AMD Radeon RX Vega review: Vega 56, Vega 64, and liquid-cooled Vega 64 tested

Find out whether RX Vega was worth the wait.

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Page 2
Page 2 of 13

Radeon RX Vega power profiles

radeon rx vega 64 power Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

All Radeon RX Vega cards also pack a pair of 8-pin power connectors, and for good reason. The air-cooled version of Vega 64 is rated for a whopping 295 watts of total board power, and the liquid-cooled model pushes that all the way to 345W. By contrast, Nvidia’s GTX 1080 has a 180W TDP and only requires a single 8-pin power connector. Vega 56, on the other hand, has a less imposing 210W TDP.

AMD’s liquid-cooled Vega 64 review box explicitly states that the card needs a minimum of a 1,000W power supply, compared to the air-cooled version’s 750W requirement. Hot damn. You’ll be able to get by with a less-powerful PSU if you have a quality 80 Plus-rated one, though. 

vega power profiles Brad Chacos/IDG

AMD is combating those power concerns by introducing six different power profiles for Radeon RX Vega. If you open the Global Wattman overclocking section of Radeon Software’s settings, you’ll find a new “performance profile” slider. By default, it’s set to a Balanced profile, which balances performance and energy/acoustic considerations. You can also opt to use a Power Save profile, a full-throttle Turbo profile, or create a custom plan. (Don’t forget to click Apply to make your decision stick.)

But wait! That’s not all. Radeon RX Vega also includes dual BIOSes, swappable via a tiny toggle switch on the edge of the card, over the “Radeon” branding. The secondary BIOS uses the same performance profiles as the first, but uses even less power—significantly so, in the case of the Turbo profile. Here are the GPU power limits for each profile on the air- and liquid-cooled Vega 64 cards, per AMD:

gpu power limit vega power profile AMD

Unfortunately, time constraints prevented us from testing the various power profiles extensively. AMD says activating Turbo mode in the default BIOS adds just 2 to 3 percent more performance across several games, but didn’t declare how much power it uses. Conversely, the company says activating the Power Save profile improves performance-per-watt significantly, though its materials don’t directly show the mode’s effect on overall frame rates. Here’s a look at what’s in AMD’s reviewers guide (and my email address), on a Core i7-7700K system with 16GB of Corsair’s 3,000MHz Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory:

turbo AMD
power save profile AMD

AMD is also (rightfully) keen to point out the power-saving features baked into its Radeon Software. The Radeon Chill feature introduced in Radeon Software Crimson ReLive can greatly reduce overall power use by detecting your inputs and intelligently ramping down the GPU when you’re idle. Unfortunately, it’s off by default and limited to whitelisted games, but that list is up to almost 40 of the most popular games around, like Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Battlefield 1, Skyrim, GTA V, Rocket League, and all the major e-sports titles. If you play any of the games, be sure to enable Chill for it in Radeon Settings.

tgrwxz 3 AMD

Radeon Software also includes a Frame Rate Target Control feature that lets you cap your target frame rate manually to save even more power and reduce noise output. If you have a 60Hz monitor, for example, you could set FRTC to 60fps and prevent your GPU from pumping out frames that would go unseen. You might not want to do that in Twitch-based games where keeping latency to a minimum takes priority, though. You can enable FRTC in the Global Settings section of Radeon Software’s Gaming tab.

But enough about the basics. Let’s dig into Vega’s most noteworthy new technical features.

Next page: Vega’s new tech

At a Glance
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Page 2
Page 2 of 13
Shop Tech Products at Amazon