Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Radeon R9 Nano Small Form Factor Competition Review

Our second installment covering our AMD Radeon R9 Nano in a Small Form Factor chassis is finally done. We will upgrade the case to a Corsair Obsidian Series 250D Mini ITX PC Case and compare the R9 Nano to price competitive video cards that can be installed. We game at 1440p and 4K for the ultimate small form factor experience.


This evaluation today is going to expand our AMD Radeon R9 Nano Small Form Factor testing. In this evaluation we will cover several additional scenarios related to AMD Radeon R9 Nano performance as compared to our initial AMD Radeon R9 Nano Small Form Factor Video Card Review.

If you have not yet, please read our first AMD Radeon R9 Nano Small Form Factor Video Card Review prior to this evaluation today. In our first review, we initially tested the new XFX Radeon R9 Nano in its native and AMD-recommended small form factor environment. We tested in a Cooler Master Elite 110 small form factor case which cannot fit a standard sized video card. It requires small form factor sized video cards for a maximum of 8.2" in length. This is exactly where the new AMD Radeon R9 Nano fits its overall marketing profile and provides an enthusiast gaming experience, in a case with an extremely small footprint.

We also compared the XFX Radeon R9 Nano directly to the only close competition that exists in that small form factor size, a small form factor GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 970 GPU based video card. We tested performance at an enthusiast level 1440p gameplay experience, and a more common resolution for that size and expense of system, 1080p.

Our initial evaluation yielded interesting results. In both video card situations the video cards "throttled" clock speeds based on power and thermal limitations imposed by the video cards and the size and cooling possible in a small cramped case. Despite the clock speed differences, and despite neither video card reaching its full potential, the AMD Radeon R9 Nano came out way ahead of the GeForce GTX 970 in performance and the gameplay experience.

By far the XFX Radeon R9 Nano allowed a superior gameplay experience at both resolutions. The caveat is the price, from $570 to $660 you have to pay an awful lot for that performance improvement. Our end result was that of a positive experience gaming with the XFX Radeon R9 Nano in a very small form factor case.

Bigger Case, More Competition

Now it is time to move up the scale a bit and compare the XFX Radeon R9 Nano with its price competitive options. The XFX Radeon R9 Nano retails for $649. At $649 it shares the same exact price as an AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and GeForce GTX 980 Ti. While those two video cards could not fit in our Cooler Master Elite 110 case, ruling these out as competition in that first review, however we can fit these inside a larger small form factor case.

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We are going to use the Corsair Obsidian Series 250D Mini ITX Case. This case accepts Mini ITX motherboards, however, it can accommodate a video card length of 290mm or 11.4 inches. It is still considered a small form factor case measuring 290mm (H) x 277mm (W) x 351mm (D).

This means reference or custom cooled NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti video cards will fit in this case. This case also has more cooling options for placement and room for thin radiators. As such we are able to have both the radiator and fan for our CPU installed plus the radiator and fan for the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X installed.

In addition, this case has better cooling and more room inside versus the Cooler Master Elite 110. What all this means is that the XFX Radeon R9 Nano has better room to breathe, better cooling, which could help its overall clock speed. In addition we can fairly compare the Nano to the price competitive GeForce GTX 980 Ti reference card and AMD Radeon R9 Fury X all in the same case and still call it a small form factor build...because it is.

The System Configuration

We will be using the exact same hardware components from our initial AMD Radeon R9 Nano Small Form Factor build. Please look to that evaluation to see what the components are. We are simply moving over that hardware to this larger small form factor case that can fit full-length video cards.

We have made one change though, for this comparison today we are going to overclock the CPU further to the highest we are able to achieve given the cooling solution without throttling. Cooling options limited us from doing this last time around.

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We managed to take this particular CPU up to a stable 4.5GHz without throttling. Therefore, for all tests in this review today the CPU is running faster than the previous evaluation. In the previous evaluation it was running 4.2GHz, in this one it is running at 4.5GHz, 300MHz faster. All other specifications are the same.