AMD’s formal unveiling of the beastly new Radeon R9 Fury X at E3 earlier this week revealed a lot about the graphics card, but several technical details were left glaringly undetailed. Today, AMD’s taking the wraps off the rest of the information, giving us a full profile of its impressive new $650 flagship—a flagship where just as much care was spent on aesthetics as on raw technological firepower.
The rest of AMD’s new Radeon R300 series cards are hitting the streets today, which we covered in a separate post.
We’ll go through it all in detail, but let’s kick things off with the premier feature: The Fury X’s revolutionary high-bandwidth memory.
Traditional dies for GDDR5 DRAM need to be arrayed on the board around the graphics processor, which sucks up a ton of space on the card. HBM is a new technology that stacks DRAM vertically instead, connecting the dies and the GPU via interposers. You can read all about HBM here, but in a nutshell, it requires far less room on the graphics card and also delivers a ton of memory bandwidth, by pairing low clock speeds with a ridiculously wide memory interface.
Specifically, the HBM in the Radeon R9 Fury X is clocked at a mere 1Gbps. That may seem paltry when compared to the 7Gbps speeds standard to the traditional GDDR5 memory in Nvidia’s flagship graphics cards. But Nvidia’s GDDR5 memory travels over a 384-bit-wide interface, which the Fury X’s 4GB of HBM utilizes a 4,096-bit bus. Yes, you read that correctly. That combination gives the Fury X 512GBps of total memory bandwidth, compared to the ferocious GTX 980 Ti’s 336.5GBps.
HBM’s drastically reduced footprint also lets AMD pack a ton of tech into its new Fiji GPU—literally. Fiji rocks 4,096 stream processors and 8.9 billion transistors, compared to the older R9 290X’s 2,816 stream processors and 6.3 billion transistors. (Nvidia's Titan X packs 8 billion.) Clocked at up to 1,050MHz, it’s able to pump out up to 8.6 teraflops of compute performance. You can see the full tech specs for the Fury X’s HBM and Fiji processor in the chart at right.
All that power needs a pair of 8-pin connectors and 275 watts from the wall under heavy gaming scenarios, which is similar to the 980 Ti’s needs. (Nvidia’s card asks for 250W).
So now for the elephant in the room: How does the Fury X compare against Nvidia’s similarly priced GeForce GTX 980 Ti? It’s impossible to tell until we’ve put the Radeon through its review paces, given that AMD’s stream processors and Nvidia’s CUDA core technology aren't directly comparable, and HBM adds an unknown factor. But these AMD-supplied benchmarks—which were obviously chosen to place the Radeon in the best possible light—show the two cards performing fairly neck-and-neck in most games. You'll find the graphics settings AMD used in each game here.
But the liquid-cooled Fury X was made to be overclocked. “You’ll be able to overclock this thing like no tomorrow,” AMD CTO Joe Macri said at the card's unveiling. “This is an overclocker’s dream.” So here are more AMD-supplied benchmarks showing performance gains in various games after a 100MHz overclock is applied to the Fury X.
Remember: That's all with the Radeon R9 Fury X being water-cooled—Nvidia's 980 Ti relies on air. You have to wonder how the benchmarks will shake out when the air-cooled Radeon R9 Fury launches July 14. Hey! That’s a nice segue to…
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X design details
AMD’s new flagship draws a lot of design cues from the Radeon R9 295x2, AMD’s immensely powerful dual-GPU graphics card from the R200 series generation.
As mentioned, the Radeon R9 Fury X sports a fully integrated water cooling solution. It cools all elements of the graphics card, eliminating the need for a fan on the card’s board, which allowed AMD to eliminate the grill on the rear port bracket and extend the shroud to the sides of the graphics card—an area left open in many graphics card designs. Locking down the card so tightly prevents heat from your other PC components from interfering with the Fury X’s cooling, AMD representatives said.
The closed-loop liquid cooling solution itself is a custom design dreamed up by AMD and Cooler Master, paired with a 120mm Nidec Gentle Typhoon on the radiator. That fan can spin up to 3000 rpm, though representatives say it mostly spins at a much quieter 1500 rpm. AMD claims the liquid cooling keeps temperatures at a chilly 50 degrees Celsius—similar performance to the Radeon R9 295x2’s integrated liquid cooling—with noise levels around 35 decibels. Hey overclockers: AMD says this cooler supports up to 500 watts of thermal capacity.
In case it isn’t obvious yet, the Fury X uses a very unique design. So unique, in fact, that AMD’s add-in board partners (like Asus, MSI, and Sapphire) won’t be able to customize the card with their own cooling solutions. The Fury X will be reference design-only, though AIBs will be able to tinker with the air-cooled Radeon R9 Fury released in July.
That means all Fury X cards will be physically similar no matter which manufacturer you buy from.
The Fury X measures a mere 7.5 inches long, or 30 percent shorter than the older R9 290X. It’s constructed of multiple pieces of die-cast black nickel aluminum, finished with a mirror gloss on the exoskeleton and black soft-touch on the side plates. Removing four hex screws will let you take off the shroud; the Fury X also features a full backplate. (Yes!)
Port-wise, you’ll find three full-size DisplayPorts as well as an HDMI 1.4a connection. AMD learned the folly of the Radeon R9 295x2's heavy reliance on Mini-DisplayPort connections, it seems, though the lack of HDMI 2.0 means you'll be limited to 30Hz when pushing 4K video through that port. The Fury X is capable of driving up to six displays simultaneously, though doing so would obviously require a DisplayPort hub.
You’ll find an LED-illuminated Radeon logo on the face and outer edge of the card, as well as a new feature: 8 small lights located above the 8-pin power connectors. Dubbed “GPU tach” (as in “tachometer”) by AMD, more of these lights will flare to life the harder you push your graphics card—a nifty gimmick, though I’m not sure that cranking it to 8 has quite the same allure as cranking it to 11. A ninth green LED will illuminate when the GPU is put to sleep by AMD’s ZeroCore technology.
Speaking of cranking it to 11—er, 8—AMD’s PR keeps stressing that the Fury X will be a kick-ass overclocker. The card’s design speaks to that, featuring a dual BIOS switch, 6-Phase power design with up to 400 amps of power delivery, and AMD’s standard SVI2 interface to the voltage regulator, which sports full telemetry readback and lets you tinker with power settings via AMD’s PowerTune. (If you didn’t understand any of that, don’t sweat it—they’re hardcore overclocking features.) And while the Fury X typically draws just 275W of power while gaming, the dual 8-pin connectors support up to 375W. Read: OVERCLOCK ME.
Finally, the Fury X supports all the software features you’d expect: the next-gen DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs, FreeSync, Virtual Super Resolution, the aforementioned PowerTune, and AMD’s new frame rate targeting control, which allows you to set a maximum frame rate output to reduce power draw and, by association, noise output. Here are more AMD-supplied benchmarks showing FRTC in action:
How does it feel?
There you have it: Every single tech spec you need to know about AMD’s new flagship, the water-cooled Radeon R9 Fury X. Of course, all the tech specs in the world don’t mean a thing next to the numbers that really matter: Benchmark results.
The Fury X walks the spec walk, but can it talk the performance talk about Nvidia’s similarly priced GeForce GTX 980 Ti? That remains to be seen. But we’ll no doubt have the answer sooner rather than later, considering that the Radeon R9 Fury X hits the streets next week, on June 24.