AMD Radeon R9 Fury X CrossFire at 4K Review

The ultimate 4K battle is about to begin, AMD Radeon R9 Fury X CrossFire, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti SLI, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X SLI will compete for the best gameplay experience at 4K resolution. Find out what $1300 to $2000 worth of GPU backbone will buy you. And find out if Fiji really can 4K.

Introduction

When AMD's next generation Fiji GPU was launched, giving us the AMD Radeon R9 Fury and Fury X graphics cards enthusiasts were surely excited. Then we found out how performance really matched up. AMD billed the Fury series as a series of video cards built for the 4K gamer. We found out in our own 4K resolution gaming while in a single GPU configuration, the Fury GPUs are not quite suited well for that task. To that point, we have not seen any single GPU video card that is truly suited for 4K gaming when it comes to truly graphically demanding titles.

Ever since then we have been waiting for the right situation to come together to examine AMD CrossFire with Fury and Fury X. That moment finally arrived when new beta drivers were finally released (Cat 15.8 beta), giving us a more mature driver compared to the launch driver and we were finally able to get two of these hard-to-get Fury and Fury X cards. Now we can carefully examine the gameplay experience that AMD CrossFire can provide as it pertains to the new Fiji architecture.

Last week we published the first part of our Fury series CrossFire evaluations putting together two ASUS STRIX Radeon R9 Fury DC3 video cards in CrossFire. We found out a lot about Fury in CrossFire and how it compared to the competition. The end result was quite good in terms of potential performance over the competition, but lacking in software execution.


AMD Radeon R9 Fury X CrossFire

In today's evaluation we are using two AMD Radeon R9 Fury X reference video cards in CrossFire at 4K and seeing what Fiji can really do. AMD Radeon R9 Fury X pricing is $649 by MSRP making CrossFire cost $1300 total for this GPU configuration.

AMD Radeon R9 Fury X CrossFire is hard to obtain. If you are planning a Fury X CrossFire build, that may be your first issue. You will likely run into availability problems and because of that inflated pricing. That in itself may keep you from am Fury X CrossFire build for a while. In fact, in order for us to bring you this evaluation today we had to borrow another website's reference Fury X video card just to be able to run Fury X CrossFire. (Editor's Note: As of publishing this today, we are seeing more of these cards available for immediate delivery and at MSRP which has not been the case recently.)

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Setting up Fury X CrossFire was a breeze. We just installed both video cards, installed the driver under Windows 10 Pro x64 and CrossFire was enabled by default when we rebooted. There were no oddities while running Fury X CrossFire. We experienced both GPUs to operate around 50c while gaming and the clock speeds were consistent and unchanging between the two GPUs.

The Comparisons

For comparison we are including of course two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti reference video cards in SLI. GeForce GTX 980 Ti also has an MSRP of $649 making this configuration $1300 and directly comparable by price to Fury X CrossFire.

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We will also be including GeForce GTX TITAN X SLI reference video cards as a comparison. TITAN X video cards cost $999 each, making TITAN X SLI a $2000 GPU investment. So while not price comparable, we wanted to show these cards in 4K gaming to see if there truly is any value in these cards for 4K gaming as many have said over and over again that 980 Ti is so close in performance that the TITAN X does not represent its price premium.

All video cards were operating at default stock reference frequencies. We did note one oddity with both GeForce GTX 980 Ti under SLI and GeForce GTX TITAN X under SLI. It seems the real-world in-game Boost frequency runs lower on both GPUs while under SLI compared to as a single-GPU on its own.

For example, our single reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti on its own runs at 1202MHz while gaming. However, under SLI both cards ended up running at 1190MHz while gaming. What's more the voltages were different between GPU1 and GPU2. GPU1 would run at 1.180V while GPU2 ran at 1.049V. We watched the clock speed closely in each game, it did seem to be rather consistent at 1190MHz on both GPUs. We also noticed both GPUs kept lock-step with each other, meaning when one GPU changed the clock speed the other followed.

We also experienced the same degradation in clock speed with GeForce GTX TITAN X SLI compared to single-GPU. When running a single GeForce GTX TITAN X video card the clock frequency ran at 1189MHz while gaming. However, with both GPUs running in SLI the actual clock speed fell to 1177MHz on both GPUs, again keeping lock-step with each other. GPU1 voltage was 1.1740V and GPU2 was 1.1620V.

This isn't a huge clock speed difference, more than made up for by combining cards of course but it is a fact worth noting because AMD Radeon Fury X CrossFire did not do this, the GPU clock speed never changed under CrossFire.