Articles

ASUS STRIX R9 Fury DC3 Video Card Review

Author:Brent Justice

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Friday , July 10, 2015

AMD's Radeon Fury X is here, the AMD Radeon R9 Fury presents itself and we evaluate a full retail custom ASUS STRIX R9 Fury using ASUS' new DirectCU III technology. We will compare this to a GeForce GTX 980 using the new drivers AMD just released and find out what kind of gameplay experience the R9 Fury has to offer.

Introduction

Who can forget the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X launch last month on June 24th of 2015? The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X has to be this year's most anticipated and hyped video card that gamers were expecting. Expectations were high with AMD's new "Fiji" GPU, known as the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X.

Instead what happened is that the sound of a thousand hearts exploding around the globe were heard as gamers were met with disappointment at what the final result actually was for the gaming experience. The price, the performance, it just didn't live up to the expectations and there were tears across the land. Forums exploded with debate and some of the more interesting and comical forum postings we have seen in a while have taken place all because the Fury X.

Today AMD is launching the AMD Radeon R9 Fury. This is the slimmed-down "Fiji Pro" version of the Radeon R9 Fury X. Slimmed down in performance, and priced a bit lower. However, it may not be as slimmed down as you think.

Let's start with the price and availability, because that itself is an interesting story. The "official" pricing from AMD is stated as such: "$549 is estimated price, partners may change slightly." The reason it is stated like that is because the AMD Radeon R9 Fury is a partner or add-in-board manufacturer supported video card. That means there are no AMD reference cards here, no reference Fury's at all. The only path to a Fury is through a retail customized add-in-board partner, like ASUS and SAPPHIRE.

Right now only those two AIBs are on board with AMD Radeon R9 Fury video cards. Oddly, there aren't a lot of Fury cards ready to go. We are unsure at this moment if other AIBs will even have Fury SKUs, but we would think so. We have not heard back from other manufacturers at the moment on availability of their Fury product line.

The video card we are evaluating today is the ASUS STRIX R9 Fury DC3 which has a retail price of $579, $30 more than AMD's estimate.


AMD Radeon R9 Fury

So what is the AMD Radeon R9 Fury? This is AMD's new "Fiji" GPU. This GPU shares all the features with the AMD Radeon Fury X, meaning it is based on the newer Tonga architecture and contains all the latest GCN features just like Fury X. What makes it different is that one of the clusters is disabled on-die, giving us fewer stream processors and texture units, and a slightly lower clock speed.

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury has 3584 Stream Processors versus the Fury X's 4096. The R9 Fury has 224 Texture Units versus the Fury X's 256. The clock speed operates "Up To 1000MHz." The Fury X operated at 1050MHz. These are the only differences in terms of specifications. The R9 Fury has the same number of ROPs at 64 which is certainly a good thing to see no slimmed down.

The memory is exactly the same between the Fury and Fury X cards. The R9 Fury uses 4GB of HBM for 512GB/sec of memory bandwidth. The TDP between the video cards is also the same at 275W. Besides that, the main difference is that the AMD Radeon R9 Fury will be air-cooled not liquid cooled.

The clock speed being indicated as "up to 1000MHz" is an interesting detail. It means that AMD has recommended or suggested a 1000MHz clock speed, but retail manufacturers can determine their own clock speeds for this video card and set their own factory overclocks.


ASUS STRIX R9 Fury DC3

The ASUS STRIX R9 Fury DirectCU III is $579 from ASUS and uses the new DirectCU III cooling technology. The first thing you should know about this video card is that it is large and heavy. It certainly is larger and heavier than recent video cards we've evaluated.

The official dimensions are 11.8" long with a width of 5.4" and a height of 1.57." We don't have a scale on hand, but in our hands it is heavier than any other card we've evaluated this year. This video card has an ASUS technology called "STRIX GPU-Fortifier and Backplate" to protect the GPU and prevent PCB warping over time. It also has a "Reinforcement Frame" to add more stability.

This video card will require two 8-pin power connectors. The STRIX logo atop the video card does light up. On the display connection options this video card brings back the DVI-D option for connectivity. It also has three DisplayPort connectors and HDMI, but it does not have HDMI 2.0.

The new DirectCU III cooler is impressive. It has dual-10mm heatpipes and a "220% larger surface area providing 40% lower temperatures." The Triple Wing-Blade fans improve air pressure by 105%. Since this is the STRIX model it also has the ability to stop the fans at idle and be completely silent.

The ASUS STRIX R9 Fury uses ASUS' custom 12-phase Super Alloy Power II capacitors. This means 2.5X extended lifespan, Super Allow Power II MOS FETs for lower temperature and increased efficiency and Super Alloy Power II Choke's for reduced noise with concrete cores. The power-connectors are also turned so the clips are toward the rear of the card, making it easy to get your hands in there to un-clip power connectors. There are also two lights on the power connectors that tell you if these are plugged in correctly or not.

This video card comes clocked out of the box at 1000MHz. ASUS calls this a "Factory Overclock" on their presentation slides, with an optional 20MHz "OC Mode" through the new GPU Tweak II. However, this is a bit odd since AMD says 1000MHz is the suggested clock speed. It is hard to tell because there isn't a reference card to compare it to, so really the clock speed can be whatever the manufacturer wants with R9 Fury since AMD says it is "Up to 1000MHz." There might be some clarity needed between ASUS and AMD about this, we do know ASUS, just like us, hasn't had much time to get things together for this launch and it feels to be very rushed.

We never install software and increase the clock speed for our testing. We always go with the out-of-box clock speed as is. MSI also has something similar called MSI App, but we've never used it either. We are waiting a response from ASUS about the clock speed to get clarity on the function of "OC Mode."

In the past ASUS would provide the factory overclock out-of-the-box without having to install a piece of software. This behavior is new with ASUS cards and we are waiting for clarification on this. If we are now required to install GPU Tweak II to get the factory overclock, this is big change.

We have not and do not have access to the new GPU Tweak II to test the "OC Mode.". Without the software installed the video card runs at 1000MHz. All we can do is test the card out-of-the-box as is, like we do every other video card. Our card represents what retail cards will get out-of-the-box in terms of clock speed.

We figure, if you are going to install a piece of software to increase your clock speed you are going to just go ahead and manually overclock yourself. 20MHz isn't a lot, and if you are going to the trouble of using software you might as well push the clock as high as possible. So, like we always do, we will evaluate overclocking with the video card when we can get to that testing. Without the software installed the card runs at 1000MHz, so that is what we are going to use. We verified that this clock is stable and does not throttle after the card is warmed up in-game.