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As we saw in our review of the Radeon RX Vega 64, generally speaking, the graphics card offers roughly equivalent performance to Nvidia’s GTX 1080 – but not in Forza 7, where in a surprising turn of events the Vega 64 outstrips the GTX 1080 Ti by a good amount.
Yes, we said the GTX 1080 Ti, Nvidia’s powerhouse GPU which is a lofty step above the vanilla GTX 1080. And when running Forza 7 in DX12, AMD’s Vega 64 beat the 1080 Ti by no less than 23% in Full HD resolution.
This was in a test conducted by CompterBase.de using a PC built around a Core i7 6850K processor (overclocked to 4.3GHz) with all graphics options maxed and 8x anti-aliasing turned on in 1920 x 1080 resolution. AMD’s card hit almost 137fps compared to 111fps for the 1080 Ti.
Even more surprisingly, the Vega 56 also outdid Nvidia’s card, recording a result of 122fps.
This is one specific circumstance, of course, in one particular game, so we can't go drawing too many conclusions. But nonetheless it’s a really eye-opening benchmark, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Cranking up the resolution closed the gap: at 2560 x 1440 the Vega 64’s lead was 115fps to 103fps, and notching things up to 4K saw the 1080 Ti come out on top, with a frame rate of 90fps versus AMD’s 83fps.
As Techspot reports, Nvidia confirmed that CompterBase’s testing was indeed accurate. The German website noted: “The ranking in Forza 7 is very unusual. Nvidia has confirmed [to] ComputerBase, however, that the results [are] correct, so there is no problem with the system in the editorial regarding GeForce.”
The key pieces of the puzzle here, then, seem to be DX12, and of course the fact that Forza 7 is evidently very well-suited to Vega. We also have to bear in mind that the 1080 Ti is hardly aimed at Full HD gaming; it’s more for pushing pixels at the 4K level (where it does indeed perform better than AMD’s card, as you would hope).
But even given all the caveats, this is an undeniably impressive result for AMD when it comes to Microsoft’s racing game, given the comparative price tags of these GPUs.
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At CES 2017, chipmaker AMD officially revealed the first details about its Vega graphics processing unit (GPU) architecture. However, it wasn’t until July 31 that we found out the first Vega cards would ship sometime in mid-August, along with full details of the GPUs.
Cut to the chase
What is it? The follow-up to AMD’s Polaris GPU architectureWhen's it out? August 14, 2017What will it cost? $499 or £549 (about AU$630)
AMD Radeon RX Vega release date
AMD's affordable, consumer-oriented Radeon RX Vega 64 will arrive on August 14, with three versions including a standard edition model, an aluminum-clad limited edition version and a liquid-cooled design with higher clock speeds.
AMD has also announced that the Radeon RX Vega 56, which is positioned to compete with the Nvidia GTX 1070, will arrive on August 28.
AMD Radeon RX Vega price
The AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 will be available as a standalone card for $499 or £549 (about AU$630).
That's a big step up from the Radeon RX 500 lineup, which starts at as low as $169 (about £136, AU$219), but this is meant to be AMD's enthusiast-class grade graphics card. It's been a long-awaited sequel to the company's mostly defunct Radeon R9 Fury X, which was still going for a cool $389 (about £315, AU$505) up until its demise.
What's more, at this price point it's competitive against the $549 (£539, AU$1,299) Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition.
The Vega 64's other two editions have to be bought as part of AMD's new Radeon Packs, which bundle two free games, plus a $200 discount on the 34-inch Samsung CF791 curved ultra-wide FreeSync monitor and $100 off a Ryzen 7 processor and motherboard.
Unfortunately, those hardware discounts will only kick in if users are buying the said monitor and CPU/motherboard combo at the same time as their Vega GPU. Of course, users can choose to not buy the extra components and peripherals while still getting the two free games, confirmed – in the US at least – to be Wolfenstein II and Prey.
The limited-edition AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 will come as part of a Radeon Black Pack for $599 (about £460, AU$750). Meanwhile, the liquid-cooled Vega 64 will run for $699 (about £530, AU$875), and can only be purchased as part of AMD's Radeon Aqua Pack.
Lastly, you'll be able to purchase the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 by itself for $399 (about £300, AU$500). Alternatively, the $499 (about £380, AU$625) Radeon Black Bundle includes the same discounts and free games as above.
All things considered, Vega is shaping up to be as competitive to Nvidia as Ryzen is to Intel – even if buying graphics cards in a bundle isn’t exactly ideal. For the sake of the industry, we could see Nvidia discount its GPUs in order to remain ahead of the curve in terms of value.
AMD Radeon RX Vega specs
Following its 2017 Capsaicin 2 livestream event, AMD revealed the exact specifications for its two new Vega GPUs, as well as its underlying Vega 10 architecture.
From the chart above, it's clear the most powerful of the bunch will be the liquid-cooled version of the Radeon RX Vega 64. The more expensive water-cooled version will operate at higher base/boost clocks, despite sharing identical specs to its air-cooled twin.
The RX Vega 56, on the other hand, is positioned against Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 at $400 (about £305, AU$505). However, early benchmarks have cited performance that greatly outweighed that of its closest competition while running triple-A games at 2560 x 1440.
Like the Polaris 10 architecture that preceded it, AMD's Polaris 10 architecture is built on an 14nm FinFET process that should ultimately make it more power-efficient and robust in performance.
Vega 10 is also noticeably skewed towards delivering on more compute power than raw graphical strength like Nvidia's Pascal GPUs. This will likely mean Vega will be able to better handle the complex calculations of procedural surfaces, volumetric lighting and the overall quality of the in-game graphics.
This era of Vega GPUs also ditches GDDR5 memory altogether for a new format known as HBM2, or high-bandwidth memory. AMD believes its efficient memory offers a 75% smaller footprint than GDDR5 while also being 3.5 times more power-efficient.
AMD also claims that Vega’s high-bandwidth cache controller will improve maximum frame rates by 50% and minimum frame rates by 100% over GDDR5 memory.
Interestingly, Vega 10 is also designed to support up to 16GB of HBM2 memory – which we've already seen from Radeon Vega Frontier Edition – so Nvidia's Titan X may finally get some competition from AMD.
Stay tuned for more details regarding everything AMD Vega, as we'll be updating this page with the latest as it happens. In the meantime, be sure to update to the latest version of AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive for a generous helping of GPU control features.
Gabe Carey also contributed to this article
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