AMD Radeon R9 Nano CrossFire Review 90

AMD Radeon R9 Nano CrossFire Review



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The AMD Radeon R9 Nano is a unique graphics card that has serious chops on paper to back its market positioning. While the R9 Nano is clearly intended for high-end SFF (small form-factor) desktop builds, we were curious about whether people would buy more than one of these for, say, micro-ATX gaming PCs (on platforms such as Haswell-E HEDT and Piledriver). It also made us wonder if the larger ATX tower crowd would buy a pair of these cards just for their space-saving design and minimalist appeal.

At the "Fiji" GPU unveil, AMD CEO Lisa Su unveiled a prototype dual-GPU graphics card based on a pair of these chips, and it drew power from two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. It's probable that AMD could give the chips on that card a similar power-management system to the R9 Nano, and so even if crude, an R9 Nano CrossFire review could give you a very early preview of what to expect from that card. Compared to the Fury X, the power-management on the R9 Nano being implemented on future SKUs is a no-brainer.

We had two of these cards on hand, an AMD review sample and a Sapphire-branded retail card we bought, so it was only natural for us to make lemonade (this CrossFire review). Since AMD CrossFire lets you create a CF setup with different SKUs based on the same chip, we also fed our curiosity by pairing the R9 Nano with the card it's sharing its "flagship" status with, the R9 Fury X. In this review, we'll give you performance numbers for a pair of R9 Nano cards and a combination of the R9 Nano and R9 Fury X to show you how it scales across resolutions compared to a single card.

But first, check out our definitive review of the AMD Radeon R9 Nano, complete with technical photography, power-management analysis, thermal imaging, and more.

Test System

Test System - VGA Rev. 39
Processor:Intel Core i7-4770K @ 4.2 GHz
(Haswell, 8192 KB Cache)
Motherboard:ASUS Maximus VI Hero
Intel Z87
Memory:16 GB DDR3
@ 1600 MHz 9-9-9-24
Harddisk:WD Caviar Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB
Power Supply:Antec HCP-1200 1200W
Software:Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1
Drivers:The following AMD cards use Catalyst 15.7: R9 Fury X, R9 Fury, R9 390X, R9 290X, R9 290, R9 285.
AMD R9 Nano: 15.201.1102 PreWHQL Sep 1
All other AMD cards use 15.5 Beta
Display: Dell UP2414Q 24" 3840x2160
Benchmark scores in other reviews are only comparable when this exact same configuration is used.
  • All video card results are obtained on this exact system with exactly the same configuration.
  • All games are set to their highest quality setting unless indicated otherwise.
  • AA and AF are applied via in-game settings, not via the driver's control panel.
Each game is tested at these screen resolutions:
  • 1600x900: Common resolution for most smaller flatscreens and laptops today (17" - 19").
  • 1920x1080: Most common widescreen resolution for larger displays (22" - 26").
  • 2560x1440: Highest possible 16:9 resolution for commonly available displays (27"-32").
  • 3840x2160: 4K Ultra HD resolution, available on the latest high-end monitors.
  • R9 390X reference performance was tested by running the MSI R9 390X Gaming at reference design clocks (1050/1500)
  • R9 Fury reference performance was tested by running the ASUS R9 Fury Strix

Alien: Isolation

Alien: Isolation sends you, the daughter of Ellen Ripley from the first Alien movie, onto the space station Sevastopol. Your original mission is to recover the flight recorder of your mother's ship, but Sevastopol Station has been infested by an Alien that has killed almost all the crew. You battle your way through the station, encountering survivors while dodging the Alien hunting everyone who's left alive. The game is built on its own engine specifically designed for Alien: Isolation. It supports DirectX 11 with Tessellation, real-time DirectCompute radiosity, and shadows. The engine uses a deferred rendering model, so MSAA is not available.

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