AMD Radeon R9 Nano - Best Mini-ITX Card Ever?AMD today released the tiny six inch long Radeon R9 Nano into the market. The AMD Radeon R9 Nano is a very interesting graphics card since it features a fully enabled AMD Fiji XT GPU that has a core clock of up to 1000 MHz and a TDP of just 175 Watts. The Radeon R9 Nano was paper launched back in August, so all of the specifications have already been published. The Radeon R9 Nano features the full AMD ‘Fiji’ GPU with 4096 Stream Processors and 64 Compute units running at 1000MHz. This is good for 8.19 TFLOPS of GPU compute performance or 1.365 TFLOPS per inch! The 4GB of HBM 1 memory running at 500MHz uses a 4096-bit bus and has 512 GB/s of memory bandwidth. When it comes to power the card is shown as using 175W under typical scenarios and has just one 8-pin PCIe power connector on the end of the card. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X is a 275W card, so AMD will be lowering clock speeds and voltages to get the R9 Nano to fit in the power envelope that it is designed for. This means that it will likely be running in the 800-1000 MHz range and if the card hits 85C it will be thermally constrained by the cards software. [gallery ids="172059,172050,172046,172049,172052,172047,172057,172056,172055,172054,172053,172058,172051,172045"] AMD went with a ‘premium industrial design’ for the cards GPU cooler. This means you have a dual vapor chamber and heat-pipe copper block that helps transfer heat to the cooling fins. The Nano card also has a dedicated heat-pipe for Voltage Regulator cooling. The GPU cooler is topped off with a full metal shroud. AMD says that this cooler will prevent the Nano from being thermally constrained. We should make it clear that AMD is now allowing any of their board partners to build custom Nano boards, so of the AIB partners will be just adding stickers to this card to differentiate themselves from one another. When it comes to performance the folks over at AMD believe that the AMD Radeon R9 Nano is the fastest Mini-ITX graphics card to ever be released. They included some 4K performance results against the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX graphics card to show that this tiny card is superior and has enough horsepower to beat one of NVIDIA’s flagship series cards. The one big hurdle that the AMD Radeon R9 Nano has is its suggested retail price of $649 or £520 for our friends across the pond. AMD is hoping that the smaller form factor design will win over the hearts and minds of enthusiasts and make them willing to pay a premium. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 Mini ITX Overclocked 4GB video card is priced at $304.99 shipped after rebate and the ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX 4GB card is priced at $334.99 shipped after rebate, so the AMD Radeon R9 Nano is $314 to $344 more expensive than competing cards from NVIDIA's board partners. Today we'll be taking a look at the AMD Radeon R9 Nano ($649) and will be comparing it to the ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX card to see who has the fastest graphics card for those looking for something really tiny!
Test SystemBefore 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 10 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. 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:
- AMD CATALYST 15.201.1102.0 WHQL
- NVIDIA GeForce 355.82
Intel X79/LGA2011 PlatformThe Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard with BIOS 1704 that came out on 05/08/2015. 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 Vertex 460 240GB 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. Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
|The Intel X79 Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4960X|
ASUS P9X79-E WS
16GB Kingston 2133MHz
|Solid-State Drive||OCZ Vertex 460 240GB|
|Cooling||Intel TS13X (Asetek)|
|Power Supply||Corsair AX860i|
|Operating System||Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit|
|Monitor||Sharp PN-K321 32" 4K|
Battlefield 4Battlefield 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. 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 with these settings on the Shanghai level. All tests were done with the DirectX 11 API unless noted in the chart. 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. Benchmark Results: In Battlefield 4 with Ultra settings at Full HD 1080P resolutions we found that ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX 4GB averages 87.2 FPS and the AMD Radeon R9 Nano averaged 100.2 FPS. This makes the AMD Radeon R9 Nano about 15% faster than the ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini ITX card. Benchmark Results: When you crank up the screen resolution to 4K Ultra HD settings we again found the AMD Radeon R9 Nano card in the lead, but this time it was by 29%! Benchmark Results: Here is a look at the performance over time and you can see that the AMD Radeon R9 Nano was in the lead across the entire benchmark run!
Grand Theft Auto VGrand Theft Auto V, currently one of the hottest PC games, was finally released for the PC on April 14, 2015. Developed by Rockstar, it is set in 2013 and the city of Los Santos. It utilizes the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) which Rockstar has been using since 2006, with multiple updates for technology improvements. In Grand Theft Auto V we set the game to run with no MSAA with 16x AF and high image quality settings as we didn't want the GPU to bottleneck the system too bad, but wanted a setup that your average gamer would actually play on. Benchmark Results: In GTA V we ran the games built-in benchmark three times, averaged the numbers and got some pretty interesting results. The ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX video card was less than 1 second faster on the minimum and average results, but the AMD Radeon R9 Nano had a higher maximum frame rate. We'd rather have a higher minimum frame rate though, so the win here has to go to the GeForce GTX 970 card.
Metro Last Light
Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013. Metro: Last Light was benchmarked with very high image quality settings with the SSAA set to off and 4x AF. These settings are tough for entry level discrete graphics cards, but are more than playable on high-end gaming graphics cards. We benchmarked this game title on the Theater level.
We again found around 20% CPU usage on Metro: Last Light.Benchmark Results: In Metro: Last Light the GeForce GTX 970 averaged 37.1 and the Radeon R9 Nano averaged 44.9 FPS, so the AMD Radeon R9 Nano had a 21% performance lead over the GTX 970 Mini-ITX card! Benchmark Results: Here is a look at our manual FRAPS benchmark over its entirety! We are proud that we were able to run through the level with such precision and give you a look at how the cards stack up to one another over time.
ThiefThief 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. We ran Thief with the image quality settings set at normal with VSYNC disabled. 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. Benchmark Results: The ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX 4GB video card averaged 42.3 FPS and the AMD Radeon R9 Nano averaged 53.1 FPS. This puts the AMD Radeon R9 Nano up by 25.5%! Benchmark Results: Looking at performance over time we can see that the AMD Radeon R9 Nano was in the lead the entire time.
Ashes of the Singularity DX12 BenchmarkToday we’ll be looking at one of the very first DirectX 12 game benchmarks by using Stardock’s real-time strategy game, Ashes of the Singularity. Ashes of the Singularity was developed with Oxide’s Nitrous game engine and tells the story of an existential war waged on an unprecedented scale across the galaxy. The Ashes of the Singularity Benchmark was never designed as a synthetic stress test, but a real world test that was used internally to measure overall system performance. That internal developer tool was recently released to the public as a DX12 benchmark! We ran the benchmark at 3840x2160 with MSAA disabled and found that ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX card did better when DirectX 11 was run and the AMD Radeon R9 Nano did better when we used DirectX 12. You can find the detailed DX12 benchmark results below. ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX DX12 Results: AMD Radeon R9 Nano DX12 Results:
3DMark 20133Dmark 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.
Fire Strike Benchmark Results:
Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark had the AMD Radeon R9 Nano video card coming in with an overall score of 12,127 versus a score of 9,748 on the ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX video card. This benchmark has the Radeon R9 Nano being 24.4% faster than the ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX card!Fire Strike Extreme Benchmark Results:
Benchmark Results: In 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme we again show the AMD Radeon R9 Nano in the lead. This time around it was by 28.7 percent, so the performance gap between the two cards widened as we went from 1920x1080 (Fire Strike) to 2560x1440 (Fire Strike Extreme).
Temperature & Noise TestingTemperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the the ASUS version of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 video card. ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX 4GB Temps: The ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX card has fans that run at all times. At idle the fan is spinning at ~1300 RPM and the GPU was at 32C. When gaming we topped out at 74C with the fan spinning at ~1800 RPM in a room that was 68C. AMD Radeon R9 Nano 4GB Temps: The AMD Radeon R9 Nano also has fans that run constantly. At an idle the fan is running at ~1500 RPM (GPU-Z 0.8.5 does not correctly show the fan RPMs) and the temperature is 31C. When gaming the temperature got up to 74C, which was the same temp as the ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX video card. The thermal properties of these two cards are very close to one another!
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.When it comes to noise level, the ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Mini-ITX card and the AMD Radeon R9 Nano were basically identical and they were basically a wash. The one thing that we did notice about the AMD Radeon R9 Nano is that our card unfortunately has some coil whine. AMD has only sent us two Fiji based cards and the Fury X has really bad pump whine and the Nano has choke whine. We know that AMD put a ton of time and effort into making the build quality on this card one that was said to be premium, so it's really shocking to see that another noisy card was delivered to us by AMD to review. The choke noise on the AMD Radeon R9 Nano isn't nearly as bad as the pump whine on the Fury X, but it's something we don't expect to see on a $649 video card here in 2015 where premium components are readily available.