There have been a few titanic battles throughout time, Call of Duty and Battlefield, Xbox and PlayStation, World of Warcraft and everybody, but no more a battle than the fundamentals, CPU and GPU. AMD have a strong following for both CPU and GPU, and although they look to be a little behind Intel on the CPU front, they have something that Intel will probably never have, a high end GPU that draws the attention of the tech industry, gamers and fan boys alike.
If you are reading this, the chances are you know that AMD are not alone in the high end GPU market, Nvidia keep them pretty honest most of the time. Of late, Nvidia seem to have the upper hand if you have deep pockets, and AMD are the people’s choice. Just an opinion, but you get more bang for your buck with an AMD card than you do if you spend the same amount on an Nvidia card.
It is application and game dependent, and of course we have Mantel, which caused enough of a stir in the industry to push some companies to ignite the political machines and start the finger pointing and debunking.
Recently AMD released the R9 300 series of cards, we tested the XFX Radeon R9 390X 8GB DD Black Edition and although it’s an impressive card, we felt it didn’t justify the upgrade from a decent R9 290X, unless it was to fulfil a particular circumstance.
So what’s this Fury X all about? If you watched the AMD R9 300 Series release broadcast, you may have picked up a certain amount of enthusiasm from the AMD presenters. Yeah you could say it was all an act, presentations always are, right? This was a little different, they genuinely seemed excited about what they are dong with their GPU range, and it rubbed off.
AMD are trying something different with the Fury X and the internet is a storm of interest about it just now. We have a lot of graphics cards in the office just now, but we have put them aside for the XFX Radeon R9 Fury X, we need to see this for ourselves.
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- High-Bandwidth Memory with more than 3x the bandwidth per watt over GDDR5 along with a 4096-bit memory interface – the highest AMD GPU memory bandwidth ever.
- Sleek industrial styling including GPU Tach activity indicator and LED illumination all in a compact 7.5-inch card that’s all about raw graphics power.
- Powerful performance, bleeding-edge technology, liquid-cooled, whisper-quiet and future-ready for extreme 4K and VR gaming.
There is a lot to this release, on die memory, reduced PCB size, lower latency memory bandwidth and a third party liquid cooler AIO solution, which manufactures must use.
The box is really big, we have put the little XFX’s little brother next to it, the R9 390X, and there is a sizeable difference. Open up the box and you will see the Fury X card and AIO cooler packed in good quality foam packaging.
Not much is shipped with the card, unfortunate for a flagship card, and curiously, a VGA to DVI connector was included, despite the card having neither of these connections.
Here it is, and if you like tech, you will love this. It is small, has a very tactile finish and is probably the most unusual graphics card release to date, certainly pushing the limits of creativity.
The top plate is designed to be customisable, though it is the nicest to touch, having a soft touch feel to it.
Three display ports and one HDMI supporting 4096 x 2160 max resolution, DVI is dead!
Two 8 pin power connectors are required for this card, and a minimum of 750w PSU is required to power the card. Interestingly, the XFX website states the bundle includes one 6 pin to 4 pin power cable and one 8 pin to 6 pin power cable, neither of which were included.
The LEDs light up red with power usage, a really nice feature, and good for chassis illumination. The underside of the card is smooth and also a very tactile surface, a good job al round. However things started to go wrong with the AIO radiator.
Our sample had minor damage on the fins and on closer inspection, wasn’t an issue, not what you would expect from any new card, let alone a flagship model.
The radiator is a nice enough design and we like the top cowls overhang which covers the fan nicely. The Fury X is short, a perfect mITX card as you will see later on. The Zotac GTX 980 Ti and the XFX R9 390X are considerably longer.
We mounted the Fury X in superb BitFenix Phenom Mini ITX Chassis using the top fan area as an interesting placement idea.
Once installed, the Fury X hardly overhangs the mITX motherboard tray, and with the AIO cooler design, the proximity to the outer chassis door is no longer an issue, most of the hot air is exhausted out of the top of the chassis.
The XFX Radeon Fury X is a good looking card, as with all of the Fury X releases, and it compliments mITX chassis very well.
We can’t think of a nicer install using the out of the box AIO cooler and configuration.
Test Set Up
All updates to the Operating System, games and Synthetic benchmarks are assumed, and a full de-fragmentation on the SSD after a fresh install before any benchies are carried out. Today we are using the Release Version 15.15 AMD Catalyst drivers for all tests which are the latest WHQL drivers at the time of writing.
- Processor: Intel Core i5-4670K CPU @ 3.40GHz
- Motherboard: MSI Z97I GAMING AC (MS-7897)
- Memory: 16GB Corsair Vengeance (PC3-19200)
- Drive: Samsung SSD 840 PRO Series 256 GB x2 RAID 0
- Audio: On-board Realtek High Definition Audio
- PSU: Thermaltake Smart SE 730W
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
- 2048 x 1152 60Hz Native Resolution
- Driver Version 15.15
Driver settings used for synthetic and gaming tests.
We tested the sound performance at idle and during heavy load. We used a certified Db meter at 15 inches range.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X Sound Performance”]
We use the MicroCool Banchetto 101 Chassis for testing which is an open chassis and this means you are hearing the graphics card cooling fans unobstructed.
The Fury X AIO cooling solution gives a very flat sound level delivery. Even during heavy benchmarking we didn’t seem to cause it any issues. We have added the Zotac GTX 980 TI and the XFX R9 390X as a comparison.
- AIDA64 Extreme
- Unigine Heaven 4.0
Real World Tests
- Battlefield 4
- Crysis 3
- Far Cry 3
- Battlefield 4
- Crysis 3
- Far Cry 3
All synthetic and gaming tests are carried out three times with the best result taken. If the game is an online multi player, the same map is used each time and a ping constantly under 40ms is required before a test is valid.
On with the synthetic results, first AIDA64 Engineer edition. Memory performance for read and write wasn’t what we had hoped with HBM, but it is right with the GTX 980 Ti.
The Memory Copy performance is superb, with the highest results we have ever seen.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X AIDA64 GPU”]
FLOPS performance is excellent too, with the XFX Radeon R9 Fury X always ahead of the GTX 980 Ti.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X AIDA64 FLOPS”]
Same can be said for FPS performance, though only a slight advantage here.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X AIDA64 FPS”]
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X AIDA64 UH 4″]
Rolls reversed with the Unigine Heaven benchmark, the Zotac is ahead by some margin.
Lastly, 3D Mark, and the Fury X is behind on all but the Ice Storm test, still an adequate performance though.
We will probably see driver performance gains over the next few months but a it stands, you are getting a decent GTX 980 Ti rival in the synthetic arena.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X AIDA64 3dMark”]
Gaming results next and Battlefield 4 up first. All gaming results we maxxed the driver settings and the game settings.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X BF4″]
We tested Mantel as it was an easy quick option in the menu, but it had not real impact on the FPS. Overall the performance was very good, and with everything al Ultra and maxxed out, the game was very smooth and looked great, it just didn’t come close to the GTX980 Ti in FPS.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X CRY3″]
Crysis 3 gave disappointing results for a flagship card, and although the FPS almost reaches 30 FPS, the game wasn’t very playable.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X FC3″]
However Far Cry 3 was extremely playable and matched the GTX 980 Ti pretty much pound for pound.
Watch_Dogs is a similar story to Crysis 3, it want very playable and the Fury X didn’t quite have the horsepower to concern the GTX 980 Ti
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X WD”]
Next some 4K results and as always, synthetic results are first.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X 3DMark 4K”]
The XFX Radeon R9 Fury X result is good, but it is enough behind the Zotac GTX 980 Ti to be noticeable during the benchmark and possibly impact other games during 4K action.
Next, Battlefield 4K.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X BF4K”]
We also ran the tests with our standard test resolution settings, Ultra everything and maxxed out driver settings. Battlefield 4K really suffered, though there were moments of extremely good game play, they performance drops on a number of occasions and wasn’t really a match for the 980 Ti.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X CRY3 4K”]
Crysis 3 wasn’t playable in any way, and to be honest, we think there was a compatibility issue. We ran all of the 4K benchmark sessions twice to validate, same results each time, avoid Crysis 3 with this card.
Far Cry 3 next, and more similar performance issues seen with Crysis 3.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X FC3 4K”]
A very odd set of drops during game play, not a nice experience each time the FPS dropped.
[amcharts id=”XFX Radeon R9 Fury X WD 4K”]
Finally Watch_Dogs and this 4K experience a little better than the other 4K results. Still not a very playable situation, and lagging behind the 980 Ti once again.
We are convinced there is an issue with this sample. The damaged radiator, the odd and missing bundled accessories coupled with a vibrating top panel and a resonance in the AIO fan, lead us to believe our sample was not properly quality controlled. This is a real pity, because this is one of the most exciting evolutions in graphics cards in a very long time, and probably a glimpse into the future, it is a pity the door was shut on use before we could really get going with this.
All of this clouded our view of this card, it still performed really well and only slightly behind the Zotac GTX 980 Ti in most tests other than the 4K benchmarks at the end of this review. Synthetically, it s a very good performer, and the High-Bandwidth Memory is showing some relativity exciting snapshots of things to come.
At around £550 in the UK we expected a whole lot more though. Maybe we are easily disappointed or expected too much, and the fact that our sample may have been from the B grade of stock doesn’t help, but it also worries us. That’s a lot of money, and if you received it in a similar condition as we did, you would send it back.
If you get a quality sample, we think you would be very happy, let’s hope for driver optimisations to fully unlock the potential of this card, but for now, it is a little fresh out of the back to truly challenge the GTX 980 Ti.
XFX Radeon R9 Fury X Review
Introduction There have been a few titanic battles throughout time, Call of Duty and Battlefield, Xbox and PlayStation, World of Warcraft and everybody, but no more a battle than the fundamentals, CPU and GPU.