AMD Radeon R9 Nano Unleashed at $649 – Fastest Mini-ITX Card With Full Fiji GPU, 4 GB HBM and Performance Faster Than a GTX 980

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Today is the day when AMD finally launches their latest Fiji GPU based graphics card, the Radeon R9 Nano. The AMD Radeon R9 Nano is termed as the most fastest Mini-ITX graphics card ever made, it features the Fiji GPU core, has great graphics performance, the performance per watt is in a league of its own and all of this is going to be offered in small, compact design that will be geared towards Mini-ITX builds.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Unleashed – Greatest Mini-ITX Card Ever Built With A Giant Impact

AMD Radeon R9 Nano – A Glance At The Specifications

The AMD Radeon R9 Nano is based on the full fat Fiji GPU core. The design is by no means cut down and its amazing how the Fiji GPU runs so well on a design this compact. Based on the 28nm HPX process, the Radeon R9 Nano features 64 compute units which have 64 stream processors per CU, these round up to a total of 4096 stream processors which is the same core count featured on the flagship R9 Fury X graphics card. The card comes with 256 texture mapping units and 64 raster operation units. While the Radeon R9 Fury X has a compute performance of 8.6 TFlops with its 1050 MHz engine clock, the Radeon R9 Nano comes with a total compute performance of 8.19 TFlops with its 1000 MHz engine clock and 516 GFlops of FP64 compute due to Fiji not having required double precision hardware on board.

The 1000 MHz clock speed for the Radeon R9 Nano is quite impressive indeed as this package as a whole is 175 Watts that is 100W less than the Radeon R9 Fury X (275W). The Radeon R9 Nano is designed to feature greater performance efficiency numbers compared to both Radeon R9 290X and the Radeon R9 Fury X which it achieve with ease. Now here’s the scene, the Radeon R9 Nano has a total board power that is limited to 175W, pumped through a single 8-Pin connector. The GPU isn’t necessarily working at 1000 MHz all the time, the core clock can be optimized based on the needs of applications and games. The card may run up to 1000 MHz but in gaming, it would usually be operating at 900 MHz, for applications (GPU burners) like FurMark, the frequency would be even lower. The card will be operating at 75C at typical load and throttle down when the GPU temps hit 85C which is the thermal threshold for the card. Keeping in mind the frequencies that get pushed based on the temperature and workloads, we will see a variation and the GPU won’t be clocked up to 1000 MHz most of the time under gaming loads. The 175W is also the typical board power and the GPU gets more power based on its needs.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano_Specifications

For memory, the card will feature the 4 GB HBM architecture that is found on all Fiji based cards. The 4 GB HBM will be working at 500 MHz (1.00 GHz effective) clock rate that will be featured across a 4096-bit wide memory interface that pushes out 512 GB/s bandwidth. The HBM can be seen as one of the major reasons for the R9 Nano being so compact in design and having better performance per watt as HBM saves a good room of power requirements and space compared to traditional GDDR5 memory based cards. As was the case with Fury X and Fury, the HBM will not support modifications or overclocking support, officially. The card will be fully compatible with AMD technologies that include Freesync, VSR, Frame Target Control and fully support the DirectX 12 API which is a really good reason for everyone to be upgrading to newer cards with DX12 support underneath the hood.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano – Compact Mini-ITX Design Detailed

After the Radeon R9 Fury X which sparked a revolution in graphics card designs, the Radeon R9 Nano takes a step forward to become the fastest and also the smallest enthusiast grade graphics card ever build.The Nano sticks to the Fury X theme with its silver and black color scheme. The large Radeon logo is engraved in red on the front of the shroud. The card comes with a metallic frame while the shroud has the same dot pattern on it. Compared to the rubber surface of the Fury X, the R9 Nano sticks to a metal shroud with fully brushed aluminum finish. The card features a tiny heatsink (by GPU standards) and a lone, 92mm, single axial fan. Unlike the Fury X, the top surface cannot be removed for modification. The card is in fact 40% smaller than the Radeon R9 290X graphics card and has a 6″ total board size.

On the back of the shroud, we can see a single 8-Pin connector that powers the card and surrounded by a metal frame. The card has a 175W TDP and can use additional power when needed to deliver faster GPU performance. On the side, we see a nice Radeon logo but it doesn’t lit up like the Fury X since there was not enough room left to house the necessary LEDs. A cut out design can be seen that is used to regulate the air flow out of the shroud which will help when using multiple cards in CrossFire configuration. Right in the middle is a BIOS switch for the card. Display outputs on the card include three Display Port outputs and a single HDMI connector. The front bracket has large exhaust vents to blow the air out of the chassis. Under operation, the card makes 42 dBA noise which is 16 dBA lower than the R9 290X.

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AMD Radeon R9 Nano Gallery:

The Radeon R9 Nano doesn’t come with a backplate so the circuitry can be seen on the back of the PCB.  The card is even smaller than the Sapphire Mini-ITX compact and a large amount of power circuitry can be found housed right beneath the Fiji GPU core. A large metallic retention bracket holds the cooler in its place fron the bottom. The heatsink is a large aluminum fin array block that is equipped with a dual vapor chamber block and dense aluminum heatpipes that make their way to a large copper block that makes direct contact with a large copper based heatsink block. The new heatsink block is far more efficient at cooling than the Radeon R9 290X block, so much that it provides 20 degrees lower temperature than the Hawaii based offering.

The Radeon R9 Nano’s PCB is as small as it can get. The PCB packs a 4 phase power design that is featured right next to the GPU. The layout has been kept simple and more emphasis should be given to stability of the card so it runs properly in all gaming loads.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano – Build For Mini-ITX Setups

AMD Radeon R9 Nano_Fury Series

The trend of Mini-ITX PCs has risen up a lot in the recent years. With more and more small hardware coming in the market that packs a lot of punch, users have opted to build PCs that are small but pack a lot of performance that is on par with enthusiast grade rigs. Now both PC types have their place in the market, my own personal preference is to stick with big E-ATX cases that show the brute nature of my PC hardware but the ITX PCs have their own place in the market now. A Mini-ITX board measures at 6.7×6.7 inches and the R9 Nano is a perfect piece of hardware for such PCs that have limited space. There are many Mini-ITX case options and AMD has shown just a few examples to show the uniqueness of ITX setups with their Radeon R9 Nano graphics cards.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano – Gaming Performance Measured Down

Now, we head over to the graphics comparison of the Radeon R9 Nano graphics cards. Currently, the three fastest Mini-ITX cards that can be bought include the GeForce GTX 970 Mini, GeForce GTX 960 Mini and the Radeon R9 380 ITX-Compact. These cards can play at resolutions of 1080P and 1400P but the AMD Radeon R9 Nano changes that with its 4K ready gaming performance. In all of the six benchmarks tested, the Radeon R9 Nano came out faster than the GeForce GTX 970 Mini with 30% better performance at 4K (3840×2160) resolution. Following is a tear down of the benchmarks in detail:

AMD Radeon R9 Nano vs GTX 970 Mini Official Performance Results:

Graphics CardGeForce GTX 960 MiniGeForce GTX 970 MiniRadeon R9 380 ITX-CompactRadeon R9 Nano
3DMark Firestrike 4K (Ultra)1297 Marks2593 Marks1551 Marks3411 Marks
Far Cry 4 4K (High/0xAA/0xAF)15.095 FPS27.345 FPS16.542 FPS37.966 FPS
Performance Per Watt in Far Cry 4 4K (Ultra/SMAA/0xAF)0.13 FPS/Watt0.12 FPS/Watt0.08 FPS/Watt0.22 FPS/Watt
Battlefield 4 4K (High/FXAA/0xAF)N/A41 FPSN/A57 FPS
Crysis 3 4K (High/0xAA/0xAF)N/A41 FPSN/A58 FPS
Far Cry 4 4K (High/SMAA/0xAF)N/A28 FPSN/A42 FPS
GTA V 4K (High/0xAA/4xAF)N/A38 FPSN/A60 FPS
Shadow of Mordor 4K (High/0xAA/0xAF)N/A34 FPSN/A50 FPS
Witcher 3 4K (High/0xAA/0xAF)N/A26 FPSN/A37 FPS

AMD Radeon R9 Nano vs Radeon R9 290X Performance Metrics:

 AMD Radeon R9 290X (Hawaii XT)AMD Radeon R9 Nano (Fiji XT)
FPS in Far Cry 4 4K (Ultra/SMAA/0xAF)27.207 FPS37.966 FPS
FPS/Watt in Far Cry 4 4K (Ultra/SMAA/0xAF)0.1088 FPS/Watt0.2169 FPS/Watt
FPS/mm in Far Cry 4 4K (Ultra/SMAA/0xAF)0.0989 FPS/Watt0.2498 FPS/mm

Based on the two benchmarks provided, it can be seen that the Radeon R9 Nano is indeed the fastest Mini-ITX graphics card. The Radeon R9 Nano is faster than the Radeon R9 290X which makes it faster than the Grenada based Radeon R9 390 and Radeon R9 390X too. The card is also faster than the GeForce GTX 980 given its performance numbers shown by AMD but I believe that the performance margin is going to be very close and these cards cannot be compared directly since the price margin between the Radeon R9 Nano is quite big even with AMD 300 series cards and GeForce GM204 based parts.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano – $649 US Price Matching the Fury X MSRP

You heard that right, the Radeon R9 Nano will have the same price as the Radeon R9 Fury X, selling at $649 US. AMD is using the full Fiji GPU rather than using leftover Fiji chips like they use on the Radeon R9 Fury so a price increase is expected. But the $649 US can be a little bit steep for a Mini-ITX card. Sure the Radeon R9 Nano can crunch up some really good numbers but the price to performance ratio of this card doesn’t seem to be aimed at the users under the $400 market which include the GTX 970, R9 290X, R9 390. Even the GeForce GTX 980 is priced $150 US less while the R9 390X and R9 Fury (overclocked models) retail for $100 to $220 US lesser. The Radeon R9 Nano comes with performance slightly within the range of the Radeon R9 Fury but not close to the Radeon R9 Fury X which is clocked higher and has higher thermal thresholds so clock rate remains more stable. The Radeon R9 Nano can be seen as an premium grade offering rather than being a highly competitive solution that aims to attract the premium Mini-ITX market. The other solutions tested in the charts above are still great options for budget level builders on ITX platforms.

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The Radeon R9 Nano sees itself fighting against the Radeon R9 Fury X here. Both cards retail for the same price. While one is a purely ITX aimed graphics card, the Radeon R9 Fury X can also be seen fit as an ITX grade graphic card since it is small in size compared to traditional high-end graphics cards like the 980 Ti and Titan X. The GPU cooler on the Fury X can take up some room but most ITX cases should have enough space to house a Fury X in them. The Radeon R9 Fury X also has a better design and can overclock better than the Radeon R9 Nano which makes me believe that people will have a hard time selecting between both cards. But the R9 Nano, even if its priced a bit high, is one of the greatest card ever build of this size.

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Do note that AMD also confirmed that while availability of the Radeon R9 Nano is planned for 7th of September, the card will get custom variants after three months of its launch.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano PCB:R9_Nano_Straight_On_Bare_Front_RGB_5inch

Q1- Will the R9 Nano be offered as a reference model only or will AIBs be allowed to offer custom models?

Yes, 3+ months later.

Q2- Can you talk a little about overclocking on the Radeon R9 Nano?

Sort of, because of board power, it may be limited. Targeted at power efficiency. Can overclock, increase power limit, increase clock, but limited by 175W total board power. Wide engine ran at low speed for more efficiency. Up to 1000MHz means it optimizes the frequency based on needs and applications. ~900MHz for gaming. FurMark would likely be lower. 500MHz Memory, can’t modify it officially, won’t be officially supported to be overclocked either.

Q3- In your hot chips 2015 presentation, you showed the Fiji chip has 4 ACE Engines compared to 8 as shown in the previous slides, is it actually 4 ACEs on Fiji?

Q4- Price?

$649

Throttled at 85C. ~75 C at typical loads. 175W board power.

Cooler looks less than it actually is. More efficient and advanced than it looks. Fans mounted into shroud No 3D CAD drawing for Nano. Can’t remove shroud without removing fan, though fan mounts can be made!

Not enough cooling? FAR FROM TRUTH

Dedicated heatpipe for VRM’s. Industry first for OEM. Fins are horizontal. Helps exhaust air out the back of the card and maintain positive air pressure even with an axial solution. Hybrid vapor chamber/heatpipes, Flattened heatpipes on the whole underside of the heatsink. Vapor chamber over ASIC itself.

September 7th availability

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Specifications:

WCCFTechAMD Radeon R9 Fury X2AMD Radeon R9 Fury XAMD Radeon R9 NanoAMD Radeon R9 FuryAMD Radeon R9 290X
GPU Fiji XT x 2 Fiji XT Fiji XT Fiji ProHawaii XT
Stream Processors8192 4096 409635842816
GCN Compute Units128 64 64 5644
Render Output Units12864646464
Texture Mapping Units512256256224176
GPU FrequencyTBAUp to 1050MhzUp to 1000 MHzUp to 1000 MHz1000Mhz
Memory8GB HBM (4 GB Per Chip) 4GB HBM 4GB HBM 4GB HBM4GB GDDR5
Memory Interface 4096-bit x 2 4096bit 4096bit 4096bit512bit
Memory Frequency500Mhz500Mhz500 MHz500Mhz1250Mhz
Effective Memory Speed 1Gbps 1Gbps1Gbps 1Gbps5Gbps
Memory Bandwidth1024 GB/s512GB/s512GB/s512GB/s320GB/s
CoolingLiquidLiquid, 120mm RadiatorAir, Single Fan. Custom AIB Solutions LaterAir, Custom AIB SolutionsAir, Single Blower Fan
Performance (SPFP)17.2 TFLOPS8.6 TFLOPS8.19 TFLOPS 7.2 TFLOPS 5.6 TFLOPS
TDPTBA275W175W275W250W
Power ConnectorsDual 8-PinDual 8-Pin8-PinDual 8-Pin6+8 Pin
GFLOPS/WattTBA31.347.126.219.3
New PricesTBA$649$499$549$299 (Retail)
Launch DateEarly 201624th June 20157th September 201510th July 201524th October 2013

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