With a little over a week until the release of AMDs RX VEGA graphics card(s?) lets look at all of the information and rumours we have available. AMD released their frontier edition prosumer cards at the end of June and the response has been mixed. We can, however, use benchmarks and other information from these card to give us an inkling about what we may see on the 30th of July.
RX VEGA Models
Recent rumours initially from videocardz.com (that usually manages to get these things right) suggest that there will be three RX VEGA models.
Most thought that two models would exist, mirroring the air and liquid cooled frontier models. Slightly surprising is the inclusion of a lower end model the VEGA XL. If performance figures from the frontier edition cards carry over the XTX will be Nvidia 1070 and 1080 competitors respectively. If the RX VEGA XL card performs at the level of an Nvidia 1060 then it will also compete against the AMD Radeon 580.
Could it be that The VEGA XL will replace the AMD 580? Or is it more likely that the XL is the 1070 competitor and the XTX is a secret 1080ti competitor?
RX VEGA Performance
AMD VEGA Frontier Edition is a prosumer card but has access to AMDs gaming drivers. It is worth noting at this point there have been countless reports of the drivers being either Fiji drivers or just unfinished VEGA drivers resulting in certain VEGA architectural improvements not being utilised. While one can speculate it is impossible to really tell how much of a difference these architectural changes will make to real world gaming performance until we get full driver release.
Unfortunately in software development timelines 30 days is not a huge amount of time. If these drivers aren't ready now for the $1000 prosumer card it is highly unlikely they will be ready for RX VEGA on the 30th of July. There is, however, the possibility we see BETA VEGA gaming driver performance and a delayed release date of RX vega to allow for time to finish the driver.
If this doesn't happen, however, we will likely see very similar performance that has already been seen with air cooler and AiO liquid cooled card. This means the air cooled XT will perform similarly to the Nvidia 1070 while the AiO RX VEGA XTX will compete against the Nvidia 1080 however there will be the possibility of, potentially, significant performance improvements facilitated by driver updates int he future.
This is, unfortunately, where is appears VEGA doesn't do so well. If we assume the XTX is the 1080 competitor and the XT is the 1070 competitor then they use, respectively, 195 and 135 watts more power to achieve this.
On the bright side reviewers of the Frontier Edition cards have said the stock air and liquid cooling systems that AMD have designed are pretty impressive keeping the cards in the 70 degrees range even at their 300+ watt TDPs.
It was a month ago when Bits And Chips suggested that RX VEGA would have amazing Price:Performance. Many agree that AMD need to undercut Nvidia in order to pierce the market especially as these cards are coming out a year after the cards they are competing with.
With HBM2 being quite expensive and AMD needing to recoup R&D costs prices for VEGA XT at £349 and VEGA XTX £399 may not be out of the question. Especially if they retain some prosumer performance (although this may not be the case without the pro drivers).
Pulling together everything we have seen from rumours and frontier edition performance it seems like we are likely to see power hungry but cheaper Nvidia 1070 and 1080 competitors with a mystery smaller XL card. The XL card could be a Nano version of the card but I find it weird that they would choose the name XL.
These cards may turn out to be a better investment than the 1070 or 1080 if drivers do enable new features and result in higher performance.
It is a shame it doesn't seem we will be getting a 1080ti competitor but all competition is good competition and AMD are now competing with Nvidia in a new sector of the market that is a good thing for the consumer whether you want to buy RX VEGA or not. This is also good news for Freesync as there will now be a card capable of power 2k 144Hz and 4k 60Hz (although may struggle at max graphics settings).
All will be revealed at SIGGRAPH on the 30th of July. Q2 AMD results will also be released next week on the 25th of July.