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PowerColor Red Devil RX Vega 64 8GB HBM2 Review: Cooling Vega Right

Editor's Choice

Conclusion

With our review of PowerColor's Red Devil RX Vega 64 8GB HBM2 complete, it looks like we've tested every Radeon RX Vega 64 card available. There just aren't that many custom designs out there.

PowerColor modified AMD's reference card for its own purposes, adding a great cooler that lives up to the Red Devil reputation. Even if the company tuned this model for cooling performance and not acoustics, the outcome isn't obtrusive. If you want, you can bias the thermal solution to less noise by bumping its temperature target to 70°C or 75°C. You'll have to test this out of course. But if your board is louder than you'd like, it's at least good to know there are remedies.

The Red Devil RX Vega 64's performance is typical of other Radeon RX Vega 64 boards. It's also subject to the same voltage, power, and temperature limits. In other words, there isn't much room for overclocking unless you're willing to overwrite the BIOS with manual optimizations. PowerColor's OC mode is mostly theoretical in nature, just like AMD's own implementation. You might gain a bit of performance, but it comes at the expense of much noise, heat, and excess power consumption. The same disappointing news applies to all Radeon RX Vega-based cards equally.

In the end, PowerColor sends a heavyweight into battle that doesn't become overwhelmed, even under taxing workloads. Its performance is good. The noise is tolerable, even if there are quieter options. Fortunately, you're able to fiddle with software-based settings to make the Red Devil quieter, so long as a slightly higher operating temperature doesn't bother you.

Ultimately, PowerColor's solution hovers around the middle range of Radeon RX Vega 64 pricing, all without asking much in the way of compromise. In that context, this card is a solid choice. But even though it's generally faster than GeForce GTX 1080, Nvidia's closest competitor is currently available at a $200+ savings. We have a hard time recommending any Radeon RX Vega 64 with such a chasm between boards best suited to 2560x1440 gaming.

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  • Gillerer
    I wouldn't trust PowerColor's quality control.

    My old HD 5850 came with an "Engineering Sample" BIOS with no officially supported way of updating it.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    Nice to still see some AMD high end GPU reviews on Tom's. Well done. Unfortunately, this review continues to prove that AMD is well behind Nvidia in the upper tier GPU segment when it comes to gaming bang for the buck. AMD just doesn't have the R&D pockets that Nvidia does because they have shifted focus to CPU/APU production. I would love to see an AMD competitor to Nvidia's GTX x80 Ti high end GPU. Their last stab at it was with the Fury X against the 980 Ti which fell as flat as Bulldozer.
    Reply
  • davidgirgis
    "We have a hard time recommending..." -Igor Wallossek

    However...

    "9/10" and "Editor's Choice"


    "Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true" -Robert Plant
    Reply
  • redgarl
    21026800 said:
    Nice to still see some AMD high end GPU reviews on Tom's. Well done. Unfortunately, this review continues to prove that AMD is well behind Nvidia in the upper tier GPU segment when it comes to gaming bang for the buck. AMD just doesn't have the R&D pockets that Nvidia does because they have shifted focus to CPU/APU production. I would love to see an AMD competitor to Nvidia's GTX x80 Ti high end GPU. Their last stab at it was with the Fury X against the 980 Ti which fell as flat as Bulldozer.

    It is the use of HBM 2 and the shortage that skyrocket the price of this card. The Vega 64, unfortunately, is a mining card. With proper undervolting and tweaks, it performs really well, unfortunately, for gaming at this price you better getting a TI. Still, if the price was about the same as a 1080, I would grab a Vega instead.
    Reply
  • eric.m.hudson1
    "I wouldn't trust PowerColor's quality control.

    My old HD 5850 came with an "Engineering Sample" BIOS with no officially supported way of updating it."


    That's a long time to hold a grudge. I've had 2 PowerColor 290x's and Red Devil RX 480 and 580 cards. All of them were great performers and had better cooling than the majority of the competition. Also, they were all unlocked/dual bios cards. I like what PowerColor does with AMD cards.
    Reply
  • Rogue Leader
    Card sounds great, looks awesome, but the price is double what its worth (and I say that as someone who owns a Liquid cooled Vega 64).
    Reply
  • deadman3000
    https://i.imgur.com/BfZBaTL.jpg
    Reply
  • Rogue Leader
    21027991 said:
    https://i.imgur.com/BfZBaTL.jpg

    Was $1100 US this morning, now a more reasonable $719. Still here in the US a GTX 1080 can be had for $120 cheaper minimum and performs basically the same. However at the price where you are its totally reasonable.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    21026820 said:
    "We have a hard time recommending..." -Igor Wallossek

    However...

    "9/10" and "Editor's Choice"
    You should really include the context for that first quote:

    "But even though it's generally faster than GeForce GTX 1080, Nvidia's closest competitor is currently available at a $200+ savings. We have a hard time recommending any Radeon RX Vega 64 with such a chasm between boards best suited to 2560x1440 gaming."
    A GTX 1080 and Vega 64 have the same MSRP, but he's saying the fact that the Vega is selling for $200 more makes it hard to recommend. Although in reality the price difference is much lower in many places.

    Edit:
    21028036 said:
    Was $1100 US this morning, now a more reasonable $719. Still here in the US a GTX 1080 can be had for $120 cheaper minimum and performs basically the same. However at the price where you are its totally reasonable.
    The price delta between the cheapest 1080 and Vega 64 on PCpartpicker US is $30 right now ($70 for red devil specifically). On Newegg.com that expands to $50 and $90, but only because that includes a dinky single fan 1080 that's $20 cheaper.
    Reply
  • hurnii
    Re: "Semi-passive" cooling mode not working:

    My Red Devil's BIOS switch has 3 positions:

    Max OC (fairly useless)
    Middle Position ("Normal ?")
    Semi-Passive Mode

    When switching BIOS, the Computer needs to be turned off, the switch set to the desired position, then Computer PSU turned back on.

    For my card, if I turn the computer Off, set the BIOS switch position to semi-passive, and then turn the computer on, the fan stays off (passive mode) while the OS boots up.

    In fact, when I first installed the card, the switch was already in semi-passive mode, so when the computer booted up initially, no fans spun. Had to shutdown, flip the switch, and power back up. That time, the fans did spin.
    Reply