In many ways, Gigabyte's Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G feels like the reluctant implementation of a card it was forced to create. Regardless, the company kept its eyes on the board's most important elements, ensuring the end result is still satisfactory. The cost-cutting is palpable, both visually and technically. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Every performance category typically has a number of more basic models that are just as important as the opulent flagships. In fact, sometimes they're the best options available for value-conscious enthusiasts.
If we consider the Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G to be one of these no-frills models, then, Gigabyte actually does a number of things really well. Yes, we would have liked to see a cooler with a little more airflow through it. This is the first Gigabyte card we've tested in a long time that could have been a little noisier in favor of better cooling. For its weight and thermal solution, the Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G is pleasantly quiet. But it suffers from a hot circuit board due to Gigabyte's design and layout choices. These heat levels are not enough to significantly harm the card, but the temperatures are still unnecessarily warm.
The heat pipe direct touch cooler gets a special mention, too. Although it's typically used to minimize production costs, replacing a proper copper sink or vapor chamber, in an entry-level model like this one, the design works well and deserves praise. The slight difference in performance compared to Sapphire's Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+ is proof enough that building a less expensive product doesn't have to mean handicapping its abilities.
Frequencies and power consumption land exactly where we expected, elevating this card's gaming performance to an acceptable level. Brute-force overclocking doesn't make much sense unless you're willing to crank up the fan speeds and live with lots of noise. The better alternative is spending some time finding optimal settings for a stable undervolted configuration, even if a future driver or operating system update forces you to start over. Unfortunately, WattMan on its own is hardly sufficient for hardcore tweaking the way it works currently.
If only AMD wasn't having such severe issues with supplying Vega 10 GPU/HBM2 packages, Gigabyte's Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G would enjoy ample availability and a reasonable price tag. Instead, the card is entirely unavailable in the U.S., and when Vega 56 boards do appear, they're marked up beyond what anyone should pay for one. The accountants at Gigabyte made sure that this obviously low-volume series doesn't cost more to make than it's worth in sales. You might even call that damage control.
Should supply see an unexpected surge in the future, Gigabyte can take its custom PCB and, with a few minor production changes, turn the Radeon RX Vega 56 Gaming OC 8G into the Aorus-branded board it was designed to be. All is not lost yet, and at least that's something.
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