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AMD Radeon VII review: Finally, a high-end card from AMD

By Koh Wanzi - 7 Feb 2019

Test setup & gaming performance

Test Setup

The detailed specifications of our new graphics card testbed system is as follows:-

  • Intel Core i7-8086K (4.0GHz, 12MB L3 cache)
  • ASUS ROG Strix Maximus X Hero (Intel Z370)
  • 4 x 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3000 (Auto timings: CAS 15-15-15-35)
  • Samsung 860 EVO 500GB SSD
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • ASUS PB287Q, 4K monitor

The full line-up of graphics cards and their driver versions are listed below:

  • AMD Radeon VII (Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (ForceWare 411.51)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (ForceWare 411.51)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 (ForceWare 416.33)

Test cards compared
  AMD Radeon VII NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition
  AMD Radeon VII NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition
Core Code
  • Vega 20
  • TU102
  • TU104
  • TU106
GPU Transistor Count
  • 13.2 billion
  • 18.9 billion
  • 13.6 billion
  • 10.8 billion
Manufacturing Process
  • 7nm
  • 12nm FinFET
  • 12nm FinFET
  • 12nm FinFET
Core Clock
  • 1,400MHz
  • Core: 1,350MHz, Boost: 1,635MHz
  • Core: 1,515MHz, Boost: 1,800MHz
  • Core: 1,410MHz, Boost: 1,710MHz
Stream Processors
  • 3,840
  • 4,352
  • 2,944
  • 2.304
Stream Processor Clock
  • 1,400MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
  • 240
  • 272
  • 184
  • 120
Raster Operator units (ROP)
  • 64
  • 88
  • 64
  • 64
Memory Clock (DDR)
  • 1,000MHz
  • 11GB GDDR6 14,000MHz
  • 8GB GDDR6 14,000MHz
  • 8GB GDDR6 14,000MHz
Memory Bus width
  • 4,096-bit
  • 352-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth
  • 1TB/s
  • 616GB/s
  • 448GB/s
  • 448GB/s
PCI Express Interface
  • PCIe 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
Power Connectors
  • 2x 8-pin
  • 2 x 8-pin
  • 1x 8-pin, 1x 6-pin
  • 1x 8-pin
Multi GPU Technology
  • CrossFire
  • Yes (2-way SLI)
  • Yes (2-way SLI)
  • No
HDMI Outputs
  • 1
  • 1x
  • 1x
  • 1x
DisplayPort Outputs
  • 3
  • 3x
  • 3x
  • 2x
HDCP Output Support
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
DVI Outputs
  • No
  • No
  • No

 

Benchmarks

Next up, here's a list of all the benchmarks used:

  • 3DMark
  • VRMark
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Far Cry 5
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Tom Clancy's The Division

We used the Fire Strike Extreme benchmark and stress test in 3DMark for our temperature  and power consumption tests respectively.

 

3DMark

The synthetic 3DMark benchmark tests graphics and computational performance at different resolutions, starting at 1080p and going all the way up to 4K. A series of two graphics test, one physics test, and then a combined test stress your hardware in turn to assess its performance.

The Radeon VII came in somewhere between the GeForce RTX 2070 and 2080 in the Fire Strike benchmark, where it was just under 9 per cent quicker than the former card. However, in the 4K Fire Strike Ultra test, the Radeon VII inched ahead of the GeForce RTX 2080 by around 2 per cent. This is something that you'll see in real-world gaming benchmarks as well, and it seems like the Radeon VII is ever so slightly more competitive at ultra-demanding 4K resolutions, thanks to its massive super fast 16GB frame buffer.

 

VRMark

Futuremark’s VRMark benchmark is designed to assess a PC’s ability to handle high-performance headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If a PC passes the Orange Room test, it is ready for the latter two systems. The second graph also shows how the cards fared against the benchmark's target of an average FPS of 109. 

The Radeon VII trailed all the NVIDIA cards, coming in around 9 per cent behind the GeForce RTX 2070. 

 

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

Ashes of the Singularity has long been the poster child for the performance benefits a low-level API like DirectX 12 can bring. It is based on the Nitrous engine and can be extremely punishing thanks to the huge number of onscreen units and the sheer level of detail accorded to each unit. However, the CPU does become the limiting factor at lower resolutions and settings. 

The results were sort of a mixed bag for the Radeon VII. It trailed the GeForce RTX 2070 in most of the DirectX 11 benchmarks, but it proved quite capable at taking advantage of the shift to the low-level DirectX 12 API. In the DirectX 12 benchmarks, it pulled ahead significantly and managed to close the gap with the NVIDIA cards.

 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Mankind Divided features just about every trick to make your game look pretty, including things like volumetric and dynamic lighting, screenspace reflections, and cloth physics. Even though it was released in 2016, the game is capable of bringing even the most powerful systems to their knees. 

The Radeon VII once again fell between the GeForce RTX 2070 and 2080 here, but the shift to DirectX 12 once again allowed it to show some strong results, where it outstripped even the GeForce RTX 2080 at times. However, I should point out that the NVIDIA cards actually suffer from decreased performance in DirectX 12 mode, so it's a matter of picking the API that suits your card best. And when you do that, it's often the case that the Radeon VII's performance is very similar to that of the GeForce RTX 2080. 

 

Far Cry 5

The latest installment in the Far Cry series is actually an AMD launch title, so it'll be interesting to see how the Radeon VII fares here.

The Radeon VII did better at higher resolutions here, perhaps owing to its generous 16GB of HBM2 memory and high memory bandwidth. Either way, it was able to match, or sometimes outstrip the GeForce RTX 2080, at 1440p and 4K resolutions. 

 

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

In Shadow of War, the Radeon VII once again turned out numbers between the GeForce RTX 2070 and 2080. However, while it did close the gap with the latter at higher resolutions, it wasn't quite able to outperform it this time. Still, it does come really close to the GeForce RTX 2080. At a 4K resolution and High settings, it was also roughly 13 per cent quicker than the GeForce RTX 2070. 

 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The same pattern repeats itself in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, with the Radeon VII doing a lot better against the Turing cards at a higher resolution. It's clear that the Radeon VII is its weakest at 1080p, where it even falls behind the GeForce RTX 2070 at times. Results like these are often attributed to a card's frame buffer size and in the case of the Radeon VII and its doubled video memory, this holds true where the performance drop off at each resolution step is less impacted than its competitor.

7.5
  • Performance 7.5
  • Features 8
  • Value 7.5
The Good
16GB of HBM2 memory is great for bandwidth-limiting scenarios
Competitive gaming performance, especially at 4K
New 7nm process
The Bad
Runs hot and is very noisy
Reliability concerns - didn't complete our stress test routine
High power consumption
No new architecture or features
Much of the cost goes towards the 16GB of HBM2 memory
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