Tuesday, March 3, 2020

One Power Hungry GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 56 Revisited in 2020

Radeon RX Vega 56 vs. Radeon RX 5600 XT

After covering the wave of GeForce Super GPUs late last year and the mainstream Navi-based Radeon graphics cards that followed, we've been revisiting several GPUs to see how previous generation products compete at their new discounted prices.

Today we're looking at AMD's Radeon RX Vega 56, originally a $400 product that was meant to compete against the GTX 1070 in mid 2017. If you're wondering why is this relevant, we’d say the main reason is that to this very day, you can buy a Vega 56 graphics cards at a discount. Right now they’re selling for as little as $250 in the US. In that same ballpark you can find the GTX 1660 Super for around $230 and AMD's own 5600 XT that starts at $280.

However you should know that the cheapest Vega 56 cards on sale are not good. The $250 MSI Air Boost is the cheapest we could find and it’s a hot, loud blower model. There’s also the Gigabyte Gaming OC for $280 but it’s arguably even worse, the failure rate with this model is worryingly high. Good quality models such as the PowerColor Red Dragon or Sapphire Pulse sell for much higher prices, making them a write off.

For testing we’ll be using the Asus Strix model which we upgraded with the correct VRM thermal pads, so it doesn’t thermal throttle. Thus, we'll be showing you the best out of the box performance of a Vega 56 card, but we won't be undervolting or tweaking the card in any way. We don’t like to test these cards overclocked or undervolted, which is essentially the same thing, because while some cards will feature a stud of a GPU, others will have duds and unless you’re willing to buy maybe half a dozen before you win the silicon lottery, testing with the GPU undervolted and acting like that’s the norm, can be very misleading.

All testing was performed in our GPU test rig powered by a Core i9-9900K overclocked to 5 GHz with 16GB of DDR4-3400 memory. But before getting into the fps charts, let's take a look at power consumption.

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