A week after AMD first revealed their new R9 Nano graphics card, we’re receiving more details about partner versions of the card. Unlike the flagship R9 Fury X, the R9 Nano, based off the same Fiji chip, will feature custom solutions. According to the source, the custom cards will arrive sometime in Q4 2015, or within the next 3 months.
Given that Fury X is locked down in terms of custom cards, many were hoping that custom R9 Nanos would allow have allowed full Fiji cards with better VRMs and PCBs, tuned to allow better overclocks. Unfortunately, our information suggests that AMD is restricting any changes to the specifications, only allowing changes to the cooling. This means that overclocking on the Nano will probably be limited by the 8pin connector and VRM solution before running into any thermal issues.
One of the reasons AMD is restricting modifications is they want to keep the TDP and power consumption in check. This is probably due to the heavy marketing that AMD has done for the Nano, with a focus on efficiency and the form factor. Allowing custom solutions that give off too much heat, hurt efficiency and are too large would defeat much of the niche the Nano resides in. Another reason is that AMD probably doesn’t want the Nano to surpass the flagship Fury X, at least not out of the box.
With all this in mind, the R9 Nano shouldn’t be limited by the VRM or PCB in most overclocking scenarios. If custom coolers are able to outperform the stock heatsink, they should offer more overclocking headroom. However, these custom cards would run smack into the Fury X which costs the same as a reference Nano. Partners will need to find a thermal solution that can at least match the Fury X, without being overly larger or more expensive than the stock Nano heatsink to be competitive. While AMD is following the lead of Nvidia in restricting changes to the flagship cards, it remains to be seen if this strategy will pay off.