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Appeared on: Thursday, September 10, 2015
Quick look: AMD Radeon R9 Nano

1. Features
AMD launched the Radeon R9 Fury X graphics card back in June this year, which X uses a scaled-up GCN architecture and HBM memory for increased bandwidth and potential to build smaller cards, such as the R9 Nano we are taking a look at today. Looking at the specs of the Nano R9 card you can realize that it uses the full complement of Fiji cores available to the Fury X card. Not only does the R9 Nano feature a full-fat Fiji XT die, the core frequency, quoted as up to 1,000MHz is impressive for a 175W TDP.

  AMD Radeon R9 Fury X AMD Radeon R9 Fury AMD Radeon R9 Nano
Stream Processors 4096 3584 4096
Texture Units 256 224 256
ROPs 64 64 64
Boost Clock 1050MHz 1000MHz 1000MHz
Memory Clock 1Gbps HBM 1Gbps HBM 1Gbps HBM
Memory Bus Width 4096-bit 4096-bit 4096-bit
FP64 1/16 1/16 1/16
TrueAudio Y Y Y
Transistor Count 8.9B 8.9B 8.9B
Typical Board Power 275W 275W 175W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm
GPU Fiji Fiji Fiji
Price $649 $549 $649

The Radeon R9 Nano is in fact very close to the potential of the Fury X card; the only meaningful difference, from a performance point of view, appears to be a slightly reduced core speed.

But besides the performance potential, the advantage of the R9 Nano is its size, which allows it to easily fit into Mini ITX systems. AMD advertises the R9 Nano as a high-performing graaphics card for gamers who want a small-form-factor system. On paper it's also a good candidate for a deluxe Steam Box for the living room, though it lacks HDMI 2.0 so you may not be able to play games on your new 4K TV.

2. Benchmarks

Lest's run some benchnarks on this new baby. The becnhmark PC configuration is the following:

In the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, the Radeon R9 Nano scored higher by 26% compared to the GeForce GTX 970, although that score was about 13% lower than the Radeon R9 Fury X.

Pushing the resolution to 4K resultred to a greater score difference between the R9 nano and the GeForce GTX 970 (32%). Agaimn the high-end Radeon R9 Fury X took the lead.

At the Sky Diver and Cloud Gate becnhmarks, the differences among the total scores of teh cards were smaller. The Radeon R9 Nano scored bettwe than the GeForce GTX 970 by 10 ~ 17% (graphics score).

In the 3DMark11 Extreme benchmark, the score differences among each GPU in the test were almost teh half of what we saw in the Sky Diver and Fire Strike benchmarks.

The Witcher 3 becnhmark unveiled a significant frame rate difference between the GeForce GTX 970 and R9 Nano, mainly at 4K.

In the MHF benchmark, the Radeon R9 Nano was about 10% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 in the full HD test, with the difference to be further widened at about 30% in 4K at about 30 percent.


3. Final words

Despite the small amount of benchmarks, it looks like AMD deserves some serious props for even creating the Radeon R9 Nano.

This pint-sized powerhouse is based on revolutionarily tiny - and fast - high-bandwidth memory to deliver flagship-level performance in a form factor that fits where most other graphics cards simply can’t.

The card games ran like a champ, while it stays cool and relatively quiet. AMD said the Nano would outpunch the older Radeon 290X flagship while using drastically less power, and it seems that the company was right.

It also outperforms the GeForce GTX 970, the most powerful mITX graphics card in Nvidia’s arsenal.

On the other hand, pushing the PC ecosystem forward isn’t possible without some growing pains. The $650 Radeon Nano rocks, but its price will shock most of you so it won’t appeal to everybody.

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