Pricing, Availability, Final Thoughts
The AMD Radeon R9 Nano is not a graphics card for everyone, and honestly, it's not even a GPU for a lot of people. It creates an entirely new segment of the GPU market that focuses on both form factor, and performance, something that was not attainable to this degree before the introduction of the AMD Fiji GPU and HBM architecture. The preceding pages have gone into great detail about the technology in the R9 Nano as well as the performance, power and usability implications of adopting this card for your next system build.
It may not be a card for everyone, but it certainly will be the perfect discrete GPU for someone.
Pricing and Availability
Of all the initial information about the Radeon R9 Nano, the one that caused the most shock was the price. With an MSRP of $650, the same price as the flagship Radeon R9 Fury X card launched earlier in the summer, but without some of the more obviously flagship features (higher clock speed, integrated water cooler), it's easy to see how consumers and media were taken aback by the price tag.
- AMD Radeon R9 Fury X – $649
- AMD Radeon R9 Nano – $649
- AMD Radeon R9 Fury – $549
- ASUS GTX 970 DC Mini – $355
Clearly the ASUS GTX 970 DC Mini card is in a different price category, as it is nearly $300 less expensive than the Radeon R9 Nano. With a performance delta of just 20-30%, we would almost never recommend an upgrade to the next level card for a change in gameplay experience of that degree. However, the truth is that NVIDIA just has nothing else to offer in this same 6-7 inch card form factor that is any more powerful than the ASUS GTX 970 we used here; as NVIDIA has proven several times over the last several years when you have a technology that the competition can't match you can demand a premium. (Think G-Sync, GFE, past SLI advantages.)
AMD is asking users to trade that last 10% of performance (compared to a Fury X) for a smaller size and the ability to install a Fiji GPU in a unique set of chassis and designs.
How many R9 Nano cards will exist as the product goes on sale today is another question all together. Prices on the AMD Fury X still hover around $750-800 when you can find them and there remains only a pair of partner provided AMD Fury cards on the market: one from Sapphire and one from ASUS. Limitations on HBM production are clearly the hold up here and it's a fair question to wonder how many Nanos will ship today or for the rest of the year. This is another reason AMD is comfortable with the $650 price tag – if you are going to sell all you can possibly make in a given time period, why lower the price and cost the company margin and profit?
I can't help but be impressed by the AMD Radeon R9 Nano in several ways. First, the performance that the card provides in a 6 inch form factor is truly impressive and we have never had near-flagship performance capability in a Mini ITX form factor design. Gamers looking to build a custom design or get 4K-capable gaming performance in a chassis that can't hold standard length GPUs will find no other option capable of matching it from AMD or NVIDIA. The design of the card doesn't quite match the sexy that the Fury X had, but it's close and considering the size constraints and the need to include a beefy vapor chamber cooler, I think the engineers did a bang-up job.
The coil whine issue on the card is something of a sore spot for me though as the rest of the technical design and implementation is spectacular. Why AMD can't address these small bugs and issues before the cards are released (see also the Fury X pump whine) is beyond me as the company has intelligent people throughout. If it's not something as simple as a component or inductor swap, and instead is something more complicated like the power delivery design on such a short PCB, then I can see why AMD would have to push forward with the release. Still, it's just one detail that leaves the door open for criticism from us and gamers looking for that perfect card.
The lack of HDMI 2.0 support should again be noted – it's something else that AMD can be correctly criticized for with the R9 Nano and all Fiji-based cards. But for the R9 Nano, that would otherwise make a perfect HTPC option for enthusiasts looking to add 4K / 60 Hz gaming capability to the living room, the omission of support is even more dramatic.
With a price tag of $649, AMD knows that the Radeon R9 Nano is not going to be a card for the masses. As I stated in my video review and throughout this story, if you are building a system that can hold a full length card, then do not buy an R9 Nano. The AMD Fury, Fury X, GTX 980 or GTX 980 Ti are going to provide more performance with less tradeoffs (cost, noise, etc.). The R9 Nano is really only for users that have a specific need for an incredibly dense discrete GPU design. And if you need or want more performance than the NVIDIA GTX 970 Mini ITX offerings can provide (along with the lower cost) then consider the R9 Nano custom built for you.
A unique design without a direct rival, for now.