Radeon RX Vega Revealed: AMD promises 4K gaming performance for $499

AMD Vega has arrived. The answer to Nvidia’s top-spec 10-series graphics card has been a long time coming and, now it’s here, it’s time to unpack exactly what AMD has brought to the table.  Here’s everything you need to know including Vega’s price, specification and performance.

Key info:

  • RX Vega 64 and 56 announced
  • Launch date: August 14
  • Prices range from $399 to $599
  • Performance akin to GTX 1080

The Vega series is the most powerful AMD GPU launch in two years, when the firm unveiled the R9 Fury and Fury X. This time around, the two GPUs are called RX Vega 64 and RX Vega 56. There will be three AMD-built versions of the  RX Vega 64: One liquid-cooled variation, one premium air-cooled version with a fancy-looking shroud design, and then a more run-of-the-mill black plastic model. The RX Vega 56, meanwhile, just comes in black plastic.

Of course, third-party models will be available as time goes on, and as those arrive we’ll add them to this article.

Related: Best graphics card

 AMD RX Vega series specifications

Here are the full key specifications for the liquid and air 64s, along with the new 56 and previous-gen R9 Fury X.

Vega 64 Liquid Vega 64 Vega 56 Fury X
Compute Units 64 64 56 64
Stream Processors 4096 4096 3584 4096
Base frequency (MHz) 1406 1247 1156
Boost frequency (MHz) 1677 1677 1471 1050
Memory 8GB HBM2 8GB HBM2 8GB HBM2 4GB HBM
Memory bus 2048-bit 2048-bit 2048-bit 4096-bit
Memory bandwidth 483.8GB/s 483.8GB/s 410GB/s 512GB/s
TFLOPS 13.7 12.7 10.5 8.6
TDP (W) 345 295 210 275
Price $699 (with other offers) $499 $399 $549 (at launch)

The new GPUs use the latest high-bandwidth memory 2.0 (HBM2), which operate at fairly low memory clock speeds but have enormous 2048-bit memory busses that allow for an incredibly high flow of data to the GPU. Clock speeds are impressively high; where the Fury X previously topped out at 1050MHz, the models on offer here manage up to 1677MHz. That’ll lead to some handy performance gains.Both 64 and 56 cards are based on Vega 10, the codename for AMD’s latest graphics architecture. The 56-core version is a cut-down version of the 64-core model with lower clock speeds, similar to the relationship between Nvidia’s GTX 1080 and 1070.

These are power-hungry cards. With a 295W TDP (thermal design power), the Vega 64 air-cooled model will consume more than 100W more power than the competition, namely the GTX 1070. Even the 56 consumes 35W more. A liquid-cooled option might just be a sensible choice.

Handily, AMD has created a playlist of videos to take potential buyers through Vega’s technical back-end. Take a look if you want to know more about Rapid Packed Math, FreeSync and HBM2.

AMD RX Vega performance: “Butter-smooth” 4K gaming?

AMD is pushing the RX Vega line as the best entry into the world of 4K gaming. It’s doing this by highlighting Vega’s chops as a card that can handle games running in the DirectX 12 and Vulkan graphics APIs, something it also did with its last major launch, the 400-series.

Here are a couple of graphs featured on the AMD website and launch video to show the performance increase over the Fury X generation.

It’s always hard to compare GPU benchmarking across different companies, because we don’t know how they were tested. However, particularly the second graph, suggests that in most games the RX Vega 64 will go toe-to-toe with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, which is currently on sale for around £500. Don’t expect the performance difference in every game to be quite so large, though, especially given Doom is certainly one of the better-optimised games for AMD kit.

The air-cooled Vega 64 is priced at $499, which will probably translate to around £450-500 in the UK. Meanwhile, the Vega 56 will rock up at $399, probably around £350-400.

Depending on which card you buy, you’ll also unlock discounts on other AMD products including Ryzen processors, motherboards and FreeSync monitors if you pay a little more for one of AMD’s ‘Packs’.

“Radeon Packs include a $200 discount on the 34” Samsung CF791 curved ultrawide FreeSync monitor, and a $100 discount on select Ryzen™ 7 1800X processor and 370X motherboard combos — $300 in combined hardware savings. To power the new setup, there are three options for Radeon RX Vega:

  • Radeon Red Pack – Featuring the Radeon RX Vega 56, an air-cooled card priced at $499 SEP.
  • Radeon Black Pack – Featuring the Radeon RX Vega 64, an air-cooled card priced at $599 SEP.
  • Radeon Aqua Pack – Featuring the Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition, the most powerful of the Radeon RX Vega graphics cards, priced at $699 SEP.”

You’ll also pick up free copies of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and Prey.

Fans of AMD might be a little underwhelmed by this news, given that we’ve had this sort of performance for over a year with Nvidia’s top-spec cards. Still, pricing is competitive.

It’s little surprise, then, that in the launch video above that AMD is touting its other technologies as the main reason to pick up an RX Vega card. Indeed, it’s FreeSync that AMD is really pushing, which is a sensible move. It’s one of the company’s most obvious strengths; with monitors that support FreeSync substantially cheaper than the Nvidia G-Sync equivalents.

The whole bunch will go on sale August 14.

This is a developing story. We’ll update this piece with more new and analysis as we get it.

 

Black Friday Deals