As you may know, reviewers and some of the initial buyers of Radeon R9 Fury X graphics cards have noticed a distinct, high-pitched whine coming from the card's liquid-cooling pump. We noticed this rather annoying sound when we were preparing our review of the Fury X, so we asked AMD about it. At that time, the firm issued a statement saying, "This problem has been resolved and a fix added to production parts and is not an issue."
Unfortunately, the problem directly affected some proportion of the first Fury X customers, as we noted last week. Not only did a number of folks hear this high-pitched noise, but some of them reported additional "rough" pump noises coming from the Fury X's cooler. These early Fury X owners then posted recordings and videos online as proof.
We naturally asked AMD what was happening, since the intended fix for pump noise evidently wasn't implemented on all cards. The firm has just now issued a revised statement, similar to the initial statement it issued prior to our review, with a little more detail. Here it is in full:
We have received feedback that during open bench testing a small number of Fury X cards emit a sound from the high speed liquid cooling pump that, while not loud, is bothersome to some users. While the vast majority of initial Fury X owners report remarkably quiet operation, we take this feedback seriously, as AMD’s mission is to always deliver the best possible experience to our Radeon customers.
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X customers demand and deserve the best, so adjustments in the sound baffling adhesive compound were applied in the assembly of the high speed cooling pump to address the specific sound a few end users experienced as problematic. This improved the acoustic profile of the pump, and repeat testing shows the specific pitch/sound in question was largely reduced through adjustments to the sound-baffling adhesive compound in the pump.
AMD will work with its graphic card partners to ensure the satisfaction of the small number of initial customers who observed this specific sound and experienced it as bothersome. AMD is confident that on-going production of Radeon R9 Fury X product reduces the specific sound in question, but this is also a highly subjective matter with wide differences in PC case builds and room acoustics.
The AMD Radeon™ R9 Fury X radiator fan is near silent, and this makes any sound from the high-speed pump more noticeable to some end users, especially during open bench testing. Thus although the overall sound levels are remarkably low for an enthusiast product, AMD has worked to reduce the specific sound that some customers report as bothersome.
Some of the text above is old ground, including the bits about the noise not being annoying and only affecting open test benches. As I noted before, I don't agree with the language in the statement meant to minimize this problem. Nobody paying $650 for a graphics card wants to inherit a false case of tinnitus, which is kind of the experience you're talking about here. If your shiny new Fury X card sounds like our review unit does, you're going to want a replacement.
The new info above includes a specific explanation of the problem and solution, which involves an adhesive compound used in the cooling pumps.
Also, it appears that customers who have this problem with their Fury X cards will have to work with the AMD board partner in question in order to get an RMA replacement. AMD has not issued a general recall for the first batch of Fury X cards, nor has it provided any specific path to help for consumers affected by the noise problem.
One critical thing we don't yet know is how consumers can be certain that the cooling pump on the Fury X card they're buying includes a fix. We've asked AMD if there's any indicator potential buyers can watch to ensure that they'll avoid a card with a noisy pump. Some folks in online forums have reported getting Fury X cards with different-colored stickers on the pumps, but we're not sure this cosmetic difference is a reliable indicator of the fix. We'll update this story if and when we hear more.
Update 7/7/15: Since some of you have requested it, I just installed our Fury X in a case to see whether the high-pitched noise is still audible—and still annoying—inside of an enclosure.
Note that this pump whine isn't an especially loud noise; it's just grating since it's very high pitched, kind of like the noise some old CRT displays would emit. The noise is constant, even at idle on the Windows desktop, and doesn't seem to vary based on GPU activity or thermals.
My verdict after placing the Fury X in a Corsair 350D: the noise is a little bit quieter when placed in a case sitting on the floor, but it's still audible and still grates on the nerves. The constancy of this sound is one of the problems. It may not seem like much at first, but over time, the frustration factor builds. Turning off the computer and eliminating the sound produces a sense of relief, as if a constant pressure on one's eardrums has been removed. I'd still want to return this card for a unit with a quieter pump.