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Radeon R9 Fury review: The Fury X's little brother is AMD's GeForce GTX 980-slayer

Brad Chacos | July 13, 2015
AMD's air-cooled counterpart to the liquid-chilled Radeon Fury X doesn't topple its big brother, but the Asus Strix version of the Radeon Fury firmly outpunches Nvidia's GTX 980.

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AMD's water-cooled, luxuriously designed Radeon Fury X graphics card was supposed to be the star of the show--the technology-packed counterpunch to Nvidia's ferocious GeForce GTX 980 Ti. AMD drip-drop-dripped information about the Fury X in the days ahead of the card's launch, slowly teasing enthusiasts with leaks and glimpses and internal benchmarks. In the end, the $650 Fury X lived up to its name, proving competitive--if not outright dominant--to Nvidia's beast, and promptly selling out in stores.

But forget about the Fury X.

It's the Fury X's little brother that AMD should be shouting about from the rooftops: the $550 Radeon Fury. Sure, it's not quite as powerful as AMD's liquid-chilled flagship, but the Radeon Fury is nothing less than a stellar card that clearly outpunches its GeForce GTX 980 counterpart--something the Fury X can't quite claim against the 980 Ti.

Let's dig in.

AMD Radeon Fury detailed

AMD originally implied that the Radeon R9 Fury was merely an air-cooled version of the Fury X, but that's not quite true.

The Fury indeed mimes the vast majority of the Fury X's technical features, from its 4GB of cutting-edge high-bandwidth memory (HBM) to its 275W power draw via a pair of 8-pin connectors. All of the software features found in the Fury X also work with the Fury, from Frame Rate Target Control to Virtual Super Resolution.

The differences from the Fury X are fairly major, however. First, and most noticeable: The Radeon Fury is indeed air-cooled, while the Fury X is available only in its liquid-cooled reference design. AMD partners are allowed to slap customized hardware and overclocks on the Fury, which Asus did to full effect with the Strix R9 Fury DirectCU III OC we reviewed.

The card largely replicates the design of Asus' Radeon R9 390X Strix, featuring Asus' vaunted DirectCU II tri-fanned cooling system for cooler, quieter running. Those fans actually stay off (and therefore silent) until the card hits 65 degrees Celsius, relying on the beefy heatsinks and pipes underneath to cool things down.

The sleek-looking backplate on the top of the card leaves the back of the Fiji GPU and HBM exposed for more airflow. (The pulsating, illuminated red-and-white Strix logo on the side of the card is a nice touch, too.) Interestingly, while the reference-only Fury X eschews a DVI port completely, Asus stocked the Strix Fury with DVI-I, HDMI (still 1.4, sadly), and a trio of DisplayPorts.

While the Fury X was a pint-sized powerhouse, measuring in at just 7.6 inches, the air-cooled Strix Fury is a full-width graphics card, measuring 11.8 inches long. Sapphire's competing Tri-X R9 Fury is also a full-length card, though that's due to Sapphire's extending the cooling assembly beyond its shorter-than-normal circuit board. In other words: Don't expect Fury boards to be as tiny as the Fury X.


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