I'd like to say that this review was delayed due to Christmas festivities but the truth is that I basically had way too much fun testing AMD's Radeon R9 Nano.
Sometimes you just want high-end performance in a small form factor without needing to use a mid-range GPU on an ITX-friendly card - here it is.
AMD released the Fiji series Radeon R9 Fury line of graphics cards this year promising better performance and taking on NVIDIA's big guns in the crazy enthusiast graphics card market. When I saw the first R9 Fury X card and noted the AIO-style water cooler I wasn't sold on how practical it was going to be for small cases. Then the larger R9 Fury with the big 3-Fan cooler rolled out. Great performance but not exactly what I was hoping for as a compact PC enthusiast. A little while later, there was a press event where the ITX sized R9 Nano was unveiled and AMD had my complete attention. Not only is it small but it's only rated at 175W in terms of power consumption - another important factor when building in ITX.
As an ITX card, it's short and stubby. The reference design is relatively subtle with a central fan that cools a compact (and heavy) heatsink with the fins oriented to move the air along the length of the card, exhausting it at either end. When using the R9 Nano, the cooler certainly pushed hot air out the rear port, expelling it from the ITX case exactly as you need it to. The heat sink also incorporates a copper flat vapour chamber and is effective at keeping the GPU at ~75C without overworking the fan. For a high end GPU, the cooling solution appears ambitious at first glance. Surprisingly, it is only rated at 175W and needs just a single 8-Pin PCI-E power connector.
This graphics card is aimed directly at serious gaming enthusiasts who want to be able to game at resolutions up to 4K with an ITX gaming rig. The R9 Nano isn't a cut down mid-range compromise for small PCs - this is the real deal. Eye candy and high FPS.