AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

Results: Power Consumption And Efficiency

Idle/2D Desktop

We aren’t going to spent a lot of time in this section since very little changes from the Radeon R9 Fury X. The Nano’s pleasantly low power consumption of 10 to 12W at idle is one of the best results we’ve ever measured for an AMD graphics card in this performance range. Multiple monitors don’t change the story either, similar to what we saw from the Fury X.

 MinimumMaximum
Average
PCIe1W
21W7W
Motherboard 3.3V0W2W1W
Motherboard 12V0W11W3W
Graphics Card Overall1W27W11W


Gaming / 3D Operation

Here's where the story gets more interesting. AMD states a typical power consumption of 175W. With a cold card, we actually hit this number, which is great if you’re living in northern Alaska and love to keep your windows open. For everybody else, AMD's specifications prove elusive as soon as a full load, 4K resolution and a warm card come into play. The additional 8W of leakage current doesn't sour us on the Nano's power result, though.

Let’s take a look at the power numbers we measured across the entire benchmark suite and compare them to Nvidia's GTX 970 Mini (OC).

The highest power consumption was reported in Metro Last Light and Thief. We used long scenes for those measurements, not just short sections with uncharacteristically high spikes. Our reasoning will become clear in the stress test section below.

But let’s go back to gaming. We’re puzzled by the bars’ evenness. It’s not a secret that Nvidia’s GPU Boost is restrictive when it comes to hitting power targets. Up until now, AMD seemed fairly contrarian. But these results make it look like AMD is putting its foot down as well. You no longer see bursts of power consumption in certain scenes.

What about the gaming performance to go along with these figures? We just saw that AMD's Radeon R9 Nano consumes more power than the GTX 970 Mini (OC) on average. Putting this into context with frame rates gives those numbers a different spin.

It turns out that the Radeon R9 Nano uses more power, but also provides more performance than the Nvidia GTX 970 Mini (OC). So what happens if we calculate the ratio of the two numbers to get watts per FPS?

No doubt, the resulting graph will cause a lot of head-scratching. The Nano’s efficiency is better in one game, similar in two games and not far behind in all the other games compared to Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 Mini (OC). The exception is Ashes of the Singularity, and the reason why was covered on the previous page. Here’s the efficiency graph:

There’s simply no comparing this to the Radeon R9 Fury X or AMD’s Hawaii-based graphics cards. AMD is declaring war on power companies, it seems. Power Tune with a real and restrictive limit finally works like it’s supposed to.

For those who like their details, we’re also showing the usual gaming loop measurements. The individual rails’ power consumption numbers, including peaks, can be found right here:

 MinimumMaximumAverage
PCIe20W
413W165W
Motherboard 3.3V0W2W1W
Motherboard 12V3W43W19W
Graphics Card Overall33W437W186W

A Stress Test that’s Really Not a Stress Test

This used to be where older Radeon cards were pushed to the point of glowing red-hot. Power Tune put an end to all of that though, so try as you might, you can't use your graphics card as a space heater any longer. First let's look at the curves:

The Radeon R9 Nano’s power consumption is actually slightly lower during the stress test than some of our gaming benchmarks due to a constant load that pushes clock rates down quite a bit.

 MinimumMaximum
Average
PCIe10W307W164W
Motherboard 3.3V1W3W2W
Motherboard 12V0W29W16W
Graphics Card Overall
16W332W182W

Power Consumption Overview

Idle (Click for full picture)Idle (Click for full picture)Gaming (Click for full picture)Gaming (Click for full picture)Torture (Click for full picture)Torture (Click for full picture)
This thread is closed for comments
115 comments
    Your comment
  • nikolajj
    I love this segment. If I was building today, I would do a small build for sure!
  • Eximo
    Looks like the table had a hiccup. GTX970 (OC) is showing a lot of the numbers from the R9-390X, and maybe a few numbers from the 980 column.
  • Yuka
    It is a nice card and I agree, but... It's not USD $650 nice.

    This card is a very tough sell for AMD, specially since ITX cases that can house current long cards are not hard to find or weird enough to make short cards a thing.

    It's nice to see it's up there with the GTX970 in terms of efficiency, since HTPCs need that to be viable and the card has no apparent shortcomings from what I could read here.

    All in all, it needs to drop a bit in price. It's not "650 nice", but making it "~500 nice" sounds way better. Specially when the 970 mini is at 400.

    Cheers!
  • FormatC
    @Eximo:
    The table will be fixed, this was a copy issue :D
  • sna
    no HDMI2.0 in itx small system near the 4k TV is unforgivable AMD , what were you thinking?
  • sna
    73949 said:
    It is a nice card and I agree, but... It's not USD $650 nice. This card is a very tough sell for AMD, specially since ITX cases that can house current long cards are not hard to find or weird enough to make short cards a thing. It's nice to see it's up there with the GTX970 in terms of efficiency, since HTPCs need that to be viable and the card has no apparent shortcomings from what I could read here. All in all, it needs to drop a bit in price. It's not "650 nice", but making it "~500 nice" sounds way better. Specially when the 970 mini is at 400. Cheers!



    well this card is for the smallest case ... not the easy to find huge long itx case.

    I personaly find long itx cases useless ... they are very near to Matx case in size .. and people will pick up MATX ovet ITX any time if the size is the same.

    BUT for 170mm long card ? this is a winner.

    the only thing killing this product is the lack of HDMI2.0 which is very important for itx .. ITX are the console like PC near the tv.
  • Cryio
    The 390X was slower or as fast as a mini-970 in 1080p-1440p in all cases. What gives?
  • FormatC
    As the manually oc'ed version. Please compare it with the 970 Mini @stock :)
  • heffeque
    Quote:
    no HDMI2.0 in itx small system near the 4k TV is unforgivable AMD , what were you thinking?

    I guess that they were thinking about DisplayPort?
  • Nossy
    I'd go with the 950 GTX for a mini ITX build for a 1080pgaming/4k video HTPC.

    For a $650 bucks video card. I'd go with a 980TI and use a Raven RVZ01 if I want an ITX build with performance.
  • caiokn
    Nice to see such a nice product from AMD. I expect their next CPU line to be surprisingly good as well.
  • rhysiam
    While it's great to see a high end AMD card competing with Nvidia on efficiency, I wonder how aggressively they've had to bin the chips to get the Nano down to its TDP. Given the CLC and additional VRMs on the FuryX, these Nano's would have a substantially lower BOM and yet retail at the same price, making them a higher margin product. Reasonable bet they'll be getting the cream of the Fiji crop at the moment.

    It would be interesting to see whether under volting/clocking a FuryX could approach similar efficiency, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that most of them draw a chunk more power. Still, if you told me 6 months ago that AMD would have a high end card that's competitive with Maxwell in both performance and efficiency (particularly the latter), I'm not sure I'd have believed it.
  • tomc100
    The price is a bit high but Nvidia doesn't have a small form factor gpu with this much power and it's good to see AMD not pricing their gpu at ridiculously low prices and selling themselves short in order to compete with Nvidia. Time for Nvidia to drop prices. Now hopefully, their cpu division can keep up with Intel.
  • Au_equus
    AMD and the discrete GPU market needs this badly, but the lack of HDMI 2.0 is just another misstep for AMD. Its like they designed a sports car with the big engine, the high strength chassis, and the wide base with the road gripping tires. Then they put in an automatic transmission without the option for manual...
  • TallestJon96
    "Enthusiasts fond of space-saving gaming PCs have dreamed of a graphics card that runs as fast as a factory-overclocked Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 at Full HD resolution, and even faster at Ultra HD, while being smaller, lighter and even a bit less power hungry."

    They did? And that's oddly specific...

    Anyway, it's a good card, but too expensive, as the extra performance over a 970 isn't worth $300.

    Also, nvidia needs only to release a mini it's 989, and this niche will be filled.

    It's actually a great card, and I would use it if I had it, but the value just isn't there.
  • filippi
    mini it's 989? This is new...
  • XiPH3R
    great conclusion
  • AS118
    This is definitely a strong product for its niche, but I think that the regular Fury X is also a good small card. If I was building a small rig, I'd definitely consider that too.

    I wonder if working with Apple's rubbed off on AMD, they seem to be thinking of small form factors more often lately.
  • Xorak
    I suppose if you absolutely must pack the most power into the smallest case, than so be it. But even then, even the smallest cases seem to have at least one 120mm vent where you could sick the radiator of the Fury X and have a better, cooler solution for the same money. Assuming you could buy one of those, which realistically, you can't right now either.. Just my two cents. I got a 290x and freesync, I'm sitting this round out unless high end prices come way down. But I predict that the next full cycle will be a bigger step up than this one was. We should actually get that die size decrease and maybe 8gb of HBM will be cost effective by then.
  • jkhoward
    This card manages 30 FPS in most titles at 4K which isn't "playable" for most gamers. When paired against the 970 Mini in 1080p they are just about neck and neck.

    I am far from being a NVIDIA fanboy but... I guess I don't see the point in this product if it is $300 more expensive than the 970 Mini and cannot handle 4K with at least 60 FPS.
  • rgd1101
    they should replace the non-X fury with this, and at $500-$550.
  • Benthon
    Who spends $650 on a GPU but wouldn't spend $50+ buying a case that houses 10.5inch graphics cards?

    Nobody. That's the answer.
  • DONC314
    Sorry but I just don't get it. Spec wise it's a pretty good card, no question about that.
    At 600 bucks it is an answer to a question no one asked.
    Hopefully after it's out a while the market will determine a more realistic price.
  • FormatC
    414219 said:
    Who spends $650 on a GPU but wouldn't spend $50+ buying a case that houses 10.5inch graphics cards? Nobody. That's the answer.


    Mini-ITX is a good solution for living room PCs. All this funny gaming towers are too big and ugly to use it in a well-designed room. And to be honest: the whole world is a big market with a lot of different trends.

    I'm just preparing a mini-ITX DIY/Roundup with shorter cards and different Skylake CPUs to show which card goes well with which CPU. Starting with R7 360, over GTX 950 Mini, 960 Mini, 380 ITX, 970 Mini and up to R9 Nano. I'm not sure about a further translation into English, but we got in Germany so much positive response for all of our different mini-ITX projects, that I'm sure it is worth to build real rigs to find an objective conclusion.

    I have a MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning in my hands, but it is definitely nothing for my living room. I'm playing in my lab :D