Unleash the Fury X: Building a powerful, yet tiny PC with AMD's top GPU and APU

AMD just released a new flagship graphics card and APU, so we crammed both into a tiny PC to see how they perform.

Marco Chiappetta

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AMD’s got some new flagship hardware, and you don’t need a hulking, car-sized case to use these barnburners.

The bleeding-edge, supremely powerful AMD Radeon R9 Fury X was launched to much fanfare in June, though they can still be tough to find in stores. Around the same time, AMD also launched a new top-of-the-line APU, dubbed the A10-7870K, which packs the highest-clocked CPU cores (3.9GHz) of any AMD APU released to date.

Although high-end graphics cards like the Fury X are best paired to the fastest processors possible, the HBM-equipped Radeon Fury X affords some interesting possibilities due to its smaller size. If we ignore its liquid cooling assembly, the Fury X is only 7.5 inches long—much shorter than the 10-plus inches of most other high-end cards—which makes it a good candidate for small form factor systems that can also accommodate the card’s radiator. The relative low-power characteristics of AMD’s latest APUs are another plus. 

Note: The Radeon R9 Fury Nano, a 6-inch graphics card featuring an underclocked, less power-hungry version of the same Fiji GPU inside the Fury X, promises to fit inside even tighter spaces when it launches on September 10—and sidestep issues the Fury X’s liquid cooling can create. More on that later.

All AMD—almost

Intel’s desktop processors may dominate in high-end gaming desktop configurations, but AMD is still competitive in the mid-range of the market. Of course, there are Intel processors available that are significantly faster than the A10-7870K— we’re not saying this is a build that everyone should jump on. We simply wanted to see what would happen if we crammed AMD’s fastest, graphics card into a mini-ITX build that also happens to feature the company’s latest and greatest APU.

fury x

Despite its relatively high performance, the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X has a much smaller form factor than a typical, enthusiast-level graphics card.

The components we chose for the build were as follows:

  • AMD A10-7870K APU - $139.99
  • MSI A68HI AC AMD A68H Motherboard - $79.99
  • 16GB (8GB x 2) AMD Radeon DDR3-2133 RAM - $99.99
  • AMD Radeon R9 Fury X - $649.99
  • AMD Radeon R7 240GB SSD - $99.99
  • Thermaltake Core V1 mini-ITX Chassis - $49.99
  • Corsair CX Series CX600 600W PSU - $69.99
  • Total cost: $1189.93

Not including the operating system, total cost for the hardware was just shy of the $1200 mark. A copy of Windows 10 will set you back another $100 or so.

The A10-7870K and Radeon R9 Fury X releases were the inspiration for this build; they obviously make the list. To support the APU and GPU, we needed a mini-ITX board with the correct socket and slots, and the $80, AMD A68H chipset-based MSI A68HI AC motherboard fit the bill.

To accompany the motherboard and stick with the all-AMD theme, we also grabbed a dual-channel 16GB kit of AMD Radeon Performance Series DDR3-2133 RAM and an AMD Radeon R7 240GB SSD, which were both right around the $100 mark.

done Marco Chiappetta

The Thermaltake Core V1

AMD doesn’t make any cases or power supplies, so we grabbed some goodies from enthusiast favorites Thermaltake and Corsair. The Thermaltake Core V1 is one of the few mini-ITX chassis that can accommodate liquid-cooling setups and dual-slot graphics cards, so we went with the Core V1 for this build. The Core V1 also happens to be fairly affordable, never a bad thing.

To power the rig, we chose a Corsair CX600 power supply. The CX600 is partially modular, affordable, and will provide plenty of juice for a system like this. Some may scoff at the idea of a 600W power supply feeding a flagship GPU and 3.9GHz quad-core APU, but as you’ll see later, we had plenty of headroom to spare.

Piecing it all together

The actual assembly process for this build went off mostly without a hitch, which isn’t always the case with mini-ITX builds. All of the components played nicely together, and the Thermaltake Core V1 case was surprisingly accommodating despite its relatively small stature.

board apu Marco Chiappetta

The A10-7870K and 16GB of AMD Radeon-branded memory installed into the MSI A68HI AC mini-ITX motherboard.

The APU, its stock cooler, and the memory behaved properly in the MSI A68HI AC motherboard, and there was plenty of room for the PSU and its cables in the case, thanks to the mostly modular nature of the Corsair CX600. If you don’t force anything, all of the key components—the processor, memory, graphics card, power cables, etc.—are all keyed and can only be attached one way, so it’s tough to screw anything up.

Next page: Continuing the build.

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