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AMD Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card review: AMD's thoughtful 4K powerhouse

Brad Chacos | June 25, 2015
AMD's Radeon R9 Fury X kicks ass.

Technological limitations capped this first-gen HBM at just 4GB of capacity. While AMD CTO Joe Macri told us in May that's all developers really need for now, it definitely proved to be a problem in our testing when playing games that gobbled up more than 4GB of RAM--Grand Theft Auto V, specifically. Gaming at 4K resolution can eat up memory fast once you've enabled any sort of anti-aliasing.

Moving past memory, AMD's new "Fiji" GPU is nothing short of a beast, packed to the gills with a whopping 4,096 stream processors--compared to the R9 290X's 2,816--and 8.9 billion transistors. It's clocked at 1,050MHz, promises 8.6 teraflops of compute performance, and draws 275 watts of power through two 8-pin power connectors that can draw up to 375W. Again, our previous coverage has much more info if you're interested.

The Radeon R9 Fury X over the hood

AMD spared no expense on the physical design of the Fury X, either. The 7.5-inch card is built from multiple pieces of die-cast aluminum, then finished with a black nickel gloss on the exoskeleton and soft-touch black everywhere else. Everything's covered, even the sides and back of the card. There's not even an exhaust grille on the I/O plate, which rocks a trio of full-sized DisplayPorts and an HDMI port that's sadly limited to the HDMI 1.4a specification. The decision not to go with HDMI 2.0 limits 4K video output to 30Hz through the HDMI port, so gamers will want to stick to using the DisplayPorts.

You'll find an illuminated red Radeon logo on the outer edge and face of the card, along with a new "GPU Tach" (as in "tachometer") feature that places 8 small red LEDs above the power connections. The harder you push the card, the more LEDs light up. It's super-dumb but honestly, it thrilled me to no end watching those little LEDs flare to life when booting up a game. There's also a small green LED next to those that illuminates when AMD's ZeroCore technology puts the Fury X to sleep. This thing screams "premium."

That extends to the Fury X's cooling system. Rather than going with a typical air-cooling solution, with a fan or blower, the Fury X utilizes an integrated closed-loop liquid cooler that's basically a more refined version of the beastly Radeon R9 295x2's water-cooling setup. It's a slick custom design built in conjunction with Cooler Master, rocking a 120mm fan from Nidec on the radiator. AMD says the cooler itself is rated for up to 500W of thermal capacity.

Deploying water-cooling indeed keeps the Fury X running nice and cool. Despite AMD's claim that the fan stays more than 10 decibels quieter than the Titan X's air-cooled blower, however, I was surprised by just how much noise it puts out. Subjectively--as I don't have a decibel meter on hand--the Fury X's radiator fan creates far more sound than the fan on Nvidia's reference GTX 980 Ti and AMD's own R9 295x2.

 

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