AMD just announced a partnership with IO Interactive for inclusion of its forthcoming “Hitman” title in the “Gaming Evolved” program. The involvement boasts “top-flight effects and performance optimizations for PC gamers,” further underscoring a focus on DirectX 12 workload management for increased overall quality.

We've got to give it to marketing – “Wraith” is a good name; certainly better than “Banshee,” which is what the previous AMD cooler should have been named for its shrill wailing. The Wraith cooler substantially improves the noise-to-thermals ratio for AMD's stock units, and is a cooler we hope to see shipping with future Zen products.

At its max 2900 RPM, the Wraith produces thermals that are effectively identical to what the old cooler accomplishes at ~5500 RPM (see below chart). Running the old cooler at a comparable 2900 RPM results in a delta of ~14.3% warmer than the Wraith. This is all noted in our thermal review of the Wraith. What we didn't note, however, was the dBA / noise output. In this video, we compare the noise levels of AMD's two stock coolers for the FX-8370 CPU -- the Wraith and the 'old' unit.

AMD's new “Wraith” CPU cooler makes a few engineering changes: Overall surface area of the aluminum heatsink has increased 24%, the fan has been heavily modified from the previous stock cooler (which should be named the “banshee,” given its shrill output), and it's got an LED. We first got eyes-on with the Wraith at CES 2016, but have returned today with in-house validation of CPU cooler performance.

Today marks the list date of AMD's new Wraith CPU cooler, which will accompany “specially marked” processors for no added cost, we're told. The Wraith replaces AMD's old stock cooler, pictured in this article, though both products will remain shipping. The FX-8370 units with the old cooler will sell for a new, dropped price. MSRP stands at $200 for the FX-8370 Wraith Edition, as we're calling it, bumping the non-Wraith FX-8370 down to $190. That's a $10 difference for the denser cooler with LED back-light – now just to determine whether the $10 is worthwhile.

This review benchmarks AMD's Wraith CPU cooler vs. the original stock AMD CPU cooler, then throws-in an aftermarket air cooler for comparison. We modulate fan RPMs between the two AMD coolers to get a feel for overall efficiency and noise-thermal trade-offs.

Our last head-to-head GPU comparison benchmarked the performance of a single GTX 980 Ti versus two GTX 970s in SLI. Following some astute reader suggestions, we've acquired a PowerColor Devil 13 dual-core R9 390 – two GPUs on one card – to test as a CrossFire stand-in against SLI GTX 970s. Performance analysis is accompanied by power draw and thermal tests, though a proper, full review on the Devil 13 card will follow this content in short order.

For today, the focus is on this head-to-head comparison. FPS benchmarks look at performance of 2x CrossFire R9 390s vs. 2x SLI GTX 970s, including supporting data from a GTX 980 Ti, 980, and R9 390X. We'll also work toward answering the question of whether CrossFire and SLI are worth it in this particular scenario, as opposed to investing in a single, more expensive GPU.

AMD R9 Nano Price Drops to $500

Monday, 11 January 2016

Following its Polaris GPU architecture announcement and ensuing Polaris demo at CES, AMD today announced a reduction in price for its R9 Nano video card. The card, which launched in September 2015, is now carrying a Suggested Etail Price (SEP) of $500, a significant drop from its $650 launch price (the same as the Fury X).

It normally takes a few days for SEP reductions to set-in at Amazon and Newegg, but the two major retailers should soon reflect this change.

AMD’s new Polaris architecture discretely sat in the company’s CES 2016 suite, running Star Wars Battlefront with impressively low system power consumption. Quietly the GPU sat, running a completely new architecture and process for GPUs. No fanfare, no bombastic marketing videos projected on the walls, no product unveil insanity.

The demo was simple: Show two Intel i5 Haswell systems side-by-side, one with an nVidia GTX 950 ($160) and one with AMD’s undisclosed Polaris GPU. AMD locked framerate to 60FPS in the demo, showing both GPUs at a constant 60FPS using the X-Wing Survival map (singleplayer), and directing focus toward Kill-A-Watt wall meters. The wall meters show total system watt consumption and, as one would expect from an AMD suite, the AMD-powered system ran at lower total system power consumption overall.

Graphics manufacturer AMD and its Radeon Technologies Group (RTG) today announced the arrival of “Polaris,” a 14nm FinFET architecture derived from codename Arctic Islands. Polaris is due in mid-2016 and supersedes the aged 28nm process, which both major GPU manufacturers presently employ. The new node should drastically impact performance-per-watt, aided by FinFET transistors (shaped like a 'fin,' rather than planar, so containment of power is more efficient – i.e., less leakage).

Scalable multi-card configurations from both nVidia and AMD have improved in their performance over the years, with both companies investing additional resources to driver optimizations for multi-card users. The value of SLI or CrossFire has always been debatable, particularly for day-one system builders (rather than someone upgrading), but is worth investigating further. With all the year's newest titles – and some mainstays with well-tested performance – we did that investigation, specifically comparing a single 980 Ti vs. 2x 970s in SLI, a 980, single 970, and R9 390X for AMD baseline.

Today's GTX 970 SLI vs. single 980 Ti test benchmarks average FPS and 1% / 0.1% low performance, presenting data in a few different chart types: Usual AVG, 1% low, & 0.1% low head-to-head performance; delta value (percent advantage) between the 970s in SLI and 980 Ti; delta value (percent gain) between the 2x 970s and a single GTX 970.

Despite the season's best efforts to give weary editors a rest, last week remained active as ever, producing some major news items that impact 1H16.

As quickly as possible, then our news recap video:

AMD CEO Lisa Su recently indicated that the company's Radeon R9 Fury dual-GPU card would be pushed into 2Q16, a marked delay over the initial EOY 15 target launch window.

The new card will host two Fiji GPUs on a single card, potentially imbuing the dual-GPU, single-card market with a bit of life. The device has been touted since E3 as the Fiji Gemini and was targeting a December launch period, with Lisa Su claiming that the delay has been to better accommodate shipment of virtual reality products (HTC Vive coincides with the new Gemini window).

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