AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review: Small But Mighty Fiji Unleashed

Up Close and Personal: R9 Nano

The AMD Radeon R9 Nano is small—really small. The card’s PCB is only 6” long and its cooler stays completely within the confines of the PCB. Save for the top edge of the case bracket, nothing protrudes from the R9 Nano at all. And it follows a similar design language to the Radeon R9 Fury X, but lacks many of the flashy bells-and-whistles like its load meter or lighted logo. The Nano does still have the brushed aluminum finish with a metal shroud, and similar matte black finish, however.
radeon r9 nano front
r9 nano pcb 2
AMD Radeon R9 Nano, Front And Back

At its reference clocks of 1000MHz (GPU) and 500MHz (HBM), the Radeon R9 Nano offers peak compute performance of 8.19 TFLOPs, up to 256 GT/s of texture fill-rate, 64 GP/s of pixel fill-rate, and a whopping 512GB/s of memory bandwidth. The compute performance, memory bandwidth, and texture fill-rate are huge upgrades over previous-gen cards based on Hawaii and even outpace NVIDIA’s GM200, which powers the Titan X and 980 Ti, although pixel fillrate is right in-line with Hawaii and Radeon R9 290X.

To produce a card this small and with “only” a single 8-pin power connector and 175W power envelope, when the Fury X comes in 100W higher and requires two connectors, AMD obviously had to do some selective binning and work with the Fiji GPUs capable of hitting relatively high speeds at lower voltages. The Nano’s power profile was also tuned for higher efficiency, rather than all-out performance.
r9 nano breakout
AMD Radeon R9 Nano Breakout

AMD also used every last millimeter of real-estate possible to put together the R9 Nano’s cooler. The cooler is comprised of multiple parts: there are dual, copper vapor-chambers, linked to a dense array of aluminum heatsink fins via flattened copper heat-pipes that sit right atop the GPU and its high-bandwidth memory. Below that there is a metal reinforcement plate, which also helps dissipate heat, in addition to a second, dedication heat-pipe and smaller heatsink dedicated to cooling the voltage regulation componentry. A single radial fan rests right in the middle of the cooler.
r9 nano cooler 2
AMD Radeon R9 Nano Heatsinks

All things considered, the Nano’s cooler does one heck of a job. Overall, the card is nice and quiet and has a typical target operating temperature that hovers around 75 degrees C under load. There is one issue with noise to discuss that we'll get to a little later, but it isn't related to the fan per se.
r9 nano pcb 1
AMD Radeon R9 Nano GPU and PCB

Like the Radeon R9 Fury X, the R9 Nano has three fill-sized DisplayPorts and a single HDMI port. We should reiterate that the HDMI port is v1.4 compliant only. If the small form factor of this card is appealing to you for high-end home theater applications, you’ll probably scoff at the card’s lack of HDMI 2.0 support. The solution is to use a DP to HDMI 2.0 adapter—not particularly elegant, but it’ll get the job done.

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