AMD’s “fine wine” revisited – the Fury X vs. the GTX 980 Ti
It’s been nearly two years since BTR last compared the Fury X versus the GTX 980 Ti. AMD’s fans have touted their “fine wine” theory as an advantage; that as a Radeon graphics card ages, the drivers get better over time and its performance goes up. Since the Fury lineup only has 4GB of HBM memory compared with the GTX 980 Ti’s 6GB of GDDR5, AMD dedicated extra engineers to the task of vRAM optimization.
Both the GTX 980 Ti and the Fury X launched at $650 and they have been natural competitors until NVIDIA released the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070 where both of the newer cards beat the GTX 980 Ti and also beat the Fury X. This evaluation will revisit some games from our last Fury X versus GTX 980 Ti evaluation together with many newer ones, and we will compare them using the very latest drivers from AMD and from NVIDIA.
Our game benchmark suite has evolved over the past two years as we always strive to update our games to include the latest and most popular titles including The Crew 2 and Far Cry 5. Since then, we have also upgraded from an i7-6700K to i7-8700K at 4.7 GHz, but we found almost no performance difference between the two platforms.
We want to see how these formerly flagship GPUs stand now in relation to each other by playing the latest games with updated drivers with the most demanding settings at 3840×2160, 2560×1440, and at 1920×1080 resolutions.
Some of the latest games tend to be vRAM-intensive and it will be interesting to see how the Fury X performs playing the latest games with its 4 GB of vRAM compared with the GTX 980 Ti’s 6 GB. So let’s check out the Fury X’ versus the GTX 980 Ti’s performance after we look over our test configuration on the next page.
Test Configuration – Hardware
- Intel Core i7-8700K (HyperThreading and Turbo boost is on to 4.7 GHz for all cores; Coffee Lake DX11 CPU graphics).
- EVGA Z370 FTW motherboard (Intel Z370 chipset, latest BIOS, PCIe 3.0/3.1 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x), supplied by EVGA
- TeamGroup 16GB DDR4 (2x8GB, dual channel at 3200 MHz), supplied by Team Group
- EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB, at Founders Edition stock clocks, supplied by EVGA
- PowerColor Fury X 4GB, at stock Fury X clocks
- 2 x 480GB Team Group SSDs – one for AMD, and one for NVIDIA
- 1.92 San Disk enterprise class SSD
- 2 TB Micron 1100 enterprise class SSD
- EVGA 1000G 1000 W power supply unit
- EVGA CLC 280mm CPU water cooler, supplied by EVGA
- Onboard Realtek Audio
- Genius SP-D150 speakers, supplied by Genius
- EVGA DG-77, mid-tower case supplied by EVGA
- LG 43″ HDR 4K TV
- Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K
Test Configuration – Software
- Nvidia’s GeForce 398.36 WHQL drivers. See Control Panel image below.
- AMD Adrenalin Software 18.7.1 drivers. See Control Panel image below.
- VSync is forced off.
- AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied
- All gaming results show average frame rates in bold including minimum frame rates shown on the chart next to the averages in a smaller italics font.
- Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
- Windows 10 64-bit Home edition. All DX11 titles were run under DX11 render paths. DX12 titles are generally run under the DX12 render path unless performance is worse than with DX11. Two games use the Vulkan API
- Latest DirectX
- All 35 games are patched to their latest versions at time of publication.
- WattMan used to set cooling and power options. See Control Panel image below.
- MSI’s Afterburner, used to lower the GTX 980 Ti’s clocks by -100MHz and to set temp and power limits to maximum.
- OCAT, latest version
- Fraps, latest version
35 PC Game benchmark suite & 4 synthetic tests
- Firestrike – Basic & Extreme
- Time Spy DX12
- Grand Theft Auto V
- The Witcher 3
- Fallout 4
- Watch Dogs 2
- Just Cause 3
- Rainbow Six Siege
- Far Cry Primal
- Battlefield 1
- Resident Evil 7
- For Honor
- Ghost Recon Wildlands
- Mass Effect: Andromeda
- DiRT 4
- Project CARS 2
- Middle Earth: Shadow of War
- Assassin’s Creed Origins
- Destiny 2
- Call of Duty WW II
- Star Wars: Battlefront II
- Final Fantasy XV
- Far Cry 5
- The Crew 2
- Tom Clancy’s The Division
- Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Deus Ex Mankind Divided
- Gears of War 4
- Civilization VI
- Sniper Elite 4
- Total War: Warhammer II
- Forza 7
- Wolfenstein: The New Order
AMD Adrenalin Control Center Settings:
All AMD settings are set so as to be apples-to-apples compared with NVIDIA’s control panel – all optimizations are off, Vsync is forced off, Texture filtering is set to High, and Tessellation uses application settings.
Here are the Wattman settings that we used to set power, temperature and fan settings to their maximums:
NVIDIA Control Panel settings:
Here are the NVIDIA Control Panel settings that match AMD’s settings.We used MSI’s Afterburner to lower the EVGA GTX 980 Ti’s clocks by -100MHz to match the clocks of the Founders Edition and to set temp and power limits to maximum.
Let’s check the performance of 35 games by benchmarking the Fury X versus the GTX 980 Ti and then head for our conclusion on the next page.
Performance summary charts
Here are the summary charts of 35 games and 2 synthetic tests. The highest settings are always chosen. The benches were run at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and at 3840×2160. All results show average framerates in bold and the minimums are next to them in italics, and higher is always better. “X” means the benchmark would not run.
The first column is devoted to the GTX 980 Ti results and the Fury X results are compared in Column 2. “Wins” are based on averages and the higher performing card’s framerates are in yellow text unless there is a tie in which case both sets of results will be yellow.
The charts may be opened in separate windows or tabs for better viewing.
The GTX 980 Ti is now even faster than the Fury X for the majority of our games. Out of 105 individual benches, the Fury X only wins 26 and ties two. Two years ago, AMD won 29 out of 108 benches, but in many cases its performance was much closer to the GTX 980 Ti’s.
It appears that AMD may no longer be longer prioritizing vRAM optimization for Fury X, and in a few cases, its performance has fallen off of a cliff at higher resolutions compared with its NVIDIA competitor.
A couple of games proved problematic for AMD on our test PC. Wolfenstein crashed when the Steam screenshot function was enabled, and The Crew 2 also frequently crashed and would not run at all at 2560×1440. The GTX 980 Ti crashed above 1920×1080 resolution benching Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation. Generally both cards are still very capable at 1920×1080 and even at 2560×1440 if some detail settings are lowered.
Let’s head for our conclusion.
As in all of our previous evaluations, the GTX 980 Ti is generally faster than the Fury X. Nothing has really changed over the past 2 years, although the Fury X has lost even more ground to the GTX 980 Ti, only winning 26 individual benchmarks out of the 105 games that we tested. There were a few driver issues with both cards but mostly they performed well in modern games. In some cases, the resolution may need to be lowered to 1920×1080 to maintain fluid play at maximum settings, or detail settings may need to be lowered to play at higher resolutions.
As before, if overclocking is taken into consideration, the GTX 980 Ti runs away from the Fury X which is a very poor overclocker. AMD’s “fine wine” theory has apparently not turned out so well for the Fury X.
If you currently game at 4K on an older generation video card, you will do yourself a big favor by upgrading. The move to a Pascal or Vega card will give you better performance although the GTX 980 Ti and the Fury X are still powerful video cards just below the GTX 1070/Vega 56 class. Our follow-up evaluation on Monday will pit the GTX 980 Ti against the GTX 1070 to see if NVIDIA has neglected Maxwell in favor of Pascal.
Stay tuned, there is a lot more coming from us at BTR. After we post our GTX 980 Ti vs. GTX 1070 evaluation, we will return to VR benching with a series featuring the Vive Pro versus the Oculus Rift using FCAT-VR to measure the performance of 25 of your favorite VR games.