Size, power, or noise: When it comes to graphics cards, you typically get to pick two at the expense of the third. But AMD’s looking to shake things up with its powerful, yet pint-sized Radeon R9 Nano, a premium graphics card designed for itty-bitty mini-ATX builds and home theater PCs. The R9 Nano won’t quite make the August launch promised earlier this year, but the company’s revealing the card’s full list of features and design details ahead of a September 10 release date.
And hot damn does it look intriguing. This card could, theoretically, transform a mini-ITX PC into a 4K gaming powerhouse without any of the usual compromise.
“We look at the Nano as sharing the halo or flagship status with the R9 Fury X,” AMD’s Victor Camardo said in a press briefing. “Similarly to how we announced the Fury X and the Fury—one has a liquid cooling solution for those who want to push the cards to the limits, and the Fury for those who wanted a more traditional form factor—we’re introducing the Nano… for those people who want the greatest amount of power efficiency and care about form factor and size.”
Under the hood of the AMD Radeon R9 Nano
We’ve known some basics about the R9 Nano ever since its unveiling at E3 in June. The 175W card measures a mere 6 inches in length, but packs up to 30 percent more performance oomph than AMD’s pre-Fury flagship, the Radeon R9 290X.
Now we know how.
The Nano’s Fiji GPU packs a full 4096 stream processors—more than the air-cooled Fury cards that meet or beat Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980, and the exact same number found in AMD’s top-of-the-line Fury X, which itself featured a shortened board length. The Nano, like the Fury and Fury X, also boasts 4GB of revolutionary high-bandwidth memory clocked at 512GB/s and delivered over an ultra-wide 4096-bit bus. (The R9 Nano wouldn’t exist without HBM’s dramatic space savings over the traditional GPU/memory combo, actually).
“In no way is this a cut-down, low-speed, ‘value’ product,” says Camardo.
Of course, stuffing all those stream processors into such a tiny package—and one that’s air-cooled, unlike the Fury X—does require some finessing. While the Fury X hits core GPU clock speeds up to 1050MHz, the R9 Nano dials that back to 1000MHz tops. More aggressive PowerTune settings, which keep the card pulling around 175W, mean you’ll more often see clock speeds around 900MHz during gameplay.
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