AMD Radeon R9 Nano Targets Mini ITX Gaming Systems With A Fury

AMD today added a third card to its Fury line that's arguably the most intriguing of the bunch, the Radeon R9 Nano. True to its name, the Nano is an incredibly compact card, though don't be fooled by its diminutive stature. Lurking inside this 6-inch graphics card is a Fiji GPU core built on a 28nm manufacturing process paired with 4GB of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM).

Did you catch that we said this is a 6-inch card? It's a full 1.5 inches shorter than the Fury X, and unlike its liquid cooled sibling, there's no radiator and fan assembly to mount. This is important because AMD is pitching the Radeon R9 Nano as the fastest mini ITX graphics card on the block, and when you're dealing with mini ITX builds, space is typically in short supply.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano

The Nano sports 64 compute units with 64 stream processors each for a total of 4,096 stream processors, just like Fury X. It also has 256 texture units and 64 raster operations pipelines (ROPs), and with an engine clock of up to 1,000MHz, the Radeon R9 Nano pushes 8.19 TFLOPs of compute performance. That's within striking distance of the Fury X, which features a 1,050MHz engine clock and 8.6 TFLOPs.

Here's the kicker -- the Radeon R9 Nano has a TDP of just 175W, a full 100W lower than Fury X at 275W, which is fed through a single 8-pin PCI-E power connector. According to AMD's internal benchmarking, the Nano offers up to twice the performance per watt as its previous generation Radeon R9 290X.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Slide

A big reason why a card like this can exist is because of AMD's transition from GDDR5 memory to an HBM architecture. We've gone over the technical details of HBM in the past, though what's important to note here is that it allows for more bandwidth while taking up less space and consuming significantly less power. Those advantages are exemplified by the Radeon R9 Nano.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Heatsink

A single fan blows air over a large heatsink with densely packed aluminum fins. There's also a dual vapor chamber block and heat pipes that run throughout, along with a dedicated heat pipe and heatsink for the voltage regulator. AMD describes the card as being "library quiet" with a claimed noise output of just 16 dBA.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Performance

All this technical wizardry aside, how does the card actually perform? Quite well, according to AMD's own set of benchmarks. We'll have our own to share in due time, but for now, AMD is claiming its Radeon R9 Nano trumps NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 970 in mini ITX form at 4K resolution in several popular titles. It even manages to hit 60 FPS in Grand Theft Auto V, if AMD's data is to be believed.

"With the Radeon R9 Nano graphics card, AMD is enabling 4K class gaming in your living room in an exceptionally quiet, ultra-small design built to excel in today’s games and on the latest APIs like DirectX 12 and Vulkan. There simply is nothing else like it," said Matt Skynner, corporate VP and general manager, Product, Computing and Graphics Business Unit at AMD.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano mITX

There's a lot of talk from AMD about gaming at 4K on the Radeon R9 Nano. Based on what we've seen from the Fury X, 4K gaming should be within reach in some scenarios, though it's going to depend on the title and visual quality settings. We have a hunch that gaming comfortably at 4K from a card this size is still a generation or two away.

Either way, the Radeon R9 Nano is poised to be a popular card, especially since small form factor PC console builds (think Steam Machines) are in vogue. It's also worth pointing out the card's robust API support -- DirectX 12, Vulkan, OpenGL 4.5, and Mantle.

The Radeon R9 Nano will be available the week of September 7, 2015, for $649 MSRP.