AMD Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card review: AMD's long-awaited 4K powerhouse

The long-awaited Radeon R9 Fury X is packed with power and loving design touches, but it's not quite a walk-off home run for AMD.

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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.

unigine valley fury x
3dmark fire strike fury x
3dmark fire strike ultra fury x

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.

power use fury x

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.

gpu temp fury x

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.

amd radeon fury x front view

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.

The timely arrival of EVGA’s custom GTX 980 Ti, which beats both AMD and Nvidia’s reference flagships in raw benchmarks, also takes some of the wind out of the Fury X’s sails—wind that can’t be countered by AMD’s own hardware partners, because the Fury X is limited to reference designs alone.

No, the Fury X isn’t Titan-killer that Team Red fans hoped it would be—but it is a GTX 980 Ti equal. This is nothing short of a powerful, thoughtful graphics card that once again puts AMD Radeon on equal footingwith Nvidia’s gaming finest. Being one of the most powerful graphics cards ever created is nothing to sneeze at, especially when AMD wrapped it all up in such a lovingly designed package.

AMD’s Radeon R9 Fury X kicks ass… even if it doesn’t make Nvidia’s high-end offerings obsolete.

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