Sapphire Tri-X Fury OC review

One step down from AMD’s liquid-cooled flagship, the Radeon R9 Fury X, comes the standard R9 Fury and it’s this GPU we find in Sapphire’s Tri-X Fury OC graphics card. See also: What's the best graphics card?

The Radeon R9 Fury features 4GB of AMD’s new High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) which uses vertically stacked memory chips to deliver a huge 512GB/sec of bandwidth while making space and power savings into the bargain. HBM offers 60 percent more bandwidth than GDDR5, and according to AMD this makes up for the fact that the chips offer only 4GB of RAM where other solutions offer 6GB, 8GB or even 12GB.

At the same time as removing the liquid-cooler from the R9 Fury X, AMD has reduced the number of processor cores from 4,096 to 3,584 and the corresponding texture units from 256 to 224.

With the external liquid-cooling system of the full-strength version of the R9 Fury X gone, this version of the R9 Fury from Sapphire’s substitutes in a Tri-X triple-fan heatpipe cooler capable of running passively at low loads for silent operation. This results in a considerably larger board than the R9 Fury X version but, provided your case has the space for it, it’s much more straightforward to install. The R9 Fury does away with DVI ports, and this allows half of the card’s two-slot thickness to serve are an air vent at the rear of the PC.

The component design of the card has enabled Sapphire to implement a small factory overclock from the standard 1,000MHz core up to 1,040MHz. There’s also an identical-looking version of the card available which operates at the standard 1,000MHz. Of course, the factory overclock is just a starting point, and the card comes bundled with Sapphire’s “TriXX” overclocking and monitoring application. it provides the usual control over clock speeds and voltages along with the ability to save log files and provide user feedback.

Sapphire Tri-X Fury OC review: Performance

As you would expect, the Sapphire Tri-X Fury OC easily outperforms card based on AMD’s lesser R9 390 and R9 390X processors, however MSI’s factory overclocked GTX 980 Gaming 4G comes very close in many tests despite costing over than £100 less. On exception is in Grand Theft Auto 5, where the Tri-X Fury OC’s 4K performance is considerably better. AMD is touting the R9 Fury series of cards as ideal for 4K and VR use and our test results would back this up, although for truly smooth ultra-quality 4K you would still need a dual-card setup to run more challenging titles.

The Sapphire Tri-X Fury is a very quiet running card. Keeping the fans switched off until required enabled it to run silently until higher temperatures are reached. In our stress tests fan noise remained unobtrusive until the card reached around 78 degrees celsius where is started to become louder as it worked harder to keep temperatures down. Despite being a hugely powerful card, it’s much quieter in operation than many less powerful ones, notably the Club 3D Radeon R9 390 royalQueen.

The card performs jostles for superiority with MSI’s overclocked GeForce GTX 980 in our tests and is available at a similar price if you shop around although it can’t match either of the GTX 980 Ti-based card which admittedly cost rather more. The best card for you will vary depending on how your favorite games are optimised and weather you want to use GPU-specific features such as Freesync or multi-card setups. We’ve also yet to see how the cards will stack up when running future games written to the DirectX 12 API.

 

Unlike the R9 390 chips, the R9 Fury is different enough to be incompatible with the former GPUs and can’t therefore be combined with them in a multi-card setup, so you’ll have to start again from scratch if you’re hoping to upgrade from a previous AMD GPU. Of course, the R9 Fury offers a lot more power to start with and is less likely to need doubling up.

Sapphire’s Tri-X Fury OC: Specs

  • AMD Radeon R9 Fury Codename: Fiji Pro Process: 28nm Core clock: 1040MHz Memory clock: 1000MHz effective Memory bus width: 4096-bit Processor cores: 3584 Texture units: 224 ROPs: 64 APIs: DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.4, Vulkan, Mantle Memory type and capacity: HBM 4GB Cooling system: Tri-X Power connectors: 2x 8-pin PCIe Ports: 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI Simultaneous outputs: 4 (up to 6 via MST hub) Card width: 2.5 slots Dimensions: 305 x 130 x 45mm Cosmetic enhancements: None Software: TriXX OC utility Accessories: 1x HDMI cable, HDMI-to-DVI cable Warranty: 2 years
  • AMD Radeon R9 Fury Codename: Fiji Pro Process: 28nm Core clock: 1040MHz Memory clock: 1000MHz effective Memory bus width: 4096-bit Processor cores: 3584 Texture units: 224 ROPs: 64 APIs: DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.4, Vulkan, Mantle Memory type and capacity: HBM 4GB Cooling system: Tri-X Power connectors: 2x 8-pin PCIe Ports: 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI Simultaneous outputs: 4 (up to 6 via MST hub) Card width: 2.5 slots Dimensions: 305 x 130 x 45mm Cosmetic enhancements: None Software: TriXX OC utility Accessories: 1x HDMI cable, HDMI-to-DVI cable Warranty: 2 years

OUR VERDICT

The Sapphire Tri-X R9 Fury OC is a well-designed card with a quiet and efficient cooling system enabling silent operation when games aren’t being played. It’s a big improvement over an R9 390X but not up to the performance level of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti. However, it’s also considerably less expensive and the full potential of AMD’s latest technology is possibly yet to be realised.