AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 Arrives For Testing

Ready or not AMD’s answer for a high-end series of consumer desktop graphics cards is finally here!  The Radeon Technologies Group is launching the Radeon RX VEGA 64 and Vega 56 today. The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 is powered by the full fat VEGA 10 GPU that contains 64 Compute Units and 4096 stream processors. You can get this graphics card with liquid cooling or an air cooled solution in a standard version (black plastic fan shroud) or limited edition (silver brushed aluminum) model. Then there is the VEGA 56 that has 56 Compute Units and and 3584 stream processors that is only going to available as an air cooled card. The AMD Radeon RX VEGA NANO was announced back on July 3oth when AMD revealed the Radeon RX Vega series, but we haven't heard anything about it since. AMD Radeon RX VEGA Specifications When it comes to clock speeds the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64, in both Limited Edition and standard versions, will have a base clock of 1247 MHz and a boost clock of 1546 MHz. The liquid cooled RX VEGA 64 has a base clock of 1406 MHz and a boost clock of 1677 MHz, so you can see that water cooling dramatically increases the clock speeds for this GPU! The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 has a base clock of 1156 MHz with a boost clock of 1471 MHz. When it comes to memory all of the cards have 8GB of HBM2, but they are running at difference clock speeds. Both the air and liquid versions of the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 have an effective memory clock speed of 1.89 GHz and that is good for 484 GB/s of total memory bandwidth. The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 has the HMB2 memory running slightly lower at 1.60 GHz and that reduces the total memory bandwidth down to 410 GB/s. AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 Both the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 and Radeon RX VEGA 56 standard air cooled cards look the same, so we'll just be showing you one of them. For starters the Radeon RX Vega 64 is a blower-style dual-slot graphics card that looks similar to previous generation reference cards from AMD. It has the usual red/black color combination, but the font for the Radeon logo has been updated. Note that along the top edge of the card there are two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. With a board power of up to 345 Watts (liquid) and 295 Watts (air) at stock speeds these two connectors will come in hand especially when overclocking. There is also a vBIOS selector that allows you to switch between two different vBIOS profiles on this card. There are two vBIOS profiles and then each has three software controlled power profiles. That means there are six power profiles on each VEGA card! AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 Back The back of the card does have a backplate, but it's just for protection, to help stiffen the PCB and looks. There are no thermal pads on the back to help cool the GPU or any of the VRM components. AMD Radeon RX VEGA Video Outputs   When it comes to video outputs for display connectivity, you have three standard full-size DisplayPorts and a full-size HDMI. Let's take a look at the test system and then run the benchmarks!

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used as we switched over to a new system in April 2017 when Windows 10 Creators Update was released. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit version 1703 and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.  There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago. Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:

Intel X99 Platform

The Intel X99 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS X99-E-10G WS motherboard with BIOS 0603  that came out on 03/15/2017. We went with the Intel Core i7-6950X Broadwell-E processor to power this platform and overclocked it up to 4.0GHz on all cores. The Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory kit we used was a 64GB kit (4x16GB) and while it is rated at 3600MHz we actually ran it at 3333MHz at 1.30V with 16-16-16-30 1T memory timings. The Samsung SSD 960 EVO 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD was run with latest firmware available. A Corsair RM1000x power supply provides clean power to the system and is also silent as the fan hardly ever spins up. This is critical to our testing as it lowers the ambient noise level of the room and gives us more accurate sound measurements. Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
The Intel X99 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor Intel Core i7-6950X
Motherboard
ASUS X99-E-10G WS
Memory
64GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3600MHz DDR4
Video Card Various
Solid-State Drive Samsung SSD 960 EVO 1TB
Cooling Corsair Hydro H115i
Power Supply Corsair RM1000x
Case HighSpeed PC Top Deck Tech Station
Operating System Windows 10 64-bit
Monitor ASUS PB287Q 28" 4K
  Let's move on to the Battlefield 1 benchmark results!

Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 (also known as BF1) is the fifteenth installment in the Battlefield Series developed by DICE and published by EA. The game is set during World War I. It was released world wide on October 21, 2016. The singleplayer campaign of Battlefield 1 takes place across six different "War Stories" which revolve around different people in different aspects of the Great War in campaigns such as the Italian Alps and the deserts of Arabia. We benchmark in Through Mud and Blood, which is the second mission in singleplayer campaign. Taking place late in the war, the player assumes the role of Danny Edwards, a British recruit joining the crew of a Mark V Landship named Black Bess as their new tank driver. New to the war and inexperienced in driving the unreliable vehicle, Edwards is given a trial by fire with his first mission: punch through the German line at Cambrai with a broken tank and a crew that has no trust in him. BF1 Through Mud and Blood Battlefield 1 features the Frostbite 3 game engine and has very good graphics with tons of destructibles. Maps also now feature dynamic weather systems, affecting combat in various ways; for example, The St. Quentin Scar can either start as a clear, sunny day, a dark, foggy day, or in the middle of a rainstorm, and switch between them during the round. Battlefield 1 Video Card Settings Battlefield 1 Advanced Video Card Settings We tested BF1 at 1920 x 1080 with the 'Ultra' graphics quality preset in DX12 with the GPU Memory Restriction turned off. We also disabled VSync. Benchmark Results: Battlefield 1 is pretty tough on graphics cards with the Ultra image quality preset, but we were still able to average 131.5 FPS on 1080P on the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 and 114.3 FPS on the Radeon RX VEGA 56. When we cranked up the screen resolution to 2560x1440 our performance dropped down to 100 and 88 FPS, respectively. The numbers produced by the Radeon RX VEGA 64 were above the GeForce GTX 1080 cards and we were close to 60 FPS on average on the VEGA RX 64 at 4K on BF1!

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action role-playing stealth video game developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. Set in a cyberpunk-themed dystopian world in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, Mankind Divided features the return of Adam Jensen from the previous game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with new technology and body augmentations. The game was released on August 23rd, 2016 for PC users. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Train Station Deus Ex: Mankind Divided uses a heavily modified version of the Glacier 2 engine that has been tweaked so much that they are now calling it the Dawn game engine. We took a look at GPU performance using the 'High' image quality preset with MSAA and VSync turned off. We picked to run just 'High' image quality settings due to how tough this game title is to render and we feel that most gamers will try to target this setting. Benchmark Results: This is a newer DX12 game title and with the high image quality preset we saw the AMD Radeon RX 64 beating the GeForce GTX 1080 at 1080P and 1440P resolutions. With the screen resolution cranked up to 3820x2160 (4K) we saw the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 lose by just 0.1 FPS due to a lower minimum frame rate on this game titles built-in benchmark utility. 

Gears of War 4

Gears of War is a video game franchise created and originally owned by Epic Games, developed and managed by The Coalition, and owned and published by Microsoft Studios. The series focuses on the conflict between humanity, the subterranean reptilian hominids known as the Locust Horde, and their mutated counterparts, the Lambent & the Swarm. Gears of War 4 was released on October 11, 2016 for the PC and is an interesting game title in the sense that it must be run on Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. It uses the DirectX 12 API with features like async compute and tiled resources. Gears of War 4 Screenshot Microsoft and the developer (The Coalition) have worked hard to make the PC port not suck and have placed over 30 graphics cards settings in the option menu with over 100-plus options that you can adjust. We are using the ultra image quality preset with VSync turned off. Gears of War 4 Graphics Options Gears of War 4 Graphics Options Gears of War 4 comes with a built-in benchmark that appears to be pretty decent and shows the average minimum framerate (bottom 5%) in the results. This is the benchmark that we ran on our graphics cards with Ultra image quality settings to see how they would perform. 1440P Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 graphics card averaged 128 FPS on Gears of War 4 at the Ultra Preset at 1080P and 84 FPS at 1440P. Not fast enough to challenge the GeForce GTX 1080 that has been around since May 2016, but that is a substantial performance improvement over the AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB card that averaged just 88 FPS on this game title.  

Fallout 4

Fallout4 Fallout 4 is an open world action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Fallout 4 is set in a post-apocalyptic Boston in the year 2287, 210 years after a devastating nuclear war, in which the player character emerges from an underground bunker known as a Vault. Gameplay is similar to Fallout 3.  The title is the fifth major installment in the Fallout series and was released worldwide on November 10th, 2015. fallout4 settings Fallout 4 was benchmarked with ultra image quality settings with TAA and 16x AF. These settings are tough for entry level discrete graphics cards, but are more than playable on high-end gaming graphics cards. V-Sync can't be disabled in the games options, so we edited the necessary INI files and disabled vsync in the driver software as well. We used FRAPS to benchmark Fallout 4 after you emerge from the vault and are in The Commonwealth. Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 video cards easily held off the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 and VEGA 56 cards in Fallout 4 when tested at 1080P, 1440P and 4K screen resolutions.

Grand Theft Auto V

GTAV Grand Theft Auto V, currently one of the hottest PC games, was finally released for the PC on April 14, 2015.  Developed by Rockstar, it is set in 2013 and the city of Los Santos.  It utilizes the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) which Rockstar has been using since 2006, with multiple updates for technology improvements. GTA5-settings GTA5-settings2 In Grand Theft Auto V we set the game to run with no MSAA with 16x AF and high image quality settings as we didn't want the GPU to bottleneck the system too bad, but wanted a setup that your average gamer would actually play on. We used the games built-in benchmark utility to have at least one game we used that could be compared to your setup at home. We averaged all the five of the default benchmark runs and omitted both the minimum and maximum values as those results are garbage due to major inconsistencies. Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 and VEGA 64 cards ran GTAV with the standard game settings at over 60 FPS on average across all three resolutions that we tested. It wasn't beating the GeForce GTX 1080 or GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, but it played the game smoothly. 

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands is an open world tactical shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Paris. It is the tenth installment in the Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon franchise and is the first Ghost Recon game to feature an open world environment. The game moves away from the futuristic setting introduced in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and instead feature a setting similar to the original Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon. Ubisoft described it as one of the biggest open world games that they have ever published, with the game world including a wide variety of environments such as mountains, forests, deserts and salt flats. A modified version of the AnvilNext game engine was used.  The game was released on March 7, 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Ghost Recon Wildlands Image Quality Settings Ghost Recon Wildlands Image Quality Settings Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands was benchmarked with high image quality settings with Temporal AA and 4x AF. V-Sync and the framerate limit were both disabled and we used the game titles built-in game benchmark. 1080P Benchmark Results: Ghost Recon Wildlands is a very tough game title when it comes to graphics and at 4K with just the high preset we were getting around 43 FPS on the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 and 37 FPS on the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64. The EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 was getting around 48 FPS with 10gbps GDDR5 memory and 50 FPS with 11gbps GDDR5 memory. 

3DMark Time Spy - DX12

3DMark Time Spy just recently came out and it is the latest and greatest DirectX 12 benchmark test for gaming PCs running Windows 10. This DirectX 12 Feature Level 11_0 benchmark utilizes a pure DirectX 12 game engine that supports features like asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multi-threading! The developers opted to use DirectX 12 Feature Level 11_0 to ensuring wide compatibility with DirectX 11 hardware through DirectX 12 drivers. 3DMark Time Spy With DirectX 12 on Windows 10, game developers can significantly improve the multi-thread scaling and hardware utilization of their titles to draw more objects, textures and effects for your viewing enjoyment. 3DMark Fire Strike is a great high-end DirectX 11 benchmark test, but doesn't really show off what new graphics cards can do on a DirectX 12 game title that will have much more going on while you are playing. 3DMark Time Spy Settings We ran 3DMark Time Spy with the standard settings and got the following results: In this DX12 benchmark we see the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 come in with 7,404 points and the Radeon RX VEGA 56 behind that with 6,713 points.

VRMark

VRMark is a relatively new benchmark aimed at those that might be thinking about buying an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift and knowing what hardware will give them the best VR gaming experience. VRMark includes two VR benchmark tests that run on your monitor, no headset required, or on a connected HMD. At the end of each test, you'll see whether your PC is VR ready, and if not, how far it falls short.

The Orange Room benchmark shows the impressive level of detail that can be achieved on a PC that meets the recommended hardware requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If your PC passes this test, it's ready for the two most popular VR systems available today. The orange room rendering resolution is 2264 x 1348, which is 1132 x 1348 per eye and the target desktop frame rate is 109 FPS.
Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 and Radeon RX VEGA 64 will both give you a solid VR gaming experience as they both scored well over 200 FPS on this benchmark. The goal in this benchmark is to get 109 FPS as that is the number deemed 'needed' for VR gaming. Our numbers on VEGA RX nearly doubled that performance threshold.  The Blue Room is designed to be a more intense test with a rendering resolution of 5012 x 2880 (5K) and the goal is for a desktop PC to maintain a consistent frame rate of 109 FPS or above without dropping frames to pass this test. Benchmark Results: None of our cards can get close to passing this test and the 45.9 average FPS on the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 was ~6 FPS behind the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 iCX cooled graphics card. 

SuperPosition Benchmark

UNIGINE introduced the Superposition Benchmark in April 2017 and it contains a benchmark based on the UNIGINE 2 Engine that is pretty tough on modern graphics cards. We ran the SuperPosition Benchmark performance test with the 1080P High preset. The AMD Radeon VEGA RX 64 has an overall score of 9,750 points, while the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 scored 8,149. Here the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 is 19.6% faster than the Radeon RX VEGA 56. The FPS results might have more meaning for our readers, so here is a chart that shows those results. As you can see we are getting 61 FPS on average on the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 graphics card and about 73 FPS on the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64.

Temperature & Noise Testing

The gaming performance on a graphics card is the most important factor in buying a card, but you also need to be concerned about the noise, temperature and power consumption numbers. Since GPU-Z doesn't yet read the temperatures of VEGA we didn't have a way to record or log or temperatures. Using AMD Radeon Settings isn't good for idle temperatures as it uses the GPU, so we ended up using GPU Shark to get some readings. The VEGA 64 had an idle temperature of 44C and topped out at 81C while gaming. The VEGA 56 had an idle temperature of 38C and topped out at 75C when gaming. AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 Temperatures   

Sound Testing

We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

When it comes to noise levels the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 and Radeon RX VEGA 64 are by no means silent cards and were louder when gaming than any other graphics card that we have recently test by a good deal. We also heard choke whine on both cards when we were on the game menus in several game titles when the FPS was super high, which is something pretty rare these days.

Power Consumption

For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we ran Battlefield 1 at 1920 x 1080 and recorded the peak power number while gaming a particular level that we test on each card. Our idle numbers are high, but keep in mind that we are using a workstation motherboard that has two 10GbE ports and other high-power draw controllers on it. Power Consumption Results: With the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 video card installed in the system we topped out at 457 Watts when running BF1 at 1080P resolutions. The AMD Radeon RX 64 video card used 510 Watts in the same test, so our testing shows the VEGA 64 uses about 65 Watts more power than the VEGA 56 while gaming. The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64  power efficient card uses more power, makes more noise and got beat by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition in every benchmark. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is not going to be dethroned today!  Let's wrap this review up!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

The AMD Radeon RX VEGA hype train has been building momentum for over a year and the thing that keeps sticking in my head is the video they released on January 1st, 2017 called After the Uprising as part of the Radeon VEGA architecture preview. In that video they clearly had a sign that said 'Poor Volta' and that is directly aimed at NVIDIA as Volta is one of their upcoming GPU architecture code name. It looks like AMD was aiming to not only beat NVIDIA's Pascal GPU used on the GeForce GTX 10 series, but beat what they had coming next. Poor Volta Sadly, the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 never once beat the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card and only managed to best the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 in a couple games and only at lower resolutions. To make matters worse the AMD Radeon VEGA RX 64 uses more power and is louder than any of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10 series cards that we tested. Lower performance, more power and higher noise levels is never a winning combination.  In fact, this is a riding dirty trifecta! The performance of the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 and VEGA 56 cards isn't horrible and with a 1440P FressSync display either card should give you a great gaming experience. We are just getting hung up on the 6+ months of hype where AMD made it sound like the high-end VEGA powered cards were going to give NVIDIA a run for the money. Unfortunately we had very little time to test the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 and VEGA 56 as they arrived just last week. To put that in better context the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 arrived Thursday and the VEGA 56 arrived mid-day Friday. Some sites got cards earlier than this. So, we basically had just a weekend to benchmark these cards and weren't expecting the VEGA 56 for weeks. AMD sent the last minute at the VEGA 56 story looked better and moved the embargo date to the 14th despite the fact that you can't buy the card for another two weeks. We get the marketing decision behind that, but the reason this review isn't as in-depth as normal is due to that reason. Each AMD Radeon RX VEGA graphics card has a primary and secondary vBIOS that have slightly different profiles. Then to complicate things more inside Wattman there is a slider with Power Saver, Balanced and Turbo modes. This means there are six modes per card than you can run them in and it adjusts the power profile from 253 Watts down to just 150 Watts. We only tested the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 and VEGA 56 cards in the default (balanced) modes. At the end of the day we are excited that AMD is back into the high-end video card market with a high-performance card that in the $399 to $499 price range. If you are a 1080P or 1440P gamer and want to have good frame rates or are thinking about picking up a lower cost AMD FreeSync display with AdaptiveSync technology then you'll find that these two cards offer a good gaming experience. They just don't bring a new level of performance to the table. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 came out in May 2016 and AMD wasn't able to match the performance of those parts here in August 2017. AMD Radeon RX VEGA is a big step in the right direction, but found that NVIDIA is a worthy opponent! If you were looking for Ether mining performance be sure to check out or Radeon RX Vega performance numbers in that article! Legit Bottom Line: The AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 fails to destroy the high-end NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-series cards like many were hoping.