The Conclusion

AMD has missed their target if it is the GTX 1080 Ti, and RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled edition fell quite short of its performance.  Using performance as our primary metric, at $699, the Founders Edition of the GTX 1080 Ti is a bargain performance-wise compared with the $699 liquid cooled Gigabyte RX Vega 64.

The GTX 1080 Ti has a larger 11GB framebuffer, much higher performance, and it uses less power than the 8GB RX Vega 64.  However, if AMD is aiming for GTX 1080 performance, then they made their target as the RX Vega 64 Liquid edition is in the same class.   However, pricing is way too high at $599 for the reference RX Vega 64 since a GTX 1080 can be purchased for around $500 now.

We haven’t tested overclocking headroom with RX Vega 64 which is clocked up over the reference version to its enhanced 1750MHz core clock.  Although the liquid cooled version generally doesn’t throttle, it still runs rather hot for a liquid cooled core around 65C, and it appears that its 120mm radiator may be too small for overclocking the hot-running Vega 64 core with an automatic fan profile.  After we test VR performance this week, we will compare overclocking results of the GTX 1080 versus the RX Vega 64 Liquid cooled edition next week.

Unfortunately, the RX Vega 64 Liquid edition’s performance is simply not even close to GTX 1080 Ti performance which is in a higher class.  This RX Vega launch was somewhat disappointing, although the card is quite an engineering marvel that looks great.  At a lower price, it might be quite attractive.  On looks alone, it is a handsome card that will look great in any PC.

Let’s sum it up:

Gigabyte RX Vega 64 Liquid Edition – Pros

  • The  RX Vega 64 Liquid editon is very impressive as an “Exotic Industrial Design”. It is heavy, solid, and looks great. The AIO cooling may appeal to some.
  • The liquid cooled Vega 64 trades blows with the reference GTX 1080 FE.
  • Vega 64 Liquid edition is a fast card that does not throttle at stock settings and is a good replacement for the Fury X as AMD’s flagship.
  •         Cooling is quiet at stock settings
  • HBM is an interesting choice that may make use of HBCC in future
  • FreeSync eliminates tearing and stuttering.

Gigabyte RX Vega 64 Liquid Edition – Cons

  • The price. At $699, Vega 64 LC performance is way slower than the $699 reference GTX 1080 Ti and it really just trades blows with the $499 GTX 1080 Founders Edition.
  • Even with watercooling, there is a lot of heat coming from the radiator as the GPU temperatures approach 70C.
  • Installing a 120mm radiator may be difficult for some smaller cases; CrossFire may compound the issue with multiple radiator placement.
  • Drivers evidently still need work as MSAA takes an unusually large performance hit.
  • Power usage is much higher than the GTX 1080 and higher than the GTX 1080 Ti.

The Verdict:

  • If you prefer an AMD card and already have a FreeSync display, the RX Vega 64 Liquid may be a good replacement for a Fury X or a 390X.  If you can find a reference version for $499 and waterblock it, it might be a very nice upgrade.  However, the $699 RX Vega 64 Liquid Edition only trades blows with a $499 GTX 1080 (Updated note: the Founders Edition is $549).  Just considering stock settings, it is simply impossible for us to recommend a  liquid cooled Vega 64 over a comparably-priced GTX 1080 Ti until we spend more time with it and consider overclocking and VR performance.

We plan to post Part 2 of Vega 64 Unleashed later this week and we will compare performance of these same three cards using ten VR (Virtual Reality) games, and next week we will bring you an overclocking showdown as Part 3.  When AMD releases a CrossFire driver for Vega, we will feature it in Part 4 versus GTX 1080 SLI.

Stay tuned, there is a lot coming from us at BTR.  Watch for our Vega 64 VR performance evaluation later this week! And don’t forget to check BTR forums.  Our tech discussions are among the best to be found anywhere!

Happy Gaming!

Mark Poppin

BTR Editor-in-Chief

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. Dear PCmasterRACE, https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a52063dad5eee3042abd5c3f7dc105343dc4c19f2b386a679f6882b494a8f994.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b3be401085e815f9458d063bce80bdf3463a55cffdd2ddc160a801f4242712bc.jpg
    Omg so disappointed!!! I guess it’s really Navi + InfinityFabric that AMD is really heavily investing it’s R&D on. Perhaps they plan on combining 2x Rx580 on a single die in order to create a near 1080 Ti level performance card and sell at a cheaper price like the Ryzen ThreadRipper. ? Wadda ya guys think? And thank you so much for the wonderfully detailed review btw, God Bless!

    Best Regards,
    Sifat

  2. Why do reviewers never factor in that high-end g-sync displays cost several hundred dollars more than their freesync counterparts? In my case it’s a $300 increase for an identical g-sync counterpart. The $699 vega 64 liquid card gives me better price for performance than both the 1080 and 1080ti because of the g-sync tax, albeit lame the +$100 bill for the stupid “free” games. Folks who jumped on the $200 off a freesync ultrawide with vega bundle certainly got a great deal, assuming they wanted the monitor upgrade.

    I look forward toy our VR performance review.

    • Thanks for that clarification. I updated my conclusion:

      “However, the $699 RX Vega 64 Liquid Edition only trades blows with a $499 GTX 1080 (Updated note: the Founders Edition is $549) . . . “

  3. The FE cards have the worst performance per dollar at stock. Is it possible to include an overclocked column in the results?

  4. The way I see it, Vega is a much better choice moving forward.

    AMD also has better support in games now, things have changed. I see why RX Vega cost a premium, because it offers the latest technology. Just can’t find any to buy at MSRP.

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