Some Quick Notes: Still Adding to Charts
The last few weeks have offered an endless stream of releases. Between Destiny 2, Threadripper, and two Vega cards, we’ve had trouble keeping up. We still want to add a few cards to these charts: The GTX 1080 is not present in every single test yet, and we haven’t yet added an AIB partner or overclocked 1080 to all charts. That time will come for the Vega 64 review and coverage, which will go live a bit after PAX. The Vega 64 card also hasn’t yet been overclocked, and will be done in a separate content piece. As usual, we’re against time windows. Most the effort was focused on overclocking V56 Hybrid; we decided it made more sense to allocate time there than rebenching various 1080s, as V56H is the focus of the piece. There’s only so much time to split between tests.
As for gaming results, we’ll start with the more exciting ones, then work our way toward the disappointing outcomes. This also means starting with games that tend to be favored toward AMD.
3DMark FireStrike Results
Vega 56 Hybrid OC vs. Vega 64, GTX 1080 – Sniper Elite 4
Sniper Elite 4 has a few relevant numbers: The stock RX Vega 56 card operated an AVG FPS of 53, with a 9% OC and 950MHz HBM2 landing us at 58FPS AVG. That’s an increase of 9.4%, and is largely from the boosted power limit and HBM2, as we learned in previous content. The Hybrid card, clocked to 1732MHz and 980MHz for stability, lands at 66FPS AVG with its 100% power target. Sure, we’re pushing 30A down the PCIe cables for 80W more power consumption, but we’re not concerned about power today. For all those saying they don’t care about power, this is your version of Vega without concern for power.
The gain is 13.8% over the overclocked Vega 56 card, or 25% over the stock Vega 56 card. Compared to the stock Vega 64 card, we’re 14.8% ahead in performance. Note also that Vega 64 is basically tied – technically, behind – the overclocked reference V56, which sort of further reinstates V64’s poor value. Just get V56 and overclock it. Even with AMD’s BIOS locks and other limitations, we’re doing better than a stock V64. We haven’t overclocked V64, but that’ll come after PAX West.
Looking to nVidia cards, the V56 Hybrid OC card is now a bit ahead of the GTX 1080 reference card without an overclock. We haven’t yet gotten around to overclocking the 1080 for this new round of tests.
Ashes of the Singularity – Vega 56 Hybrid OC vs. Vega 64, GTX 1080
Ashes of the Singularity testing lands our stock RX Vega 56 blower card at 67FPS, with the overclocked reference card at 72FPS – a gain of 7.5%. Vega 64 runs 8.5% faster, and our Vega 56 Hybrid runs 7% faster than that. At 83FPS AVG, the Hybrid mod is now 16% ahead of the overclocked Vega 56 reference card and 24% ahead of the full stock card.
This lands the overclocked Hybrid 56 ahead of the reference, stock-clocked GTX 1080.
For Honor – Vega 56 Overclocked vs. Vega 64, GTX 1080
For Honor shows surprisingly positive scaling for this overclock. At 4K, we move from 38FPS AVG stock to 44FPS AVG overclocked on reference, which ties-up the Vega 56 with Vega 64, showing that CUs matter less than clock speed on this architecture. The Hybrid OC gets up to 51FPS AVG, a gain of 16.5% over the overclocked reference 56, and now surpasses a stock-clocked reference 1080. Note, of course, that a partner model 1080 would outmatch the Hybrid OC, but still, it’s an admirable jump. If we’re roughly tied with partner models, that’s not a bad place to be. Granted, it’s drawing more power than a 1080 Ti, but that’s the price of powerplay tables mods..
At 1440p, we’re at 98FPS AVG on the Hybrid OC, a gain of 11% over both the overclocked reference card and Vega 64 at stock clocks, with a gain of 31% over the stock Vega 56 card. Again, we’re at way higher power consumption, but have boosted performance greatly. We don’t yet have the 1080 tested at this resolution.
1080p posts similar results: We’ve gained 8% over the overclocked reference card, which is getting much less exciting.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands – Vega 56 Hybrid OC Results
Brace yourselves for the next one. Ghost Recon: Wildlands at 4K positions us at 32FPS AVG for the stock card, 39FPS AVG for the 50% power offset, and 41FPS AVG for the overclocked reference card with the offset. Compared to the power offset, that overclock does almost nothing. The Hybrid OC doesn’t do much, either, as we gain just 5FPS over the 50% offset with the stock card. Not at all worth the power or the time, in this instance.
1440p is next: Vega 56 reference runs 57FPS AVG, the 50% offset is at 65FPS AVG (a 14% improvement just from the offset), but the overclock and 50% offset gets us only an extra 3FPS, disappointingly. The Hybrid OC mod runs 72FPS AVG, another couple-percent gain. Not at all exciting.
Yikes. All that effort, all that power, and we're performing at levels of an overclocked 1070. Not even a modded 1070 -- just an out-of-box card with an OC through Precision. It's safe to say that, for this particular game, the mod isn't at all worth it.
DOOM GPU Benchmark – Vega 56 Hybrid OC vs. Vega 64
DOOM is another AMD-favored title. At 1732/980, our Hybrid V56 lands at 80FPS AVG, planting it firmly ahead of the V64 (at 74FPS AVG, and with worse frametime performance) and GTX 1080 FE stock-clocked card. As always with DOOM, these results can’t really be extrapolated into other games – its performance behavior is unique to id’s execution of the engine.
Hellblade GPU Benchmark – Vega 56 Hybrid OC vs. Vega 64
Hellblade is last, and is our least populated chart. We only just started testing this game, so please excuse the lack of data. Let’s just focus on Vega 56’s scaling.
At 4K, the reference V56 operates a 27FPS AVG and boosts to 34FPS with the reference OC. The Hybrid OC unit gets us to 37FPS AVG for massive gains. We were clearly starved for power and clocks in the reference testing. We’re not sure what specific piece of hardware caused the choke point at 4K, but the overclock and over-power helps significantly in addressing it.
1440p scales a lot less impressively, but there’s also less ground to gain. The Hybrid OC card pushes 71FPS AVG, outperforming the overclocked reference card by 8% and the stock card by 13%. Again, an 8% gain is hard to get excited about, particularly given all the effort and power that went into the card.
Conclusion: Lessons from the V56 Hybrid Mod
The primary takeaway is that CUs are far less impacting to performance on Vega than raw clocks. In some tests, we didn’t even have to bypass the power limit in order to surpass stock V64 – but doing so helps keep up as V64 becomes overclocked, something we’ll look into more later. A 50% offset and modest 9% / 980MHz OC gets us to V64 performance levels. In some games, the extra 50% power (going to 100% offset, increasing current to 30-33A at 12.3V) pushes us toward and into double-digit percentage gains over the V56 OC, while other games give us ~7-8%. It just depends on the game, turns out, but results are promising in some instances.
One thing we’ve learned for sure is that V64 is hardly worth a consideration. Fifteen to twenty minutes overclocking even a reference V56 – let alone a partner model – gets us to V64 stock performance. The power mods just make it that much better. They’re probably not worth it in 95% of use cases, but the fact that AMD provided an insanely over-built VRM really does invite the play. Might as well make use of it.
We won’t try to recap the rest here -- the content above handles that in detail.
Editorial, Testing: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman