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AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come

AMD's new Radeon RX Vega 56 is an amazing mid-range graphics card. FreeSync owners need to seriously consider the upgrade.

@anthony256
Published Mon, Aug 14 2017 8:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Wed, Sep 25 2019 12:22 AM CDT

Introduction & Late Review Sample

I've never been this excited over a GPU architecture release, or even a new product release in general. Maybe it was the original iPhone... 10 years ago. AMD has had so many home runs that I wanted them to ride the success of Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper (which just launched a couple of days ago and is kicking Intel's ass all over the place) with RX Vega.

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VIEW GALLERY - 45 IMAGES

I wanted Radeon RX Vega to be the card that finally stuck it to NVIDIA, and made NVIDIA react in the way Intel did with multiple new releases to plug different holes that AMD poked in their ship. It was so far as much as 2016 that it seemed that wasn't going to happen... that AMD could not beat NVIDIA.

Earlier this year NVIDIA surprised everyone at GDC 2017 by hosting their own Editor's Day to unveil the new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, powered by 11GB of even faster GDDR5X RAM @ 11Gbps. This was a big deal, especially with its wider 352-bit memory bus - it championed the GTX 1080 and its 8GB of GDDR5X @ 10Gbps on a 256-bit memory bus.

AMD was left stunned, jaws on the floor at their own Capsaicin event during GDC 2017. Vega was already late, and now their competitor had released a new card that easily thrashed their card that had been out for ten months at that point; the GTX 1080. NVIDIA's release of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was a can of whoop ass on AMD, something they didn't need.

It pushed NVIDIA to be nearly an entire generation ahead, and even with Radeon RX Vega - AMD can't match NVIDIA's lofty performance - a card made six months ago on a GPU architecture released 18 months ago. NVIDIA already has its next-gen Volta GPU deployed in the Tesla V100 card, which also uses HBM2 (but is an enterprise/data center/AI card).

Imagine if NVIDIA does it again and leap frogs AMD with a ramped up release of Volta, and uses the upcoming GDDR6 standard. It could be catastrophic to AMD's long-term plans to get to Navi, which it seems they'll need to fight Volta... let alone what secret weapon/s that I'm sure NVIDIA have sitting and waiting, or coming soon.

Drama, With A Capital AMD

I received my Radeon RX Vega samples just 48 hours before the launch, giving me basically zero time to write a review.

This is the closest to the line graphics card review that I've ever done, and I really don't understand why AMD didn't just push back the Vega embargo by a few days. It would give ALL reviewers more time to do extensive testing and would let AMD give more Radeon RX Vega samples out to reviewers, as there are some big reviewers that won't be getting Vega samples, at all.

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I was meant to have the card earlier today (Thursday), and I would've benched everything today and tomorrow, and have my weekend to spend with my family, and then hit the ground running on Monday to hit review NDA by Tuesday my time. Well, now it's crunch time as my sample isn't even here yet - with other press already testing their cards, I'm at a major disadvantage.

It sucks, but there's nothing I can do - AMD should be giving more time to reviewers considering this is the biggest leap in GPU technology the company has ever amassed in a single release. It deserves much more time under the review microscope, to give you - the consumer - the information you need to make your purchasing decision. But when we're all given just a few days to test it end-to-end... well.

Radeon Packs... A Good Deal?

Radeon + FreeSync Combo: Worth It?

This is where AMD has a win: FreeSync gaming monitors being so much cheaper than their G-Sync counterparts.

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Samsung's 34-inch CF791, for example, features a 3440x1440 native resolution, Quantum Dot technology, 100Hz refresh rate and FreeSync support. They're listed on Amazon right now for $831, while the Acer Predator X34 (same res/refresh) is $1079. Quite the difference.

The 27-inch high-end gaming monitors with a native 2560x1440 resolution and huge 144Hz refresh rate start at $547 for the Acer XF270HU (FreeSync) while the Acer Predator XB271HU (G-Sync) is $699.

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4K gamers will see a massive difference in prices between FreeSync and G-Sync displays, with the ASUS MG28UQ (FreeSync) display costing just $449, while the ASUS ROG Swift PG27AQ (G-Sync) is a massive $879. If you change it out for the Acer Predator XB281HK, we're still looking at $599 for G-Sync @ 4K.

Detailed Specs: RX Vega 56 & Vega 64

So Much Awesome Tech!

AMD has deployed its new Vega NCU, a next-gen compute unit with 64 Vega GPU cores. Inside, there's the interposer which rocks 8GB of HBM2 on-die.

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AMD is first to market with HBM2 on a consumer graphics card, which is a technological achievement. And something that deserves its own attention. As a technology addict, AMD being the first to deploy HBM2 on a consumer graphics card is an automatic win. It's great to see AMD engineering something its competitor doesn't have just yet.

But, is this technological leap in memory technology delivering improved performance? Nope.

Another badge of honor for the Radeon RX Vega is that AMD has created something called High Bandwidth Cache Controller, or HBCC.

The new HBCC will portion off a set amount of your system RAM and will provide super-fast access to this system RAM to your graphics card. This means that the 8GB of HBM2 on your Radeon RX Vega acts like a High Bandwidth Cache Controller to the amount of system RAM you dedicate to it.

So, if you have 16GB of RAM you could dedicate 4-6GB of it, so it would - in a way - combine with the 8GB of HBM2 for up to 14GB of VRAM. The HBCC will closely monitor the utilization of its bits in local GPU memory, and if it's required, it will move those bits into the system RAM.

This effectively increases the GPU's local memory, so for high-res textures and 4K and beyond gaming (5K and 8K monitors, or triple 1440p and triple 4K displays), the larger pool of HBM2 + system RAM over the HBCC, at least on paper, should see some massive gains at high resolutions.

It just so happens we purchased an 8K monitor last week, and I'm writing my Radeon RX Vega on it right now, the Dell UP3218K, a 32-inch 8K display with a native resolution 7680x4320. It's absolutely bonkers and over-the-top, and that's exactly why we bought it. To give me a glimpse into the future of the demand into HBM2 and faster memory technologies like GDDR6 and even AMD's exciting new HBCC technology.

Detailed Specifications

This is AMD's most advanced GPU architecture and graphics card family ever made, with all three variants of Radeon RX Vega rocking the Vega 10 chip. Vega 10 is made on the 14nm node with 12.5 billion transistors on a 486mm2 die.

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If we compare transistor counts against NVIDIA, AMD's new Vega 10 bumps things up to a lofty 12.5 billion transistors, while the GP102 inside of the GeForce GTX 1080 has 7.2 billion transistors.

Vega 10 has its GPU base and boost clocks set differently across the 3 different SKUs, this is what we've got:

  • RX Vega 56: 1156/1471MHz
  • RX Vega 64: 1274/1546MHz
  • RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled: 1406/1677MHz

All three of the Radeon RX Vega variants have the same 256 texture units, 64 ROPs, and 8GB of HBM2 - with the RX Vega 56 having its 8GB of HBM2 clocked lower. AMD has clocked the 8GB of HBM2 on RX Vega 56 lower than both the Vega 64 models, resulting in a drop to 410GB/sec - down from 483.8GB/sec. It has the same 2048-bit memory bus, too.

Radeon RX Vega 56 has its Vega 10 chip clocked slower, with 56 of their new Next-Gen Compute Units (or NCUs) on Vega 56 (hence the '56' part of its name). There are fewer stream processors, with RX Vega 56 being sliced down to 3584, down from 4096 on the Vega 64 models.

The GPU clock speeds drop below 1.5GHz on RX Vega 56, down to 1156/147MHz for base and boost clocks, respectively. This drops the peak SP compute performance to 10.5 TFLOPs and 21 TFLOPs of half-precision compute performance. The bigger brothers can hit up 13.7 TFLOPs and 27.5 TFLOPs, respectively.

Peak texture fill rates on RX Vega 56 are also slower at 330GT/s, up against the 395.8GT/s on RX Vega 64 and up to 429.3GT/s on RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled. The peak pixel fill rate starts at 94GP/s on RX Vega 56, while we have 98.9GP/s on RX Vega 64 and 107.3GP/s on RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled.

Test System

I've recently edited my GPU test bed, which was powered by the Intel Core i7-5960X processor, and shifted into the arms of Kaby Lake and Intel's new Core i7-7700K. GIGABYTE hooked us up with their awesome new AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9 motherboard, which is the heart and soul of my new GPU test platform.

Detailed Tech Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
  • Cooler: Nocua U12S
  • MB: AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9
  • RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) G.SKILL Trident Z 4000MHz DDR4
  • SSD: 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2
  • PSU: Corsair AX1500i
  • Chassis: In Win X-Frame

Detailed Look

A larger article on our 7700K system is available right here.

Here are some shots I've taken of the new system in action:

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Benchmarks - Synthetic

3DMark Fire Strike - 1080p

3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

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3DMark Fire Strike - 1440p

3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

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3DMark Fire Strike - 4K

3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

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Heaven - 1080p

Heaven is an intensive GPU benchmark that really pushes your silicon to its limits. It's another favorite of ours as it has some great scaling for multi-GPU testing, and it's great for getting your GPU to 100% for power and noise testing.

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Heaven - 1440p

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Heaven - 4K

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Benchmarks - 1080p

1080p Benchmarks

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Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best looking games on the market, a truly gorgeous game - and a wonder to benchmark. The team at Crystal Dynamics made a very scalable PC game that plays really well testing graphics cards. We've got DX11 and DX12 results in one here, showing the slight strengths of running DX12 mode.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at Amazon.

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Metro: Last Light Redux comes from developer 4A Games, making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.

You can buy Metro: Last Light Redux at Amazon.

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Benchmarks - 1440p

1440p Benchmarks

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Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best looking games on the market, a truly gorgeous game - and a wonder to benchmark. The team at Crystal Dynamics made a very scalable PC game that plays really well testing graphics cards. We've got DX11 and DX12 results in one here, showing the slight strengths of running DX12 mode.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at Amazon.

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Metro: Last Light Redux comes from developer 4A Games, making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.

You can buy Metro: Last Light Redux at Amazon.

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Benchmarks - 4K

4K Benchmarks

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Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best looking games on the market, a truly gorgeous game - and a wonder to benchmark. The team at Crystal Dynamics made a very scalable PC game that plays really well testing graphics cards. We've got DX11 and DX12 results in one here, showing the slight strengths of running DX12 mode.

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come 43 | TweakTown.com
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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at Amazon.

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come 45 | TweakTown.com
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come 105 | TweakTown.com

Metro: Last Light Redux comes from developer 4A Games, making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.

You can buy Metro: Last Light Redux at Amazon.

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Benchmarks - 3440x1440

3440x1440 Benchmarks

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Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best looking games on the market, a truly gorgeous game - and a wonder to benchmark. The team at Crystal Dynamics made a very scalable PC game that plays really well testing graphics cards. We've got DX11 and DX12 results in one here, showing the slight strengths of running DX12 mode.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at Amazon.

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AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come 105 | TweakTown.com

Metro: Last Light Redux comes from developer 4A Games, making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.

You can buy Metro: Last Light Redux at Amazon.

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Performance Analysis

My final thoughts on the Radeon RX 56 and Radeon RX 64 Liquid Cooled Edition are at the end of the review, from an enthusiasts perspective. But, here we'll talk about the performance of AMD's new Vega-based graphics cards at 1080p, 1440p, 4K, and 3440x1440.

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The bone I have to pick with AMD is that Radeon RX 580 is marketed as a 1080p and 1440p gaming card, and the RX 56/64 are 1440p/3440x1440/4K gaming cards.

1080p Performance

Starting at 1080p, we have 120FPS+ in Metro: Last Light Redux on both cards, stellar performance. In a gorgeous game like Rise of the Tomb Raider, we're seeing nearly 100FPS average at 1080p on Vega 56, while we have 114FPS on Vega 64 - just 2FPS away from the GTX 1080.

But one of my favorite tests is Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor as its hard on the memory interface, and this is where HBM2 shines. We're looking at a huge 139FPS average from the Radeon RX Vega 56... which is 10FPS faster than the GTX 1070. Then the RX Vega 64 pushes 176FPS average, which is neck-and-neck with the GTX 1080 Ti... yes, the GTX 1080 Ti.

1440p Performance

Shifting over to a more enthusiast resolution of 2560x1440 and starting with Metro: Last Light Redux again, the Radeon RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64 are both neck and neck with the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080, respectively.

The same neck and neck performance is experienced in ROTTR, with 87FPS average at 1440p on the Radeon RX Vega 64. Shadow of Mordor performs extremely well again, with the RX Vega 56 beating the GTX 1070, but RX Vega 64 loses to the GTX 1080 by just 4FPS. Still a great result.

4K Performance

This is where the fun begins, as we start with M:LL once again - and the RX Vega 56 is just 1FPS from the GTX 1070, while the RX Vega 64 performance tops the GTX 1080 by 1FPS. Enough to win, but the minimum FPS is atrocious.

Rise of the Tomb Raider performance is nothing to complain about, with NVIDIA beating performance (at least by 1FPS and 2FPS, respectively). 50FPS average at 4K on a single RX Vega 64 is impressive - but look at the GTX 1080 Ti - it just murders the competition. Again, GTX 1080 Ti uses FAR LESS POWER than RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition, as well.

Shadow of Mordor @ 4K is where I expected HBM2 to come into play, and while it did - it wasn't to the massive performance expectations I had. RX Vega 56 still beats the GTX 1070 by 4FPS but loses to the GTX 1080 by 1FPS.

3440x1440 Performance

Ah... my favorite resolution: 3440x1440. This is another resolution where the Radeon RX Vega hits its stride, with M:LL performance that rivals NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080.

Rise of the Tomb Raider wasn't a good experience for the RX Vega 64, which gets slapped around by the GTX 1080. But the RX Vega 56 is impressive here, matching the 62FPS average of the GTX 1070 in ROTTR.

But it's the Shadow of Mordor performance that surprises, with a huge 85FPS on the RX Vega 56 - beating the 64FPS on the GTX 1070 and 99FPS average for the Vega 64 that beats the 79FPS on GTX 1080. All cards lose to GTX 1080 Ti, which is no surprise.

Overclocking, Power Consumption, Temps

Overclocking

To be honest, I haven't had enough time to play with overclocking - so expect this in a follow-up article. I did use Radeon Software to push the Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition to 1750MHz (its max GPU frequency without custom tweaks), and that's how we arrived at the whopping 590W power numbers.

Power Consumption

Now, finally we have the power consumption with the RX Vega 56 chowing down on up to 210W, while RX Vega 64 is a hefty 295W - and the RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled is, even more, power hungry at 345W. Some crazy high numbers for AMD's new card... far, far higher than the 180W TDP on GTX 1080, which AMD isn't even beating easily. Gosh.

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Again, I'll do more work here when I've got the time. Sorry!

Temps

Again, I'll fill this in with more details soon.

What's Hot, What's Not

For a recap of the review, we have this section - where I point out the best and worst of the card, as well as my final thoughts on both the Radeon RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition. But keep in mind: this is not my final word on Vega... far from it.

What's Hot

Vega: What's Hot? Vega is hot. Because we have both Radeon RX Vega 56 and the Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition, I can test temperatures at idle and load on both cards. Radeon RX Vega 56 ran at 55C minimum, and 76C max during 4K benchmark runs, while the liquid cooled RX Vega 64 was much cooler at a minimum of just 27C, and maximum temp of 65C.

FreeSync + Radeon = Great Value: If you're a new PC gamer, then Radeon RX Vega 56 is a good - but not great value for money graphics card. Throw in a 1080p 60FPS or 1440p 60FPS display, and you've got a winning combo that isn't going to break the bank. But, this is a double edged sword. So while this is a 'What's Hot' part, there's also the second part in 'What's Not.'

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Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition = SEXY: You've got to give it to AMD... they have made one of the best, if not the best reference graphics card ever. The Radeon RX Vega 56 has the same style as the reference Radeon RX 480... but the Radeon RX 64 Liquid Cooled Edition is just gorgeous. The brushed aluminum not only looks great but feels nice to touch - and that glowing 'R' in the corner... UGH, so good.

AMD's Finally Back To High-End GPUs... Kinda...: While the Radeon RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64 don't beat NVIDIA's greatest in the consumer graphics realm with the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti... it's just good to see AMD back with a better card than a mainstream 1080p card in the RX 480/580. Unfortunately, it's not enough.

What's Not

No CrossFire At Launch?!: WHAT. Raja Koduri said on stage in LA just over a week ago: "what do enthusiasts want?" - you know what I want? ENTHUSIAST FEATURES LIKE CROSSFIRE. Has there been a launch of a major GPU in the last ten years without multi-GPU support on day one? Even the freakin' RX 480 supported multi-GPU on day one. UGH. Sad, AMD... very sad.

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POWER CONSUMPTION: OMFG: The power numbers on Vega are not good at all, there's absolutely no positive things to say about it. The cheaper Radeon RX Vega 56 still consumes up to 300W in our 7700K test bed, while the RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition uses up to 500W, and up to freakin' 600W of power when overclocked and the power limit is increased to 50%. These numbers are totally unacceptable for a mainstream, or even enthusiast gamer.

HBM2/HBCC = USELESS... For Now: I reached out to AMD to ask for some help in "testing the limits of HBCC, " and that I had an 8K display, I'd love to push the 8GB of HBM2 and next-gen High Bandwidth Cache Controller. Well, you know what - "no game uses more than 8GB" right now. AMD's words. Second, HBCC is f***ing useless for gamers, and so is the almighty HBM2. NVIDIA kicks AMD's ass all over the grass with GDDR5... and blatantly spits in their face with GDDR5X.

HBM2 was meant to usher in smaller cards... yeah, didn't happen. Radeon R9 Fury X was smaller than this, and it had HBM1. I've personally been waiting years for Radeon RX Vega so that HBM2 could possibly give us smaller cards. I'd have killed for AMD to release an RX Vega Nano at launch... but nope. We have huge, power hungry, oh-so-meh performing cards.

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It's SO Late: Vega was due months ago, but due to various difficulties behind the scenes (shifting from SK Hynix to Samsung for HBM2 didn't help) it was delayed and is still WEEKS away from a physical launch.

No Custom RX 56/64 For Weeks: Pushing the point above, AMD won't have Radeon RX Vega 56 or 64 cards in gamers' hands until the END OF THIS MONTH. So here I am at the end of my review where I'm meant to recommend them to you... but I wouldn't recommend a reference RX Vega from AMD due to the power consumption (which won't change with AIB cards) and the liquid cooler on RX Vega 64. If you want Vega, you'll be waiting until September if you didn't pre-order or grab one of the what-the-f***-is-going-on Radeon Packs.

Water-Cooling Required... AGAIN?!: I swore off water cooled cards with Radeon R9 Fury X, and here we are again. AMD can't make an enthusiast class card without limping down onto using water cooling. Sigh. Now... if AMD beat NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and needed watercooling... I'm down with that. At least I could say "AMD beat NVIDIA's best card, but needed watercooling to do it"... at least it would've beaten the GTX 1080 Ti. But it doesn't even come close, even with 600W at its disposal and a freakin' watercooler.

Performance Thoughts + Final Thoughts

Enthusiasts Need Not Apply

If you're an enthusiast that couldn't wait for a high-end Radeon card, you probably already purchased a real enthusiast graphics card like the GTX 1080 Ti. For those with a GTX 1080 Ti, there is absolutely zero reason to buy Radeon right now.

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Radeon enthusiasts who have waited with their Radeon R9 290X, you might want to look at the Radeon RX Vega 56, or wait for the RX Vega 64 air-cooled variant. The power consumption is much higher than a GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 set up, and it's going to be even worse under CrossFire.

I'm an enthusiast, and I wouldn't buy RX Vega. Sorry, AMD - this is the truth.

If the Radeon RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64 had come out closer to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 release (May 2016... nearly 18 months ago now), then we'd be sitting in a different position. But the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 have been out for so long now that they've been joined by the GTX 1080 Ti, and even the TITAN Xp. All of these cards trounce AMD on power efficiency, and there's LOTS of custom GTX 1070/1080/1080 Ti cards to choose from now.

Heck, even the second hand market is filled with people upgrading from GTX 1070 and GTX 1080s, to GTX 1080 Ti (and not Radeon) that you could find a second hand GTX 1070 card cheaper than the Radeon RX Vega 56.

Final Thoughts

AMD is going to hate me for this review, I know it. But you know what, I'm here to give you guys my opinion no matter what. A reviewers life is so hard sometimes, becasuse you get branded as a brand fanboy for just recommending it, or hyping said product.

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I've hyped Radeon RX Vega for so long because I wanted it to be a return to form for AMD... another Radeon 9700 PRO moment, and it's not. It's another Radeon R9 Fury X moment, or another Radeon RX 480 or Radeon RX 580 moment. Where there's so much hype, and so many games played by marketing teams and everything in between - that the card comes out, and it barely delivers on half the hype.

  • HBM2 is bust.
  • HBCC is bust.
  • Vega is so beyond inefficient in power.
  • No CrossFire support at launch.

I need to spend more time with Radeon RX Vega, which is what the next couple of weeks is going to be about. This review might seem harsh, but it's coming directly from my heart, and benchmarking, and testing. This is what I see, and this review is what you get. The harsh reality of Vega.

Vega is good, but it is so far from great that I don't see how a Vega refresh can help AMD beat NVIDIA.

NVIDIA can react in multiple ways:

  • Drop GTX 1070/1080 pricing (but this isn't going to happen)
  • NVIDIA refreshes Pascal with GTX 1170/1180
  • NVIDIA destroys AMD with early consumer Volta-based GeForce cards

NVIDIA will not be dropping the prices of GTX 10 series cards, I know that much and have had that confirmed by NVIDIA. The refreshed Pascal GPUs sound like the go, but NVIDIA isn't being threatened by any Radeon RX Vega series card, period. If NVIDIA really were threatened, and they aren't, they could just dump consumer Volta to the market with GV102.

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come 11 | TweakTown.com

I think we'll see NVIDIA react in Q1 2018 with a consumer-oriented release of Volta, with the first showing of GDDR6 from SK Hynix. GDDR5X helped NVIDIA win the memory bandwidth battle against AMD before AMD were even able to get HBM2 to market on Radeon RX Vega. NVIDIA proved it didn't need a next-gen memory technology like HBM2 to beat AMD, and they did it without even really trying.

So for now, I would hold off on Radeon RX Vega until custom cards are released.

AMD Radeon fans that have been holding onto their Radeon R9 200 or R9 300 series card, and have a great FreeSync monitor, will want to look at Radeon RX Vega. It's not all bad, but there's just so much wrong with it that it's hard to recommend at this point. If you're a FreeSync display owner with 1080/1440p 60Hz, then the Radeon RX Vega 56 is a great choice if you don't want to buy a G-Sync monitor (remember, you can run a GeForce card on a FreeSync display, and vica versa).

It's Not All Bad

I think the message of Vega is completely muddled. It's a high-performance compute machine when in Radeon Pro SSG form (something we have to investigate, because we saw MAJOR stuttering at SIGGRAPH when pushing 8K video in real-time).

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come 12 | TweakTown.com

I get what AMD has done here... and we can see it on the CPU side, except it's much easier to understand and see the bigger picture. AMD, with their new Zen CPU architecture, build a top-to-bottom CPU stack. Starting with EPYC, the company etched out their server CPUs and went down, instead of up.

EPYC is a monster 32C/64T processor that features - in a roundabout way - 4 x Ryzen 7 1800X clusters (8C/16T per cluster). Disabling two of these results in Ryzen Threadripper 1950X (16C/32T)... so you can see it scales well. Here's how it works:

  • EPYC: 32C/64T
  • Threadripper: 16C/32T
  • Ryzen 7 1800X: 8C/16T

You can see that if AMD were to do that with GPUs, it would be a win. Right now, it seems like it isn't - and I'm hoping this comes down to VERY immature drivers. I want to see HBM2 and HBCC fly... and that's something I just couldn't get working in 2 days of testing.

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come 08 | TweakTown.com

HBM2 and HBCC will be testing much more thoroughly in the days and weeks coming, so I'm hoping to have multiple new articles and videos on AMD's new Radeon RX Vega graphics cards.

Radeon RX Vega is a major disappointment to any enthusiast, but they've purchased a GTX 1080 Ti by now. For the GTX 1070 competitor in the RX Vega 56... we have a good, but not great offering. But remember, AMD is aiming the Radeon RX Vega 56 and Radeon RX Vega 64 at gamers who want GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 performance, but want Radeon. If that's you, then RX Vega is for you.

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 & Vega 56: More To Come 10 | TweakTown.com

Except, it uses MUCH MORE power, and we have no idea about AIB custom cards yet. The pricing is right, but it's 18 months late and uses more power. I don't see the positives there.

I'll end with a quote from a movie, let me know in the comments below if you get it - and don't cheat by using Google! :)

Vega is great, it wishes to be, it just lacks the light to show AMD the way.

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Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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