ASUS R9 Fury STRIX Review
When the R9 Fury was first launched, many gamers saw it as a near-perfect combination of performance, pricing and overall capabilities. Unfortunately, for the better part of six weeks after we initially reviewed it, actually finding one became a lesson in futility. Since then the stock situation has gradually improved and additional board partners have introduced their own designs, though retailers tell us that getting their hands on anything Fury-branded is a challenge. In this particular review, we will be looking at the ASUS R9 Fury STRIX.
The appeal surrounding AMD’s R9 Fury is well-warranted since it rings in at $549 but can run alongside the more expensive R9 Fury X when overclocked. In addition AMD’s board partners have been given a freedom to design custom boards with awesome cooling capabilities and upgraded component selections. This allows the Fury to be infinitely more adaptable that the cumbersome R9 Fury X with its large water cooling solution.
The introduction of AMD’s R9 Nano may have stolen some of the R9 Fury’s thunder in the news but there’s very little to no overlap between the two cards. While the Nano is an enticing yet expensive solution for small form factor builds, the Fury cards are typically massive due to large cooling assemblies. We highly doubt both would be cross shopped but if they are, the ASUS R9 Fury STRIX would come out well ahead on the performance per dollar front.
With AMD tightly constraining the board partners’ allowable out-of-box overclocks, ASUS couldn’t do all that much on the performance front to distinguish their card from competitors’ solutions. If GPU Tweak isn’t installed then the R9 Fury STRIX will default to the reference core frequency of 1GHz. Meanwhile, utilizing the software’s built-in “OC Mode” bumps things up by a mere 20MHz or barely enough to warrant mention. The High Bandwidth Memory on the other hand doesn’t receive one single iota of overclocking but that’s par for the course since AMD still doesn’t allow even manual changes to their onboard memory.
Pricing on this card is a bit of a slippery slope since we’ve seen it ranging from $10 to $30 more than AMD’s $549 ($675CAD) MSRP. For whatever reason, Sapphire’s competing Tri-X seems to be sticking to that $549 price point at most retailers. Some may call that the “ASUS premium” and it should be interesting to see if the extra money is really worthwhile.
The ASUS R9 Fury STRIX will likely look quite familiar to anyone who has been reading HWC lately since it uses the exact same DirectCU III cooler design as the GTX 980 Ti STRIX OC we reviewed a few weeks ago. Regardless of the similarities, the black, aluminum and red color design feels better suited to an AMD-branded card.
You may remember I said that this card likely won’t be used in too many SFF builds and that’s because of its length: at just over 12” many AMD fans who want a high powered ITX system will likely choose to go the Nano route. However, there’s a perfectly good explanation for its size: the DirectCU III heatsink has proven itself it be one of the very best on the market but it does take up a good amount of space.
Atop the card rests a trio of 92mm fans which are equipped with ASUS’ 0dB technology, allowing them to completely shut off in situations where the GPU core is idling. They have also been designed with a cantered outside edge which improves airflow and boost static pressure so load speeds can be reduced for a quieter gaming experience.
Below the shroud is one of the most advanced coolers on the market today. It boasts a pair of gargantuan 10mm heatpipes alongside several smaller ones, all of which make direct contact with the Fury core. Supposedly, this design can easily handle up to 300W of thermal load which is significantly more than AMD’s flagship architecture can produce.
Hidden below all of this cooling goodness is a highly advanced all-digital 12-phase PWM loaded with ASUS’ Super Alloy Power II components. Super Alloy Power II is a relatively straightforward affair: ASUS picks components that enhance overall efficiency, have longer lifespans than previous designs and run at low thermal levels.
Another interesting addition to this generation of STRIX cards is what ASUS calls Auto-Extreme technology which is actually a whole group of additions to their board designs. This includes a completely automated manufacturing process which reduces human error, a new series of advanced quality control methods and flux-free production for increased component durability.
Around the back side of the R9 Fury STRIX is a full coverage anodized aluminum backplate with the usual owl logo and not much else. Since there aren’t any mission-critical components, ASUS isn’t providing any additional cooling here but it does give a great finished look to the whole affair.
Around the core is a red GPU Fortifier which is supposed to work with the backplate to reinforce the surrounding area. These days, PCB flex isn’t a huge concern but it is certainly a possibility when utilizing a large heatsink like ASUS’ DirectCU III.
The rear area also boasts a small PCB finger that sits proud of the backplate and incorporates a number of voltage read points. Considering how limited overclocking is on this card (more on that later) we doubt these would be put to good use unless a competitive overclocker was able to completely unlock the Fury’s voltage outputs.
Power input is handled by a pair of 8-pin connectors that are bordered by LEDs. These LEDs glow red when the power connector isn’t properly plugged in and white when a successful connection is made.
Lastly, there’s the usual assortment of display connectors which includes a trio of DisplayPort outputs, a single HDMI 1.4 and the ubiquitous DVI-D.
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