Technology is getting smaller. We see it in our smartphones and tablets getting thinner, our laptops getting longer battery life. The same is true in the world of graphics cards. AMD's new Radeon R9 Nano is almost half the size of last generation's flagship graphics cards, but it has significantly more computing power — it's made for 4K gaming.
Where Nvidia prefers to compare its new graphics cards to GeForce GTX chips that are two generations old — showcasing the flagship $1000 GeForce GTX 980 Ti against the GTX 680 from 2012, for example — AMD is being a little more bold with the R9 Nano. Compared to the flagship Radeon R9 290X from AMD's last generation of GPUs, the R9 Nano is 30 per cent faster, runs 20 degrees cooler, consumes 30 per cent less power, is a full 16dBa quieter — all while being 40 per cent smaller and fitting within the footprint of a tiny mini-ITX motherboard.
The reviews embargo for the R9 Nano has just lifted, and the aggregated results are overwhelmingly positive; at the R9's positively energy-sipping 175 Watts power consumption versus the 290X's 275 Watts, it's hard not to be impressed. Anandtech, for example, praises the fact that the Nano uses AMD's best and most power-efficient chips from its current generation of Fiji GPUs and says that it's easily the most powerful mini-ITX-friendly graphics card that you can buy today. We'll have our Australian review of the Radeon R9 Nano for you to pore through tomorrow at midday, so stay tuned.
The only potential stumbling block for the Radeon R9 Nano, it seems, might be its price. It's pegged at $US650 in the States, and with the current exchange rate that's almost $950 locally. (Just like the GTX 980 Ti!) That will make it a spectacularly expensive card for the dedicated few that want to build a super-small, mini-ITX gaming PC. You don't even get that sense of shelling out four figures of your hard-earned cash for a massive graphics card; but for some people bigger is not better. I can very much see the R9 Nano I have with me now finding a home with a mini-ITX gaming 'board and one of Intel's new super-powerful Skylake CPUs in a tiny case.
AMD's new hardcore, small-form-factor gaming graphics card is out now internationally. Australian pricing for the first retail shipping of cards isn't quite clear, yet — the best we have to work off is a near-$1200 price for the R9 Nano at Scorptec and PLE Computers, but those frankly ridiculous numbers have been up for some time as those retailers have previously accepted pre-orders. I don't expect those prices to stick around much longer as more stock comes into the country. If you're thinking of getting one, let us know! [AMD]