Date: Thursday , February 08, 2018
Almost six months since the launch of the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 from AMD, we are finally able to bring you a full retail custom video card evaluation. Today we are going to evaluate performance in, and overclock, the ASUS ROG STRIX RX Vega 64 O8G GAMING customized video card.
We finally have our first full review completed on a retail custom video card using the new GPU. We’ve actually had this video card in our hands for several months. The delay was not due to ASUS hardware design, the design and sampling of this video card was done months ago. Instead, the hold-up occurred on the software side of things in relation to BIOS certification and driver updates from AMD.
Due to slowdowns on AMD’s side, and BIOS customization, it took a while for ASUS to finalize its BIOS for this video card. ASUS was not able to finalize the BIOS on this video card until December, though we had the card in our hands for a couple months prior. The latest BIOS can be found here (Utilities/Version 2018/01/23 Vega64 1.47Mbytes.)
There was also an issue with drivers from AMD. Drivers that supported third party solutions for add-in-board partners were not ready for a very long time. It seemed each new driver, broke something. This delayed what add-in-board partners could do with custom clock speeds and fan envelopes.
The driver that finally worked correctly wasn’t out until December as well, which was the AMD Adrenalin driver. It was with the AMD Adrenalin driver that testing could finally begin. This whole delay in this case was not that of hardware, but that of software on AMD’s side. Now that this has all been sorted out, we can show you final performance and overclocking on this video card. We are using the latest retail BIOS and drivers.
Before we talk about the card we are reviewing, let’s quickly go over the Radeon RX Vega 64 since it has been nearly six months since we’ve evaluated it. On August 14th, 2017 AMD launched the Radeon RX Vega 64 video card. At the time, the MSRP was $499 for this video card. However, since its launch the industry has suffered price inflation due to crypto mining on video cards.
Prices are pretty astronomical right now, with prices above $1,000 for the video card, if you can even find it available, and that’s just for a reference card. Here’s one of the "cheapest" cards we can find right now, and it’s $1,099 just a reference design. Ouch.
The AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 is based on the Vega architecture at 14nm. The air-cooled model runs at a base clock of 1247MHz and a boost clock of 1546MHz. It has 64 compute units, 4,096 stream processors. It contains 8GB of HBM2 memory at 484GB/sec of bandwidth. At the time of launch, it competed with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 on price which also has an MSRP of $499. Pricing on NVIDIA GPUs is also up at the moment as well.
The official MSRP of this video card is $649.99. It was going to be $599 at the start, but has been raised. Everyone is getting hit hard with the increased cost of hardware at the moment. All of ASUS’ AMD video cards can be found here.
Due to this being the ROG STRIX O8G GAMING version ASUS has beefed up this Vega 64 with a factory overclock. Remember, the default RX Vega 64 base clock is 1247MHz and the boost clock 1546MHz. Well, on this ASUS ROG STRIX version it runs at a base clock of 1298MHz and a boost clock of 1590MHz. With the improved air-cooling solution on this video card that means it should run faster and more consistent than a reference Radeon RX Vega 64 which means higher game performance out-of-the-box. This video card has 8GB of HBM2 memory running at the default 945MHz, no overclock there.
Because this is the ROG STRIX version ASUS has also implemented all if its robust custom hardware design into this video card for improved cooling and performance. ASUS utilizes what it calls MaxContact Technology. This is improved contact with the heatsink for improved thermal transfer. ASUS claims 2x more contact with the GPU than traditional heat spreaders. The heatsink itself provides 40% more heat dissipation area. The three fans on the video card are Wing-Blade design to increase air pressure. They also turn off at idle or low temperatures. FanConnect II is supported so fan speed to case fans can be controlled by GPU temperature.
This video card uses ASUS Super Alloy Power II hardware components. ASUS claims the average clock speed on this video card should be around 1458MHz, which is better than the average clock on the reference design. ASUS also claims this video card maintains the highest DPM state more frequently for longer periods of time than the reference design. We aren’t talking huge clock speed differences here, but every little bit helps with Vega.
There is a switch atop this video card that changes it into two different BIOS performance modes. In the default shipping mode called "P" for Performance the video card operates at the aforementioned factory overclocked clock speeds. In the "Q" position for Quiet, it operates at reference clock speeds. We found no need to lower the video card to "Q" mode, and performed all testing in "P" Performance mode. Performance mode is the default shipping position of the switch.
You will also find ASUS AURA Sync Lighting for customized RGB on the video card. The ports are also "VR-Friendly" meaning it has two HDMI ports, and two DisplayPort as well as a DVI port. The video card measures 11.73 inches in length, so prepare to have a case that fits above normal length video cards. This video card does require two 8-pin power connectors.