The first reviews and benchmarks have arrived for the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition—the first graphics card based on AMD’s Vega architecture—and the results are mixed to say the least. In professional application benchmarks like SPECviewperf and Cinebench R15 OpenGL, the £1000/$1000 Vega FE (buy here) comes out ahead of Nvidia’s flagship Titan Xp. In games, it’s often barely faster than a GTX 1070.
The gaming results have caused some consternation amongst AMD fans, with many expecting far better performance from what is currently the company’s best graphics card. As it stands, Vega FE is between 25 to 45 percent faster than the R9 Fury X (according to PC Perspective), and 13 percent slower than a GTX 1080. Both the GTX 1080 Ti and Titan Xp are substantially faster and draw less power at stock speeds.
Gamers Nexus also found issues with Vega FE’s overclocking performance, noting that it was unable to overclock the GPU without the memory clock speed being cut in half. The Vega FE only went on sale Friday (buy here), so its drivers will likely remain flaky until AMD irons out any issues.
While the gaming performance of Vega FE is disappointing, there are questions surrounding how representative it is of the AMD’s upcoming RX Vega graphics cards, which are aimed directly at gamers. Vega FE straddles the line between professional users and gamers, offering a unique set of drivers that supports both sets of applications, but without the reassurance of certification that comes with AMD’s Radeon Pro line and Nvidia’s Quadro.
However, RX Vega will be based on similar technology to Vega FE, which sports 4,096 stream processors and 16GB of HBM2 memory on a super-wide 2048-bit bus. GPU clock speed is rated for 1600MHz (although reviewers found 1440MHz more common). With a clock speed bump and a streamlined set of drivers, it’s possible that RX Vega will offer at least some performance improvement, coming in much closer or better than a GTX 1080.
“Consumer RX will be much better optimised for all the top gaming titles, and flavours of RX Vega will actually be faster than Frontier version,” Radeon VP Raja Koduri told Reddit users in an AMA earlier this year.
Regardless, Vega doesn’t appear the be the Nvidia-bashing powerhouse many had hoped it would be, with AMD instead likely to rely on competitive pricing rather than all-out performance metrics to shift cards (particularly as power draw remains high).
On that note, despite being pitched at pros as well as gamers, Vega FE is something of a tough sell. At £1000 it’s cheaper than a Titan Xp, but more expensive than a GTX 1080 Ti. Both Nvidia cards offer better overall performance. Given that certified drivers aren’t an option for the AMD part, it’s hard to see why anyone would pick Vega FE over the Nvidia alternative.
The gaming version of Vega, RX Vega, is due to be announced at Siggraph 2017 on July 30. Fingers crossed it makes a splash—the high-end graphics card market needs a shake-up.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK