The AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 is out now and we've had our first taste of what it can do. AMD officially revealed the first details about its Vega graphics cards architecture about a year ago at CES 2017. However, we didn't find out until July 2017 that the first Vega cards would be coming out in mid-August 2017.
What we didn't know, is how much of a hit AMD Vega would be as a mining GPU, and the effect that the Bitcoin boom of 2017 would have on the pricing for AMD's enthusiast-grade cards. We also didn't know that AMD would be teaming up with their long-standing rival, Intel, to create Kaby Lake R chips with discrete Vega graphics.
AMD's affordable, consumer-oriented Radeon RX Vega 64 launched back in August 2017, with three versions including a standard edition model, an aluminum-clad limited edition version and a liquid-cooled design with higher clock speeds.
AMD's lower-specced Radeon RX Vega 56, which is a direct competitor with the Nvidia GTX 1070, launched a little bit later in August.
AMD Radeon RX Vega Price
Back in August 2017, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 65 launched as a standalone card for $499.
That's a big step up from the Radeon RX 500 lineup, which starts at as low as $169, but this is meant to be AMD's enthusiast-class grade graphics card. It's been a long-awaited sequel to the company's mostly defunct Radeon R9 Fury X, which was still going for a cool $389 up until the very end
What's more, at this price point it's competitive against the $549 Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition.
After the launch of the Vega 64 in the US, AMD offered two other editions of the card that could be bought exclusively as part of 'Radeon Packs.' which bundled two free games, and discounts on a Samsung CF791 curved ultra-wide FreeSync monitor and a nice $100 discount on a Ryzen 7 processor and motherboard. The packs are unfortunately unavailable to purchase at time of writing, however.
Unfortunately, those hardware discounts only kicked in if users are buying the said monitor and CPU/motherboard combo at the same time as their Vega GPU. Of course, users could choose to not buy the extra components and peripherals while still getting the two free games, confirmed -- in the US at least -- to be Wolfenstein II and Prey.
The limited-edition AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 came as part of a Radeon Black Pack for $599. Meanwhile, the liquid-cooled Vega 64 ran for $699, and can only be purchased as part of AMD's Radeon Aqua Pack.
Lastly, you'll be able to purchase the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 by itself for $1,155.
At the end of the day, Vega was -- at least at launch -- as competitive to Nvidia as Ryzen is to Intel. However, due to the rising popularity of cryptocurrency, the price for both the Vega 56 and the Vega 64 spiraled out of control and both cards are experiencing shortages and extremely high prices. As the cryptocurrency market cools down, we could see the prices for these cards fall again. Only time will tell.
AMD Radeon RX Vega Specs
Following its 2017 Capsaicin 2 livestream event, AMD revealed the exact specifications for its two new Vega GPUs, as well as its underlying Vega 10 architecture.
It's clear the most powerful of the bunch will be the liquid-cooled version of the Radeon RX Vega 64. The more expensive water-cooled version will operate at higher base/boost clocks, despite sharing identical specs to its air-cooled twin.
The RX Vega 56, on the other hand, is positioned against Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 at $400. However, early benchmarks have cited performance that greatly outweighed that of its closest competition while running triple-A games at 2560 x 1440.
Like the Polaris 10 architecture that preceded it, AMD's Polaris 10 architecture is built on an 14nm FinFET process that should ultimately make it more power-efficient and robust in performance.
Vega 10 is also noticeably skewed towards delivering on more compute power than raw graphical strength like Nvidia's Pascal GPUs. This will likely mean Vega will be able to better handle the complex calculations of procedural surfaces, volumetric lighting and the overall quality of the in-game graphics.
This era of Vega GPUs also ditches GDDR5 memory altogether for a new format known as HBM2, or high-bandwidth memory. AMD believes its efficient memory offers a 75% smaller footprint than GDDR5 while also being 3.5 times more power-efficient.
AMD also claims that Vega's high-bandwidth cache controller will improve maximum frame rates by 50% and minimum frame rates by 100% over GDDR5 memory.
Interestingly, Vega 10 is also designed to support up to 16GB of HBM2 memory -- which we've already seen from Radeon Vega Frontier Edition -- so Nvidia's Titan X may finally get some competition from AMD.
Stay tuned for more details regarding everything AMD Vega. In the meantime, be sure to update to the latest version of AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive for a generous helping of GPU control features.