An interesting night of testing
We have the first review!
Last night I did our first ever live benchmarking session using the just-arrived Radeon Vega Frontier Edition air-cooled graphics card. Purchased directly from a reseller, rather than being sampled by AMD, gave us the opportunity to run testing for a new flagship product without an NDA in place to keep us silenced, so I thought it would be fun to the let the audience and community go along for the ride of a traditional benchmarking session. Though I didn’t get all of what I wanted done in that 4.5-hour window, it was great to see the interest and excitement for the product and the results that we were able to generate.
But to the point of the day – our review of the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition graphics card. Based on the latest flagship GPU architecture from AMD, the Radeon Vega FE card has a lot riding on its shoulders, despite not being aimed at gamers. It is the FIRST card to be released with Vega at its heart. It is the FIRST instance of HBM2 being utilized in a consumer graphics card. It is the FIRST in a new attempt from AMD to target the group of users between gamers and professional users (like NVIDIA has addressed with Titan previously). And, it is the FIRST to command as much attention and expectation for the future of a company, a product line, and a fan base.
Other than the architectural details that AMD gave us previously, we honestly haven’t been briefed on the performance expectations or the advancements in Vega that we should know about. The Vega FE products were released to the market with very little background, only well-spun turns of phrase emphasizing the value of the high performance and compatibility for creators. There has been no typical “tech day” for the media to learn fully about Vega and there were no samples from AMD to media or analysts (that I know of). Unperturbed by that, I purchased one (several actually, seeing which would show up first) and decided to do our testing.
On the following pages, you will see a collection of tests and benchmarks that range from 3DMark to The Witcher 3 to SPECviewperf to LuxMark, attempting to give as wide a viewpoint of the Vega FE product as I can in a rather short time window. The card is sexy (maybe the best looking I have yet seen), but will disappoint many on the gaming front. For professional users that are okay not having certified drivers, performance there is more likely to raise some impressed eyebrows.
Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Specifications
Through leaks and purposeful information dumps over the past couple of months, we already knew a lot about the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition card prior to the official sale date this week. But now with final specifications in hand, we can start to dissect what this card actually is.
|Vega Frontier Edition||Titan Xp||GTX 1080 Ti||Titan X (Pascal)||GTX 1080||TITAN X||GTX 980||R9 Fury X||R9 Fury|
|GPU||Vega||GP102||GP102||GP102||GP104||GM200||GM204||Fiji XT||Fiji Pro|
|Base Clock||1382 MHz||1480 MHz||1480 MHz||1417 MHz||1607 MHz||1000 MHz||1126 MHz||1050 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1600 MHz||1582 MHz||1582 MHz||1480 MHz||1733 MHz||1089 MHz||1216 MHz||–||–|
|Memory Clock||1890 MHz||11400 MHz||11000 MHz||10000 MHz||10000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||1000 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Memory Interface||2048-bit HBM2||384-bit G5X||352-bit||384-bit G5X||256-bit G5X||384-bit||256-bit||4096-bit (HBM)||4096-bit (HBM)|
|Memory Bandwidth||483 GB/s||547.7 GB/s||484 GB/s||480 GB/s||320 GB/s||336 GB/s||224 GB/s||512 GB/s||512 GB/s|
|TDP||300 watts||250 watts||250 watts||250 watts||180 watts||250 watts||165 watts||275 watts||275 watts|
|Peak Compute||13.1 TFLOPS||12.0 TFLOPS||10.6 TFLOPS||10.1 TFLOPS||8.2 TFLOPS||6.14 TFLOPS||4.61 TFLOPS||8.60 TFLOPS||7.20 TFLOPS|
The Vega FE shares enough of a specification listing with the Fury X that it deserves special recognition. Both cards sport 4096 stream processors, 64 ROPs and 256 texture units. The Vega FE is running at much higher clock speeds (35-40% higher) and also upgrades to the next generation of high-bandwidth memory and quadruples capacity. Still, there will be plenty of comparisons between the two products, looking to measure IPC changes from the CUs (compute units) from Fiji to the NCUs built for Vega.
The Radeon Vega GPU
The clock speeds also see another shift this time around with the adoption of “typical” clock speeds. This is something that NVIDIA has been using for a few generations with the introduction of GPU Boost, and tells the consumer how high they should expect clocks to go in a nominal workload. Normally I would say a gaming workload, but since this card is supposedly for professional users and the like, I assume this applies across the board. So even though the GPU is rated at a “peak” clock rate of 1600 MHz, the “typical” clock rate is 1382 MHz. (As an early aside, I did NOT see 1600 MHz in any of my testing time with our Vega FE but did settle in a ~1440 MHz clock most of the time.)
The 13.1 TFLOPs of peak theoretical compute are impressive, beating out the best cards from NVIDIA including the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and the Titan Xp. How that translates into gaming or rendering power directly will be seen, but in general AMD cards tend to show higher peak rates for equal “real-world” performance.
Vega Frontier Edition will use a set of two stacks of HBM2, 8GB each, for a total graphics memory allotment of 16GB. Running at 1.89 GHz effective speeds, this gives us a total memory bandwidth of 483 GB/s, lower than the 512 GB/s of the Fury X and lower than the Titan Xp that is rated at 547 GB/s with its GDDR5X implementation.
Power consumption is rated at 300 watts for the air cooled card (that we are testing today) and 375 watts for the water cooled version. That variance is definitely raising some concerns as it would indicate that the air cooled version will be thermally limited in some capacity, allowing the water cooled version to run the GPU at a lower temp, hitting clock speeds closer to the peak 1600 MHz for longer periods.
The price of $999 for the model we are testing today (and $1499 for the water cooled option) plant the Vega FE firmly into the Titan realm. The Titan Xp currently sells from NVIDIA for $1200. Obviously for our testing we are going to be looking at much lower priced GeForce cards (GTX 1070 through the GTX 1080 Ti) but we are doing so purely as a way to gauge potential RX Vega performance.
The Gorgeous Radeon Vega Frontier Edition
Let’s talk about the card itself for a bit. I know that the design has been seen in renderings and at trade shows for a while, but in person, I have to say I am impressed. It will likely be a mixed bag – the color scheme is definitely not neutral and if you don’t appreciate the blue/yellow scheme then no amount of quality craftsmanship will make a difference.
The metal shroud and back plate have an excellent brushed metal texture and look to them and even the edges of the PCB are rounded. The fan color perfectly matches that of the blue hue of the card.
A yellow R logo cube rests on the back corner, illuminating the hardware in an elegant light. The top of the card features the Radeon branding with the same yellow backlight but I do wish the Vega logo on the face of the card did the same.
Even the display connector plate feels higher quality than other cards, with a coated metal finish. It features three full-size DisplayPort and a single HDMI port.
Above the dual 8-pin power connectors you’ll find a GPU Tach, a series of LEDs that increase as the GPU load goes up.
Though the look and style of a graphics card can only take you so far, and can only add so much to the value of a product that 99 times out of 100 ends up in a computer case, it is great to see AMD take such pride in this launch. I can only hope that that consumer variant sees as much attention paid to it.
Adding this stupid, manually
Adding this stupid, manually switchable gaming mode was a terrible, TERRIBLE marketing idea. This will take a big fat chunk out of the RX sales.
…oh yes, and great review
…oh yes, and great review as usual…ahem. 🙁
Terrible? It costs much more
Terrible? It costs much more than RX. So it wouldn’t be able to affect RX sales.
Well, good thing that you
Well, good thing that you didn’t make it your final review, however..
Vega performance rather is fishy more than anything.
It barely performs better than a Fury X with drastic increases in clocks as the Fury X would outright beat that with such clocks and is an older generation with older computing even if it was to just be a die shrink, those NCU’s are not even showing their prowess, we heard many times that those are probably Fiji drivers and that TBR is disabled therefor VERY bad to judge from as of yet.
I would take all of this as a grain of salt, Polaris to Hawaii shown it’s improvements by having less SU’s and half less the ROP’s with slightly higher clock speeds as we still have much less rendering yet better performance.
The power figures are actually pretty good considering how highly clocked it is compared to the old Fury X and still consume nearly the same if not slightly more than it.
It’s pretty much like they are sand bagging at this point, or it would look like they are because people are reviewing an incomplete piece of technology and ruining it’s marketing for it, there’s a reason why AMD didn’t send samples to anyone and despite not doing it, because reviewers are doing it like this, it might have killed some people interest into buying it later because the majority are pretty ignorant in the first place.
Final thoughts on the matter though, I’m sure they shipped Vega as it is like this because optimizing productive software is much less of a hassle compared games thus, they started to want making profits earlier, from the results of certain software we can see that Vega performs extremely well in some and lose in others, to be quite fair against it’s competitor, it looks like a very compelling card and we’ve just got to have benchmarks in a very early stage that we shouldn’t have.
Please, just don’t think Vega is a flop yet with all those factors in place.
Good write up Ryan
Good write up Ryan
well done on putting out some clarification points to the obvious questions that always arise with these new products. This is a beast of a GPU with all sorts of new hardware goodness in there from the materials used right down to the finished product it oozes quality and quantity. I can see this card retailing for around $1500 in Australia.
Nice any chance you can run
Nice any chance you can run the DeepBench that AMD showed off before.
Why does the chart wrongly
Why does the chart wrongly show the 1080Ti as not having the same G5X interface as Titan Xp and 1080 vanilla? Mistake.
To me, the most important
To me, the most important question is, is this card going to support 10bit output for openGL, for work in Photoshop. Because if I have a nice 10bit monitor (like BenQ SW320) I would like to use 10bit color in Photoshop. But Photoshop usually requires you to have Quadro or FuryPro to use 10 bit color. What about this card?
Expensive and slow?
I have just registered to
I have just registered to tell you how much I liked your review.
I simply can’t believe Vega is just a die-shrink of Fiji. Which would be completely odd, because they could have at least used Polaris as a basis. My bet is also on a lot of features not turned on yet. I have a suggestion to make, to see if that assumption is true: could you test Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on both Vega and a Fiji card, possibly even at the same clocks? We have seen a demonstration of the HBCC in that game and if the performance level would be the same on both cards are similar clocks, it would appear to me a driver issue.
Would you be able to test
Would you be able to test Prey @ 4k? Raja said 2 RX Vega were running above 60 FPS. Curious to see how well FEs run compared to RX Vega.
AMD puts massive
AMD puts massive SSDs on GPUs and calls it SSG
Ryan – Can you ask if these
Ryan – Can you ask if these will work for VDI on Server 2016? (or for that matter any of AMD’s S series cards) and where to get drivers for Server 2016?
AMD doesn’t seem to offer drivers for Server 2016, but they advertise their VDI cards as working with Windows Server. I would like to know if it works for Remote FX or Descrete Device Assignment for GPU’s and what kind of performance one can expect from that configuration.
Many thanks PC Perspective
Many thanks PC Perspective for putting this awesome bench marking piece together!
One thing I’m really wondering about is the cards performance in Folding@home. As a heavy folding@home donor I am in need of upgrading my build and am seriously considering Vega as my upgrade path. If you do a follow-up piece any chance you could throw in some Folding@home benchmarking?
If anyone can comment on
If anyone can comment on Folding@home performance that would be appreciated.
Depending on the workload, as
Depending on the workload, as an eGPU, which shouldn’t make much difference since F@H is such low bandwidth, I am getting 65k to 71k PPD. Am I disappointed? Yes. Is it way better than my W7000 I was using before, for sure. Luckily I don’t use this card for a F@H server farm. If I were pulling 100k PPD or close to it, I would be more incentivize to leave my computer on churning out folds 24/7.
Can’t believe you’re
Can’t believe you’re defending AMD for calling it “not a gaming card”. That’s a load of BS. And the Titans are not gaming cards! They are for deep learning. How much is AMD paying you to write this propaganda?
make a test undet DX 12….
make a test undet DX 12…. and not DX 11. newbies.
and you will see how nvidia sucks against VEGA