpus, i wouldn't be surprised if after a few driver updates the fiji will be so ahead of maxwell. AMD always improved it's old architectures with software updates while nvidia quite never did that, actually they downgrade their old gpus so that they can sell their next overpriced SoC.