AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

Great stuff sometimes come in small packages, such is the AMD R9 Nano. It’s so small you wouldn’t believe the performance it holds.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

The card was designed to be neat, with the top side having nothing but the Radeon text on it. Unlike the Fury X models the R9 Nano’s RADEON text is without backlight.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

The 8-pin PCI-E power connector is placed at the forward section of the card, this means the card is capable of drawing up to 225W of power. The actual power draw of the card is rated to be 175W.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

Just as the top, the bottom of the card is covered as well so there’s literally no exhaust area other than the forward and rear section.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

The AMD R9 Nano is without backplate as well which I think quite spoils the already sweet box-like appearance.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

As for the output ports there are 3x DisplayPorts and 1x HDMI

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

And just how small is the card? Here’s a comparison between the lowly ASUS Radeon R7 250 1GB GDDR5 and the mid / high range PowerColor R9 390.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Review

Test Setup

Processor Intel Core i5-4670K
RAM AVEXIR Blitz 2x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
Motherboard ASRock Z87 Extreme4
Cooler NZXT Kraken X31
Monitor Dell U2414H
Power Supply FSP AURUM S 700W
Casing NZXT S340
Operating System Windows 10 64bit

Overclocking

The AMD R9 Nano is barely overclockable, I tried pushing it to R9 Fury X speed but it couldn’t pass all my benchmark tests.

Benchmarks

Unigine Heaven 4.0

Heaven 4.0
*NOTE : Details are set to maximum.

Card 1080p (avg) 4K UHD (avg)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano 63 18
PowerColor R9 390 PCS+ 56 15
Nvidia GTX 970 (Reference) 53 14
Nvidia GTX 980 (Reference) 65 17

Metro Last Light

Heaven 4.0

Card 1080p (avg) 4K UHD (avg)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano 91 33
PowerColor R9 390 PCS+ 78 27
Nvidia GTX 970 (Reference) 80 30
Nvidia GTX 980 (Reference) 88 34

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite
Settings are at
2 – UltraDX11_DDOF | 2 – Custom | 1 – 16:9 | 4 – FullHD / 4K

Card 1080p (avg) 4K UHD (avg)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano 130 47
PowerColor R9 390 PCS+ 111 38
Nvidia GTX 970 (Reference) 112 37
Nvidia GTX 980 (Reference) 123 43

Shadow of Mordor

Heaven 4.0
Settings : Set to ULTRA, V-sync off.

Card 1080p (avg) 4K UHD (avg)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano 102 42
PowerColor R9 390 PCS+ 92 39
Nvidia GTX 970 (Reference) 71 30
Nvidia GTX 980 (Reference) 92 38

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V
Settings : Every option to the MAX setting available.

Card 1080p (avg) 4K UHD (avg)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano 43 35
PowerColor R9 390 PCS+ 40 30
Nvidia GTX 970 (Reference) 38 27
Nvidia GTX 980 (Reference) 44 32

Performance wise the R9 Nano looks impressive, holding its ground at the level of an Nvidia GTX 980 card. The competition on the AMD side of the camp would be an R9 390X.

Temperature

Furmark Burn-in Test was used to stress the card. Fan settings are at Auto. Room set to ~25c.

Card Idle(°C) Load (°C)
AMD Radeon R9 Nano 36 74
AMD Radeon R9 Nano (Full RPM) 30 59

The fan hovers at around 36% on AUTO settings where the noise level is silent.

Power Consumption

The stress was done with Furmark Burn-in Test. Power consumption reading was taken from the watt-meter, actual power draw by the entire system from the wall point. I’m using an FSP Aurum S 700W with 90% efficiency and the estimated system power draw (CPU, not including GPU) during Furmark test is 60w.

Card AMD Radeon R9 Nano
Furmark Burn-in 268
Estimated Actual System Draw 241
Estimated Card Power Draw 181

At 181W it’s just slightly above the rated 175W by AMD, keep in mind that this is just based on my estimation and it’s based on the peak power draw. Average and exact power draw is likely to average out to be below 175W.

The Verdict

AMD Radeon R9 Nano retails at RM 3,300 onwards of which I think it’s crazy considering that’s the price of an Nvidia GTX 980 Ti card that delivers more performance, 50% more than an R9 390X and the GTX 980 cards, and nearly double the price of Nvidia GTX 970 cards.

What exactly do you get with the R9 Nano? A very compact card that draws less power than a GTX 980 but performs like a GTX 980.

Now I can’t deny that the R9 Nano is a great product BUT it’s only with condition that you’re aiming for this card to place it in a really compact casing. The thing is most compact casings these days are designed to accommodate long cards and there are cheaper alternatives like say Nvidia GTX 970 cards in compact form factor.

Another thing I wish to highlight is the coil whine issue that’s reported all over the place. I face severe coil-whine with the R9 Nano as well but from what I gathered, AMD has already rectified this matter. If ever you decided to spend on this card and face coil-whine issue, please send it in for warranty.

Sorry AMD – I love the product but the pricing leaves much to be desired, the price for this card alone is sufficient to setup a decent small form-factor gaming rig.

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