AMD Fury X reviews show strong 4K performance, but doesnt beat 980 Ti overall

AMD logoThe first reviews for AMD's top-of-the-line Radeon R9 Fury Xwhich sports the first iteration of stacked High Bandwidth Memory (HMB) and a huge 8.9-billion-transistor Fiji GPUhave landed, showing performance almost as good as the identically priced Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti. While that might not be the total landslide AMD fans might have been hoping for, the Fury X is the first time in a long time that AMD has been competitive with Nvidia at the high-end: not just in terms of price, but performance as well.

Naturally, there are some caveats to the Fury X's performance, the biggest being that at 1080p resolution it's easily beaten out by the GTX 980 Ti, and in some cases even the GTX 980. That's not too surprising given the Fury X's focus on memory bandwidth, which comes into play when larger textures are being shuffled in and out of memory. That said, it's unlikely anyone buying a £550/$650 graphics card is looking to play at 1080p (unless they're into 100 FPS and higher gaming). At 1440p and 4K resolutions the Fury X more than holds its own.

AMD Fury X reviews show strong 4K performance, but doesnt beat 980 Ti overall

Over at Tom's Hardware, the site found the Fury X bested the GTX 980 Ti and Titan X running Far Cry 4 at 1440p by around 10 FPS, with a similar lead in the game at 4K. Performance at 4K is definitely a high point for the Fury X, where in games like The Witcher 3, Metro Last Light, and Shadow of Mordor, it beat the Nvidia cards. But in Grand Theft Auto V, it was the GTX 980 Ti that was faster at both 1440p and 4K. This was a theme across the reviews of most sites, with the two cards trading blows across a range of games.

Radeon R9 Fury X

The results over at Tom's Hardware are something of an anomaly compared to those of other sites, though. Hexus' results showed the Fury X as slower than the 980 Ti in most games at 1440p and 4K, which was echoed by the benchmarks over at Maximum PC and Tech Report.

Overall, it appears the Fury X comes within 10 percent of the performance 980 Ti, which is impressive given just how far behind AMD was with the 290X. However, it's worth bearing in mind that the performance difference is just a few frames either way, which isn't really enough to make a definitive call between the two cards.

To discern a real difference between the Fury X and 980 Ti, you need to look at numbers other than average frame ratesand then AMD's offering starts to sag. First off, there's overclocking performance, which isn't great. PC World noted in its review that, despite AMD touting the Fury X as "an overclocker's dream," it was only able to eke out an extra 50MHz on top of the stock 1050MHz clock speed before instability set in. Hexus did slightly better with a 90MHz overclock, but no site managed anything particularly ground breaking. Memory overclocking isn't possible, either, due to AMD locking it down at a hardware level. Notably, a factory overclocked 980 Ti consistently out performed the Fury X in PC World's benchmarks.

The biggest differentiator, though, is power consumption and heat. Traditionally, AMD hasn't fared too well, but the Fury X does far better. The combination of more power-efficient HBM memory and an excellent watercooling system has enabled AMD to keep the GPU temperature down to around an impressive 60 degrees Celsius under load, far cooler than the 80C-and-higher of the stock Nvidia cards. AMD says the Fury X consumes around 275 watts under load on average, and the reviews largely reflect that, showing peaks of around 290 watts. That's still on average around 40 watts more than 980 Ti, and around the same as a 290X, but it's an impressive showing considering the extra performance on offer.

For all the good AMD has done with the Fury X, there's still one niggle that cropped up in most reviews: a high frame time variance. This is a problem that has long afflicted AMD cards, causing stuttering slowdowns, despite an overall high average frame rate. The Tech Report review has a good summary of the situation:

"If you dig deeper using our frame-time-focused performance metricsor just flip over to the 99th-percentile scatter plot aboveyou'll find that the Fury X struggles to live up to its considerable potential. Unfortunate slowdowns in games like The Witcher 3 and Far Cry 4 drag the Fury X's overall score below that of the less expensive GeForce GTX 980. What's important to note in this context is that these scores aren't just numbers. They mean that you'll generally experience smoother gameplay in 4K with a $499 GeForce GTX 980 than with a $649 Fury X. Our seat-of-the-pants impressions while play-testing confirm it. The good news is that we've seen AMD fix problems like these in the past with driver updates, and I don't doubt that's a possibility in this case."

If AMD can sort out the frame variance issues with a driver update, then there's little to choose from between the Fury X and 980 Ti: the performance is very close indeed. The Fury X will be quieter and cooler overall thanks to its liquid cooler, but you'll have to make sure there's a spare 120mm fan mount available in your case in order to house it. While the 980 Ti is only a teeny bit faster, it does overclock well, meaning you could feasibly increase the gap with little effort. Then there are all the extras. Do you prefer G-Sync to FreeSync? Or do you prefer Nvidia's drivers to AMD's?

Regardless, it's great to see Nvidia finally has some competition. It's been a while, but the GPU market just got interesting again.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: AMD, Radeon, videocards

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