AMD R9 Fury X Review; Fiji Arrives

Author: SKYMTL
Date: June 23, 2015
Product Name: R9 Fury X
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A Closer Look at the R9 Fury X

AMD’s R9 Fury X is one heck of a unique looking card but its design was largely dictated by the cooling requirements of the Fiji core. That meant two things: water cooling and plenty of power capacity since it can draw up to 275W (and much more when overclocked).

To hear AMD tell it, the Fury X’s design was less about taming their HBM-equipped monster’s temperatures and more about pushing the boundaries of graphics board design. Just looking at it, we can’t argue with their line of thinking since this card looks incredible and is ridiculously compact for a flagship GPU.

Let’s get this off our shoulders right away: this thing feels like a top shelf product. The build quality of our engineering sample was nearly flawless with tight material seams and a nice robust feel to every surface. Material include die-cast aluminum, steel reinforcements and some black nickel finishes that would put many plating shops to shame. Its leaps and bounds better than the Fischer Price feel of previous AMD reference cards.

Starting with the card itself, AMD has gone in a different direction by completely eliminating a fan and instead relying on the liquid cooling unit to cool all of the internal components. This leaves a svelte 7.5” long card that’s topped with a textured soft-touch metal plate which can be removed my loosening a trio of small hex screws a single Radeon logo that glows red.

Supposedly AMD will be releasing specifications for this top plate to the 3D printing community so users can print their own replacements provided they have the necessary equipment.

Unlike other water cooled cards which have their water cooling tubes protruding from the side, AMD once again chose the path less travelled by routing their tubing through the R9 Fury X’s rear area. While it may add some length (about 2”) this positioning allows the card to fit into those slimmer cases which are all the rage these days.

Speaking of the tubes, they’re pretty basic plasticized corrugated affairs that have loosely covered in black mesh. Unfortunately, the mesh hasn’t been heat-shrunk onto the tubes so there’s a good amount of wiggle room. Nonetheless, it looks absolutely stunning.

Even with those tubes jutting out of the Fury X’s back, its overall 9.5” long footprint is still shorter than the reference GTX 980 Ti and every other custom GTX 980 Ti we have seen thus far. With that being said, the added complication of finding a place for its radiator does somewhat hinder an otherwise clean looking build.

The radiator being used follows a typical 120mm design but then throws in a bit of a twist with an additional reservoir that extends the height by about ½”. Supposedly the radiator allows for up to 500W of thermal capacity.

In most scenarios this addition won’t cause a problem but some smaller cases may experience installation hurdles since the reservoir will either hit the case’s roof or interfere with the motherboard I/O area. Do your research before assuming the Fury X will fit in your chassis!

In order to feed their 8.9 billion transistor beast, AMD has added a pair of 8-pin power inputs but, from our testing at least, it will likely only need the excess capacity when heavily overclocked. Above these connectors are nine LEDs which make up the GPU Tach and are meant to indicate relative real time load levels of the GPU.

On the card’s side the LED parade continues with an illuminated logo on the side as well but above that is a small opening to access a DIP switch. The switch allows enthusiasts to switch between the standard BIOS profile and a customized one of their choice.

The back area of AMD’s R9 Fury X is a pretty boring affair but we can’t knock them for that. The backplate’s soft-touch finish and clean design lend a certain feeling of elegance to the card. We happen to like it quite a bit.

The only interesting feature on the card’s back area is a pair of small DIP switches which allow for control over the GPU Tach LED but it doesn’t control the Radeon logos. It’s a great addition for anyone who wants a more “stealthy” build rather than seeing the GPU Tach spazzing away while gaming.

While there aren’t a whole lot of options (don’t expect RGB lighting here folks!) the above chart shown how the DIP switches can be manipulated to given either red or blue lighting or completely turn off the Tach.

For those of you wondering how AMD crammed all of this haute technology onto a PCB that measures just 7.5” long, look no further than HBM. With the memory modules integrated directly onto the GPU package via an advanced interposer, there was no need to add a bunch of memory modules and their associated traces onto the PCB. Indeed, GPU cores with HBM encourage small form factor designs like no other technology before.

By beaking the Fury X down into its basic raw elements we can see why AMD didn’t see the need for a fan atop the card itself. Not only are the HMB memory modules and core directly cooled by the closed loop liqui cooler’s contact plate but there’s a secondary heatspreader for the PWM components. This heatspreader transmits heat from the PWM and into the core contact plate, thus insuring adequare cooling for all components.

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