Product Listing

AMD Radeon RX Vega 56: The 'less is more' 4K graphics card

By John Law - 16 Sep 2017
Launch SRP: RM2599

Benchmarks and Conclusion

Benchmarks and conclusion

So, here’s what we used to test the card out:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
  • Gigabyte AORUS AX370 Gaming 5
  • 16GB (2x 8GB) Geil EVO X DDR4-3200 RAM (auto-timings: 16-16-16-36)
  • Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 Cooler
  • Plextor M6S 128GB SSD (OS)
  • Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB PCIe SSD (benchmarks, and games)
  • WD Caviar Black 6TB (Games)
  • Windows 10 Professional

Benchmarks:

  • Futuremark 3DMark (2013)
  • Unigine Superposition

Games:

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • DOOM
  • Hitman

Now, according to those who have tested the RX Vega 56, the word on the wire is that the card was meant to be on par with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070, and perhaps the GTX 1080 in the odd test here and there.

That wasn't the case when we actually began testing the card ourselves. If anything, we found that the card was actually more or less on the same performance plane with the GTX 1080, and that was before overclocking it by an additional 12 percent on its GPU core. 

That leads us into a nice little sidenote: for the first time in what can be universally agreed upon in a long while, AMD finally has a card that can be overclocked, and not just by a small margin.

As mentioned earlier, we were able to push the card’s boost clock speed by an additional 12 percent on the GPU core, and an additional 80MHz on its memory clock speed. However, during our tests, we actually scaled down the overclocking to just 10 percent, as the card’s performance began showing diminishing returns on anything higher than the aforementioned increment.

One of the first things that should be noted about the card is that, since we reported on it back in July, there’s actually some slight changes to the card’s initial clock speeds. On paper, AMD had said that the GPU core would have a base clock speed of 1,156MHz and a boost clock speed of 1,471MHz, but during our tests with it, GPU-Z recorded the boost clock speed at 1,590MHz.

In the games segment of our test, the RX Vega 56 was definitely still playing catch-up to the GTX 1080, but as you can see from the charts, it wasn’t by a lot. DOOM seemed to be the only exception to the rule, where the RX Vega 56 actually took the high seat with its higher average frame rate count.

Temperatures and overall heat management of the card was something of a mixed affair. At full load, the card’s temperature never went beyond the 73-degree Celsius mark, but the trade-off for us was having to deal with the massive coil-whine emitted by the card’s fan spinning at 4,900 rpm, which we had manually set ourselves.

Now, we didn’t necessarily have to do this, but we were erring on the side of caution here, and we really didn’t want to have deal with the card crashing every single time, but as it turned out, the card actually handled itself pretty well the entire time.

Power consumption was obviously off the roof as well, what with the fan constantly spinning at high speed whenever we ran the card at full load. At its peak, the card was drawing a total of 456W off the wall, but it should be noted that at its default settings, the most power the card ever pulled was a little more than 370W. Also, the card wasn’t as noisy either.

 

Conclusion

At RM2,599, the Radeon RX Vega 56 is an impressive piece of plastic and metal, filled with AMD’s latest iteration of the HBM2 memory format. Like its more powerful RX Vega 64, the card signifies AMD’s return into the realm of high-end gaming graphics cards, and it’s giving gamers two of the most important things that they need and want: choice and innovation.

To be fair, while the card actually did impress us with its performance against the GeForce GTX 1080, we can’t shake the nagging feeling that AMD could have made the card’s performance a little better. Yes, this was the first AMD Radeon card that we managed to significantly overclock in a long time, but the diminishing returns that we encountered were, if anything else, annoying, and AMD could’ve fixed this issue.

But, as we’ve said, the arrival of both the RX Vega 56 and Vega 64 puts AMD squarely back in the heavyweight ring, and it’s going to be interesting to see just what sort of configurations its AiB partners and vendors are going to unleash with the new GPU architecture before the year is out.

8.5
The Good
Card is powerful
First AMD card with significant overclocking headroom
HBM2 is a massive improvement over Fiji
The Bad
Diminishing overclocking returns at certain point
Performance could be better