Radeon R9 Fury graphics card review: AMD's furious bid for enthusiast gaming supremacy

AMD's air-cooled counterpart to the liquid-chilled Radeon Fury X doesn't topple its big brother, but the Asus Strix version of the Radeon Fury firmly outpunches Nvidia's GTX 980.

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As ever, we tested the Asus Radeon Strix Fury on PCWorld’s graphics card testing system. You can read our build guide for the machine if you’re interested, but here’s the quick and dirty version:

We tested each title using the in-game benchmark provided, and stuck to the default graphics settings unless mentioned otherwise. A mix of both AMD- and Nvidia-leaning titles were used. V-Sync and G-Sync were always disabled.

To see how the Fury stacks up, we’ve compared it to the $650 Fury X, the $650 GTX 980 Ti, the vanilla $500 GTX 980, Asus’ overclocked, custom $469 Strix R9 390X, and AMD’s older Radeon R9 290X reference card (atrocious stock cooler and all). The stock Fury price is $550; the Asus Strix Fury is $580.

First up: The long-awaited Grand Theft Auto V. This game’s known for using a punishing amount of memory, but the Fury’s 4GB of HBM holds up just fine even at 4K resolution with all the graphics options cranked. Enabling MSAA effects at 4K sends the total memory use over the card’s 4GB capacity, but doing so doesn’t really add any benefits to the visual, because the graphics already look so damn smooth at 4K.

We tested it three ways: at 4K with every graphics setting set to ‘Very High’ with FXAA enabled, at 2560x1440 with the same settings, and at 2450x1440 with the same settings but with 4x MSAA and 4x reflection MSAA enabled. AMD’s new Catalyst 15.7 drivers appear to have caused a big performance jump in the title, but sadly, we weren’t able to retest the Fury X’s performance for this review due to time constraints. 

The Strix Fury and GTX 980 hang neck-and-neck here, which is a huge accomplishment for AMD considering how much better Nvidia cards ran the title at its launch.

gta v fury

Next up: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. We tested it at the default Medium and High graphics presets, then by cranking everything to its highest available option and using the optional (free) HD Textures Pack download, which consumes a big chunk o’ memory itself. HBM’s sheer speed helped the Fury hang with extra RAM usage just fine.

shadow of mordor 4k fury
shadow of mordor 25x14 fury

Dragon Age: Inquisition was one of the best games of 2014, and it’s a looker, too, utilizing EA’s powerful Frostbite engine.

dragon age 4k fury
dragon age 25x14 fury

Sniper Elite III is a blast to play, though not as demanding on graphics cards as most of the other titles. 

sniper elite 3 4k fury
sniper elite 3 25x14 fury

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is a beefed-up remake of the surprisingly awesome sleeper hit, and it can absolutely murder graphics cards at its most extreme graphics settings, no matter the resolution.

sleeping dogs 4k fury
sleeping dogs 25x14 fury

Metro: Last Light Redux is another remake of a tremendous game, built using 4A Games’ custom 4A engine.

metro 4k fury
metro 25x14 fury

Alien Isolation, like Dragon Age, was an AMD Gaming Evolved title, and like Dragon Age, it scales well across all hardware. (It’s also utterly terrifying and stress-inducing.)

alien isolation fury

Finally, oldie but goodie Bioshock Infinite is our stand-in for Unreal Engine 3. Both AMD and Nvidia have had plenty of time to optimize their drivers for the game by this point.

bioshock infinite

We also benchmark the titles using the tried-and-true 3DMark Fire Strike and Unigine Valley synthetic benchmarks. 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra is a more robust version of Fire Strike designed to test a graphics card’s 4K chops.

fire strike fury
fire strike ultra fury
unigine valley fury

To test power consumption and GPU temperature, we run the grueling worst-case-scenario Furmark benchmark for 15 minutes, taking temperature information at the end using the tool’s built-in temperature gauge and verifying it with SpeedFan. Power draw is measured during the run on a whole system basis, not the GPU individually, by plugging the computer into a Watts Up Pro meter rather than directly into the wall.

power use fury
gpu temp fury

Note that while the power and thermal use appear high for the Fury Strix in the chart, this measures a worst-case scenario. During actual game use the Fury hit temperatures roughly around 75C under most extreme gaming loads. (Also note how brightly the Fury X’s integrated closed-loop water cooling shines when it comes to temperature, and how incredibly power efficient the Maxwell GM204 chip inside the GTX 980 is.)

Continue to the final page for our conclusion on the Radeon R9 Fury and its place in the world.

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