Asus' ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB OC Edition fares well against the competition, aside from its hot voltage regulation circuitry. The company uses high-quality components, and its board demonstrates excellent build quality. But despite our overall positive impression, there are still a few points we'd like to Asus improve.
To begin, we don't like that the ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB OC Edition is so sensitive to being installed in a closed chassis. This is caused by the orientation of its exhaust air, which is pushed out against the motherboard or case's side wall. Much of that waste heat is then sucked back up by the fans for cooling. Some competitors use angled fins or a suitably designed shroud to direct exhaust away as much as possible.
We would have liked to modify Asus' back plate with a thermal pad to help draw heat away from the PCB. However, this would have required forcibly removing components of the back-lit logo since it unfortunately covers part of the cooling surface. If Asus did away with this feature, rotated it by 90 degrees, or made it smaller, we could have tried relieving the heat build-up issue.
It's a bummer that Asus can't change AMD's unconventional fan curve. Guidelines are guidelines, after all. But a slightly higher fan speed would certainly help with cooling once the ROG Strix card is fully warmed up. Otherwise, taking this card to its power limit results in >100°C after about 30 minutes across large parts of the card. Given that PCB manufacturers often recommend keeping board material below ~95°C as a long-term upper limit, we don't like seeing temperatures above those levels.
But even without increasing the power limit and applying a demanding workload, waste heat from the voltage converters reaches the area under the package after 12 to 15 minutes, heating it up from below.
A handful of minor quibbles keep us from giving this otherwise-balanced graphics card a purchase recommendation. At least Asus has aesthetics on its side: its ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB OC Edition is much more attractive than Gigabyte's own Radeon RX Vega 64, which reflects certain cost-cutting decisions. Sapphire's Limited Edition Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+, on the other hand, goes the other direction, throwing money at AMD's flagship GPU in an attempt to get the most out of it. Unfortunately, that board was just too expensive to manufacture. As a result, the company now makes a lower-end version with just two auxiliary power connectors and lower clock rates.
In that context, Asus lands in the middle between both competing Radeon RX Vega 64s. This isn't a bad thing. Its ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB OC Edition is better than the lowest-end implementations, and a little less expensive than the craziest models we've seen.
Availability is definitely better than it was even a couple of weeks ago. As of this writing, the Asus card is in stock online selling for $650, whereas the least expensive Radeon RX Vega 64 boards start at $580.
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