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ASUS Strix Radeon R9 Fury Review

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Manufacturer: ASUS

Retail Card Design

AMD is in an interesting spot right now. The general consensus is that both the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and the R9 Fury graphics cards had successful launches into the enthusiast community. We found that the performance of the Fury X was slightly under that of the GTX 980 Ti from NVIDIA, but also that the noise levels and power draw were so improved on Fiji over Hawaii that many users would dive head first into the new flagship from the red team.

The launch of the non-X AMD Fury card was even more interesting – here was a card with a GPU performing better than the competition in a price point that NVIDIA didn’t have an exact answer. The performance gap between the GTX 980 and GTX 980 Ti resulted in a $550 graphics card that AMD had a victory with. Add in the third Fiji-based product due out in a few short weeks, the R9 Nano, and you have a robust family of products that don’t exactly dominate the market but do put AMD in a positive position unlike any it has seen in recent years.

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But there are some problems. First and foremost for AMD, continuing drops in market share. With the most recent reports from multiple source claiming that AMD’s Q2 2015 share has dropped to 18%, an all-time low in the last decade or so, AMD needs some growth and they need it now. Here’s the catch: AMD can’t make enough of the Fiji chip to affect that number at all. The Fury X, Fury and Nano are going to be hard to find for the foreseeable future thanks to production limits on the HBM (high bandwidth memory) integration; that same feature that helps make Fiji the compelling product it is. I have been keeping an eye on the stock of the Fury and Fury X products and found that it often can’t be found anywhere in the US for purchase. Maybe even more damning is the fact that the Radeon R9 Fury, the card that is supposed to be the model customizable by AMD board partners, still only has two options available: the Sapphire, which we reviewed when it launched, and the ASUS Strix R9 Fury that we are reviewing today.

AMD’s product and financial issues aside, the fact is that the Radeon R9 Fury 4GB and the ASUS Strix iteration of it are damned good products. ASUS has done its usual job of improving on the design of the reference PCB and cooler, added in some great features and packaged it up a price that is competitive and well worth the investment for enthusiast gamers. Our review today will only lightly touch on out-of-box performance of the Strix card mostly because it is so similar to that of the initial Fury review we posted in July. Instead I will look at the changes to the positioning of the AMD Fury product (if any) and how the cooler and design of the Strix product helps it stand out. Overclocking, power consumption and noise will all be evaluated as well.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Strix R9 Fury Graphics Card!!

If you recall back to our original AMD Fury review using the Sapphire model, the PCB design on that card used the same shortened length as the Fury X, obviously making little to no changes in the engineering and putting time to market and cost at the forefront. The ASUS Strix R9 Fury model doesn’t do this and, although there are definitely some oddities when it comes to the board design, this AMD Fury card looks and feels much more like your traditional high-end gaming card.

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From the front, the ASUS Strix R9 Fury looks like the other recent Strix-class products in the same price range, sporting a set of three fans on a large, heatpipe DirectCU III cooler design that is clearly meant to keep temperatures on the GPU low. Just from this angle you can see one heatpipe coming from the top of the GPU cooler block and two more exiting from the bottom helping to spread the thermals from the GPU core itself out to the fins of the heatsink.

The fans on the Strix design continue to including the ASUS “0db operating” mode that allows the card to run without the fan spinning at all if the GPU temperature is kept at ~65C or below. While that doesn’t happen for most of our gaming scenario, if you happen to play some MOBA titles and enable VSync or turn on a frame rate limiter, you can definitely take advantage of that capability. However, even when spinning up while playing a beast of a PC title like GTA V, the noise levels generated by the Strix are surprisingly low.

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Turning the card over shows the longer PCB that ASUS has built for its iteration of the AMD Fury product. The back plate included helps protect the components on the card while also presenting an interesting style for users that happen to have windows on their cases. Notice the large cutout surrounded by the red plate – that is additional support supplied to the PCB where the GPU is mounted (on the reverse side). Because the GPU is so large with the inclusion of an interposer and HBM chips, this kind of support is definitely welcome but damn… that opening is HUGE compared to the implementation of this feature on the GeForce-based Strix GTX 980 Ti!

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Along the top of the card you’ll find an illuminated Strix logo that happens to match up well with the AMD Radeon branding by default. The pair of 8-pin PCIe power connections are located on the end of the board and are reverse facing, making installation and removal a bit easier with the high profile heatsink in the way. Speaking of the heatsink you can definitely tell ASUS left no corner of the design unused – the heatsink fins expand and stretch down into every area possible on the Fury Strix, wrapping around the PCIe power connections and capacitors like a glove.

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For display output connectivity ASUS has included the output configuration that matches the GeForce GTX 900-series of products that we have come to appreciate. That means you have a single dual-link DVI connection, three full-size DisplayPort connections and a full-size HDMI port. This gives users the ability to attach quite a few modern displays though does require adapters if you are still looking to attach a pair of older monitors with DVI inputs.

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This exploded view of the card, provided by ASUS, shows off many of the features the company is particularly proud of with the design. That back plate shown above doubles as a reinforcement frame and holds the red GPU-Fortifier in place to help prevent PCB warping over time with many hot/cold cycles. The DirectCU III cooler hosts a pair of 10mm heatpipes to keep that GPU running efficiently.

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The ASUS Strix R9 Fury is built on a 12-phase Super Alloy Power II design with capacitors that 2.5x the lifespan of traditional caps and MOSFETs built to keep temperatures down and increase power efficiency across the board. ASUS is also keen to avoid the coil whine issues by using “concrete” / filled alloy chokes as part of the Super Alloy Power II branding.


August 26, 2015 | 11:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Add to cart.... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202157

August 26, 2015 | 11:42 AM - Posted by Randal_46

Good news on the price, bad news on the overclockability. Will you be able to test the software unlock on this board?

August 26, 2015 | 11:51 AM - Posted by Heavy (not verified)

some people have been able to unlock some shaders on the fury and other r9 cards http://www.overclock.net/t/1567179/activation-of-cores-in-hawaii-tonga-a...

August 26, 2015 | 05:39 PM - Posted by Rick0502 (not verified)

I would also like to know

August 26, 2015 | 11:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The cooler on the Sapphire version is way better as in 15c cooler than the Asus.

August 26, 2015 | 12:01 PM - Posted by pelo (not verified)

Ryan, although the 3-page review style would seem fitting for most spins of what is essentially the same exact GPU but with custom cooler + minor variances in clock speed, this Asus GPU is using a custom PCB and other reviews show significantly less power consumption than the Sapphire version.

Provided it's the same PCB and only insignificant differences outside of the cooler, 3-page reviews are fine. But for a product like this, it warrants further investigation.

August 26, 2015 | 02:28 PM - Posted by pelo (not verified)

Forgot to add --

Ideally, power consumption + overclocking for releases such as this one. For others with bog standard PCBs and only difference is the cooler, it only makes sense to test heat, noise, and overclocking (if limited by thermal headroom)

August 26, 2015 | 08:44 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I did in fact test power, OC and sound levels on the third page though...?

August 26, 2015 | 12:12 PM - Posted by funandjam

I can honestly say that I've never kept an OC on my 7970 for any substantial period of time, just never saw the point in it since I use a fixed refresh rate monitor (1080p @60hz) like the vast majority of people. I think this will actually change for many once VRR becomes more widely spread with wide VRR ranges where you can physically see the higher frames. For those wondering what I mean, on a Fixed refresh rate monitor(for example @60hz) if you run a game at 100 fps, you'll only see 60 of those frames, while on a VRR monitor that has a window of 30hz - 144hz(for example) you'll actually see those 100 frames.

August 26, 2015 | 01:27 PM - Posted by JxcelDolghmQ (not verified)

You run (ran?) a powerful card on a very modest display, so of course overclocking wouldn't help much. I run a 7950 on a 2304x1440 80hz (non VRR) display and the ~40% overclock helps immensely.

August 26, 2015 | 02:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Congrats on your fw900
how is she holding up ;)

August 27, 2015 | 02:43 PM - Posted by JxcelDolghmQ (not verified)

One died (bad flyback transformer, I think - probably fixable) and the other is still going strong after 15 years. Absolutely wonderful monitors.

August 26, 2015 | 06:51 PM - Posted by Dr_Orgo

Good point you brought up. The difference between 60 and 80 fps with VRR is probably subtle for many people but it does exist. I remember playing DA:I on my overclocked GTX970 w 1080p G-Sync panel. I tuned settings to get ~75 fps in game. One time the overclock was disabled wihtout me knowing when I fired up the game. After playing for a bit the difference in motion blur from ~75 to ~60 fps was enough to realize the overclock wasn't working.

Your point still stands even if someone can't easily detect the difference visually.

August 26, 2015 | 12:41 PM - Posted by rahul (not verified)

great view its like some high recommended graphics card. Intel iris graphics series.

August 26, 2015 | 12:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

at this price range, shouldn't SLI benchmarks be included or at least brought up?

Against disposable income this card is a joke and its a big ass card.

Where is the SLI

August 26, 2015 | 01:27 PM - Posted by JohnGR

SLI on an AMD card? That would have been a very interesting article.

August 26, 2015 | 02:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

was talking about 2x 950gtx vs this, since in directx12 that will be 4gb of memory the same as this... LOL
Don't be smart about some made up terminology that came from 3DFX and not team green that you are afraid of. "Crossfire", or crosswires with AMD's frame pacing drivers, is the same thing as SLI. 2 crossfire GPU's is probably better than this card as well. I could care less about AMD or Nvidia like you, the point is that SLI is probably a better bargain in this price range. AMD SLI right now is probably the best bang for the buck. So get over yourself. You probably don't even play games but just run benchmarks or troll for AMD. But i digress, AMD drivers are usually shit and the games are usually at the bargain bins before they run properly... AMD support did me wrong and i will never let some troll that proclaims alliance to that company pretend to show arrogance when they are clearly staring in the face of their own ignorance.

August 26, 2015 | 03:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Oh my goodness, I think it's John "Meltdown" Mellinger, the unabashed Nvidia troll who spams the Disqus comments on WCCF, who claims that anyone who disagrees with him "doesn't even game" yet spends more time melting down and throwing his hissy fits than he actually spends gaming, who demands people post pictures of their rigs to prove... I dunno, SOMETHING... who claims to have had one bad experience with AMD and will never, ever, ever go back, and will in fact spend the rest of his life splattering his vitriol over the comment threads of every website that'll let him get away with it without banning him, who got SUPER ANGRY at Nvidia over the 970's memory partition fiasco and swore to switch to AMD, only to instead go with two 970's in SLI......

I'll tell ya, John, the whole "I bet you don't even game, you just run benchmarks" attack never gets old. Oh wait, yes it does.

August 26, 2015 | 01:30 PM - Posted by fkr

i like the 3 page thing as long as all of the new to this product info is there. however i would really like it if you just put the old data in there and just explain that it was with a different card.

i need a reminder as to what the performance was without having to pull up an old article

August 26, 2015 | 03:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous31276 (not verified)

Only 3 pages! what is this half-assed review, I demand benchmarks with every processor made since 2010.

August 26, 2015 | 06:34 PM - Posted by Dr_Orgo

Too bad on the overclocking results. Overclocking is so easy today with programs like EVGA Precision X that the comparison many gamers will make is the overclocked performance benchmarks. I hope AMD finds a way to stabilize their GPU market share soon. Maybe Free Sync displays reaching more-or-less feature parity with G-Sync displays at a cheaper price will help push AMD GPU sales. (disclaimer: GTX970 owner).

August 26, 2015 | 08:55 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This particular card limits the power lower than other designs due to its custom PCB and phase design. This impacts the overclocking ceiling. This should be noted its not Representative of the Fury.

August 26, 2015 | 09:18 PM - Posted by fuegovision (not verified)

Fury simply does not overclock well.

August 27, 2015 | 01:18 AM - Posted by DerekR (not verified)

I thought the 3 page review was alright. I did finish reading the review feeling like I got half of a review instead of a full one. I think just might need some adjusting on my part.

I do however think it would have been nice to see the card being reviewed labeled in the performance graphs on page 2. I understand that for the ASUS Strix Radeon R9 Fury the performance is similar to the stock Fury. That being said, it felt like to many corners where being cut. As a potential buyer, I want to know that the line on the graph actually represents the card I may or may not buy. Call it a false sense of security, but seeing the name make me feel like due diligence was done to show me, the reader/potential buyer, the performance of the graphics card.

August 28, 2015 | 05:28 AM - Posted by J Nev (not verified)

Unbelievable, still no 390X review

September 5, 2015 | 08:59 PM - Posted by Rroce (not verified)

Is it me or is there a pattern that Asus cards, for AMD graphics, are average performing cards? Or is there a pattern that Sapphire just produce above average cards?

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