AMD Radeon VII: The Wrap-Up And Our Verdict
Performance Summary: AMD's Radeon VII performance was somewhat of a mixed bag. In the compute tests, the Radeon VII is a strong performer. It the Luxmark, Scientific Analysis, and Cryptography tests, the Radeon VII led the pack almost across the board. In the shader compute tests, single-precision performance was competitive, but double-precision performance was off the charts, blowing away the other cards we tested.VR-related benchmarks showed the Radeon VII trailing the lower-priced GeForce RTX 2070. The Radeon VII also trailed the RTX 2070 in the DX12 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, though the Radeon jumped into the lead in Fire Strike. Throughout our game tests, the Radeon VII competed well with the GeForce RTX 2080, and pulled off a couple of victories at 4K, though it generally trailed by a few frames per second. Overall, the Radeon VII’s performance lands somewhere in-between the GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2080. Versus the previous-gen Radeon RX Vega 64, there is no contest – the Radeon VII is significantly faster across the board.
The new AMD Radeon VII may not have the chops to take on NVIDIA’s current flagship, top-of-the-line gaming GPUs, but it does compete with a GeForce RTX 2080, which is only a couple of rungs down the stack. The two GPUs are also priced similarly at ~$699, though there are much more expensive, custom RTX 2070’s out there as well. In that sense, the Radeon VII gives AMD some footing to compete in the enthusiast gaming segment. And for content creators or academics that may leverage the Radeon VII’s strong compute capabilities and additional memory resources, it may be a compelling option.
However, if we focus strictly on gaming and the overall experience, the Radeon VII is a tough sell at its proposed price point versus the GeForce RTX 2080. The GeForce RTX 2080 is the faster of the two cards, even if the deltas aren’t always huge. The RTX 2080 is also quieter under load, it’s more tweaker-friendly and overclockable, it uses less power, and also features all of the RTX / Real-Time Ray Tracing technology baked right in. Dollar for dollar, if gaming is your only priority, it may be difficult to justify the Radeon VII over a GeForce RTX 2080 at this time.
That said, we suspect AMD still has some optimizations to make with the Radeon VII. We get the feeling the card’s power profile and frequency / voltage / fan curves will be updated at some point soon and that the under/overclocking tools in Wattman will behave as expected. If that is the case, and AMD can tame some of the fan noise, increase performance incrementally, and unleash a bit of frequency headroom for overclocking, the Radeon VII’s value proposition for gamers will look much better, especially considering its beefy 16GB frame buffer and massive 1TB/s of memory bandwidth. This should afford AMD's Radeon VII some measure of future-proofing as more graphically rich games hit the market and higher-resolution displays become more common.
We should also mention that AMD is throwing in three AAA games with the Radeon VII for a limited time. The Radeon VII’s game bundle includes Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Devil May Cry 5, and Resident Evil 2. If those games are on your short list, that’s $150+ worth of goodness thrown in.
In the end, we’re glad to see AMD attempting to claw its way back into the high-end gaming segment. Unlike some of the company’s more mainstream offerings, which were all very compelling options at their respective introductory price points, the Radeon VII doesn’t make as strong a case versus its primary competition. We will have to see how things shake out over time, what AMD's board partners do with custom solutions, and what street prices look like once availability ramps, but we suspect anyone that sprung for a GeForce RTX 2080 isn’t sweating their decision this morning. On the other hand, conversely, AMD fans will probably be happy that the company has a competitive offering at the high end of the gaming graphics card market again.