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Today, after months of previews, leaks, and a smattering of official disclosures, AMD is launching its much-touted Radeon R9 Fury X. The new GPU packs a number of potent firsts — it’s the largest GPU AMD has ever built, the first GPU to use HBM, and the first high-end card AMD has launched to compete directly against Nvidia’s Maxwell since that card debuted almost nine months ago. AMD has been promising a GPU that would truly leapfrog its previous Hawaii-class cards in terms of both performance, power consumption, and noise.
Unfortunately, our initial examination of the Radeon R9 Fury X is going to be more constrained than we originally planned. Due to a miscommunication with Edelman and some truly astonishing incompetence from Fed Ex, our sample GPU that was supposed to arrive on Friday actually arrived on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before this morning’s 8 AM launch. A full evaluation of the Radeon R9 Fury X under these circumstances was impossible. Instead, we’ll be previewing some initial findings and continuing to work on comprehensive testing.
The three big questions
Over the past few months, readers have expressed three primary concerns about the Fury X. First and most obvious: Would it match Nvidia’s overall performance? Second, would it improve on Hawaii’s power consumption or performance per watt? While AMD’s 2013-era GPUs competed fairly well against Kepler, Nvidia took an aggressive lead on overall power consumption with Maxwell. Third, would the 4GB memory buffer on the Fury X harm scaling at 4K resolutions?
We intend to visit all of these topics in greater detail, but the data we’re going to present right now is indicative of the trends we’re seeing in every category. Let’s start with overall performance previews. All of our tests were run on a Haswell-E system with an Asus X99-Deluxe motherboard, 16GB of DDR4-2667, and Windows 8.1 64-bit with all patches and updates installed. The latest AMD Catalyst Omega drivers and Nvidia GeForce 353.30 drivers were used. Our power consumption figures are going to be somewhat higher in this review than in some previous stories — the 1200W PSU we used for testing was a standard 80 Plus unit, and not the 1275 80 Plus Platinum that we’ve typically tested with.
We’ve also included results for a slightly higher-end GTX 980 Ti from EVGA, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti SC+ ACX 2.0+ with a $ 679 price tag (up from the $ 649 MSRP on the standard GTX 980 Ti. The EVGA card
BioShock Infinite has historically been a hair faster on Nvidia hardware than on AMD, but Fury closes the gap here, rocketing forwards to tie the GTX Titan X reference design in both 1080p and 4K. The super-clocked variant from EVGA is still a hair faster, but also a touch more expensive, at $ 679 compared to $ 649. The Fury X isn’t going to match the Radeon R9 295X2, but it’s 36% faster than the R9 290X in 1080p and a whopping 70% faster in 4K.
In Shadow of Mordor, the R9 Fury X hits between the GTX 980 and the 980 Ti, but sits closer to the latter than the former in 1080p. In 4K, however, the tables turn a bit — here, the R9 Fury X is faster than any other single-GPU solution, save for the overclocked EVGA GTX 980 Ti , where it narrowly loses.
The degree to which the Fury X can match the GTX 980 Ti varies somewhat from game to game, including some titles we haven’t finished testing yet. At its best, the card seems to offer equivalent performance to the GTX 980 Ti when tested at our standard detail levels and configurations, but it doesn’t win every benchmark. It’s always faster than the GTX 980, however, at least in everything we’ve had a chance to test.
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