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Unboxing AMD's Radeon VII: A Sneak Peek At Vega 20

AMD Embarks On A Quest To Usurp GeForce RTX 2080

What you’re about to see is a prelude to our Radeon VII review. The card you’re looking at now is already busy on our test bench demonstrating its mettle. Radeon VII is fast. Radeon VII is loud. But more than anything, sitting on that acrylic custom-made pedestal with an inlaid 331 mm² die and 16GB of HBM2, plus RGB back-lighting, Radeon VII is art.

Box Envy

Our Radeon VII press sample showed up in a big, black box. It was a little banged up from its journey, but the contents inside were pristine.

For a sense of context, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition stands its ground right next to the newcomer. The stage is set for a battle of epic proportions.

Open Sesame

With the box top removed, Radeon VII is suspended in foam, protected by an anti-static bag. Under it, there’s an acrylic stand with AMD’s branding, an embedded package with Vega 20 and 16GB of HBM2, and a base sporting RGB lighting. Bundled batteries keep the lights going while Radeon VII is on display.


This is what the card looks like outside of its protective bag. Now that Nvidia’s reference design employs axial fans, it’s open season for AMD to kick waste heat back into your chassis as well. The flip side should be a more effective thermal solution. 

Up Close and Personal

Radeon VII’s exterior is simple, yet clean. Whereas 2015’s Radeon R9 Fury X used a closed-loop liquid cooler to rid itself of 275W, this 300W board manages in a true dual-slot form factor, surrounded by thick, durable metal. It’s an attractive piece of hardware, to be sure.

Standing on its Own

Much more so than AMD’s own Radeon RX Vega 64 card, the Radeon VII feels solid and sturdy. That little red box on the back of our sample does wobble around a bit. However, clean, angular lines on the back and I/O panel, along with brushed metal surfaces, are definitely more industrial than Vega 64’s plastic enclosure.

Love to Watch You Leave

Radeon VII’s back side looks like it’s flying by with all of those elongated ventilation holes.

We know those stickers are necessary, but this card sure would look better without them.

I/O for Days

Similar to Radeon RX Vega 64, Radeon VII features three full-sized DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI connector.

An all-black bracket featuring the same elongated vents continues AMD’s theme, though there’s little reason for ventilation back there, given vertically-oriented heat sink fins that push hot air out the top and down toward your motherboard.

An RGB Pit Stop

Before dropping Radeon VII onto our test bench, we allowed it one pit stop on its pedestal with lights ablaze. We’d like to think this would make a good home for AMD’s card post-review, but the proper resting place for a high-end graphics card is in a gaming PC. That’s where it truly belongs.

Just the Two of Us

On the right, we see Vega 10. Manufactured on GlobalFoundries’ 14nm process and flanked by two 4-hi stacks of HBM2, the 486 mm² GPU remains a formidable piece of gaming hardware.

However, Vega 20 promises double-digit performance gains from a 331 mm² die thanks to TSMC’s 7nm manufacturing and four 4-hi stacks of HBM2.

Power to the People

Despite a process shrink, AMD cranks the dial on clock rate, necessitating a 300W board power rating. For that, you need a pair of eight-pin auxiliary connectors.

Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • Rob1C
  • AgentLozen
    Thanks for the unboxing.

    I'm walking into this review pessimistically. This thing's probably going to be a furnace. It would be nice if Radeon VII could put some pressure on Nvidia at the high end though. I'm looking forward to the review none the less.
  • shrapnel_indie
    Will Radeon VII have what it takes to usurp GeForce RTX 2080 at a similar price point?

    Some will automatically say no, due to power draw. Some will automatically say no because it isn't from team green. Some will automatically say yes because of the leaks.

    I'd say, it has the potential... Tests will tell us the rest.
  • hannibal
    Yeah. Most likely as always it Wins in so e benchmarks and lose in anothers. But Hopefully it is there to give alternatives!
    Also hope to see 8Gb version too... though not likely thing to happen.
  • jeff.gilleese
    According to articles I read, halving the 16GB VRAM would also halve the VRAM bandwidth. This would noticably reduce over all preformance.
  • wlwsniak1975
    7nn is loud?!
  • joeblowsmynose
    21740637 said:
    Thanks for the unboxing.

    I'm walking into this review pessimistically. This thing's probably going to be a furnace. It would be nice if Radeon VII could put some pressure on Nvidia at the high end though. I'm looking forward to the review none the less.

    Although I'm also not really too hyped about this launch (out of my price range anyway), the 2080ti pulls 280w in real life gaming (260w claimed power) - so if AMDs 295w TDP is accurate (and lately, a far cry from Intel, AMDs TDPs are reasonably close to real life), that's only 15w difference (OCing aside)

    Not to say that that a 2080ti isn't also a furnace ... I have no idea.
  • joeblowsmynose
    21740991 said:
    7nn is loud?!

    I've heard that 7nm is the loudest of all the node sizes.
  • spentshells
    I head that all the way from Taiwan
  • mdd1963
    If they want this to make an impact, have it challenge/equal the RTX2070 but at lower prices (like GTX1060 release prices!); perhaps then someone will live with it's noise and power draw.