AMD’s Radeon VII is the corporate’s eagerly anticipated response to the RTX 2080 graphics playing cards that Nvidia launched final fall. Priced the identical because the RTX 2080, the $699 Radeon VII is the primary graphics card underpinned by a 7nm course of, doubtlessly giving AMD the ammunition to ship a aggressive high-end graphics card for the primary time in years.

The Red Tea Detox

The VII is the direct successor to AMD’s Vega 64 and shares the same structure to that card, with particular enhancements in clock speeds and VRAM. However with Nvidia’s playing cards dominating the dialog and loaded with distinctive options not obtainable on the Radeon, the VII must show its benefit based mostly on pure efficiency: can this card really play fashionable AAA video games at 4K resolutions and a gentle 60 frames per second?

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As well as, one of many most important issues of any high-end graphics card is provide and demand. PC players are all too conversant in fluctuating GPU costs and a scarcity of retail availability, whether or not it’s a change in market developments or a sudden curiosity in mining cryptocurrency. Nvidia suffers from this, too: provide is so low that it’s mainly unimaginable to search out an RTX 2080 Ti listed with out a appreciable markup. If AMD can’t produce and ship sufficient items, you received’t be capable of discover it for that $699 value — and its worth proposition in opposition to Nvidia’s playing cards will utterly collapse.

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I can’t assist however really feel some uncertainty about giving AMD the good thing about the doubt, as a result of historical past has not been in its favor. When the Vega 64 launched in 2017, it additionally had comparable efficiency to Nvidia’s top-tier GTX 1080, but it surely wasn’t available in giant numbers and its value spiked in consequence. It’s not but clear that may occur once more, however the truth that AMD’s card went on sale late final week and is already out of inventory at most retailers (besides from AMD instantly) doesn’t encourage confidence.

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Over the previous week, I tasked myself to check video games in 4K and 1440p on the Radeon VII, on the lookout for any indication that AMD’s card shall be a aggressive different for Nvidia’s RTX GPUs. The quick reply? Sure, it’s. The lengthy reply: it’s sophisticated.


Verge Rating

Good Stuff

  • First rate 4K gaming efficiency
  • Wonderful QHD efficiency
  • Can stream and recreation with out an excessive amount of efficiency penalty

Unhealthy Stuff

  • Followers get very loud underneath load
  • Excessive common temperatures
  • Doesn’t assist as many options as Nvidia’s playing cards

The Radeon VII is powered by AMD’s second-generation Vega structure and is designed to deal with the steadily growing reminiscence necessities of video games, in addition to the plethora of high-resolution shows that players and inventive customers work with. It really has fewer cores than the Vega 64 did, however comes with a 300MHz larger increase clock pace and double the HBM2 reminiscence, at 16GB.

That’s twice as a lot RAM as discovered within the 2080, and a full 5GB of RAM greater than even within the top-tier 2080 Ti. AMD’s RAM additionally affords twice the bandwidth of Nvidia’s. The brand new 7nm manufacturing course of is a part of what offers the Radeon VII its identify — AMD confirmed it additionally stands for “Vega II” — and it, too, is forward of Nvidia’s present 12nm processes.

These enhancements come at a value, nevertheless. The Radeon VII is a power-hungry GPU, although it’s utilizing essentially the most power-efficient manufacturing course of up to now. It requires two eight-pin connections and sips as much as 300 watts of energy, round 5 extra watts than the earlier era’s requirement and 75 greater than Nvidia’s RTX 2080.

The Radeon VII doesn’t fairly seem like any of AMD’s current graphics playing cards, as a result of its cooling system doesn’t work like them both. As a substitute of a blower design with a single fan that pushes the GPU’s sizzling air outdoors of your case, AMD has a brand new open-air, triple-fan design that’s completely different than a number of the third-party coolers we’re used to seeing. Like Nvidia’s RTX playing cards, the Radeon VII is vapor chamber cooled, utilizing a graphite thermal cooling pad as a substitute of thermal paste to remain cool underneath load.

However even with the triple-fan design and vapor chamber cooling, the Radeon VII runs sizzling and loud. Whether or not I used to be utilizing the cardboard with an eGPU enclosure or within a desktop, the Radeon VII’s followers at all times sang a track of excessive RPM whereas it was underneath load.

It’s usually troublesome for my co-workers within the Verge workplace to determine what I’m doing in entrance of some newfangled gaming monitor. However with the Radeon VII, it’s a distinct story: “Are you enjoying video games?” is normally adopted by “Is that the AMD card?” Having a quiet desktop gaming PC and utilizing this graphics card (no less than with AMD’s reference cooler, which all of its companions are at present delivery) are mutually unique.

These quick and loud followers didn’t hold temps down as a lot as anticipated, both. I might really feel the warmth emitted by the GPU throughout my desktop’s chassis and thru its air vents, making my mATX-sized case hotter than any RTX sequence card did. In case you want having a quiet setup or holding your GPU cool always, the Radeon VII may make that troublesome for you.

What’s really occurring with the warmth is a bit sophisticated, although. At first, it appeared just like the Radeon VII was burning up: I measured a peak temperature of 105 levels Celsius enjoying Black Ops IIII, at 4K decision and extremely settings, which is a actually sizzling peak temperature.

However AMD instructed me that’s not solely inside regular working temperatures, however that this card measures temperature very otherwise than earlier than, so it’s probably not comparable with different GPUs. The Radeon VII makes use of junction temperature — the best working temperature of the particular semiconductor and never the encircling exterior — to raised gauge and throttle efficiency underneath load, and it’s additionally doubled the variety of temperature sensors for the reason that final Vega card (64 in complete).

AMD can really run the cardboard slightly bit hotter than earlier than to offer you higher efficiency, as a result of it might extra precisely see once you’re approaching the redline. AMD says that the Radeon VII will begin throttling when the junction temperature reaches 110 levels Celsius. I didn’t see temps that excessive in my checks, so the cardboard was apparently performing as designed.

AMD additionally contains software program with its show drivers known as Radeon Chill, which has a power-saving function that drastically decreases the fan noise and warmth the cardboard produces. However it additionally throttles efficiency, which makes it more durable to play video games at 4K resolutions.

Over the following few weeks and months, we’ll see completely different variations of the Radeon VII from OEMs like ASUS, MSI, and others. It’s doable that thermal administration and noise could possibly be barely higher addressed in these fashions.

To know why the Radeon VII is consuming all that energy, I needed to check its functionality to persistently attain 60+ fps in standard PC video games.

To see how this card performs with a setup reflective of PC gaming gear in 2019, I examined the Radeon VII with each QHD and 4K screens. Each shows function excessive refresh charges — 120Hz on the 4K Acer Predator and 144Hz on the 1440p AOC show — and HDR, and have been related to the Radeon VII by means of DisplayPort. However when you’re questioning if this GPU is an ideal match in your 120 / 144Hz monitor, my fast response can be “no.” The Radeon VII solely received previous 120 fps in two out of the 5 demanding video games I examined.

Radeon VII Benchmarks (4K/1440p)

Benchmark 4K w/ Radeon VII 4K w/ RTX 2080 Founder’s Version 4K w/ RTX 2080TI Founder’s Version QHD w/ Radeon VII QHD w/ RTX 2080 Founder’s Version QHD w/ RTX 2080TI Founder’s Version
Benchmark 4K w/ Radeon VII 4K w/ RTX 2080 Founder’s Version 4K w/ RTX 2080TI Founder’s Version QHD w/ Radeon VII QHD w/ RTX 2080 Founder’s Version QHD w/ RTX 2080TI Founder’s Version
3DMark Time Spy 4,025 4,687 5,536 8,409 9,363 11,384
3DMark Hearth Strike Extremely 6,550 6,365 8,009 11,669 11,652 14,347
Black Ops 4 81 fps common 90 fps common 112 fps common 149 fps common 124 fps common 154 fps common
Rainbow Six: Siege 96 fps common 105 ps common 121 fps common 109 fps common 113 fps common 130 fps common
Battlefield V 65 fps common 73 fps common 84 fps common 116 fps common 129 fps common 137 fps common
Forza Horizon 4 84 fps common 97 fps common 109 fps common 110 fps common 114 fps common 121 fps common
Future 2 91 fps common 92 fps common 105 fps common 130 fps common 135 fps common 140 fps common

The Radeon VII has sturdy efficiency when enjoying 4K video games with out ray tracing. I used to be in a position to play Battlefield V in 4K extremely settings at a mean of 65 fps. However the RTX 2080 manages at 73 fps in the identical recreation, and the significantly costlier RTX 2080 Ti hits a mean of 84 fps. With real-time ray tracing turned on, the Nvidia playing cards’ performances do take successful, however that possibility isn’t even obtainable on the Radeon VII.

Transferring from a first-person shooter to displaying the attractive racetracks of Forza Horizon 4 at 4K and extremely settings, the Radeon VII clocked in a mean of 84 fps. This nonetheless doesn’t finest the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti playing cards, which averaged 97 fps and 109 fps, respectively.

The primary time we examined the RTX playing cards at launch, we didn’t see 4K efficiency outcomes anyplace close to what we’re seeing at the moment. The enhancements could be attributed to the numerous updates and recreation optimizations launched within the months since their launch. Meaning AMD may additionally be capable of catch up, but it surely has loads of work to do.

Briefly, whereas the Radeon VII’s efficiency falls barely behind the Founder’s Version RTX card, you’ll nonetheless be capable of play demanding AAA titles in 4K, holding sturdy at round 60 fps, whereas reaching larger values for much less demanding video games.

On my lower-resolution QHD monitor, the Radeon VII crushed each recreation operating in 1440p that I threw at it. For instance, I clocked 116 fps whereas enjoying Battlefield V at extremely settings. Equally, Black Ops IIII is taken into account mild work for the Radeon VII, hitting 149 fps on extremely settings at 1440p.

Whereas testing gaming and streaming on the similar time, I solely misplaced ~5 fps on Rainbow Six: Siege at 1440p. Streamers ought to be capable of file in 1440p (or 1080p for that matter) with out worrying in any respect about having the efficiency headroom to concurrently deal with streaming and gameplay.

Based mostly on my expertise with the Radeon VII, it’s certainly a really succesful high-end graphics card for contemporary, high-resolution gaming. It stays secure underneath heavy masses, with none crashes or shutdowns on any of the machines I examined it with. However even with twice as a lot reminiscence and that fancy new 7nm manufacturing course of, the Radeon VII doesn’t beat the RTX 2080 in gaming efficiency, regardless of that card being constructed on a 12nm course of and with simply 8GB of RAM.

Creatives may be capable of get extra use out of the Radeon’s additional VRAM, however players aren’t prone to but, as many video games are simply unable to make use of all 16GB on faucet. The RTX card additionally runs cooler, makes use of much less energy, and has assist for choices like real-time ray tracing and DLSS, which aren’t obtainable on the Radeon. Admittedly, we’re nonetheless ready on sufficient video games with real-time ray tracing to truly justify shopping for a card for that function.

Very similar to how Nvidia was in a position to enhance efficiency on its RTX playing cards with a sequence of software program updates, AMD has a shot at redeeming the Radeon VII in the long run. Sport optimizations and driver updates launched after the cardboard’s launch might barely enhance the Radeon VII’s efficiency, and will make it extra aggressive on a efficiency degree in comparison with Nvidia’s playing cards.

However it all hinges on whether or not AMD is definitely in a position to produce sufficient playing cards to fulfill demand and hold costs regular. A consultant for the corporate instructed me that “[AMD] believes we’re nicely positioned to fulfill demand and, along with promoting on for patrons within the U.S. and Canada. [We] are additionally working with e-tailers and AIB companions to assist world gross sales for this thrilling new product.” Moreover, “Ongoing provide for the Radeon VII is anticipated to reach on a weekly foundation to fulfill demand.” Throughout time of publication, the Radeon VII is on the market on AMD’s web site, however bought out at most on-line retailers.

Total, the Radeon VII is actually one of the best card AMD has launched in a while, and is able to fashionable gaming at 4K resolutions. But when I have been shopping for a brand new GPU at the moment, I’d have a tough time selecting the Radeon VII over the extra succesful RTX 2080 for a similar value.

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