AMD Unleashes The Radeon R9 Fury X Video Card

AMD Radeon R9 Fury Series Cards When the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X video card that is powered by the Fiji GPU was revealed to the world in June 2015 we were promised by AMD that the less powerful, but more affordable AMD Radeon R9 Fury video card would be coming. Reviewing the flagship AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 4GB HBM memory card showed that AMD was able to catch back up to NVIDIA, but not everyone wants or can afford a $649 water cooled graphics cards for their gaming PC. The new AMD Radeon R9 Fury video card is basically a cut down version of the Fury X with slightly lower core clock speeds and air cooling for a suggested retail price of $549. AMD Radeon R9 Fury Specs The fully enabled AMD Fiji GPU features 4096 stream processors, 256 texture units and 64 ROPs  thanks to the 8.9 billion transistors  used to create this GPU.  It is currently the only GPU that utilizes HBM Gen 1 technology from SKHynix and the card has four 1GB memory stacks located around the GPU die on an interposer. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X is clocked at 1050MHz on the core and 500MHz on the HBM, which is good for 8.6 TFLOPS of power. The 4GB of HBM1 operates on a very wide 4096-bit memory interface and the 500MHz clock speed allows for up to 512 GB/s of memory bandwidth. For the AMD Radeon R9 Fury we see that AMD reduced the number of stream processors down to 3584, 224 texture units and kept the ROPs at 64. AMD also lowered the core clock speed down to 1000MHz, but left the 4GB of HBM memory untouched at 500MHz (1000MHz effective). The TDP is the same as the Radeon R9 Fury X at 275W and there are two 8-pin VGA power connectors on the board. Most of the initial AMD Radeon R9 Fury video cards will be based on the Radeon R9 Fury X card, but most AIB's will be coming out with their own PCB designs later this year. AMD also tweaked the software a bit and added a thermal limiter to throttle the GPU if it gets too hot since the vast majority of these cards will not be available with water cooling.   Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card Our friends over at Sapphire hooked us up with the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC video card for this launch. The number of cards was very limited for this launch and we actually drove to meet Sapphire and picked up a card for testing that just came back from another site on June 9th. By the time we got the card on the test bench there was less than 16 hours before the embargo lifted, so that is why this review is posted up a little later in the day than usual. As soon as we are done we are packing the card back up and it's out the door on Monday. Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card Bundle The Sapphire R9 Fury Tri-X OC comes with an HDMI cable, DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter, quick installation guide, driver disc and some marketing material. Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card The Sapphire R9 Fury Tri-X OC  uses the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X reference PCB, so the black PCB is only 194mm in length or 7.64-inches in length. The Sapphire Tri-X GPU cooler is massive and puts the overall length of this card at 12.1-inches! Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card Front Sapphire uses three 90mm Aerofoil Fans with dual ball bearing hubs to keep the two aluminum cooling fin arrays that are fed heat from five copper heatpipes of varying sizes. Sapphire Fury Tri-X GPU Cooler Sapphire designed this card to achieve maximum performance within a target temperature of 75C and in gaming situations the cards fans often run at 1200 RPM for less than 25 dB. Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card Back On the back of the card you can see that Sapphire put a nice backplate on this model and you can also see that the cooling fins extend well past the end of the card. Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury GPU Cooler We've never seen a video cards GPU cooler extend this far beyond the end of a PCB, but if it keeps the card cool and keeps the noise down it likely won't be a deal breaker for anyone. Sapphire R9 Fury Video Outputs The Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury 4GB card  features three DisplayPort 1.2a connectors and one HDMI 1.4 connector when it comes to display options, which is the AMD reference video output configuration. No DVI will be a concern to some, but Sapphire included a DP-to-DVI adapter in the box! Also notice that this card is thicker than a standard dual-slot design and is considered a 2.2 slot card due to the thick Tri-X GPU cooler. Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card Power Connectors The AMD Radeon R9 Fury is a 275W card that has two 8-pin PCIe power connectors on it. The Radeon R9 Fury has a 6-phase power design that is capable of delivering up to 400 Amps of power to the Fiji GPU. There are two DIP switches on the backplate that allow you to enable or disable the GPU Tach and allows you to change the color of the LEDs between red and blue to go with your case theme better. Eight of the LEDs are for the GPU load level and can be red or blue. The ninth LED light is green and when it is lit up it visually lets you know that the GPU is in AMD’s ZeroCore power mode. Sapphire Fury BIOS Toggle Switch The vBIOS switch on top of the card allows users to switch between two different vBIOS versions. One is set to a 75C temperature target that keeps the power to the GPU limited to 300W and the other version is set for an 80C GPU temperature target and a 350W power limit. The only problem is we have no clue which switch setting is for which vBIOS as in AMD OverDrive the temperature target was at 85C. Sapphire needs to label this switch or put on the box what it does as it is not made clear. We had to contact Sapphire to find out that with the switch in the left position (toward the I/O bracket as shown above) has the card in unlocked mode and the right position is the default locked setting. We tested this card with it in unlocked mode. fury-trix Here is a quick look at the key features of the Sapphire TRI-X Radeon R9 Fury Graphics Card in case we missed something. Radeon Fury and Fury X Video Cards Here is a shot that shows the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X reference card sitting next to the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury TRI-X OC card to give you an idea of the size difference. Let's move along and take a look at the Radeon R9 Fury does against other cards like the GeForce GTX 980, GeForce GTX 980 Ti and of course the Radeon R9 Fury X!

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 8 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. It should be noted that we average all of our test runs. There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago. Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

test-system

The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard with BIOS 1501 that came out on 01/15/2014. We went with the Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E processor to power this platform as it is PCIe 3.0 certified, so all graphics cards are tested with PCI Express Gen 3 enabled. The Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary 16GB 2400MHz quad channel memory kit was set to XMP Profile #2. This profile defaults to 2133MHz with 1.65v and 11-12-12-30 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vector 180 480GB SSD was run with latest firmware available. A Corsair AX860i digital power supply provides clean power to the system and is also silent as the fan hardly ever spins up. This is critical to our testing as it lowers the ambient noise level of the room and gives us more accurate sound measurements than the old Corsair AX1200 power supply that we used from 2012 till this year that had a loud fan that always ran. gpu-test-system-specs Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
The Intel X79 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor Intel Core i7-4960X
Motherboard
ASUS P9X79-E WS
Memory
16GB Kingston 2133MHz
Video Card Various
Solid-State Drive OCZ Vector 180 480GB
Cooling Intel TS13X (Asetek)
Power Supply Corsair AX860i
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
Monitor Sharp PN-K321 32" 4K
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 4GB Reference Card GPU-Z Info:  Radeon R9 Fury X GPU-Z Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC Video Card GPU-Z Info: fury-gpuz

Batman: Arkham Origins

BatmanOrigins-SS Batman: Arkham Origins is an action-adventure video game developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it follows the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City and is the third main installment in the Batman: Arkham series. It was released worldwide on October 25, 2013. BatmanOrigins settings For testing we used DirectX11 Enhanced, FXAA High Anti-Aliasing and with all the bells and whistles turned on. It should be noted that V-Sync was turned off and that NVIDIA's PhysX software engine was also disabled to ensure both the AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards were rendering the same objects. We manually ran FRAPS on the single player game instead of using the built-in benchmark to be as real world as we possibly could. We ran FRAPS in the Bat Cave, which was one of the only locations that we could easily run FRAPS for a couple minutes and get it somewhat repeatable. batman-cpu-utilization The CPU usage for Batman: Arkham Origins was surprising low with just 10% of the Intel Core i7-4960X being used by this particular game title. You can see that the bulk of the work is being done by one CPU core. batman Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X in stock form averaged 61.92 FPS and the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC came in at 57.77, so the Fury X was about 7% faster in this benchmark.  The Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury card was also faster than a factory overclocked NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 card like the ASUS Poseidon GTX 980.

Battlefield 4

bf4-screenshot Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3 and was released on October 29, 2013 in North America. Battlefield 4's single-player Campaign takes place in 2020, six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have been running at a record high. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China's current government; and, if successful, the Russians will have full support from the Chinese, bringing China into a war with the United States. bf4-settings This game title uses the Frostbite 3 game engine and looks great. We tested Battlefield 4 with the Ultra graphics quality preset as most discrete desktop graphics cards can easily play with this IQ setting at 1080P and we still want to be able to push the higher-end cards down the road. We used FRAPS to benchmark each card with these settings on the Shanghai level. bf4-cpu-utilization Battlefield 4 is more CPU intensive than any other game that we benchmark with as 25% of the CPU is used up during gameplay. You can see that six threads are being used and that the processor is running in Turbo mode at 3.96GHz more times than not. bf4 Benchmark Results: In Battlefield 4 with Ultra settings at 3840x2160 we were able to average 37.78 FPS on the Sapphire R9 Fury X Tri-X OC versus 39.44 FPS on the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X  reference video card. This means that the Radeon R9 Fury X is 4.4% faster, which isn't that much considering there is a $100 difference between these two cards.

Crysis 3

crysis3-SS Like the others, it is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek, using their CryEngine 3. Released in February 2013, it is well known to make even powerful system choke. It has probably the highest graphics requirements of any game available today. Unfortunately, Crytek didn’t include a standardized benchmark with Crysis 3. While the enemies will move about on their own, we will attempt to keep the same testing process for each test. crysis3-settings crysis3-settings2 Crysis 3 has a reputation for being highly resource intensive. Most graphics cards will have problems running Crysis 3 at maximum settings, so we settled on no AA with the graphics quality mostly set to Very High with 16x AF. We disabled v-sync and left the motion blur amount on medium. crysis3-cpu-utilization Crysis 3 appeared to run for the most part on just 3 CPU threads and used up about 15-18% of our Intel Core i7-4960X processor with these settings. Notice that the processor speed was at 3.53GHz and we very seldom, if ever, saw the processor go into turbo mode on Crysis 3. crysis3 Benchmark Results: On Crysis 3 at 3840x2160 the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card averaged 27.39 FPS and the Sapphire R9 Fury Tri-X OC card came in at 26.14 FPS. Again we see the Fury X leading by about 4.8% , which isn't that much.

Far Cry 4

FarCry4 Far Cry 4 is an action-adventure first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One video game consoles, and Microsoft Windows. It is the sequel to 2012's Far Cry 3. The game was released on November 18th, 2014 in North America and Europe. Far Cry 4 follows Ajay Ghale, a young Kyrati-American who returns to his native country Kyrat to spread his deceased mother's ashes. He finds the country in a state of civil war between Kyrat's Royal Army led by the country's eccentric and tyrant king Pagan Min and the Golden Path, a rebel movement fighting to free Kyrat from Min's oppressive rule. FarCry4 settings Far Cry 4 uses the heavily modified Dunia Engine 2 game engine with Havok physics. The graphics are excellent and the game really pushes the limits of what one can expect from mainstream graphics cards. We set game title to Ultra image quality settings and did not adjust any of the advanced settings. farcry4 CPU Usage Far Cry 4 uses about 30% of the processor and is running on multiple cores as you can see from our screen capture above. One core has more of a load on it than the others, but all logical processors are being uses to some degree when playing Far Cry 4. farcry4

Benchmark Results: In Far Cry 4 the Radeon R9 Fury X averaged 45.87 FPS and the Sapphire R9 Fury Tri-X OC averaged 43.30. This puts the Radeon R9 Fury X reference card about 6% faster than the factory overclocked Fury card.

Thief

thief Thief is a series of stealth video games in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a master thief in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed. Thief is the fourth title in the Thief series, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix on February 25, 2014. thief-display-settings thief-graphics-settings We ran Thief with the image quality settings set at normal with VSYNC disabled. dayz-cpu-utilization Thief appears to be running on the six physical cores of the Intel Core i7-4960X processor and averages around 17-24% CPU usage from what we were able to tell from the CPU utilization meter that is built into the Windows 8.1 task manager. Thief Benchmark Results: On Thief we found the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X video card averaging 55.95 FPS and the Sapphire R9 Fury Tri-X OC coming in at 53.70. The Fury X was 4.2% faster than the overclocked Fury card in this benchmark. 

3DMark 2013

3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike

  Fire Strike Extreme Benchmark Results:

390-3dmark-x

Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark had the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X video card coming in with an overall score of 7,197 and the Sapphire R9 Fury X Tri-X OC came in at 6,772. Here the Radeon R9 Fury X reference card is 5.9% faster than Sapphire's overclocked R9 Fury card.

Fire Strike Ultra 4K Benchmark Results:

390-3dmark

Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra '4K' benchmark has the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X coming in at 3941 points and the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury TRI-X OC finishing with 3737 points. Pretty close! 

Temperature & Noise Testing

Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC video card. Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC Idle Temps: idle-temp At idle we found the GPU core temperature was 38C with the fan speed at 15%. The fan speed is shown at 7565 RPM, but there is no way that is right as the fans weren't spinning. fury-overdrive We opened up AMD Catalyst Control Center and it too shows the fans were running at 1918 RPM, but that is again a false reading as the fans weren't moving. gaming-load When gaming we hit 78C in a room with a temperature of 70F (21C) and that isn't too bad considering the size of the GPU cooler and how quiet the fans were. Sapphire told us that the temperature target of this card was 75C, but when we looked at AMD OverDrive it showed 85C as being the temperature target. We didn't lower the temperature target or anything since we have only had the card for less than a day, but Sapphire said you can lower that and crank up the fans for even better cooling performance without hurting gaming performance. sapphire-thermal-front sapphire-thermal-back We took some thermal images of the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC card during a single pass of 3DMark Extreme as we were curious if the end of the GPU cooler was really needed. We were pleasantly surprised how well the five copper heatpipes were working and the entire heatsink was being utilized to dissipate all the heat from the Fiji GPU. The long cooler might look funny, but it is functional. The hottest part on the back of the card is the voltage regulators and they hit 72C in just one loop of 3DMark. When gaming they get well over 100C, so despite the massive air cooler the VRM components certainly get warm on the back of the card. temps We found the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC card idled at 38C and topped out at 78C when gaming for 30 minutes on the open test bench.

Sound Testing

We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

noise The Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC had no fans spinning at idle, so the idle noise level was just slightly above the ambient room temp as we still had the CPU's water cooler running. At load the noise level topped out at 43.6 dB while gaming, which makes this one of the quietest cards that we have tested in some time. Sapphire could have increased the fan speed curve just a bit and it would have helped lower temperatures without causing the card to be too loud.

Power Consumption

Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card Power Connectors For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we ran Battlefield 4 at 3840x2160 and recorded the average idle reading and the peak gaming reading on the power meter. fury-power Power Consumption Results: The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X topped out at 408W and the Sapphire R9 Fury X topped out at 404 Watts in the scene that we use for benchmarking in Battlefield 4. Not bad, but keep in mind that the Fury X uses a closed loop water cooler and has more compute units. Both are 275W TDP cards though.

Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X Overclocking

How well does the AMD Radeon R9 Fury graphics card overclock? We were wondering the same thing and fired up AMD Catalyst Control Center to find out! fury-overdrive AMD allows you to overlock the Radeon R9 Fury video card with AMD OverDrive like normal, but you can only adjust the GPU clock settings as memory overclocking has been locked down. From what we gather AMD feels that High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) is still too new and didn't want consumers overclocking it just yet. We have a feeling that down the road AMD will again allow memory overclocking, but it obviously won't be happening right out of the gate.

fury-gpuz

In case you forgot, the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC card doesn't run at 1000 MHz like the Fury base card, it comes clocked at 1040 MHz on the core and 500 MHz on the 4GB of SKHynix HBM1. Let's see how much higher we can get those 3584 stream processors! fury-overdrive-oc We topped out at 1082 MHz on the core clock with a 4.0% GPU clock setting in AMD OverDrive. We played around with the power limit setting, but it made no difference in performance by increasing it to 10% in a couple game titles we spot checked, so we just left it at zero. Every card clocks differently and overclocking performance is not guaranteed, so we will just have to work with what we got! If we pushed the overclock just 0.1% more we encountered many in-game issues and stability issues. fury-oc-gpuz This overclock meant that we were running at 1082 MHz at load and the pixel fill rate went from 66.6 GPixel/s to 693.2 GPixel/s. Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC Stock: 3dmark-stock Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC Overclocked (+42 MHz Core): fury-oc By overclocking the AMD Radeon R9 Fury 4GB video card we were able to take the score of 6772 on 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme and raise it up to 7058. This is a 286 point increase in our overall 3DMark score, which represents a performance gain of 4.2 percent. Not bad from a 4% overclock as we weren't expecting a slightly better than 4% result. The overal FPS average in Graphics Test 1 went from 35.08 to 36.55 FPS, which is a 4.2% performance gain in the graphics test. Let's wrap this up!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X was certainly an interesting video card thanks to Fiji and High-Bandwidth Memory, but it fell a little short in the expectation department as it didn't beat the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti in a clean sweep like many predicted. We only got our hands on the AMD Radeon R9 Fury a day ago, but we were caught a little off guard by how well the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC performed. Granted, the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC runs $569 as you are paying a $20 premium to have a binned R9 Fury card that comes clocked at 1040MHz instead of 1000MHz. Besides the binning and core clock speed difference this card is identical to the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X that runs $549. Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 Fury Video Card Top   The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X in stock form was found to be roughly 5.3% faster than the Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC. That is a good thing for the Radeon R9 Fury as at $569 it costs 12% less and is only 5% slower. AMD has a very solid card here that can perform better than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 with reference clock speeds and even factory overclocked cards like the ASUS Poseidon GTX 980. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 cards run around $510 to $570, so AMD has a competitive card here. We have been told to expect overclocking performance on the AMD Radeon R9 Fury card to top out at around 1100MHz and we were able to get our particular card up to 1082MHz. This isn't a huge overclock on a card that comes from the factory at 1040MHz, but there is still some overhead left in it for those that want to push their graphics card to the bleeding edge. We've only had this card for a very short period of time, but it looks solid and while we have to send this card back to Sapphire so another site can review it in the coming days we hope to get another card in for testing where we have more than 24 hours to play around with it! For now we are happy with the Radeon R9 Fury performance numbers and at $549 the Sapphire Radeon R9 Tri-X looks like a pretty good buy. Spending an extra $20 for a 40MHz overclock might make the Sapphire Radeon R9 Tri-X OC worth it for some, but we are pretty certain you can overclock the standard Tri-X card to 1040MHz as Sapphire leaves a little overclocking headroom in every card. LR Recommended Award
Legit Bottom Line: The Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X OC looks like a pretty decent little card that can perform better than a GeForce GTX 980!