The fastest graphics cards at the moment all belong to NVIDIA. We're not saying AMD has nothing compelling to offer gamers, but when it comes to the best of the best (and 4K gaming), right now it is pretty much Pascal or bust. That will change once Vega arrives, which we anticipate will bring parity with Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 and higher solutions. While we're still waiting on Vega to arrive, an interesting entry on Futuremark's website may provide a glimpse of what's to come.
There is a score uploaded to Futuremark's database for its 3DMark Time Spy benchmark that is listed as using a "Generic VGA" graphics card paired with an AMD Ryzen 7 1800X processor. That setup achieved an overall score of 5,950, which is based on a graphics score of 5,721 and a CPU score of 7.699.
The listing identifies the graphics card vendor as AMD. It is a single graphics card setup with 8GB of memory, 1,200MHz core clockspeed, and 700MHz memory bus clock. That has led to speculation that it's a Vega card. As a point of reference, AMD's Radeon R9 Fury card used high bandwidth memory (HBM) clocked at 500MHz, so seeing 8GB of onboard memory here clocked at 700MHz hints strongly at a Vega part with HBM2.
In this case, the assumed Vega card posted a graphics score that is similar to what a GeForce GTX 1070 gets—they're basically neck-and-neck. What is promising about that is this is probably an engineering board, one with slower clocks than what the final Vega part will ship with. And on top of that, it is using a beta driver. Graphics drivers can have a huge impact on performance, so as time goes on and AMD is able to optimize things a bit better, we can expect even better scores from whatever Vega card this happens to be.
On the flip side, we hope this mystery card isn't the fastest Vega offering AMD will roll out. Even with improved drivers and finalized silicon, it is unlikely to close the gap between it and a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, which posts a graphics score in the neighborhood of 9,500 in Time Spy. Plus NVIDIA is not sitting idle.
We won't have to wait long to find out, as AMD recently confirmed plans to launch Vega in the second quarter of this year.