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AMD Radeon RX Vega56 8GB Review

Our newest GPU test procedure has been built with the intention of benchmarking high-end graphics cards. We test at 1920×1080 (1080p), 2560×1440 (1440p), and 3840×2160 (4K UHD) resolutions.

We try to test using the DX12 API if titles offer support. This gives us an interpretation into the graphics card performance hierarchy in the present time and the near future, when DX12 becomes more prevalent. After all, graphics cards of this expense may stay in a gamer’s system for a number of product generations/years before being upgraded.

A shipping mishap with our GTX 1080 FE meant that we had to buy a new GTX 1080 for testing purposes. As it happens, the cheapest GTX 1080 cards available tend to be factory-overclocked offerings with better coolers than the FE card. As such, we spent just over £500 on Gigabyte’s GTX 1080 G1 Gaming which features a triple-fan cooler and a factory overclock. Reference RX Vega56 goes against a reference GTX 1070 in its Founders Edition form as we do not have a more popular AIB partner variant.

Note: We tested the RX Vega64 and Vega56 using the ‘Turbo‘ power mode in AMD’s WattMan software. This prioritises all-out performance over power efficiency, noise output, and lower thermals.

General Test System Notes

  • AMD Graphics cards were benchmarked with the AMD Crimson Beta (RX Vega pre-release) driver.
  • Nvidia Graphics cards were benchmarked with the Nvidia 384.94 driver.

Test System

CPU
Intel Core i7-7700K ‘Kaby Lake’ (Retail)
Overclocked to 4.8GHz Core
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z270X-Ultra Gaming
Memory
G.Skill Flare X
16GB (2x8GB) @ 3200MHz 14-14-14-34
Graphics Card
Varies
System Drive
Crucial M4 512GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Games Drive SK hynix SE3010 960GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Chassis NZXT Phantom 630 (medium fan speed)
CPU Cooler
Noctua NH-D14
Power Supply
Seasonic 1000W Platinum
Operating System
Windows 10 Professional with Creators’ Update (64-bit)

Our test system consists of an overclocked Core i7-7700K processor and 16GB of 3200MHz G.Skill DDR4. High-end hardware is used to eliminate CPU and memory from the bottleneck equation and put the performance onus solely on the GPU being tested.

Comparison Graphics Cards List

AMD Radeon RX Vega64 Air (1247MHz core / 1546MHz Average Boost / 1.89Gbps HBM2 memory)

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti Reference (1480MHz core / 1582MHz Boost / 11Gbps GDDR5X memory)

Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming (1696MHz core/ 1835MHz Boost / 10Gbps GDDR5X memory)

Nvidia GTX 1070 Founders Edition (1506MHz core/ 1683MHz boost / 8Gbps GDDR5 memory)

Software and Games List

  • 3DMark Fire Strike & Fire Strike Ultra (DX11 Synthetic)
  • 3DMark Time Spy (DX12 Synthetic)
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation (DX12)
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (DX12)
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands (DX11)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (DX11)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (DX12)

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  • Casecutter

    If… this Vega56 could be had not (as now) this blower edition, could be bought in the market without the profiteering inflicted on it… And this is the biggest, if there were 1440p monitors with FreeSync and those weren’t marked-up well beyond the mainstream 1440p. Only then might this have viable appeal.

    At this time plunking down the “overage” to move into such upgrade levels of hardware is not a move many should be looking toward. 1440p feels almost past its’ prime or seems bowled-over by a more robust infusion of 4K. So you you’ll be ahead to hold and wait, entry 4K is not that far off with close to a similar cash out-lay of such inflated hardware.

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  • Emerest Thisk

    I wish reviewers would stop benching GTA5. It’s ancient and no longer graphically demanding but most importantly, it doesn’t seem to be optimized at all for AMD cards.

    As for the power profiles, if the 56 is anything like the 64, the ‘balanced’ mode should only effect performance by 5% but reduce power consumption by 10-30W.

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  • southernorth

    But GTA5 is a really popular game still, and prospective buyers want to see how the card performs on a game they play.

    And @LukeHill are you going to reduce the rating of this card after it was revealed that AMD’s introductory price was nowhere near the actual price, thus making the 56 not so much of a great deal for price/performance?

  • spartan2600

    I’m an AMD fan and plan on buying a Vega 56 Monday (Aug 28) if possible. I still play it so it matters to me. I am aware GTAV does significantly worse on AMD though, which is exactly why it won’t deter me from purchasing Vega.