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Unleash the Fury X: Building a powerful, yet tiny PC with AMD's top GPU and APU

Marco Chiappetta | Sept. 9, 2015
AMD just released a new flagship graphics card and APU, so we crammed both into a tiny PC to see how they perform.

ssd
The Thermaltake Core V1 chassis has two drive cages that allow users to mounts drives vertically, perpendicular to the bottom of the case. Credit: Marco Chiappetta

The only semi-tricky component to install was the Fury X. Popping the card in the sole slot on the motherboard wasn’t an issue, but it took some careful routing to make sure the coolant tubes weren’t kinked after mounting the radiator to the appropriate spot in the chassis.

Mounting the radiator posed another problem. The large, front-facing fan on the Thermaltake Core V1 is configured as intake. But the Fury X’s fan is set up to exhaust hot air. Because the radiator needed to be mounted at the front of the chassis, the two fans would essentially cancel each other out—the Fury X’s fan would be trying to blow hot air against the incoming cool air from the large intake fan.

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I had to carefully snake the tubing through the back of the chassis, and re-configure the front-facing fan in the case, but the Radeon R9 Fury X ultimately fit well inside the Thermaltake Core V1. Credit: Marco Chiappetta

To work around this issue, we had two options: Reverse the Fury X’s fan or reverse the front-facing fan on the chassis, so the two would complement each other in a push-pull configuration. We opted to reverse the chassis fan, so the heated air from the GPU’s radiator wouldn’t be blown across the motherboard and APU.

This setup worked fine, but introduced a third problem. With the fans configured to exhaust air from the system, the vents on the sides of the case become intakes, and unfortunately, they have no dust filters. Dust will most certainly build up faster than normal in the rig, especially if it’s placed on a carpeted floor. An air-cooled card wouldn’t suffer from the same issue.

By the numbers

Once we had the system assembled, we installed Windows 10 Pro x64 and ran a handful of benchmarks to see how everything performed, with pretty good results.

In the OpenCL-accelerated Home and Work benchmarks, the system put up scores of 3,215 and 3,824, which are very respectable numbers. In the CPU-bound Cinebench R15 test, the rig mustered a score of 325, which placed it somewhere in between a Core i5-4670K and Core i5-3317U, but just ahead of an A10-6800K. In Cinebench’s OpenGL graphics test, we got a score of 71.15fps.

amd radeon fury x split view

The system also performed well with graphics-heavy workloads—not surprisingly. In the 3DMark Firestrike Ultra benchmark running at 4K resolution, our all AMD-rig scored 3,607 overall, with a GPU score of 3,936, and a Physics score of 4,497 (14.28fps). By comparison, slapping the Fury X in our Core i7-5960X “Haswell-E”-based system resulted in an overall score of 3981. In the Unigine Heaven benchmark, also running at 4K with max tessellations and 4XAA, the system mustered a score of 569 with an average framerate of 22.6fps (6.5fps minimum, 48.8fps maximum).

 

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