What the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition's specs and pricing mean for PC gamers

The first Radeon Vega graphics card is here, and it isn't cheap.

radeon vega frontier edition

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Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect AMD’s official pricing for Radeon Vega Frontier Edition at launch, as early preorder prices were much more expensive. We’ve also included details from PCWorld’s Vega Frontier Edition hands-on preview.

After months of trickles and teases, the full hardware details about the first Radeon Vega graphics card are finally here as AMD formally launched Radeon Vega Frontier Edition on Tuesday.

Don’t get too excited though. This hardware is intended for “data scientists, immersion engineers, and product designers” rather than gamers. That professional focus reflects in the pricing: The air-cooled Frontier Edition costs $1,000 and the liquid-cooled Vega goes for a cool $1,500 on Newegg. (That’s cheaper than initially expected, however, as online retailers like SabrePC, Newegg, and Exxact originally listed earlier preorders at $1,200 and $1,800, respectively.)

While it’s capable of gaming, AMD’s new graphics card is very much workstation hardware, as PCWorld’s extensive Radeon Vega Frontier Edition hands-on revealed. Still, its specs give us a ballpark glimpse of what we might expect from consumer Radeon RX Vega graphics cards when they launch at the very end of July.

Here are the key Radeon Vega Frontier Edition technical details. The air-cooled and liquid-cooled configurations have identical specifications aside from the thermal design power (TDP) rating.

  • Stream processors: 4,096
  • Compute units: 64
  • Clock speed: 1382MHz “typical,” 1600MHz peak
  • Single precision floating point performance: 13.1 TFLOPS
  • Double-precision floating point performance: 26.2 TFLOPS
  • Pixel fill rate: 90 gigapixels per second
  • Memory: 16GB HBM2 in two stacks
  • Memory bandwidth: 483GBps
  • TDP: 300 watts (air-cooled), 375W (liquid-cooled)
  • Display outputs: three DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI “4K60”

At $1,000, the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition has Nvidia’s similarly prosumer-focused Titan Xp squarely in its sights. Here’s how the two cards stack up in a handful of workstation scenarios, courtesy of Exxact.

radeon vega fe vs titan xp Exxact Corp

Radeon Vega Frontier Edition vs. Nvidia Titan Xp (click to enlarge).

What it means for gamers

Puzzling out what these specs portend for consumer graphics cards is tricky, especially because Radeon boss Raja Koduri already said that the Frontier Edition doesn’t represent Vega’s pinnacle of gaming performance.

“Consumer RX will be much better optimized for all the top gaming titles and flavors of RX Vega will actually be faster than Frontier version!” Koduri said during a Reddit AMA in May.

That likely means a higher core clock, which could strain the 300W maximum TDP of the air-cooled version—even though it’s already 50W higher than the TDPs of Nvidia’s Titan Xp and GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. AMD told us that the Frontier Edition could’ve been designed with more modest power connectors, however. The final version uses dual 8-pin connectors (hence the 300W TDP) for additional headroom.

rvfe 1 IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition’s power connectors.

Vega Frontier Edition’s stream processor and compute unit configuration matches the Radeon Fury X’s one-to-one. It’s enticing to combine that information with the Fury X’s known performance and the Vega Frontier Edition’s peak clock speeds to guess at Vega’s potency, but things aren’t quite that cut and dry. Radeon Vega’s packing all sorts of fresh tech—including “Next-gen compute units,” primitive shaders, a new programmable geometry pipeline, and tile-based rendering—that complicate any attempt at straightforward comparison between Fury and Vega.

If you did want to compare, though, the Vega Frontier Edition is clocked about 55 percent faster than the Fury X. Adding 55 percent more oomph to the Fury X’s gaming performance sees it land somewhere between the GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti, depending on the game and resolution. But again, do not take that estimate as gospel.

Adding to the mystery, in our hands-on Vega Frontier Edition testing the card performed similarly to a Titan Xp in a trio of heavily Radeon-optimized games on a 3440x1440 display. We were only able to compare the systems at an experiential level, however—actually playing the games. AMD didn’t allow frame rate-tracking software.

Speaking of hardware configurations, Apple’s iMac Pro rocks Radeon Vega graphics, including an option that packs 56 compute units. That’s eight fewer than the Vega Frontier Edition, but the CU count lines up exactly with the air-cooled Radeon Fury from the last generation, providing yet another hint at what we may see when the consumer Radeon RX Vega lineup launches later this summer.

But as ever, our parting wisdom: Wait for independent reviews.

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