Ashes of the Singularity DirectX 12 Graphics Performance Analysis

Introduction


Ashes of the Singularity is a futuristic real-time strategy game offering frenetic contests on a large-scale. The huge amount of units scattered across a number of varied environments creates an enthralling experience built around complex strategic decisions. Throughout the game, you will explore unique planets and engage in enthralling air battles. This bitter war revolves around an invaluable resource known as Turinium between the human race and masterful artificial intelligence. If you’re into the RTS genre, Ashes of the Singularity should provide hours of entertainment. While the game itself is worthy of widespread media attention, the engine’s support for DirectX 12 and asynchronous compute has become a hot topic among hardware enthusiasts.

DirectX 12 is a low-level API with reduced CPU overheads and has the potential to revolutionise the way games are optimised for numerous hardware configurations. In contrast to this, DirectX 11 isn’t that efficient and many mainstream titles suffered from poor scaling which didn’t properly utilise the potential of current graphics technology. On another note, DirectX 12 allows users to pair GPUs from competing vendors and utilise multi graphics solutions without relying on driver profiles. It’s theoretically possible to achieve widespread optimization and leverage extra performance using the latest version of DirectX 12.

Of course, Vulkan is another alternative which works on various operating systems and adopts an open-source ideology. Although, the focus will likely remain on DirectX 12 for the foreseeable future unless there’s a sudden reluctance from users to upgrade to Windows 10. Even though the adoption rate is impressive, there’s a large number of PC gamers currently using Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. Therefore, it seems prudent for developers to continue with DirectX 11 and offer a DirectX 12 render as an optional extra. Arguably, the real gains from DirectX 12 will occur when its predecessor is disregarded completely. This will probably take a considerable amount of time which suggests the first DirectX 12 games might have reduced performance benefits compared to later titles.

Asynchronous compute allows graphics cards to simultaneously calculate multiple workloads and reach extra performance figures. AMD’s GCN architecture has extensive support for this technology. In contrast to this, there’s a heated debate questioning if NVIDIA products can even utilise asynchronous compute in an effective manner. Technically, AMD GCN graphics cards contain 2-8 asynchronous compute cores with 8 queues per core which varies on the model to provide single cycle latencies. Maxwell revolves around two pipelines, one designed for high-priority workloads and another with 31 queues. Most importantly, NVIDIA cards can only “switch contexts at draw call boundaries”. This means the switching process is slower and gives AMD and a major advantage. NVIDIA has dismissed the early performance numbers from Ashes of the Singularity due to its current development phase. Finally, the game’s release has exited the beta stage which allows us to determine the performance numbers after optimizations were completed.

Do AMD Drivers Really Deserve Such a Hostile Reception?

Introduction


AMD has a serious image problem with their drivers which stems from buggy, unrefined updates, and a slow release schedule. Even though this perception began many years ago, it’s still impacting on the company’s sales and explains why their market share is so small. The Q4 2015 results from Jon Peddie Research suggests AMD reached a market share of 21.1% while NVIDIA reigned supreme with 78.8%. Although, the Q4 data is more promising because AMD accounted for a mere 18.8% during the last quarter. On the other hand, respected industry journal DigiTimes reports that AMD is likely to reach its lowest ever market position for Q1 2016. Thankfully, the financial results will emerge on April 21st so we should know the full picture relatively soon. Of course, the situation should improve once Polaris and Zen reach retail channels. Most importantly, AMD’s share price has declined by more than 67% in five years from $9 to under $3 as of March 28, 2016. The question is why?

Is the Hardware Competitive?


The current situation is rather baffling considering AMD’s extremely competitive product line-up in the graphics segment. For example, the R9 390 is a superb alternative to NVIDIA’s GTX 970 and features 8GB VRAM which provides extra headroom when using virtual reality equipment. The company’s strategy appears to revolves around minor differences in performance between the R9 390 and 390X. This also applied to the R9 290 and 290X due to both products utilizing the Hawaii core. NVIDIA employs a similar tactic with the GTX 970 and GTX 980 but there’s a marked price increase compared to their rivals.

NVIDIA’s ability to cater towards the lower tier demographic has been quite poor because competing GPUs including the 7850 and R9 380X provided a much better price to performance ratio. Not only that, NVIDIA’s decision to deploy ridiculously low video memory amounts on cards like the GTX 960 has the potential to cause headaches in the future. It’s important to remember that the GTX 960 can be acquired with either 2GB or 4GB of video memory. Honestly, they should have simplified the process and produced the higher memory model in a similar fashion to the R9 380X. Once again, AMD continues to offer a very generous amount of VRAM across various product tiers.

Part of the problem revolves around AMD’s sluggish release cycle and reliance on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.1 architecture. This was first introduced way back in 2013 with the Radeon HD 7790. Despite its age, AMD deployed the GCN 1.1 architecture on their revised 390 series and didn’t do themselves any favours when denying accusations about the new line-up being a basic re-branding exercise. Of course, this proved to be the case and some users managed to flash their 290/290X to a 390/390X with a BIOS update. There’s nothing inherently wrong with product rebrands if they can remain competitive in the current market. It’s not exclusive to AMD, and NVIDIA have used similar business strategies on numerous occasions. However, I feel it’s up to AMD to push graphics technology forward and encourage their nearest rival to launch more powerful options.

Another criticism regarding AMD hardware which seems to plague everything they release is the perception that every GPU runs extremely hot. You only have to look on certain websites, social media and various forums to see this is the main source of people’s frustration. Some individuals are even known to produce images showing AMD graphics cards setting ablaze. So is there any truth to these suggestions? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and a pertinent example comes from the R9 290 range. The 290/290X reference models utilized one of the most inefficient cooler designs I’ve ever seen and struggled to keep the GPU core running below 95C under load.

Unbelievably, the core was designed to run at these high thermals and AMD created a more progressive RPM curve to reduce noise. As a result, the GPU could take 10-15 minutes to reach idle temperature levels. The Hawaii temperatures really impacted on the company’s reputation and forged a viewpoint among consumers which I highly doubt will ever disappear. It’s a shame because the upcoming Polaris architecture built on the 14nm FinFET process should exhibit significant efficiency gains and end the concept of high thermals on AMD products. There’s also the idea that AMD GPUs have a noticeably higher TDP than their NVIDIA counterparts. For instance, the R9 390 has a TDP of 275 watts while the GTX 970 only consumes 145 watts. On the other hand, the Fury X utilizes 250 watts compared to the GTX 980Ti’s rating of 275 watts.

Eventually, AMD released a brand new range of graphics cards utilizing the first iteration of high bandwidth memory. Prior to its release, expectations were high and many people expected the Fury X to dethrone NVIDIA’s flagship graphics card. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition and the Fury X fell behind in various benchmarks, although it fared better at high resolutions. The GPU also encountered supply problems and emitted a large whine from the pump on early samples. Asetek even threatened to sue Cooler Master who created the AIO design which could force all Fury X products to be removed from sale.

The rankings alter rather dramatically when the DirectX 12 render is used which suggests AMD products have a clear advantage. Asynchronous Compute is the hot topic right now which in theory allows for greater GPU utilization in supported games. Ashes of the Singularity has implemented this for some time and makes for some very interesting findings. Currently, we’re working on a performance analysis for the game, but I can reveal that there is a huge boost for AMD cards when moving from DirectX11 to DirectX12. Furthermore, there are reports indicating that Pascal might not be able to use asynchronous shaders which makes Polaris and Fiji products more appealing.

Do AMD GPUs Lack Essential Hardware Features?


When selecting graphics hardware, it’s not always about pure performance and some consumers take into account exclusive technologies including TressFX hair before purchasing. At this time, AMD incorporates with their latest products LiquidVR, FreeSync, Vulkan support, HD3D, Frame rate target control, TrueAudio, Virtual Super resolution and more! This is a great selection of hardware features to create a thoroughly enjoyable user-experience. NVIDIA adopts a more secretive attitude towards their own creations and often uses proprietary solutions. The Maxwell architecture has support for Voxel Global Illumination, (VGXI), Multi Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), VR Direct and G-Sync. There’s a huge debate about the benefits of G-Sync compared to FreeSync especially when you take into account the pricing difference when opting for a new monitor. Overall, I’d argue that the NVIDIA package is better but there’s nothing really lacking from AMD in this department.

Have The Drivers Improved?


Historically, AMD drivers haven’t been anywhere close to NVIDIA in terms of stability and providing a pleasant user-interface. Back in the old days, AMD or even ATI if we’re going way back, had the potential to cause system lock-ups, software errors and more. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of updating a 7850 to the latest driver and after rebooting, the system’s boot order was corrupt. To be fair, this could be coincidental and have nothing to do with that particular update. On another note, the 290 series was plagued with hardware bugs causing black screens and blue screens of death whilst watching flash videos. To resolve this, you had to disable hardware acceleration and hope that the issues subsided.

The Catalyst Control Center always felt a bit primitive for my tastes although it did implement some neat features such as graphics card overclocking. While it’s easy enough to download a third-party program like MSI Afterburner, some users might prefer to install fewer programs and use the official driver instead.

Not so long ago, AMD appeared to have stalled in releasing drivers for the latest games to properly optimize graphics hardware. On the 9th December 2014, AMD unveiled the Catalyst 14.12 Omega WHQL driver and made it ready for download. In a move which still astounds me, the company decided not to release another WHQL driver for 6 months! Granted, they were working on a huge driver redesign and still produced the odd Beta update. I honestly believe this was very damaging and prevented high-end users from considering the 295×2 or a Crossfire configuration. It’s so important to have a consistent, solid software framework behind the hardware to allow for constant improvements. This is especially the case when using multiple cards which require profiles to achieve proficient GPU scaling.

Crimson’s release was a major turning point for AMD due to the modernized interface and enhanced stability. According to AMD, the software package involves 25 percent more manual test cases and 100 percent more automated test cases compared to AMD Catalyst Omega. Also, the most requested bugs were resolved and they’re using community feedback to quickly apply new fixes. The company hired a dedicated team to reproduce errors which is the first step to providing a more stable experience. Crimson apparently loads ten times faster than its predecessor and includes a new game manager to optimize settings to suit your hardware. It’s possible to set custom resolutions including the refresh rate, which is handy when overclocking your monitor. The clean uninstall utility proactively works to remove any remaining elements of a previous installation such as registry entries, audio files and much more. Honestly, this is such a revolutionary move forward and AMD deserves credit for tackling their weakest elements head on. If you’d like to learn more about Crimson’s functionality, please visit this page.

However, it’s far from perfect and some users initially experienced worse performance with this update. Of course, there’s going to be teething problems whenever a new release occurs but it’s essential for AMD to do everything they can to forge a new reputation about their drivers. Some of you might remember, the furore surrounding the Crimson fan bug which limited the GPU’s fans to 20 percent. Some users even reported that this caused their GPU to overheat and fail. Thankfully, AMD released a fix for this issue but it shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Once again, it’s hurting their reputation and ability to move on from old preconceptions.

Is GeForce Experience Significantly Better?


In recent times, NVIDIA drivers have been the source of some negative publicity. More specifically, users were advised to ignore the 364.47 WHQL driver and instructed to download the 364.51 beta instead. One user said:

“Driver crashed my windows and going into safe mode I was not able to uninstall and rolling back windows would not work either. I ended up wiping my system to a fresh install of windows. Not very happy here.”

NVIDIA’s Sean Pelletier released a statement at the time which reads:

“An installation issue was found within the 364.47 WHQL driver we posted Monday. That issue was resolved with a new driver (364.51) launched Tuesday. Since we were not able to get WHQL-certification right away, we posted the driver as a Beta.

GeForce Experience has an option to either show WHQL-only drivers or to show all drivers (including Beta). Since 364.51 is currently a Beta, gamers who have GeForce Experience configured to only show WHQL Game Ready drivers will not currently see 364.51

We are expecting the WHQL-certified package for the 364.51 Game Ready driver within the next 24hrs and will replace the Beta version with the WHQL version accordingly. As expected, the WHQL-certified version of 364.51 will show up for all gamers with GeForce Experience.”

As you can see, NVIDIA isn’t immune to driver delivery issues and this was a fairly embarrassing situation. Despite this, it didn’t appear to have a serious effect on people’s confidence in the company or make them re-consider their views of AMD. While there are some disgruntled NVIDIA customers, they’re fairly loyal and distrustful of AMD’s ability to offer better drivers. The GeForce Experience software contains a wide range of fantastic inclusions such as ShadowPlay, GameStream, Game Optimization and more. After a driver update, the software can feel a bit unresponsive and takes some time to close. Furthermore, some people dislike the notion of GameReady drivers being locked in the GeForce Experience Software.  If a report from PC World is correct, consumers might have to supply an e-mail address just to update their drivers through the application.

Before coming to a conclusion, I want to reiterate that my allegiances don’t lie with either company and the intention was to create a balanced viewpoint. I believe AMD’s previous failures are impacting on the company’s current product range and it’s extremely difficult to shift people’s perceptions about the company’s drivers. While Crimson is much better than CCC, it’s been the main cause of a horrendous fan bug resulting in a PR disaster for AMD.

On balance, it’s clear AMD’s decision to separate the Radeon group and CPU line was the right thing to do. Also, with Polaris around the corner and more games utilizing DirectX 12, AMD could improve their market share by an exponential amount. Although, from my experience, many users are prepared to deal with slightly worse performance just to invest in an NVIDIA product. Therefore, AMD has to encourage long-term NVIDIA fans to switch with reliable driver updates on a consistent basis. AMD products are not lacking in features or power, it’s all about drivers! NVIDIA will always counteract AMD releases with products exhibiting similar performance numbers. In my personal opinion, AMD drivers are now on par with NVIDIA and it’s a shame that they appear to be receiving unwarranted criticism. Don’t get me wrong, the fan bug is simply inexcusable and going to haunt AMD for some time. I predict that despite the company’s best efforts, the stereotypical view of AMD drivers will not subside. This is a crying shame because they are trying to improve things and release updates on a significantly lower budget than their rivals.

Far Cry Primal Graphics Card Performance Analysis

Introduction


The Far Cry franchise gained notoriety for its impeccable graphical fidelity and enthralling open world environment. As a result, each release is incredibly useful to gauge the current state of graphics hardware and performance across various resolutions. Although, Ubisoft’s reputation has suffered in recent years due to poor optimization on major titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Watch Dogs. This means it’s essential to analyze the PC version in a technical manner and see if it’s really worth supporting with your hard-earned cash!

Far Cry Primal utilizes the Dunia Engine 2 which was deployed on Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4. Therefore, I’m not expecting anything revolutionary compared to the previous games. This isn’t necessarily a negative concept though because the amount of detail is staggering and worthy of recognition. Saying that, Far Cry 4 was plagued by intermittent hitching and I really hope this has been resolved. Unlike Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, the latest entry has a retail price of $60. According to Ubisoft, this is warranted due to the lengthy campaign and amount on content on offer. Given Ubisoft’s turbulent history with recent releases, it will be fascinating to see how each GPU this generation fares and which brand the game favours at numerous resolutions.

“Far Cry Primal is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft. It was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 23, 2016, and it was also released for Microsoft Windows on March 1, 2016. The game is set in the Stone Age, and revolves around the story of Takkar, who starts off as an unarmed hunter and rises to become the leader of a tribe.” From Wikipedia.

Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury Graphics Card Review

Introduction


The initial unveiling of AMD’s Fury X was eagerly anticipated due to the advent of high bandwidth memory, and potential to revolutionize the size to performance ratio of modern graphics cards. This new form of stackable video RAM provided a glimpse into the future and departure from the current GDDR5 standard. Although, this isn’t going to happen overnight as production costs and sourcing HBM on a mass scale has to be taken into consideration. On another note, JEDEC recently announced GDD5X with memory speeds up to 14 Gbps which helps to enhance non-HBM GPUs while catering to the lower-mid range market. The Fury X and Fury utilizes the first iteration of high bandwidth memory which features a maximum capacity of 4GB.

There’s some discussion regarding the effect of this limitation at high resolutions but I personally haven’t seen it cause a noticeable bottleneck. If anything, the Fury range is capable of outperforming the 980 Ti during 4K benchmarks while it tends to linger behind at lower resolutions. AMD’s flagship opts for a closed-loop liquid cooler to reduce temperatures and minimize operating noise. In theory, you can argue this level of cooling prowess was required to tame the GPU’s core. However, there are some air-cooled variants which allow us to directly compare between each form of heat dissipation.

Clearly, the Fury X’s water cooling apparatus adds a premium and isn’t suitable for certain chassis configurations. To be fair, most modern case layouts can accommodate a CLC graphics card without any problems, but there’s also concerns regarding reliability and the possibility of leaks. That’s why air-cooled alternatives which drop the X branding offer great performance at a more enticing price point. For example, the Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury is around £60 cheaper than the XFX R9 Fury X. This particular card has a factory overclocked core of 1050MHz, and astounding cooling solution. The question is, how does it compare to the Fury X and GTX 980 Ti? Let’s find out!

Specifications:

Packing and Accessories

The Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury comes in a visually appealing box which outlines the Tri-X cooling system, factory overclocked core, and extremely fast memory. I’m really fond of the striking robot front cover and small cut out which provides a sneak peek at the GPU’s colour scheme.

On the opposite side, there’s a detailed description of the R9 Fury range and award-winning Tri-X cooling. Furthermore, the packaging outlines information regarding LiquidVR, FreeSync, and other essential AMD features. This is displayed in an easy-to-read manner and helps inform the buyer about the graphics card’s functionality.

In terms of accessories, Sapphire includes a user’s guide, driver disk, Select Club registration code, and relatively thick HDMI cable.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Performance Analysis

Introduction


Rise of the Tomb Raider originally launched on November 10th and received widespread critical acclaim from various press outlets. Unfortunately, the game went under the radar because Fallout 4 released on the same day. This was a strategic error which hindered the game’s sales and prevented consumers from giving it their undivided attention. It’s such a shame because Rise of the Tomb Raider is a technical marvel when you consider the Xbox One’s limited horsepower. Even though it’s not technically an exclusive, PC players had to wait until after the Christmas period to enjoy the latest exploits of everyone’s favourite heroine.

The PC version was created by Nixxes Software who worked on the previous Tomb Raider reboot as well as a number of other graphically diverse PC games. The studio is renowned for creating highly polished and well-optimized PC versions featuring an astonishing level of graphical fidelity. Prior to release, NVIDIA recommended a GTX 970 for the optimal 1080p experience and 980 Ti for 1440P. Since then, there have been some performance patches from the developer and driver updates to help with scaling across various hardware configuration. This means it will be fascinating to see the performance numbers now that the game has matured and gone through a large number of post-release hot fixes.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It is the sequel to the 2013 video game Tomb Raider, which was itself, the second reboot to its series. It was released for Xbox One and Xbox 360 in November 2015 and for Microsoft Windows in January 2016. It is set to release for PlayStation 4 in late 2016.

The game’s storyline follows Lara Croft as she ventures into Siberia in search of the legendary city of Kitezh, whilst battling a paramilitary organization that intends on beating her to the city’s promise of immortality. Presented from a third-person perspective, the game primarily focuses on survival and combat, while the player may also explore its landscape and various optional tombs. Camilla Luddington returns to voice and perform her role as Lara.” From Wikipedia.

So, let’s get to it and see how some of the latest graphics cards on the market hold up with the latest from Crystal Dynamics!

AMD Officially Responds to Fury X Cease-and-Desist

It has been a couple of months now since Asetek won over Cooler Master’s appeal in the long-time going legal battle in regards to patent infringement in the all-in-one liquid coolers. Shortly after this victory for Asetek we foresaw some issues for AMD’s liquid cooled Fury X graphics card that uses a Cooler Master system and we were right. A couple of days ago we brought you the news that Asetek had made a Cease & Desist orders to AMD in regards to the Radeon Fury X graphics card.

AMD is naturally not taking this lying down and have officially responded to the issue. They, AMD, argue that the jury in the Asetek versus Cooler Master case didn’t mention the specific cooling solution used in the Radeon R9 Fury X models as infringing on the Asetek held patents.

“We are aware that Asetek has sued Cooler Master. While we defer to Cooler Master regarding the details of the litigation, we understand that the jury in that case did not find that the Cooler Master heat sink currently used with the Radeon Fury X infringed any of Asetek’s patents.”

AMD and Asetek have without a doubt entered some sort of discussion in this matter and it is also clear that AMD will battle this outcome in order to keep their flagship GPU on the market. While it all looks a bit grim right now, it isn’t as bad as it could be. First of all, AMD shouldn’t be hit by with any financial burdens even if they should be found using a patent infringing cooling system. If it’s the case, it should be Cooler Master’s problem again. It could however still be removed from the market as it is, but the way the legal system is built, that could take a long time. And with such a long time to work it out, AMD has plenty of time to find another cooling solution and make a revision of their cards before any legal proceedings can be entered.

It will still be interesting to see how this plays out, whether an agreement will be reached or AMD will revise the Radeon R9 Fury X’s cooling solution.

Asetek Pursuing Legal Action to Remove Fury X From Sale

Asetek produces the majority of closed-loop liquid coolers including the Corsair H110, Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate and many more! Arguably, they created the concept for a sealed unit and all-in-one block, tubing and radiator design. As a result, Asetek has sued or threatened legal action against any other company utilizing a closed-loop configuration without their consent. For example, a judge told Cooler Master to pay 14.5% in royalties to Asetek as their Seidon, Nepton, and Glacer products infringed the company’s patent.

Theoretically, this means that the Fury X could be removed from sale as the pump is made by Cooler Master and utilizes a Swiftech rebrand pulled from US markets. Some of you might remember the H220 and H320 from Swiftech, which were absolutely stunning coolers, but the company decided to remove them from sale to avoid any expensive lawsuits. Swiftech eventually manufactured the the H220-X and H240-X but these are still very hard to get hold of in certain regions.

In an interview with GamersNexus, Asetek revealed their current legal proceedings and confirmed they had made Cease & Desist orders to AMD:

“Asetek’s attorneys have recently sent cease and desist letters to Gigabyte, demanding that it cease selling Giga-Byte’s GEFORCE GTX 980 Water Force (sold under at least model number GV-N980WAOC-4GD) because it contains the Seidon 120M found by the court to infringe Asetek’s patents.” 

“Asetek’s attorneys have also written a cease and desist letter to AMD, demanding that it stop selling its Radeon R9 Fury X product, because it infringes Asetek’s patents.  Our attorneys have had some difficulty obtaining a Gigabyte GV-N98TXTREME W-6GD, but we expect to receive and analyze one very soon for infringement.”

Additionally, they went onto discuss the Cooler Master lawsuit, and illegal activity in question:

“There is no licensing agreement in place with Cooler Master, nor do we plan to offer any in the foreseeable future.  Asetek sued Cooler Master and CMI USA, Inc. (Cooler Master’s US affiliate) for infringement of Asetek’s US Patent Nos. 8,240,362 and 8,245,764, and the jury found that the Cooler Master products at issue infringe Asetek’s patents and awarded damages to Asetek.  The judge also entered an injunction prohibiting Cooler Master and CMI USA from importing or selling the accused products in the US, and the judge awarded enhanced damages because of continued sales after the jury’s verdict.  The injunction states ‘[a]s used herein, Infringing Products shall mean the following Cooler Master products: Seidon 120M, Seidon 120XL, Seidon 240M, Seidon 120V, Seidon 120V Plus, Nepton 140XL, [Nepton 280L], Glacer 240L, and products not more than colorably different from them.’”

The legal outcomes so far have set a pretty strong precedent illustrating Asetek’s valid patents for closed-loop liquid coolers. It’s not an idea situation for other companies trying to enter the market, but the only option is to discuss the matter with Asetek to pay royalties. Nevertheless, it will be a disaster if the Fury X is removed from sale until an Asetek pump replaces Cooler Master’s illegal design.

Do you think Asetek is behaving fairly?

Performance Overview: The Last AMD CCC 15.11.1 Beta

Introduction


An unforeseen turn of events has taken place over the last few months. AMD split up its Processor and Graphics divisions and we recently heard the demise of Catalyst Control Centre to make way for Radeon Software. I for one was not expecting to see a graphics driver before the Radeon Software: Crimson Edition was released. Why do I think this? If AMD is struggling as much as turnover figures and rumours suggest, why would it waste effort on something that is being discontinued for a new version. That’s like announcing HBMv2 will be released in January but releasing an entire range of graphics cards on HBMv1 in December. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, far from it, I welcome AMD driver updates because it shows that it is still in the running and recent news suggests that more funding will be invested into the graphics drivers in the future to level the playing field with NVIDIA. Early reports suggest that this new driver and the one just before, 15.11, are very good performance enhancing versions for newer games such as Star Wars Battlefront, Fallout 4, Assassins Creed, etc…

So today we take a look at the very last CCC driver, 15.11.1 Beta. If you are unaware, the naming is simply [Year].[Month]; the additional; “.#” is if there are two or more updates within a month and then it would just be named in chronological order. This makes it extremely easy to understand which is the latest drive to work for you and troubleshooting is technically made easier if you can only remember approximately when you started having problems (if driver related).

This new driver doesn’t really bring anything new in terms of features apart from an updated list of graphics cards that are applicable for higher support Virtual Super Resolution modes such as the R9 380 being able to support 3840×2160.

Windows 10 Drivers Gives AMD R9 Fury X Advantage Over Nvidia 980 Ti

We only have two major players left in the consumer graphics card market, AMD and Nvidia, and Nvidia has had the lead for quite some time now. The new AMD Fury, Fury X, and Nano cards are impressive on their own, but they still couldn’t quite beat Nvidia’s cards on the full scale.

The newest Windows 10 drivers seem to have given AMD an edge again as they have shown performance increases on all current generation AMD cards. However, the most impressive result to come out of this is that the Fury X managed to leap ahead of the Nvidia GeForce 980 Ti according to the latest comparisons by TechPowerUp via WCCFtech.

With the older test setup, Nvidia was ahead of AMD most of the way. The GTX 980 Ti was 8% ahead of the R9 Fury X, and the GTX 980 was 2% ahead of the R9 390X at 1440p. Moving up to 4K resolution and the GTX 980 Ti and R9 Fury X come in at the same result and so do the GTX 980 and R9 390X.

Older drivers and test setup

After the move to the newest Windows 10 drivers, which aren’t the recently announced Crimson update, Nvidia’s lead shrinks. At 1440p, the GTX 980 Ti that previously was 8% ahead of the R9 Fury X now comes in at the same result while the R9 390x makes up 5% and gets 3% ahead of the GTX980. Even the R9 290X gets a huge boost of 9% over the GTX 970 card.

Again, moving up to 4K resolution and we see that AMD takes the full lead. The R9 Fury X jumps ahead of the GTX 980Ti by 5%, the R9 390X and 290(X) also stay ahead of the GTX 980 and GTX970/GTX780 Ti respectively. This is pretty impressive and really shows what a driver optimising can do.

New Windows 10 AMD Drivers

Overclockers UK Launches Huge Graphics Cards Sale!

Overclockers UK often engages in heavy promotions and offers some of the best prices for components. In particular, their huge graphics card range caters to various budgets and aggressively targets the UK’s lowest price-point. As a result, consumers can acquire graphics cards at a discounted price and other retailers try to price match to become competitive. However, many struggle to compete with OCUK’s staggering buying power and stock levels.

Today, the company launched a comprehensive sale across a wide array of graphics cards. This includes budget-orientated models like the R9 270X all the way up to the GTX 980Ti. Interestingly, OCUK’s graphics card promotion spans to a number of older-generation cards at rock-bottom prices. For example, you can purchase an MSI Frozr Gaming GTX 780 for only £169.99. This performs similar to the GTX 970 while being approximately £100 cheaper! There is also a reference designed MSI GTX 770 for £109.99 and GTX MSI Gaming LE 780Ti for £239.99. These cards are all backed with a 2-year warranty.

For the price, the 780Ti is astonishing value and used to be a top-tier graphics card. In terms of real world performance, the card competes with the GTX 980 which retails between £375-£450.

Finally, you can pick up the Fury X for £499.99 and the R9 Nano is priced at £469.99. Thankfully, the Fury X prices have come down to the RRP as inflated prices were imposed by retailers due to stock shortages. On another note, the KFA2 GTX 980Ti is available for £479.99 and built on the Titan X PCB. This makes it a good choice for custom water-cooling configurations. My pick of the sale has to be the EVGA GTX 980Ti Superclocked+ which retails for £509.99.

This particular card is used in my own personal rig and features a core clock of 1102MHz and boost of 1190MHz. Additionally the ACX 2.0+ cooling system results in quiet operating temperatures and utilizes a semi-passive 0db mode under low load. The GPU implements a lovely EVGA logo and branding via white LEDs and opts for a hefty backplate.

Please note, only the NVIDIA 900 series cards are eligible for the free game promotion.

AMD R9 Fury X Production Could Be Halted by Cooler Master Lawsuit

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X could be facing a complicated production issue due to a legal battle surrounding the Cooler Master closed-loop pump. Back in 2014, Asetek, the manufacturer of many all-in-one liquid coolers such as the Corsair H110, won a patient infringement case against Cooler Master. The final verdict awarded Asetek a 14.5% royalty share on all Cooler Master liquid coolers sold throughout the USA. In total this includes the Seidon 120V, 120V Plus, 120M, 120XL, Nepton 140XL, Seidon 240M, Glacer 240L and Nepton 280L.

Cooler Master’s entire range of liquid cooled products are bound by the royalty fee and cannot be sold in the USA due to an injunction. As a result, it’s theoretically possible that the Fury X pump could become a major issue given its Cooler Master branding and manufacturing deal. CoolIT recently settled a lawsuit with Asetek after manufacturing Corsair’s latest H110 GT liquid cooler. In 2013, Swiftech had to halt production of the H220 and H320 all-in-one coolers due to the Asetek lawsuit and produced the revised H220-X and H240-X designs which didn’t infringe on the patent.

This patent war has been an arduous process and other companies selling closed-liquid-coolers could face similar legal wranglings in the future. Yesterday, Cooler Master’s fate was sealed as their appeal was dismissed and increased the royalty rate to 25.375% on infringing products from January 2015. It’s unknown how this will affect the Fury X’s market position in the USA, but the news is rather worrying.

Thank you GamersNexus for providing us with this information.

AMD Partners Restricted in R9 Nano Modifications

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.

AMD Releases R9 Nano Graphics Card

It has been rumoured, leaked, and talked about for a while now, the AMD Radeon R9 Nano graphics card, and all those rumours were correct. AMD has just released the Radeon R9 Nano graphics card and it is a beaut.

I could talk a lot about this card right from the start, but let us start with the specifications instead. I’m sure it is those that interest most folks around here, reading this right now. The AMD Radeon R9 Nano comes with a fully configured Fiji GPU based on the 28nm process, with 4096 stream processors, 64 ROPs, 256 Texture Units, and 64 compute units for a compute performance of 8.19TFLOPs. That is also the same chip configuration as the water-cooled Radeon R9 Fury X uses, but I’ll get more into that later. Being a Fiji GPU, it comes with 4GB HBM memory directly on the GPU. The GPU clock can go up to 1000 MHz and the memory is locked at 500MHz/1.0 Gbps on the 4096-bit memory bus for up to 512GB/s bandwidth.

The AMD Radeon R9 Nano isn’t just a very small card, measuring just about 6-inches in length, it’s also very power efficient and that is its key point. As a comparison, a mITX motherboard is 6.7-inch by 6.7-inch and that is already very small. The Nano is even shorter. It only needs a single 8-pin power connector for its typical board power of 175W. With what we know now, it’s easy to say that this is the most powerful mITX card ever created. One of the reasons the card uses so much less power than the R9 290x for example, besides the optimization for performance per watt, is the lower power consumption of the HBM memory. A 4GB GDDR5 equipped card would consume about 50W where the Nano only requires 8w.

The R9 Nano isn’t targeted as a new solo flagship and not intended to perform as good as the Fury X either, as it is. The performance will be around that of the air-cooled R9 Fury, but smaller and more efficient as well as with a lot of headroom for aftermarket cooling solutions. Both the memory and the GPU have been set to the absolute sweet spot where you get maximum performance per watt, and that is this cards strength. While you can overclock the card and get roughly 15% more performance, it will come at a power increase of about 50%. If you want it, you can do it. But whether it’s worth it, is another question.

I’ve previously mentioned that the GPU clock goes up to 1000MHz, but you won’t get that far up under typical situations. It will more likely be around 850-900MHz, again to get the best performance per watt. This can be overwritten in the CCC and set manually, so nothing to worry about if you want to run it to the max.

With such a small card and powerful card, there is worry about the cooling. Both the efficiency, thermal throttling, and noise generation. The GPU is allowed all the way up to 85 degrees before any thermal throttling is happening, and it is designed to run no hotter than 75 degrees in normal setups.

In the first instance, the R9 nano will be released as a reference design only, but it will be opened up to AIB partners later on, allowing them to create their own cooling solutions for the card. Speaking of upgrading it, you can also upgrade the shroud with a custom one like on the Fury X, but it won’t be as easy. AMD promised to release the 3D print files, allowing people to create their own shrouds. But it needs to accommodate for the fan that is mounted on it and isn’t just a square plate like it was on the Fury X.

The Nano comes without any DVI connectors and again, for now it’s reference design only. But this will also be opened up to card partners later on, where a few surely will choose to include the legacy connection. For now you get three DisplayPort connectors and one HDMI. The HDMI port isn’t a 2.0, but you can get that type of connection through a DisplayPort adapter if needed.

Being a mITX design, the AMD R9 Nano is intended to be used mainly in compact and portable gaming rigs, but that doesn’t prevent you from using them in any larger one. The card also features bridgeless CrossfireX support with up to four cards. That ability could create some truly sick mods with all new possibilities in custom case placements.

The three photos below illustrate the cooling solution that is used and that is probably one of the things that many previous AMD customers might be worried about. The Radeon 290x reference card wasn’t exactly what you would call silent.

The first part we see is the dedicated VRM direct touch heat sink, something that probably hasn’t been seen on this type of cards before. A stable and cool VRM goes a long way for a graphics card and having the extra heat sink will allow the fan to spin at a much lower speed.

The second part is the actual cooler that features a dual vapor chamber and heat-pipe thermal solution. This combination again allows the fan to spin at a slower speed as it’s required less. AMD put a lot of work into the cooler, and it shows. Effectively this allows the card to be 16dBA quieter than the R9 290X graphics card and comes in on a noise level of 42 dBA. That is the same noise level you’d find in a library.

The third part of the cooling solution is one that easily could be overlooked and it’s the direction of the fins. Most cards have them turned 90 degrees and that’s simply a bad choice. With this design, most of the hot air will be blown out the rear instead of up onto motherboard and CPU area that is located above the graphics card.

AMD also opted for a matte black PCB on this card next to the full metal shroud and brushed aluminium finish. It sure looks great. It wasn’t entirely sure at the press event what speed the fan will spin on, but it should go up to around 2700 RPM.

So to sum up: The AMD R9 Nano uses the same setup as the R9 Fury X, but it is tuned to a more optimal performance per watt and it’s targeted at compact and mobile gaming rigs. You can overclock it to gain more performance, but it will come at a significant extra power requirement. It is not meant to compete with the Fury X but offer a smaller and more efficient variant of the same. The performance, as it is, will be around that of the air-cooled R9 Fury.

What’s left to say, oh yea the pricing. The card won’t be cheap and it will cost about the same as the Fury X with a $649 USD MSRP. I also got a fun fact, the Amazing AMD micro system displayed at the same time as the Fury X was announced actually used two R9 Nano cards in a dual-board layout. So different PCB, but same GPU configuration.

Are you tempted to get one of the new AMD Radeon R9 Nano cards? I know I am, or perhaps two while I’m at it. Here is also a comparison on what is possible. These two systems have the same CPU, the same amount of memory, same graphics power, and same storage abilities. Which would you pick?

 

 

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Benchmarks Revealed

AMD’s official marketing material surrounding the upcoming R9 Nano has been released and makes bold claims about being “The fastest Mini-ITX Card”. Recently, we reported on the confirmed technical specifications of the R9 Nano which features 4096 shader cores, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs and 4GB HBM. This means the R9 Nano utilizes Fiji’s full core but in an incredibly small form factor without the need for water cooling. Interestingly, AMD appears to be targeting ITX versions of the GTX 970 and their leaked press release suggests the R9 Nano is 30% faster.

However, the benchmarks were recorded at 4K resolutions and it’s important to remember that the GTX 970 isn’t really geared towards this resolution. Furthermore, the furore surrounding NVIDIA’s 4GB VRAM implementation can cause issues at huge resolutions. On another note, there’s no specific information regarding what settings were used which can easily skew the final results. As always, it’s wise to take any marketing benchmarks with a pinch of salt.

Aesthetically, the GPU is gorgeous and adopts a more premium design compared to ITX varients of the GTX 970. There’s no denying how appealing the R9 Nano is to system builders looking for an attractive and portable LAN rig.

The press documentation provides information about the Dual Vapor Chamber and overall cooling solution. By default, the card is clocked at 1000MHz, and I’m interested to see the operating temperatures under full load. Does the Fiji chip require a liquid-based GPU cooler to reach its full potential? Another factor to take into account is price, as the GTX 970 retails between £230-330 depending on the aftermarket model and offers an incredible price to performance ratio. HBM is expensive, and in low yields, so can AMD realistically get close to this price?

Do you think the R9 Nano is powerful enough or have too many concessions been made?

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

AMD R9 Nano Confirmed to Have Full 4096 Core Fiji at 1000mhz

With AMD virtually confirmed to launch their SFF R9 Nano tomorrow, we’re getting word that the Fiji GPU onboard won’t be cut down. Unlike the R9 Fury, the Nano will be like it’s older R9 Fury X sibling and feature the complete Fiji die. This means that the Nano will have the same 4096 shader cores, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs and 4GB HBM as the full fledged Fury X flagship. The Nano may also feature HDMI 2.0 which will allow 4K 60hz for TVs, something the Furys lacks and great for a card that is perfect for high-end HTPC gaming

What is even better news for SFF fans is that the Nano will feature a top speed of 1000Mhz on the core, giving it the potential to nearly match the Fury X. If the card manages to somehow not throttle (ie under water probably), the performance should be pretty much on par with the Fury X, in a much more compact form factor. The card also features the same display setup as it’s Fury siblings, all in a row which can allow for a single expansion card slot under a watercooling. Stock cooling probably is a combination vapor chamber and several heatpipes though we’ll know more once the card arrives.

The biggest question though is how the stock power limits, the 8pin connector, and the heat sink will impact the card. While the 8pin connector in tandem with the PCIe slot should allow plenty of power, the stock power limits may serve to limit the speeds you’ll get at full throttle. Another issue is whether or not the cooling system can keep up with a full Fiji, keeping in mind that AMD went with watercooling for the Fury X which also features full Fiji at similar speeds. Some sources are saying that at full load the card will usually throttle to about 800mhz with the peak speed only being seen in some lighter loads. Noise levels will also be interesting to see. AMD did run into some serious problems with the stock cooling for the R9 290X, leading to heavy throttling. Hopefully, the lesson has been learned.

With a full Fiji core, AMD can’t afford to sell the card too low but it also somehow has to fit in with the Fury siblings. Given that performance should hover around that of the Fury, AMD will have to price the card carefully to ensure that it does sell, but also preventing it from cannibalizing the rest of the lineup too much. With just a day to go, we hope to bring your more information as it arrives.

Thank you Videocardz for providing us with this information

AMD Gets Help With Fiji Supply Issues

Despite launching earlier this month, AMD has been suffering from low stocks of their new R9 Fury and Fury X GPUs. In many cases, the cards have sold out quickly, meaning many of those looking to go with the red team have been turned away. In an effort to get ahead of demand, it looks like AMD to turning to more sources to get Through Silicon Vias (TSV).

As we all know, AMD uses a silicon interposer to connect the HBM DRAM stack to the GPU die. In order to connect all three parts together, Through Silicon Vias are required, which is an extra step that is not normally required. While there was speculation that AMD was doing this either with Hynix or TSMC, the more likely solution, as we now know, is to get a third-party silicon fab to handle it, in this case, United Microelectronics Corporation. UMC is producing the silicon interposer that the HBM and GPU die are placed, and that is also going into volume production.

It seems that AMD was a bit premature in launching their Fiji lineup with the critical part still in limited production. With the silicon interposer now in full production, the bottleneck to Hynix or TSMC, helping improve the supply situation. Given that it will take some time for the completed dies to be shipped to AIBs and then sent to retailers, it still be may some time till the R9 Fury and Fury X are fully in stock. Hopefully, AMD’s upcoming R9 Fury Nano will arrive in a much better supply situation.

AMD Confirms Launch Date for the Radeon R9 Nano

We had some pretty awesome reveals of the upcoming Fiji cards in the past. With Fury X and Fury already released, AMD is now focusing on the R9 Nano and their monstrous Dual Fiji card. However, CEO Lisa Su might have slipped in some more information about the R9 Nano at the company’s earnings call.

What we knew so far is that the R9 Nano is a small, 7.64-inch card, that will use High Bandwidth Memory directly on the Fiji chip. This gives AMD the ability to shrink the card to the dimensions listed. Also, the R9 Nano is said to have 4096 stream processors, a 4096-bit memory bus width and most importantly, it does not need a closed-loop liquid cooling solution like the Fury X. The exact specs are not yet confirmed, but we might have an actual release time-frame for the card.

Su apparently revealed that the R9 Nano will be released this August. This means that we are about a month away from seeing it on the market. Up until now, the R9 Nano was expected to be released this summer, but an exact date was not given. Now, since we have an actual release date, we might see AMD revealing the R9 Nano’s official full specifcations soon enough. Stay tuned!

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Tom’s Hardware

AquaComputer Released Full-Cover Water Block for the R9 Fury X

We’ve already seen EKWB with their full-cover water block for the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card and now it’s the German AquaComputer’s turn with their take on such a solution. The new kryographics for Radeon R9 Fury X comes in various configurations and had to be designed from ground up to meet the demands and changes that come along with the new GPU and onboard HBM memory.

The GPU cooling is constructed from exact 3D data provided by AMD and it has been extensively tested to ensure a secure and powerful performance. The cooling liquid will hit the GPU in the middle which allows it to run off parallel in both directions which reduces the resistance for high-flow systems.

AquaComputer created a true full cover water block as it covers the entire card and doesn’t leave a piece of the PCB at the end exposed, something many users will appreciate as it allows for an optical cleaner setup. The outer voltage regulators get cooled this way too while it also further reduces the resistance in the water block.

The kryographics R9 Fury X is made from electrolytic copper and CNC cut acrylic and an active cooled backplate is also in the works and should be released shortly. The cooler is single slot compatible, uses default G 1/4 fittings, is multi-GPU fitting capable and comes at a price that starts at €99.90 and goes up to €114.89 depending on version.

Nvidia AIB Partners Cut Price on GTX 980 and 980Ti

For those of you debating on whether or not to snag a card from the green team, now may be the time. Following the launch of AMD’s R9 Fury many of Nvidia’s AIB partners are cutting prices on their 980 and 980Ti cards. MSRP are dropping about $20 for both cards, with the 980 dropping from $499 USD to $479 while the 980Ti falls from $649 to $629. This time around, the price drop is silent, with no official announcement coming out from anyone.

While a price cut of $20 isn’t much, that’s another extra $20 that can be put to a larger SSD, better case, CPU or power supply. With this price cut, it looks like Nvidia and it’s AIB partners want to have their cards be more competitive. The R9 Fury currently has an MSRP of $550 and the R9 Fury X at $650. While the 980 won’t make too much difference, dropping the price of the 980Ti below the Fury X will make more of an impact.

These price drops will be sure to put more pressure on AMD. Nvidia appeared to have been planning these prices drops for a while already, waiting till AMD had launched their new lineup. It’s important to note that while the MSRP has dropped, not every card has dropped by that amount, with some hitting above and below $20. AMD may not be able to afford to drop prices yet on the Fury’s given their new launch and tech. It will be interesting to see how AMD will react to this price drop in the near future.

AMD Catalyst 15.7 WHQL Driver Analysis

Introduction


AMD have been lagging behind in the GPU market for a little while now; no matter what they seem to deliver, NVIDIA always seems to trump them almost immediately. This doesn’t always mean that NVIDIA produce the most powerful graphics cards, just look at the R9 Fury X, it nips at the heels of the GTX Titan X or GTX 980Ti in almost every test and in some cases beats both.

Something that NVIDIA is always above AMD in is consistent driver releases. With almost every big title game that has been released in recent months; NVIDIA has had a driver ready. Along with this, most of the drivers are WHQL rated, which AMD hasn’t released since late 2014.

In the newest driver from AMD, it’s the first WHQL driver since December 9th 2014, that is 211 days, which is extremely bad. This driver seems to have been released in the run-up to the launch of Windows 10, which will see the launch of not only a new operating system, but also the highly anticipated launch of DirectX 12; which promises to bring a performance increase unlike we’ve ever seen before.

Additional to DX12 and Windows 10 support, Virtual Super Resolution (VSR) is included, which basically renders the detail of a higher resolution display and presents them on a lower resolution display.

As with all driver updates, consult the release notes to ensure that the driver will not impact your current gaming standards. So let’s jump straight into testing to see if there are any changes to our current testing programs.

EK Releases Full-Cover Water Blocks for AMD Radeon R9 Fury X

It was only a matter of time before someone released a third-party and real water cooler for AMD’s newest flagship GPU, the R9 Fury X. EK have not only created another beautiful full-cover water block for this graphics cards, they also made it a true single-slot liquid cooling solution.

The R9 Fury X is already a very small card and with this liquid cooling block it can slim down to a single slot, impressive.

As always from EK WB, we get multiple versions of the cooler. The base is made of bare- or nickel-plated electrolytic copper depending on the variant and the top is made of either acrylic- or POM Acetal material. Plexi variants also feature two pre-drilled slots for 3mm LED diodes so you can light up that card to match the rest of the setup. Screw-in brass standoffs are pre-installed and allow for a safe and painless installation procedure.

The EK-FC R9 Fury X has been designed with FC Terminal connection ports for up to four FURY X on a single ATX form factor motherboard. The unique central inlet split-flow cooling engine design allows for best possible cooling performance. Reversed water flow doesn’t have any adverse effects on the cooling performance and it also works great with setups having somewhat weaker pumps.

The new EK WB full cover water blocks for AMD’s R9 Fury X graphics card (EK-FC R9 Fury X) are available now and come with an MSRP between €99.95 and €109.95 depending on the variant. An optional backplate will further set you back between €29.95 and €37.95.

AMD R9 Fury Details Exposed

We have recently received information of the upcoming AMD R9 Fury graphics card. What makes this particular card so special is the fact that manufacturers can add their own cooling solutions to the cards themselves; which is something that we missed with the R9 Fury X.

The information comes in the form of what seems to be the hardware guide for the card, which is supplied directly by AMD to their partners. Throughout the slides, we see general information that we already know from the Fury line-up, however; the last slide is particularly interesting. Contained within the slides, we see the reference to two card designs, the Sapphire Tri-X and the brand new ASUS Strix DCUIII; a peculiar thing is that AMD have used the Strix model for stock photos as well, could this mean that we are not going to see an AMD reference design at all?

Seeing the two models side by side allows us to look at the output ports, on the Fury X, we were missing the DVI port. This technology is aging, but it doesn’t force consumers to shop elsewhere or buy a new monitor just so they can use HDMI or DisplayPort. Thankfully, it seems ASUS has added a DVI port to its version.

We know now to take AMD performance figures with a relatively large pinch of salt. Here it shows the Fury outpacing the GTX 980 at 4K with ease; let’s hope AMD haven’t cut too much from the graphics core so these figures could hold truth.

Last, but not least, the figures, we can see that the processors have been cut down to 3584 from 4096, compute units down to 56 from 64 and texture units down to 224 from 256. These cutbacks see the performance drop by around 17% (compute and texture fill rate). What will be interesting is to see where the price vs performance ratio fits in against the current AMD lineup as well as the current Nvidia lineup.

We’ll bring you more information as soon as we have it.

Sapphire R9 Fury Specifications Confirmed with 2 Custom SKUs

Videocardz has leaked information regarding Sapphire’s R9 Fury range which includes two models; a standard card clocked at 1000 MHz and factory overclocked variant reaching 1040 MHz. Both cards will utilize the extremely cool Tri-X cooler which managed to tame the R9 290 series particularity well. Perhaps a Vapor-X will be unleashed in the future with improved default clocks. Furthermore, the two GPUs will incorporate a rather attractive backplate which may aid cooling by 1-3 degrees and add some rigidity. Judging by pictures alone, the card looks quite hefty, so a backplate is probably required to support it.

In terms of connectivity, the R9 Fury utilizes 3x DisplayPort 1.2 and one HDMI (1.4a) but there is still no sign of DVI support. This will be a major disappointment to those with Korean monitors which only have a dual link DVI port. As you can see from the specification sheet below, the R9 Fury is a cut-down version of the Fury X with 3584 Steam Processors compared to the full 4096 seen on the water cooling model. Additionally, the Texture Mapping Units have been decreased from 256 to 224. To best judge the R9 Fury’s overall performance, it is important to analyse the SPFT. While the Fury X manages 8.6 TFLOPS of raw performance, the R9 Fury is limited to 7.2 TFLOPs. Given this information, it’s sensible to deduce that the air cooled Fury should compete against the GTX 980.

The R9 Fury is set to launch at $549 which will possibly translate in the UK to around £425. Considering, GTX 980 GPUs can be procured for under £380, the R9 Fury really needs to establish itself and find a performance balance between the GTX 980 and 980Ti.

Thank you Videocardz for providing us with this information.

AMD Finds Root Cause of Fury X Pump Noise

AMD has just released a statement to LegitReviews explaining why the press samples and first batch of retail units experienced whining issues:

“We have received feedback that during open bench testing a small number of Fury X cards emit a sound from the high speed liquid cooling pump that, while not loud, is bothersome to some users. While the vast majority of initial Fury X owners report remarkably quiet operation, we take this feedback seriously, as AMD’s mission is to always deliver the best possible experience to our Radeon customers. 

AMD Radeon R9 Fury X customers demand and deserve the best, so adjustments in the sound baffling adhesive compound were applied in the assembly of the high speed cooling pump to address the specific sound a few end users experienced as problematic. This improved the acoustic profile of the pump, and repeat testing shows the specific pitch/sound in question was largely reduced through adjustments to the sound-baffling adhesive compound in the pump.

AMD will work with its graphic card partners to ensure the satisfaction of the small number of initial customers who observed this specific sound and experienced it as bothersome. AMD is confident that on-going production of Radeon R9 Fury X product reduces the specific sound in question, but this is also a highly subjective matter with wide differences in PC case builds and room acoustics.

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X radiator fan is near silent, and this makes any sound from the high-speed pump more noticeable to some end users, especially during open bench testing. Thus although the overall sound levels are remarkably low for an enthusiast product, AMD has worked to reduce the specific sound that some customers report as bothersome.”

Even though AMD assured customers that the noise was limited to press samples, there are numerous videos and owners on forums displeased with the pump whine. Hopefully, they will be able to get a replacement but that might be a little while off to due stock limitations.

At least AMD have investigated and hopefully rectified the issue. You could argue this shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but AMD admitted their mistake and look set to manufacturer a cool and very quiet GPU under full load. Once the second supply of units arrive, the card’s reputation should improve and drivers should start to offer significant performance gains compared to the release drivers.

AMD Revises R9 Fury X Water Pump

Since the launch of the R9 Fury X, multiple reviews, news and general consumers have all noted the extremely loud pump noise coming from the AIO enclosed unit that tames the beast of the Fiji XT GPU core and HBM memory. In the most recent turn of events, AMD seems to have released a revised version. We noted the pump noise during our review of the card, something which was a massive downside to an otherwise great unit.

Thanks to a forum user over on the AnandTech forums, we can now see that AMD have changed the pump to an updated version. This came after the user reported the pump noise and requested an RMA from his local retailer; resulting in a brand new revised until to be sent out.

While the units look relatively the same, with just a logo change, reports have already started coming in that this new pump has in fact lowered the overall noise levels of the unit. We must note that this model is the Sapphire Fury X, but all other manufacturers will be receiving the same unit immediately.

If you are one of the lucky ones to get your Fury X before stocks ran out and are curious to know what model pump you are running, you can simply remove the top case cover with the use of a small allen key or Hex tool bit; this will not void your warranty. If you have access to a 3D printer, why not add a little flair to your Fury X with some customer covers.

AMD Releases R9 Fury X Faceplate 3D Model

AMD looks to have mods in mind with their R9 Fury X graphics card. Many readers may have noticed that the faceplate for the Fury X might be removable. AMD has now noted that the move was partially intentional, allowing easy customizability. With that in mind, AMD has released the STP file for CAD software, allowing owners to easily create their own faceplate. I am sure many enterprising makers will create all kinds of designs for their Fury X.

Given the water cooling featured on the Fury X, there is very little need to say mod a fan bracket or something like that. More likely are some AMD inspired designs or maybe a clear window, though the faceplate of the Fury X usually won’t be seen in a regular build. Given some complaints about coil whine and pump buzzing, maybe those impacted can add some sound dampening material to help counter that as well.

As expected from most hardware, AMD will not be covering any damage to the card, faceplate or system caused by removing the faceplate. AMD is urging certain precautions like not tinkering with the card while it is powered, operating, installed in a system, and proper ESD protection. While I’m sure most users are well aware of the risks or lack thereof, you can never be too careful.

Overclockers UK Slashes GTX 980 Ti Reference to £509.99

The AMD Fury X unveiling was a tantalizing moment for GPU aficionados, but little was known about the card’s raw performance numbers. Speculation suggested it could defeat the 980Ti and possibly dethrone the Titan X. Finally, the benchmarks have been revealed and AMD’s new flagship received a lukewarm response. With no units in stock, and inconsistent numbers which show the 980TI being clearly ahead below 4K resolutions is a disappointing result. Obviously, this could be down to a lack of mature drivers with HBM, but currently, it’s a difficult selling proposition costing £509.99 and performing worse, on average, than the 980 TI reference. When you consider custom PCB 980 Ti cards such as the Gigabyte G1 Gaming are capable of huge overclocks, then it’s unclear how AMD can compete in the high-end market.

One could argue that the 980Ti’s original price at £550 would help AMD in trying to regain market share, but Nvidia caused a storm after pitching the 980 Ti against the Titan X and even beating it with aftermarket coolers. Given the Fury X is similarly priced with less VRAM and requiring space to fit a water cooling AIO, I highly doubt anyone seriously considering a £509.99 GPU would try to save £50 based on clear performance gains.

These issues have been compounded for AMD as Overclockers UK launched a weekly promotion offering a reference GTX 980Ti for £509.99. This price matches the Fury X RRP and is currently in stock. According to Overclockers UK, stock of the Fury X isn’t expected until sometime next month and depends on the board partner. Furthermore, the reference model sold at this ridiculously good price is from Zotac which features an extensive 5 year warranty.

Vendor 980Ti’s have a wild pricing disparity and highly sought-after models such as the MSI Gaming retail for £599.99. In contrast to this, the best deal from my own point of view, is the EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti Superclocked ACX 2.0+ which features a superb cooler, 0dB idle fan mode, 3 year warranty and factory overclocked performance, all for £539.99.  More specifically, this GPU utilizes a base clock of 1102MHz and boost clock of 1190MHz with lots of headroom to manually push the card further. Unfortunately, the memory is limited to stock values but shouldn’t be too difficult to overclock using software. Another advantage to the current 980Ti offerings is the inclusion of Batman: Arkham Knight. While the game is a technical mess at the moment, the story is impeccable and hopefully it will function properly soon enough.