AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review: Mini-ITX 4K gaming

By Steve
Sep 10, 2015
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  1. The new Radeon R9 Nano is perhaps the most interesting Fiji GPU yet, which could be the very reason why you haven't been able to buy a Fury X for weeks now. AMD says the Nano is a sort of co-flagship product with the R9 Fury X and therefore has given the Nano the same $650 MSRP.

    Based on the fully fledged Fiji XT, the Nano gets the same 4096 stream processors as the Fury X, just in a much more compact package. The Nano measures only 6" (152mm) long, which is made possible by the Fiji GPU's modest power consumption and HBM technology. AMD hopes to enable 4K gaming in tiny Mini-ITX systems with the Nano.

    The fact that all 4096 stream processors are enabled is quite shocking but what's more shocking is the card's TDP rating of just 175w, 100 watts less than the Fury X. It's expected that the Nano will keep power consumption and temperatures in check through relaxed voltages and frequencies when compared to the Fury X.

    Read the complete review.

    dividebyzero and cliffordcooley like this.
  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,106   +1,376

    I have a gut feeling, this little baby may become the last product we will see from AMD in a while, if not ever, now that the graphics division is branched out. They have failed to impress time and again.
  3. deemon

    deemon TS Booster Posts: 199   +46

    First review after long wait and quite good, thanks!

    However. 4k gaming is not here yet, not by a longshot, and this card does not enable this either... so excluding the current main resolution, which is btw 1920x1080, entirely from your review is not cool. At all.

    Also if you review this as VR enabler GPU, you at least should have included VR resolution in your tests, so we could see how near the GPU comes to VRs targeted 90fps mark.
    Oculus Rift : Resolution 2160x1200 (1080x1200 per eye) ( )
    HTC Vive : Resolution 2160x1200 (1080x1200 per eye) ( )

    Also you didn't include in your benchmarks any DX12 tests. Yes, there is only 1 DX12 game out there, but nonetheless ... it's missing from your review.

    About the Nano:

    Being as expensive as 980Ti, one could have at least expected near 980Ti performance, which it failed to deliver. I would have considered buying one for ... ~500$ lets say maybe even 550$ because it's small and cute and maybe even because it's AMD (you know as helping an underdog out) but 650$ is sadly too much.

    And last but not least, the nano itself might be only 6", however thanks to this silly 8-pin power socket placement, it effectively renders this card to 6.5-7" card. It still fits to small ITX cases though, if you could fit any of those GTX 970 minis.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  4. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder You know, that one guy with the PC Posts: 2,189   +589

    Great review @Steve, glad to finally see this card in action as it has been the subject of debate for awhile now. I am not shocked the card throttles a bit to keep within the power limits, but I am also glad you can alleviate that by increasing the power limit and it still manages to stay cool with that cooler.

    Its actually a lot better than what I was expecting, though at $650 it just seems to be a bit much as far as price goes. I agree, they should have used a cut down Fiji core and kept the price lower instead of the full fledged core. But at least this chip delivers up to Full Fiji performance in that small a package.
    Puiu and Steve like this.
  5. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 1,800   +483

    isn't it exactly the opposite? they now have an easier time to make decisions and have streamlined the production/development for both hardware and software.
    as for releasing new video cards we already know about them. they have been developing them for quite some time now and should be available sometime next year. they will have GPUs made on the 14nm process with 8GB of 2nd gen HBM memory.
    2016 will be a great year for both AMD and NVIDIA.

    PS: I'm surprised the Nano performed much better than advertised. it will still be a very hard to recommend card, but it's a great pick for those who don't want a full ITX PC.
    Evernessince and Steve like this.
  6. sthet81

    sthet81 TS Rookie Posts: 18

    I think the pricing of their Fury lineups are what's hurting their sales and thus the reasoning for most of the low scores that I see from other tech sites and this. Not sure what AMD is thinking but they cannot compete at the same starting price as the GTX 980Ti. Period!! Their Fury cards do not perform on the same level as the 980Ti but more like a slightly overclocked 980. If the 390X goes for $429 then it would make much more sense to price their Fury models at $499 and the Fury X right at $550 since the only thing that really separates the Fury versus Fury X is the watercooler. AMD needs to stick to what they do best and that's offering similar products at a much affordable price. That is the role of the alternative.
    deemon and cliffordcooley like this.
  7. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 1,800   +483

    it all depends on how well the cards will do in dx12 games. we just need more than 1 game that uses it to see if it really does have a big advantage over nvidia. in theory AMD's compute oriented async architecture is much easier to optimize for DX12. (maybe when fable legends gets released)
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
    sthet81 likes this.
  8. mosu

    mosu TS Guru Posts: 416   +43

    Really, no DX12 games tested makes the whole review incomplete and a bit misleading about AMD vs Nvidia, or are we supposed to wait till Nvidia comes with...something. The Fury Nano card equals or even outperforms GTX980 Ti in DX12 so maybe this is the reason why these cards are so hard to get.The current price is a premium paid by early adopters and I'm expecting to drop in the next weeks.
    deemon likes this.
  9. CaptainTom

    CaptainTom TS Booster Posts: 153   +61

    Unlike most reviewers I am very impressed with this card. Instead of a 980 Ti you can get something that is about as strong, uses 70% of the energy, and takes up half the space. Impressive.
    SuperVeloce and Evernessince like this.
  10. sthet81

    sthet81 TS Rookie Posts: 18

    From what I hearing is that Direct X 12 do favor AMD's architecture more than Nvidia right now. Also, it seems they hit a home run with FreeSync. Not a fanboy of anything but AMD do need to continue to compete otherwise Nvidia is a monopoly. Very bad for consumers.
  11. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Thanks for another comprehensive review Steve. Excellent breakfast reading.

    Which DX12 would those be? There are none - unless you're counting AotS which hasn't even reached beta status yet.
    I think we are actually waiting on DX12 titles to arrive - I know it's a small point, but is rather relevant.
    Step away from the Kool-Aid. Tom's had the Nano pegged at the same level as a mildly factory overclocked GTX 980 ( over two dozen other 980 SKUs ship with higher clocks) - and as Tom's noted
    No, it is quite obviously a supply issue, as the evidence clearly shows (lack of availability and owner reviews), and many sites have reported direct from the source.
    Fury X launched 3 months ago, and two of the three (all out of stock) SKUs listed by Newegg are listed at prices higher than its don't hold your breath.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
    Evernessince, Steve and treetops like this.
  12. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 1,937   +157

    Deemon lol 4k gaming is not here yet? we have had resolutions beyond 1080p in computer gaming for what over a decade?

    dx12 isnt even out... the only testable games not even in beta stage....

    this card is an overkill for 1080p, I'm guessing that's why they did not bother to post the results
    Steve likes this.
  13. deemon

    deemon TS Booster Posts: 199   +46

  14. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,321   +263

    Thank you for the review Steve, I for one was definitely waiting for it. The Nano's performance was better than I was expecting. I honestly thought the lower wattage footprint would have been a greater factor against the Nano than it ended up to be, which makes great news for the little card that could. The coil noise is a downer for sure, but hopefully it is limited to the sample batch and/or first run (crosses fingers for everyone). HDMI 1.4a instead of 2.0? An unnecessary step backwards especially if the point of this card is to push 4K even if it struggles to be "passable."

    With some fiddling it can keep up with it's more stout brother, which kind of makes it a little bit easier to justify price wise. However, considering that the Nano (in my mind) is supposed to slot somewhere between the Fury and FuryX AND does not include an AIO liquid cooling kit, it still seems to be less of value compared to both the Fury and FuryX. $600 would still be a lot for the card (or any card for that matter), but would make more sense.

    Either way, I welcome the Nano as a new weapon in the ITX build space's arsenal. Even if it struggles to achieve passable 4K, it still looks like a great option for anything less than that. Maybe I'll update my current ITX build which is in the relatively gargantuan Bitfenix Prodigy to a much smaller, leaner case and swap out my aging GTX 570 for one of these bad boys... =p
    Steve likes this.
  15. mosu

    mosu TS Guru Posts: 416   +43

    Someone said:"And for those worried about Nano´s poor sales, don´t be. The Nano isn´t made to sell a lot, it´s simply a halo product to show what AMD can deliver in terms of performance within a very small size and to highlight the power of HBM, basically it´s a marketing product, a very good one if you ask me." I am also sure this card is not intended for 4K gaming, but I am also sure it was intended to show the capabilities of DX12 in the upcoming games. It may also be useful in early VR apps. and a quick newsflash: At least 75 millions Windows 10 users know that DX12 is out...
  16. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Yet again you are jumping to conclusions. Win10's adoption is driven by the fact that is a free upgrade. I doubt at most Win10 upgraders even factored DX12 into the equation.
    madboyv1 and cliffordcooley like this.
  17. Ben Mitchell

    Ben Mitchell TS Rookie

    And yet in the same results you can see the 980ti having some trouble getting to 144 at 1080p. the amd cards scale better with resolution (partially because they would hit a cpu bottleneck at lower res which anand pointed out for at least one of those results you posted).
    Steve likes this.
  18. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Posts: 819   +52

    Interesting card. I would like one with the same form factor but good for 1080p maximum. The position of the power socket in particular interests me because its on the back of the card, not the top. My case is tiny and the hard drives are mounted on their side and don't allow for a graphics card with power sockets placed on the top. If they did a weaker version of this around £120 I would be very interested.
  19. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,106   +1,376

    You think in terms of technologies, which isn't relevant here, not as much as economics and internal politics, and those are ripe for some radical changes, and the rumour has, not for the better.
  20. mosu

    mosu TS Guru Posts: 416   +43

    I'm really flattered by your attention to my posts, so I'll try to be more active. It's obvious for everyone here at Techspot that I support AMD and I believe someone has to support them against the Intel-Nvidia coalition simply because if it was not for AMD low prices some of us couldn't afford new and relatively powerful computers for everyday work and not for bragging rights. That's why I am also against the elitist market politics promoted by Apple.
  21. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    There is support, and then there is FUD and unwanted criticism.
    Criticizing the review because no DX12 games were included when no DX12 games have been published? How is that support?
    Making a baseless assumption that 75 million people know about DX12, when the vast majority just took advantage of a free upgrade. There are also plenty of instances where Win10 is applied as an update for those who never actually intended to migrate to the OS.

    Support whom you like, but don't be surprised if your posting is questioned when the content of your posts are strewn with bad logic. You also shouldn't be concerned with my criticism of your posts after your own unfair criticism of the site. That is generally termed hypocrisy. You could try supporting your favourite vendor using demonstrable facts, since you'll find that your support stands up better in those circumstances.
    Steve likes this.
  22. darkzelda

    darkzelda TS Addict Posts: 251   +86

    The conclusions of this review are just trolling, can't believe it.
    SuperVeloce likes this.
  23. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,099   +526

    The final review score is a bit harsh and doesn't mention the main reason the card should have a lower score, cost. Coil whine and a fan that's a bit too loud are very weak reasons to give a card a 75.

    I'm honestly surprised that this card didn't get a higher rating, given that it's form factor and power draw allow it to easily slot into more compact and less power hungry systems.
    SuperVeloce and darkzelda like this.
  24. vergilangleos

    vergilangleos TS Rookie

    Seems we have too many nvidia fanboys here
    darkzelda likes this.
  25. mosu

    mosu TS Guru Posts: 416   +43

    For some demonstrable facts, please let them test the DX12 capabilities of competing cards only for the reason to prove the capability of future tech, so I believe we like our purchases to be future proof. Or you will never use DX12 in the future as long as AMD leads the game?
    darkzelda likes this.

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