AMD's New Fury Graphics Cards: Tiny But Powerful

AMD has finally announced its new high-end Fury graphics cards at an E3 2015 extravaganza, and they look pretty impressive — and should bring AMD back into competition with Nvidia's 900-Series GeForce cards. More interestingly, they're actually really small.

Based on AMD's long-awaited Fiji graphics chip, the new Fury graphics cards all feature a single 4GB stack of AMD and RAM manufacturer Hynix's super-fast High Bandwidth Memory — featuring much larger memory bus width than any previous GDDR5-based card, and with memory bandwidth of 512GBps — around a third faster than even the fastest previous AMD and Nvidia graphics cards (which topped out around 320 to 340GBps). Importantly, it's the high bandwidth memory stack that cuts down on space needed for individual DRAM chips, and that allows the cards to be much smaller than their competitors from Nvidia.

Where the GeForce flagship 980 Ti is 10.5 inches long (267mm), the new AMD Radeon Fury X is three inches shorter at 7.5 inches (190mm). That smaller size means good things for system builders, who'll be able to stick the (water-cooled) Fury X into micro-ATX rigs and even mini-ITX system; AMD showed off a small form factor system called Project Quantum with dual Fury X GPUs inside:

If water-cooling isn't your jam, then there's the lesser Radeon R9 Fury, an air-cooled version of the Fury X. Specs on the lesser Fury are light on the ground, but it uses the same compact-size dual-slot layout and should be almost as powerful — think of the previous R9 290X versus the 290 in terms of performance. Being air-cooled, it should make for slightly cleaner cases with less internal piping to worry about — as long as you have appropriate fan exhausts in place.

There's also an even smaller Radeon R9 Nano — six inches long (152mm), usually a size that you'd only see low-end bargain-basement cards using, but still based on the new Fiji GPU architecture and with twice the performance-per-watt of AMD's previous top-of-the-line cards. This is the card that I'm actually most excited about, because it'd make a perfect mini-ITX combo with one of AMD's quad-core APUs and a speedy SSD — and you'd end up with a compact desktop-grade gaming rig that you could hide behind a TV or monitor.

At the same time, AMD has rebadged its previous generation of R9 and R7 graphics cards into a new naming system, changing R9 2xx cards into R9 3xx, and also doubling the VRAM on most models — the 4GB R9 290X becomes the 8GB R9 390X, the 2GB R9 280 becomes the 4GB R9 380, and so on. These new cards should remain at roughly similar price points as currently available models, especially since the tech inside hasn't changed substantially.

We'll have pricing and availability on AMD's newest graphics cards when it becomes available. [AMD]

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