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Vega one all in one review*

TechRadar

AMD’s big comeback to high-end graphics cards

Our Verdict

The Radeon RX Vega 64 is an excellent first showing of AMD’s newest graphics cards with Nvidia GTX 1080-equivalent performance and the potential of so much more

  • Impressive benchmark results
  • Minute GPU tuning control
  • Higher energy draw than Nvidia Pascal

AMD Vega has been on the tip of our tongues since its grand introduction at CES 2017 Now, after more than half of a year, it’s finally here with one of its first cards, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64

The Radeon RX Vega 64 proves AMD is ready to reenter the world of high-end graphics cards with a part that performs just as well, if not better than, the Nvidia GTX 1080 and for slightly cheaper to boot Underneath the surface, there’s much more potential in AMD’s Vega platform than just beating its team green rival

Spec Sheet

Video memory: 8GB HBM2

Memory clock: 1,890MHz

Power connectors: 2 x 8-pin

Ports: 3 x DisplayPort 14, 1 x HDMI 20

Price and availability

Priced at $499 or £549 (about AU$630), the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 is just a smidgen more affordable than the $549 (£539, AU1,299) Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition That said, you could easily find third-party versions of both graphics cards at lower-prices

If you’re looking to get the limited-edition version of the Vega 64, you’ll have to buy into AMD’s new Radeon packs The $599 (about £461, AU$760) Radeon Black Pack is the only way to pick up a sliver-shrouded Vega 64 GPU, and the same goes for the liquid-cooled edition of this card, with the $699 (about £530, AU$875) Radeon Aqua Pack

On the plus side, these Radeon packs come with an included copy of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and Prey There are also bundled discounts on select AMD Ryzen processor and motherboard combinations as well as the 34-inch Samsung CF791 curved ultra-wide FreeSync monitor

Design and cooling

AMD’s reference designs for its graphics cards haven’t changed dramatically since the Polaris AMD RX 480 and AMD RX 580 In fact, the biggest differences the Vega 64 brings is a slightly longer body and larger, 30mm cooling fan

There are a few other new touches, including a large back plate made of solid metal, adding some much needed rigidity to the card’s otherwise plastic construction Just above the two eight-pin power connectors is a GPU tachometer that lights up depending on your activity

With the larger fan and an improved isothermic vapor chamber, the Vega 64 runs at a cool 30-degrees Celsius on idle Meanwhile, at full tilt with the especially punishing Uniengine Superposition benchmark, the card reached a peak 81-degrees Celsius – two degrees above the highest temperature we saw on the Nvidia GTX 1080

Test system specs

CPU: 30Ghz Intel Core i7-6950X Broadwell-E (deca-core, 25MB cache, up to 40GHz)

RAM: 32GB GSkill Trident Z RGB (DDR4 3,200MHz)

Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix X99 Gaming

Power Supply: Corsair RM850x

Storage: 400GB Intel 750 Series U2 SSD (NVMe PCI 30 x4)

Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H115i extreme liquid cooler

Operating system: Windows 10

Performance

For the purposes of our testing, we set the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 on its Turbo Mode, which elevates the graphics card into a higher power profile that eats up 30

more watts of electricity and ramps up the fans for better performance

It’s not the most economical or quiet performance mode but, while gaming, you want the most performance out of your components

The AMD Vega 64 slayed the Nvidia GTX 1080 in almost all of our synthetic benchmarks – pulling significantly ahead in some of the 3DMark tests One interesting outlier was this card’s lackluster performance with the Uniengine Superposition DirectX tests when AMD claims Vega is the best platform for the API We’ll partially chalk this one up to Superposition not yet supporting the latest DirectX 12 version

In terms of gaming performance, the Vega 64 plays real-time strategy games, like Total War: Warhammer, at nearly equal average and minimum frame rates AMD’s new flagship GPU also keeps in step with the Nvidia GTX 1080 in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, with even better minimum frame rates at 4K

Unfortunately, the Vega 64 couldn’t win every fight, as the GTX 1080 pulls ahead in GTA V, thanks to enabling a more efficient form of Temporal Anti-Aliasing Meanwhile, we had to pump up the Multisampling Anti-Aliasing to a more demanding, 4x level to get the same level of smoothing with the Vega 64 So, you’ll likely be able to get higher frame rates with this card if you don’t mind a few extra jagged polygons

Overall, we’d say the Nvidia GTX 1080 and AMD Vega 64 are on par with each other when it comes to playing games

To get here, both parts take interestingly different paths, with Nvidia focusing on faster clock speeds on the GPU and memory Meanwhile, AMD throws more stream processors and overall compute power at the problem

What’s ultimately more fascinating about AMD’s new Vega platform is its ability to virtually convert your system memory into video memory With the High Bandwidth Cache Controller, we effectively gave our Vega 64 an additional four gigabytes of graphics memory to run games at even higher frame rates

AMD is able to do this thanks because it introduced a new form of scalable HBM2 video memory Unlike the GDDR5 and GDDR5X forms of video memory we've seen from Nvidia, this from of VRAM endows a caching ability that can access hundreds of terabyte of graphics memory, thus shattering the conventional limits of GPU memory

Combined with Radeon Chill and Enhanced Sync, AMD is building a strong graphics platform

Beyond the hardware, there are still plenty of pieces of AMD’s Vega platform still in their infancy, including a focus on primitive shaders and its other plans to reinvent the geometry pipeline We’ll soon see how AMD’s plans play out

Final verdict

For those who have been gripping tightly to their AMD Radeon R9 Fury X cards, the Vega 64 is the upgrade you’ve been holding out for It mostly offers Nvidia GTX 1080-equivalient performance at an ever-so-slightly cheaper rate

More importantly, Vega proves AMD is ready to come back to the high-end graphics world with plenty of promise

The Vega Frontier Edition shows 16GB VRAM cards are possible and, with the ability to tap into system memory through HBCC for even more virtualized graphics memory, there’s plenty of potential in this platform If AMD continues to throw more and more compute power into the GPU space, Vega could well revolutionize the scene just as Ryzen has for processors

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Vega one all in one review

Vega one all in one review

When it comes to clock speeds the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64, in both Limited Edition and standard versions, will have a base clock of 1247 MHz and a boost clock of 1546 MHz The liquid cooled RX VEGA 64 has a base clock of 1406 MHz and a boost clock of 1677 MHz, so you can see that water cooling dramatically increases the clock speeds for this GPU! The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 has a base clock of 1156 MHz with a boost clock of 1471 MHz

When it comes to memory all of the cards have 8GB of HBM2, but they are running at difference clock speeds Both the air and liquid versions of the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 have an effective memory clock speed of 189 GHz and that is good for 484 GB/s of total memory bandwidthIts scaling WORSE in DX 12 than it is in DX 11 I might add, do the math. The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 has the HMB2 memory running slightly lower at 160 GHz and that reduces the total memory bandwidth down to 410 GB/s

Both the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 and Radeon RX VEGA 56 standard air cooled cards look the same, so we’ll just be showing you one of them For starters the Radeon RX Vega 64 is a blower-style dual-slot graphics card that looks similar to previous generation reference cards from AMD It has the usual red/black color combination, but the font for the Radeon logo has been updated

Note that along the top edge of the card there are two 8-pin PCIe power connectors With a board power of up to 345 Watts (liquid) and 295 Watts (air) at stock speeds these two connectors will come in hand especially when overclocking There is also a vBIOS selector that allows you to switch between two different vBIOS profiles on this card There are two vBIOS profiles and then each has three software controlled power profiles That means there are six power profiles on each VEGA card!

The back of the card does have a backplate, but it’s just for protection, to help stiffen the PCB and looks There are no thermal pads on the back to help cool the GPU or any of the VRM components

When it comes to video outputs for display connectivity, you have three standard full-size DisplayPorts and a full-size HDMI

Let’s take a look at the test system and then run the benchmarks!

Cross multiply Nvidia GTX 1060 Gears 4 1080, using the RX 580 and you find the AMD if scaling as well, should be average 157 in the frame rate, before accounting for any leap from the new architecture What does it turn in? 128 Nvidia is scaling better in the same generation than AMD is in the new one?

Fallout IV: It should be 125 if it scaled as well as the NVIDIA card It is instead 112

95 instead of 106

131 instead of 153

112 instead of 125

Grand Theft Auto is the only one it scales a tiny bit better

It’s scaling WORSE in DX 12 than it is in DX 11 I might add, do the math

I bought the Vega 64 and I have to say I’m disappointed I’m hoping these beta drivers are the reason, because this is absurd, and I might add, the card gets to 86c unless I turn the fans to “wind turbine” as well I also seem to be having an issue with Batman Arkham Knight in frame rate, which I’m just going to chalk up to some weird sort of glitch, because it’s nowhere near where benchmarks peg it This has got to be one of AMD’s most disappointing launches of a new architecture I have seen

test system, 6950x ivy bridge-e? error

haha, winner! Fixed and thank you

Was hoping for a card that’d make NVidia push Volta and create a realistic GPU war Unfortunately, we got cards that compete with stuff that NVidia has had out for over a year and that draw too much power, in comparison These are good cards, for sure, but they are a year too late Vega 56 seems like a good option for some 1080P Freesync gaming, though

Ethereum hash rate?

Fortunately, it is much lower than the rumored 60++