A little while ago, AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) held an event to launch new graphics processors, with the star of the show being the company's new high-end Fiji chip. At the very high end of AMD's lineup is the Fury X for $649. Below that is the standard Fury, priced at $549.
The Fury X card is intended to go up against NVIDIA's (NASDAQ:NVDA) GeForce GTX 980 Ti. With the first independent, third-party reviews now hitting the Web, we can get a sense of how AMD's latest card holds up against NVIDIA's second-best graphics card.
It's slower than the 980 Ti at the same price
According to a review from TechPowerUp, the GTX 980 Ti is 9% faster than the Radeon R9 Fury X in games tested at 2560-by-1440 screen resolution. If the games Project Cars and World of Warcraft are excluded, the 980 Ti still wins, but the gap narrows to about 4.8%.
At the higher 3840-by-2160 resolution (i.e. "4K"), the 980 Ti and the Radeon R9 Fury X (excluding the game Project Cars) are evenly matched in TechPowerUp's tests.
So, at 4K resolutions, AMD's Radeon R9 Fury X and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti are roughly tied, but at all resolutions below that, NVIDIA's offering seems to have the lead.
AMD has made significant performance per watt improvements
One area where AMD's stand-alone graphics processors have significantly lagged NVIDIA's has been in performance per watt. With the Fiji chip, AMD has improved the performance per watt of its offering by a significant amount.
TechPowerUp's tests show that the Fury X delivers substantially better performance per watt compared to AMD's previous flagship, the Radeon R9 290X. However, those same tests show that the 980 Ti maintains a meaningful efficiency edge over the Fury X.
Will Fiji help AMD regain market segment share?
The main reason that it's worth taking a look at how Fury X compared with the 980 Ti is to try to figure out whether AMD will be able to gain share against NVIDIA. Although I must caution that this is only a guess, I'm not convinced that the Fury series of GPUs will be able to drive significant share gains against NVIDIA's GPUs at current prices.
For most gamers looking to spend $649 on a single graphics card, I believe that the 980 Ti will be the more popular choice. It looks as though it delivers better performance at resolutions that gamers are more likely to use (2560-by-1440 and below) than the R9 Fury X at the same price as the Fury X.
To make matters worse for the Fury X, add-in board vendors have already begun rolling out factory-overclocked GTX 980 Ti models that deliver even better performance out of the box than AMD's latest GPU.
These overclocked models do carry a price premium to the Fury X and the standard 980 Ti on the order of $20 to $40 (based on a quick scan of Newegg.com), but the additional performance might be worth it to the kinds of folks who buy high-end gaming cards (for what it's worth, I'd pay it).
All told, I'd say that Fiji is a solid effort from AMD, but I don't think it's the game changer that AMD bulls might have been hoping for at the high end of the desktop graphics processor market. AMD is set to gain market segment share by virtue of having single-GPU offerings to compete with at the $549 and $649 price points (as opposed to nothing) but I don't think that AMD's Fiji-related share gains will be large enough to fundamentally change the investment thesis around AMD stock.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Nvidia. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.