Graphics-chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) announced its Radeon R9 Fury X flagship graphics processor last month at a $649 price point. The graphics processor was competent, but in third-party performance tests, NVIDIA's (NASDAQ:NVDA) competing GeForce GTX 980 Ti -- which sells at the same price and launched ahead of the Fury X -- proved to be slightly faster and was also more power-efficient.
As fellow Fool Timothy Green put it, AMD's new offering simply wasn't good enough.
However, the NDAs recently lifted on AMD's Radeon R9 Fury. The Fury is based on the same chip as the higher-end Fury X, but it is partially disabled and air-cooled (as opposed to water-cooled in the case of the Fury X), and as a result, it will be sold for $100 less than its more premium counterpart.
Although the Fury X failed to deliver the kind of performance and, ultimately, value that some AMD shareholders may have hoped for, might the lower-priced Radeon R9 Fury be a more viable contender in the high-end graphics processor market? Let's take a look.
Performs better than a GTX 980, but costs more
The main issue with the Radeon R9 Fury X is that it offered slightly lower performance on average than the GTX 980 Ti but was priced the same as the NVIDIA offering. Given that NVIDIA is widely regarded as the "premium" brand and AMD more of the "value" brand, it's not clear how successful the Fury X will ultimately be.
By contrast, the Radeon R9 Fury, according to Tech Power Up, delivers about 7.5% more performance on average than the $499 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 in the site's test suite at 2560-by-1440 resolution and nearly 15% more performance at a more demanding 4K resolution.
That said, even though the Fury has a performance edge on the 980, the 980 looks more efficient in these tests, delivering better performance per watt at 2560-by-1440 and 4K resolutions than the Radeon R9 Fury X on the order of 19% and 12% respectively.
In terms of value, the GTX 980 also delivers better performance per dollar than the R9 Fury, although the advantage to the 980 there is 12% at 2560-by-1440 resolution and 5% at 4K resolution.
Is the Radeon R9 Fury a winner?
Based on Tech Power Up's tests of average frames per second, it looks like the Radeon R9 Fury is little faster than the GeForce GTX 980, but it's less efficient and offers slightly less performance per dollar.
It's not a bad effort from AMD. But at the price it's asking for this chip, it's hard to see AMD gaining significant amounts of market segment share with the Radeon R9 Fury, given the efficiency and performance-per-dollar deficit of the R9 Fury relative to the GTX 980.
What does this mean for AMD?
At this point, I wouldn't be willing to bet on a significant improvement in AMD's graphics-related market segment share.
That said, I plan to keep a close eye on the financial results and management commentary from both AMD and NVIDIA with respect to graphics to see if there's anything interesting going on with respect to market-share shifts and the potential impact such shifts could have on both graphics vendors' businesses.