AMD Radeon R9 Fury X Review: Fiji And HBM Put To The Test

Article Index

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X performed very well throughout testing, and remained competitive with a similarly priced, reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti, but it wasn’t a clear win for either GPU. Generally speaking the Fury X was the faster of the two cards at 2560x1440. With the resolution cranked up to 3840x2160, however, the Fury X and 980 Ti trade victories—it is a tight race, though. The Fury X did suffer from some frame latency issue in a few titles, that detracts from the overall experience. Hopefully AMD focuses on this area with future driver revisions, because the Fury X obviously has plenty of horsepower.

AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 3
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X - Find It At Amazon

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X is an interesting product that’s a major step forward for AMD in a number of key areas. First and foremost, the Fiji GPU at the heart of the Fury X is a real powerhouse. With most workloads it significantly outpaces the Hawaii GPU used on the Radeon R9 290X and 390X. Though our testing showed Fiji using somewhat more total power than Hawaii, Fiji is also more efficient, despite being built in essentially the same manufacturing process. AMD has made a concerted effort to enhance the design and aesthetics of the R9 Fury X as well—everything from the braided cables and tubing, to the cooling fan, soft-touch panels, black-nickel plated aluminum, and lighting are much nicer than the textured plastics that dominated previous-gen Radeons. The High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) employed on the GPU and all of the work that went into designing it over the years also represents a major innovation, that’s clearly paid dividends, as evidenced by the Fury X’s diminutive PCB and huge amount of memory bandwidth. Being so early out of the gate with HBM, and so instrumental in its design, could also give AMD some competitive advantages moving forward, since the tech will eventually be ubiquitous across multiple products lines moving forward.
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 9
It’s not all good news for the Fury X, however. The same innovative technology that gives the card such high memory bandwidth also imposes a 4GB memory limit. For the vast majority of gamers the 4G limit won’t be an issue, especially at resolutions below 4K, but crank up the details at 4K and some titles will consume that entire 4GB and then some, which will drag performance down. This is a topic we plan to visit in greater detail as we spend more time with Fury X, but even looking back through the numbers here, the drop in performance when moving from 1440P to 4K is larger than competing cards like the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Speaking of the 980 Ti, while the Radeon R9 Fury X’s performance is very good, it’s not a clear win over the 980 Ti, especially with factory overclocked versions on the market.  Our Fury X card also emitted a clearly audible whine, though we’re told that won’t be an issue in the final, retail version.

The Radeon R9 Fury X is going on sale today for $649. At that price, its main competitor is obviously the similarly priced GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Looking back through the numbers, it’s easy to see why AMD is positioning the Fury X where it is. The Fury X and 980 Ti traded victories in a number and tests and the deltas separating the cards were relatively small overall. If you’re an AMD fan, the Fury X represents an viable alternative to the NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

As eager as we were to get our hands on the Radeon R9 Fury X, the upcoming air cooled Fury and tiny Fury Nano could be real treats as well, assuming they’re priced competitively and performance remains strong. The prospect of cramming a full-featured Fiji into a small form factor rig is an intriguing one and we’re looking forward to checking them out.
  • Great Performance
  • Relatively Quiet
  • More Efficient Than Its Predecessors
  • Innovative Memory Technology
  • Competitive Pricing
  • Not A Clear Victory Over GeForce GTX 980 Ti
  • Competitive Pricing, But Still Kind Of Pricey

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