AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review: Small But Mighty Fiji Unleashed

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R9 Nano / Skylake Mini-ITX Build

We’ll have a full suite of Radeon R9 Nano benchmarks recorded in our ultra-high-end graphics test-bed, along with comparison numbers from an array of other high-end GPUs, a little later. But since such a large part of the Nano’s story revolves around its form factor and power envelope, we decided to also put it to the test in the type of system it was ultimately designed for.
nano build 3
EVGA, Intel, G.SKILL, And AMD Packed In A 6.7" Square

To that end, we amassed some mini-ITX hardware from our friends at Cooler Master and EVGA. Cooler Master came through with an Elite 130 mini-ITX chassis, a Seidon 120 liquid cooler and a V550 modular power supply, and EVGA ponied up one of the few (it may currently be the only) mini-ITX Z170-based motherboards designed for Intel’s Skylake-based processors, the Z170 Stinger. Armed with these components from Cooler Master and EVGA, and a Core i7-6700K, OCZ SSD, and some G-SKILL DDR4 RAM that were already in the lab, we assembled a mini-ITX build just to house the Radeon R9 Nano.
nano build 4
The Radeon R9 Nano In EVGA's Stinger Z170 Mini-ITX Mobo

Originally, we planned to have a full second set of numbers to share recorded with this build, because the Elite 130 can accommodate larger graphics cards, but time was not on our side. The build did go off without a hitch, however, and the experience was a positive one.

nano build 5
Cut Me Some Slack On The Cable Management--I Was Under The Gun Here...

An argument could made that a system like this one (had we used an NVMe SSD, especially) packs the latest, bleeding-edge PC technology. It’s got AMD’s latest GPU with HBM, Intel’s newest CPU architecture, DDR4 RAM, solid state storage, powerful-yet-quiet cooling, and it's running Windows 10. Forgetting the fact that this is a GPU review for a moment, using a system with the latest technology like this one is so much more responsive, and it's so much more efficient, than systems from even just a couple of years ago, we don’t think casual PC users can fully appreciate it without first-hand experience. I think I’m going to have to blog about that...but I digress.
nano build 6
Buttoned Up And Ready To Roll

With our Radeon R9 Nano powered mini-ITX system assembled, we ran some tests to give you all an idea as to how it performs. In 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme, the system put up an overall score of 6215, with a GPU score of 6576, which is right in-line with what our monstrous, full-sized Core i7-5960X powered test bed could do. Overall system performance was good too. In PCMark 8 v2, for example, the system scored 4321 in the Home (accelerated) and 4940 in the Work (accelerated) tests, which is competitive with many of the gaming rigs we’ve looked at recently. Had we put a faster SSD in the system and slightly overlclocked it, even by simply enabling X.M.P., the scores would have went up considerably.

Power consumption and noise levels were also good. At idle, this tiny but mighty rig pulled only 41 watts from the outlet and under load (running 3DMark), power consumption shot up to only 233 watts. The system was quiet overall too.

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