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
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|
|Hardware||Germany 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)|
|Cooling||GermanyAlphacool Eiszeit 2000 ChillerAlphacool Eisblock XPXThermal Grizzly Kryonaut (For Cooler Switch)|
|PC Case||Lian Li PC-T70 with Extension Kit and Mods Configurations: Open Benchtable, Closed Case|
|Power Consumption Measurement||Contact-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 Measurement||1x Optris PI640 80Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording|
|Acoustic Measurement||NTI 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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