When the AMD R9 Nano was released in 2015 it was something of an experiment. What happens when you put a thermal leash on a power-hungry flagship? The R9 Fury X was such a powerhog that it came tethered to a water-cooler, and yet AMD decided to take that same chip and ITX board and cool it with a single fan. It could have been awesome, but sadly was saddled with the same flagship price for lower performance. Fast forward 4 years and you can now buy that same flagship for $125, 20% of what it used to cost. At that price, does the little ITX card that could still have game? Let’s find out.
Buy one on ebay: https://ebay.to/2Yu5Ehw
Right off the bat, I should mention I swapped the fan on my Nano. The stock fan was never very quite so I decided to swap it out for something a bit more modern. This fan mod brought the noise level down a few decibels and gave the noise a lower pitch note, but the performance is unchanged.
The R9 Nano is so similar to the Fury X that some applications can’t keep them straight. At stock clocks and +50% power, my R9 Nano scores an 84.4% in UserBenchmark and pairs well with budget CPU’s like the 2200G. Running at stock would reduce performance by about 10%, but would run much quieter.
On average the R9 Nano should beat the RX 590/580/570. The additional RAM may come into play in some games at higher resolutions, but in most cases you’ll be limited first by performance than RAM. It also comfortably beats the GTX 1060 and matches the 1660 non-Ti, though that largely depends on the games you play.
Looking at some benchmarks, the Nano gets a 3221 in SuperPosition which is above the 2920 of the RX 590 and 3018 of the GTX 1660. 24fps average is also ahead of the 23fps and 22fps from the 1660 and 590 as well. In Timespy the Nano graphics score comes in just above 5000 points, in between the the 1660 and 590.
This is more than enough performance to play any game at any resolution, provided you don’t need the ultra quality levels. Mainstream games like Overwatch easily play at over 100fps at 1440p, more than enough to make full use of a high-refresh monitor. For more intense games like Anthem, 21:9 ultrawide gaming at console quality settings and performance is possible as well. Paired with a Freesync monitor, the card keeps up well even in intense situations.
So should you get one? You can get a new RX 590 for under $250 now and it does include 3 games, so if you are interested in the bundles that might be a better option. A GTX 1660 runs around $220 and should have equal or better performance and run cooler, though you aren’t getting any games.
If you can find an R9 Nano at $125 it’s a real bargain. At the resolutions and settings this card does well at, the 4GB of HBM don’t hinder it and has enough performance to play anything for the next few years. It may not be the best card for everyone, but it’s a great budget alternative.