AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB Review

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

VR: Arizona Sunshine (DirectX 11)

The tools and methodologies used for benchmarking in virtual reality are explained exhaustively in FCAT VR: GPU And CPU Performance in Virtual Reality. If you'd like to know more about these results, start with that story. We're using the same hardware described on the How We Tested AMD's Vega RX 56 8GB page, plus an Oculus Rift HMD.

A graph of frame time over time suggests a fairly consistent experience through our 150-second benchmark run in Arizona Sunshine. However, GeForce GTX 1080 does achieve the lowest (best) frame times. Radeon RX Vega 56 appears to fare slightly better than GeForce GTX 1070. And Radeon RX Vega 64 peeks up above the rest of the field.

Looking instead at the 90 frames per second displayed by each graphics card, we see that neither AMD nor Nvidia fall back on Asynchronous Space Warp to keep up with Oculus’ HMD. There are dropped frames across the board, but we don't observe any synthesized frames.

Working backwards from frame time, we’re able to calculate an unconstrained frame rate. This is the performance you’d see if today’s top VR headsets weren’t locked to 90 Hz.

These numbers confirm that GeForce GTX 1080 enjoys the greatest headroom above 90 FPS. Both Radeon RX Vega cards occupy the middle spots, albeit in a reversed order compared to what we’d expect. GeForce GTX 1070 trails Vega 64 slightly.

While we know that 90 FPS gives us 11.1ms per frame, our 99th percentile frame time chart shows Radeon RX Vega 64 and GeForce GTX 1070 approaching 12ms. How is that possible? From our previously-linked primer on VR benchmarking:

“In all actuality, the envelope can expand/contract due to preemption/parallelization done by the VR runtime. Oculus' adaptive queue ahead feature is designed to facilitate this, so an 11ms cut-off is not absolute, though it’s generally true. In short, optimizations are not enough to keep you from dropping frames if you render at >11ms for an extended period of time.”

The average frame times for all four cards are closer to 10ms, so there’s clearly some headroom available for dealing with worst-case frames, though some of those do get dropped (indicated by the red blips in our interval charts).

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

MORE: All Graphics Content

  • kjurden
    What a crock! I didn't realize that Tom's hardware pandered to the iNvidiot's. AMD VEGA GPU's have rightfully taken the performance crown!
  • rwinches
    Just when on sale Newegg and Amazon $399... Gone!
  • Martell1977
    Vega 56 vs GTX 1070, Vega goes 6-2-2 = Winner Vega!

    Good job AMD, hopefully next gen you can make more headway in power efficiency. But this is a good card, even beats the factory OC 1070.
  • Wisecracker
    Thanks for the hard work and in-depth review -- any word on Vega Nano?

    Some 'Other Guys' (Namer Gexus?) were experimenting on under-volting and clock-boosting with interesting results. It's not like you guys don't have enough to do, already, but an Under-Volt-Off Smack Down between AMD and nVidia might be fun for readers ...

  • pavel.mateja
    No undervolting tests?
  • thomas.moore.ii
    Yawn....... It's 4am here at the just now showing up Vega?
  • 10tacle
    20112576 said:
    What a crock! I didn't realize that Tom's hardware pandered to the iNvidiot's. AMD VEGA GPU's have rightfully taken the performance crown!

    Yeah Tom's Hardware does objective reviewing. If there are faults with something, they will call them out like the inferior VR performance over the 1070. This is not the National Inquirer of tech review sites like WCCTF. There are more things to consider than raw FPS performance and that's what we expect to see in an honest objective review.

    Guru3D's conclusion with caveats:

    "For PC gaming I can certainly recommend Radeon RX Vega 56. It is a proper and good performance level that it offers, priced right. It's a bit above average wattage compared to the competitions product in the same performance bracket. However much more decent compared to Vega 64."
    Tom's conclusion with caveats:

    "Even when we compare it to EVGA’s overclocked GeForce GTX 1070 SC Gaming 8GB (there are no Founders Edition cards left to buy), Vega 56 consistently matches or beats it. But until we see some of those forward-looking features exposed for gamers to enjoy, Vega 56’s success will largely depend on its price relative to GeForce GTX 1070."
    ^^And that's the truth. If prices of the AIB cards coming are closer to the GTX 1080, then it can't be considered a better value. This is not AMD's fault of course, but that's just the reality of the situation. You can't sugar coat it, you can't hide it, and you can't spin it. Real money is real money. We've already seen this with the RX 64 prices getting close to GTX 1080 Ti territory.

    With that said, I am glad to see Nvidia get direct competition from AMD again in the high end segment since Fury even though it's a year and four months late to the party. In this case, the reference RX 56 even bests an AIB Strix GTX 1070 variant in most non-VR games. That's promising for what's going to come with their AIB variants. The question now is what's looming on the horizon in an Nvidia response with Volta. We'll find out in the coming months.
  • shrapnel_indie
    We've seen what they can do in a factory blower configuration. Are board manufacturers allowed to take 64 and 56 and do their own designs and cooling solutions, where they can potentially coax more out of it (power usage aside)? Or are they stuck with this configuration as Fury X and Fury Nano were stuck?
  • 10tacle
    No, there will be card vendors like ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI who will have their own cooling. Here's a review of an ASUS RX 64 Strix Gaming:
  • pepar0
    20112412 said:
    Radeon RX Vega 56 should be hitting store shelves with 3584 Stream processors and 8GB of HBM2. Should you scramble to snag yours or shop for something else?

    AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB Review : Read more
    Will any gamers buy this card ... will any gamers GET to buy this card? Hot, hungry, noisy and expensive due to the crypto currency mining craze was not what this happy R290 owner had in mind.