AMD Radeon pro Duo arrives at closing, kind of

Radeon Pro Duo Red Background
While AMD confirmed off the new Fiji GPUs final yr, they talked about four products: R9 Fury X, (vanilla) R9 Fury, (miniature) R9 Nano, and a dual-GPU card that changed into subsequently christened the Radeon seasoned Duo. The first card showed up in June, followed via the Fury in August and the Nano in September. By all rights, the seasoned Duo should have launched no longer lengthy after the Nano, but that in no way befell, and the longer we waited, the greater we wondered what became going on with the twin-GPU halo card. Today is the reliable release of AMD’s Radeon pro Duo, but it feels greater than a touch stillborn.

AMD informed us ultimate week that they’re no longer sampling the Radeon pro Duo to reviewers—or at the least, not “conventional” reviewers. We’re going to get to that in a moment, but all we must cross on proper now are product pics and a slide deck, the latter of which incorporates a few benchmarks and a spec sheet. So we are not reviewing the seasoned Duo as such, but that does not imply we do not have plenty to discuss. You spot, the seasoned Duo is correctly CrossFire R9 Nano, on a single PCB, so armed with a couple of R9 Nano playing cards we are capable of get a quite clear concept of ways the pro Duo could perform.

Dual-GPU playing cards have constantly been a spot marketplace, and the pro Duo takes that to a new degree. The remaining twin-GPU card from AMD, the R9 295X2, turned into more or less equal to CrossFire R9 290X (with reduced clocks until you overclocked), and it was priced at $1499, compared to $549 for individual 290X playing cards. It additionally released six months after the ones cards, and the marketplace become nevertheless languishing in 28nm land. Radeon pro Duo goals that identical rate, $1499, but this time the R9 Nano has already dropped to $499. Possibly more complex is that we are 9 months after the Fury X, but we’re also about two months before the 14nm FinFET Polaris elements are rumored to reach.

And that, in a nutshell, is why AMD isn’t always sampling the cardboard to reviewers—they are able to wager what we might say: “too little, too late, and too highly-priced.” they’re pretty a lot right. Apart from occupying an unmarried slot and the usage of an unmarried closed loop liquid cooler, it is no longer any faster than a pair of R9 Nano playing cards. however, AMD is throwing a bit of a curve ball right here as they’re touting this as an expert card in preference to just a gaming monster.

The advertising and marketing is all about content creation, TFLOPS, LiquidVR, and DX12; and the seasoned Duo should do properly in all the ones areas. To further muddy the waters, it appears AMD may even provide owners of the seasoned Duo a preference between gamer and expert drivers, so in an experience this is a computing device elegance card. This is AMD’s first VR equipped creator offering as well, and AMD is partnering up with Crytek and their VR First initiative to help to bud VR builders. In case, you’re willing to pay the charge top class for a twin-GPU card and also you want the precise functions that AMD is supplying, it is probably really worth the price premium.

Even as we don’t have a real Radeon pro Duo for trying out, we do have multiple R9 Nano cards. Performance ought to be the identical, maybe with a small variance of a few percentages. Considering you may buy multiple R9 Nano cards and keep $500, or maybe a couple of GTX 980 Ti playing cards even as saving $300, although, the benchmarks are on the whole a formality. This isn’t always a card for game enthusiasts, particularly now not with Polaris and Pascal right around the corner. Our check platform includes an overclocked i7-5930K, 4x4GB DDR4-2667, reference clocked GTX 980 Ti cards, and two R9 Nano playing cards.

For the video games, we’re going complete hog right here and inclusive of benchmarks from 11 specific video games. The games’ variety from older titles which have had SLI and CrossFire profiles for a long time to 3 more recent titles. We’ve tested the use of the modern day AMD red 16.four.2 Hotfix drivers and Nvidia’s 364.72 drivers, at 1920×1080 ultra, 2560×1440 ultra, and 3840×2160 and excessive or extremely, depending on the sport (The department, GTAV, and upward push of the Tomb Raider were examined using their respective excessive presets). We’ve covered both single GPU and twin GPU consequences to help shed some mild on what to anticipate.

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Considering the performance the Radeon Pro Duo isn t really that huge
Beginning with our 4K testing, dual Nano GPUs can come quite close to matching twin GTX 980 Ti, or even manipulate some wins (in far Cry Primal, GTAV, and Hitman: Absolution). Thinking about there may be a strength draw advantage for AMD here (350W vs. 500W TDP), not to mention the memory drawback (4GB vs. 6GB in step with GPU), if we’re talking approximately AMD’s $a thousand pair of cards and Nvidia’s $1200 pair of playing cards, each are terrific performers. An unmarried 980 Ti is 15 percent faster than an unmarried Nano, but in SLI/CF the distance at 4K is the handiest three percent on average. That is because of standard a great deal better scaling on AMD: CrossFire improves AMD’s overall performance through eighty five percentage, but SLI the handiest increases the Nvidia overall performance by using 66 percentage.

Of path from a gaming attitude, paying $1500 for the identical performance is a one of a kind count. There’s additionally the problem of the minimum frame charges, wherein the 4GB VRAM takes its toll. This time, a single 980 Ti has 40 percent better minimum body costs on common, even though in twin-GPU configurations the space narrows to 19 percent. Curiously, regardless of having less VRAM, 4K has been one in all AMD’s sturdy positions.
Dropping to 2560×1440, matters are extra in desire of Nvidia typical. All of our test video games are running above 60 fps on the 980 Ti SLI setup, and AMD comes close, though they fall well short inside the division—in which CrossFire sincerely reduced overall performance for R9 Nano (which wasn’t the case at 4K). Considering 4K isn’t without a doubt all that commonplace a use case, this is arguably an extra important battleground. Average frame quotes want Nvidia’s GPU by round 15 percent standard, whilst minimum body quotes are over 30 percent higher.

1080p gaming, even at basically most quality, actually is not the target marketplace of the photos card setups right here, although in general the consequences are quite just like 1440p.

As a reprise of what we saw final fall, this should all be pretty familiar territory. AMD’s R9 Nano is a way more appealing now at $500 than the unique $650, and it is a sweet little card—even though you do want to plot around the outdoor cooler in case you’re the use of a small case, as venting warmness into the chassis can be elaborate. The seasoned Duo does remedy the problem of an outdoors cooler, but it is also a much larger card and you currently want an area for the radiator—no longer genuinely a hassle in any decent ATX case, certainly, but fitting it rights into a smaller can might require extra making plans and punctiliously deciding on additives. What the seasoned Duo doesn’t do is cater to gamers in any way that we’d recommend going out and shopping for one—content material developers, maybe, however now not natural game enthusiasts.

It really is a shame, due to the fact as an engineering feat, the Radeon seasoned Duo appears freaking top-notch. Check out the compact cooling answer, and it is hard now not to be inspired; the HBM modules allow for a much smaller vicinity than previous dual-GPU cards. It is too terrible AMD didn’t get this out the door in advance, whilst it could have made greater of a dash. It’s a graphical excursion de pressure for AMD’s Fiji, the maximum strong implementation we’re going to see, but lamentably, it is too overdue by 1/2.

The seasoned Duo isn’t terrible, however until you virtually have to buy a new portraits card today—and you’re interested by LiquidVR, DX12, VR, and/or content introduction—there’s no feel in speeding out to shop for one. AMD may or won’t release an excessive-give up Polaris part in June, however Nvidia genuinely has plans, if rumors are correct. The Worst case, you may nonetheless get two R9 Nano cards—or maybe a couple of R9 Fury or R9 Fury X—for much less cash. That leaves the pro Duo as a candy looking card, but one so that it will possibly have a totally short shelf lifestyles.