AMD RX Vega 64 and Vega 56 Review
Published: 22nd August 2017 | Source: AMD | Price: |
Given the slightly underhanded way in which AMD launched the Vega at one price point so that the launch reviews were written under the misapprehension that the card was £449 when it's actually £549, we won't do our usual thing of not really taking the pricing into account too much. Too much being the operative word when it comes to 64 prices.
Performance is, as we saw throughout our testing, incredibly consistent. The Vega56 was somewhere above the GTX 1070 in performance terms, and if you are willing to manually overclock it - aka move the power slider up and can keep it cool - then you can attain a similar level of performance to the Vega64. The Vega64 on the other hand generally put itself around the GTX 1080 in performance terms, and saw the biggest increase with a bit of manual overclocking. Not game changing improvements, but enough that we recommend you take the time to squeeze a little more out of your card. There is no doubt that at the very least the Vega absolutely annihilates the previous AMD flagship Fury X card. Oodles more performance. Epic.
Heat and power draw have long been the AMD Achilles heel and the Vega cards are, to some degree, no exception. Certainly the power draw is insanely high. Whatever changes AMD have made to the architecture they haven't improved the efficiency as all but the stock Vega56 draw more power than the already thirsty Fury X. You definitely need to factor your power bill into the cost of owning a Vega. Thermals are harder to judge as this style of cooler has always been terrible at dispersing heat, and nearly everybody will plump for a 3rd party card. This isn't a quiet card on auto-fans, even though the temperatures are a bit north of 80°C. However, at the cost of our long-term hearing we also tried it on 100% fan speed and the peak temperature plummeted to 64°C. Another demonstration of why you really should only consider the liquid-cooled versions of the Vega, because nobody wants to sit next to a hair dryer when gaming, either in heat or noise terms.
Just because circumstances dictated that we fortunately side-stepped this launch-pricing/rebate issue doesn't mean that we aren't annoyed at it. A £500 graphics card with GTX 1080 performance would be great, because the GTX 1080 currently costs around £500 too. But the Vega64 isn't £500, it's £600. And that's the air-cooled one, if you want a liquid-cooled one - and trust us you definitely want the liquid-cooled one - then it's £700. But the performance remains around the GTX 1080, which still costs £500 but will only get cheaper as all hardware does the further you get from the launch date. Heck even if you pushed the boat out and went for the Gigabyte Waterforce GTX 1080 it's currently £650, which is still £50 cheaper than the Vega64 and yet draws 250W less at the wall, making the running costs cheaper still.
That makes the Vega64 a much harder proposition to recommend. It feels like a card from a generation ago. It's toasty, it's extremely power hungry and the performance is good but unspectacular given the pricing. Even if the launch "with a very very limited number rebate" pricing was in place you're talking about a card that's hotter, thirstier and louder than a GTX 1080 card for the same money and performance. At a bigger price those flaws only become more difficult to ignore.
A quote we got from an industry insider last week pretty much says everything "Vega? Its just another AMD GPU. Its too hot, uses too much power and isnt as quick as any of us wanted"
All that being said, we know that some of you are allergic to the idea of owning an nVidia card and if you count yourself amongst those then there is clearly enough polygon shifting power from the Vega - especially in 64 guise - that you'll be satisfied with the performance and thus it wins our OC3D Gamers Choice. For anyone else who just wants the best blend of price and performance ...