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AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB Review

How We Tested AMD's Vega RX 56 8GB

AMD’s latest and greatest will no doubt be found in high-end platforms. Some of these may include Broadwell-E-based systems. However, our U.S. lab is sticking with its MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard, which was recently upgraded to host a Core i7-7700K CPU, for performance measurements. The new processor is complemented by G.Skill’s F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ memory kit. Intel’s Kaby Lake architecture remains one of the company’s most effective per clock cycle, and a stock 4.2 GHz frequency is higher than the models with more cores. Crucial’s MX200 SSD remains, as does the Corsair H110i cooler and be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850W power supply.

As far as competition goes, the Radeon RX Vega 56 is rivaled most closely by Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070. Of course, we imagine that gamers also want to know how Vega 56 fares against the faster/pricier GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and 1080, so we include them in our benchmark results. Similarly, we add  EVGA’s GeForce GTX 1070 SC Gaming 8GB for an additional comparison point to an Nvidia partner card still for sale (Founders Edition boards just aren’t around anymore). Progress relative to AMD's previous-gen graphics hardware is tracked by testing the Radeon R9 Fury X and Radeon R9 390X.

Leading up to today's review, we completely revamped the software side of our platform. Installing the Windows 10 Creators Update caused all sorts of problems with PresentMon, OCAT, and our own custom front-end, but we thought it important to get our operating systems current. As such, we used a combination of OCAT 1.1.0 and PMG 0.9.21 to collect data, along with a fresh build of our log file interpreter to get that information into Excel. All of the Nvidia cards were benchmarked using driver version 384.94, while AMD's previous-gen cards were tested with Crimson ReLive Edition 17.7.2.

It's also worth noting that the air-cooled Radeon RX Vega 56 has two on-board BIOS versions, each with three different power/performance profiles. All of our benchmarks are run in the out-of-box configuration using AMD's more aggressive BIOS and a Balanced profile.

Our conventional gaming selection now includes Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, Battlefield 1, Doom, Hitman, Metro: Last Light Redux, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, and The Witcher 3. We’re also adding Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III.

The test methodology we use for the other games in our suite comes from PresentMon: Performance In DirectX, OpenGL, And Vulkan. In short, all of these games are evaluated using a combination of OCAT and our own in-house GUI for PresentMon, with logging via AIDA64. If you want to know more about our charts (particularly the unevenness index), we recommend reading that story.

Comparison Graphics Cards

Test Systems

We introduced our new test system and methodology in How We Test Graphics Cards. If you'd like more detail about our general approach, check that piece out.

In this case, only the hardware configuration with CPU, RAM, mainboard, as well as the new cooling system are different, so the summary in table form gives a quick overview of the systems used:

Test System and Configuration
HardwareGermany Intel Core i7-6900K @ 4.3 GHzMSI X99S XPower Gaming TitaniumCorsair Vengeance DDR3-32001x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System)2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11, 850W Power SupplyWindows 10 Pro (Creators Update)U.S.Intel Core i7-7700KMSI Z270 Gaming Pro CarbonG.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ1x 500GB Crucial MX200be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11, 850W Power SupplyWindows 10 Pro (Creators Update)
CoolingGermanyAlphacool Eiszeit 2000 ChillerAlphacool Eisblock XPXThermal Grizzly Kryonaut (For Cooler Switch)
MonitorEizo EV3237-BK
PC CaseLian Li PC-T70 with Extension Kit and Mods Configurations: Open Benchtable, Closed Case
Power Consumption MeasurementContact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card) Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply 2x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function4x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100kHz, DC) 4x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500MHz) 1x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
Thermal Measurement1x Optris PI640 80Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording
Acoustic MeasurementNTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File, Low Cut at 50Hz) Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)Creative X7, Smaart v.7 Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H) Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA) Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise


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  • 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!
    Reply
  • rwinches
    Just when on sale Newegg and Amazon $399... Gone!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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 ...

    Reply
  • pavel.mateja
    No undervolting tests?
    https://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&u=https://www.hardwareluxx.de/index.php/artikel/hardware/grafikkarten/44084-amd-radeon-rx-vega-56-und-vega-64-im-undervolting-test.html&edit-text=
    Reply
  • thomas.moore.ii
    Yawn....... It's 4am here at the party.....you just now showing up Vega?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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:

    http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/graphics/109078-asus-radeon-rx-vega-64-strix-gaming/
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply