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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.

That's to be expected when a game's memory use exceeds the onboard capabilities of a graphics card, however, which was a big part of the reason gamers were in such a tizzy over the GTX 970's segmented memory setup earlier this year, in which the last 0.5GB of the card's 4GB of RAM performs much slower than the rest.

I also tested the systems using three synthetic, but well-respected benchmarking tools: 3DMark's Fire Strike and Fire Strike Ultra, as well as Unigine's Valley. As AMD promised, the Fury X comes out ahead of the reference GTX 980 Ti in Fire Strike and Fire Strike Ultra, beating even the EVGA variant at the former, perhaps due to HBM's speed--though the tables are turned in the Valley results.

To test power and thermal information, I run the grueling Furmark benchmark for 15 minutes, taking temperature information at the end using Furmark's built-in tool and double-checking it with SpeedFan. Power is measured on a whole-system basis, instead of the GPU alone, by plugging the PC into a Watts Up meter rather than the wall socket.

As you can see, the Fury X may technically need only 275W for what AMD calls "typical gaming scenarios" but it draws much, much more under Furmark's worst-case scenario--nearly as much as two GTX 980s (not Tis) in SLI. It drew even more power than the dual-GPU Radeon 295x2.

On the positive side, the Fury X runs extremely cool, hitting 56 degrees Celsius max after several hours of overclocking. There would be plenty of room for overclocking... if the chip itself overclocked worth a damn.

Bottom line

So there you have it: Between the new Fiji GPU and the inclusion of HBM, AMD's Radeon R9 Fury X enters the rarefied air of single-GPU cards capable enough to play games at 4K resolutions with high graphics detail settings enabled--an exclusive club containing only it, the GTX 980 Ti, and the Titan X. (Like the Titan X and 980 Ti, the Fury X struggles to hit a full 60fps at 4K/high, however, so if you opt to pick one up you should consider picking up a new 4K FreeSync monitor to go with it.)

One more time: The Fury X kicks ass! Both technically and aesthetically. AMD needed a hit, and the Fury X is sure to be one with Team Red enthusiasts.

That said, it's hard not to feel a bit disappointed about some aspects of the card--though that may have to do more with AMD's failure to manage expectations for it.

After hearing about HBM's lofty technical numbers for months, it's disappointing to see little to no pure gaming benefits from all that bandwidth. After seeing the tech specs and hearing AMD's Joe Macri wax poetic about the Fury X's overclocking potential, it's majorly disappointing to see it fail so hard on that front, crappy silicon lottery draw or no. And while 6GB of RAM is still overkill for the vast majority of today's games, it's disappointing to see the Fury X limited to just 4GB of capacity when some of today's games are starting to blow through that at the 4K resolution that AMD's new flagship is designed for, as evidenced by our GTA V results.

 

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