With the release driver for the Radeon VII, we decided to return to the test bench. Steve has only spent the last few days benchmarking … after spending the last few days benchmarking only.
Since our first test of the Radeon VII, we have been told that AMD driver improvements would come, but there would be no performance improvements, but the many stability issues we are experiencing should be resolved. And in fact, with the update, the Radeon VII is now absolutely solid, which represents a massive improvement.
Today we have to try over 30 games, including the new World of Tanks update and Apex Legends. We used our Core i9-9900K test bench for testing, which is clocked with 5 GHz and 32 GB DDR4-3400 memory. We'll cover some of the results individually and then jump to full performance breakdown with all 33 games.
As the review included the results for Fortnite, Battlefield V, World of Tanks, Strange Bridge, Monster Hunter: World, Shadow of the Tomb, Rainbow Six Siege, Far Cry 5, Forza Horizon 4, Resident Evil 2, ARMA 3 and Hitman 2 will skip them and instead choose a dozen different games to discuss.
Apex Legends is a new Battle Royale game that came out of nowhere, but it seems people are enjoying this game. It is based on the same engine as Titanfall 2 and, like Titanfall 2, is limited to 144 fps.
The Radeon VII is fine in this case. It's a bit slower than the GTX 1080 Ti, 12% slower than the RTX 2080 and 26% faster than the Vega 64. So that's kind of a Radeon VII in a nutshell.
The Radeon VII does quite well in Sniper Elite 4, but who hasn't seen it coming? This is a well-optimized title that works well on both AMD and Nvidia hardware. The GeForce RTX 2080 was a bit faster, but the scope is limited. The Radeon VII can improve the Vega 64 by 30%.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a release in late 2016, but it's certainly not the oldest game we're testing with. For those wondering, DirectX 11 works better than DX12 on both AMD and Nvidia GPUs. That's why we use it.
The Radeon VII was able to keep up with the GTX 1080 Ti and was therefore somewhat slower than the RTX 2080, but a good deal faster than the RTX 2070 and Vega 64.
It's not the most optimized title released last year, but Just Cause 4 is still a lot of fun. Anyway, the performance for the Radeon VII was … okay. The 1% low performance matched that of the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080, which is good. The average frame rate was positioned exactly between the RTX 2080 and 2070, which is … okay.
The results of Star Wars Battlefront II are decent. Here the Radeon VII offers a strong, 1% low performance with a slightly lower than expected average frame rate. In the end, it was 10% slower than the RTX 2080 for the average frame rate, but 32% faster than the Vega 64.
Project Cars 2 has always preferred Nvidia hardware. We see this for example when comparing Vega 56 and GTX 1070, usually the Vega GPU is faster. As a result, Radeon VII could only beat the GTX 1080, which made it much slower than the RTX 2080 and much slower than the GTX 1080 Ti.
It continues with Assassins Creed Odyssey, a title that comparatively never plays well with AMD hardware, even though it's a title sponsored by AMD. Obviously, that doesn't mean much since this game prefers Intel CPUs and Nvidia GPUs.
The Radeon VII is a big step forward from the Vega 64 and offers 28% more performance, although it could only keep up with the RTX 2070, which isn't particularly good for a $ 700 AMD GPU.
In previous tests, we used the standalone World of Tanks benchmark. However, since this has not been updated and the game has been fundamentally revised, we switch back to testing with the HD client.
The game engine improvements mainly focused on better CPU usage, which is useful for users with low-clocked multi-core processors. The Radeon VII used to be 17% slower than the RTX 2080, now it's 16% slower so the result is the same.
On Vermintide 2, the Radeon VII was slower than the RTX 2080 and GTX 1080 Ti, although this was a big advance over Vega 64 and delivered an average of 36% more frames.
The Witcher 3 has the Vega 56 card that fits the GTX 1070, but the Radeon VII didn't do as well as it was 9% slower than the GTX 1080 Ti and even slower than the RTX 2080.
AMD no longer enjoys a performance advantage for titles based in Vulkan. Take Wolfenstein II, for example, where the Radeon VII was 12% slower than the RTX 2080.
DiRT 4 is always an interesting shot because CMAA enables God mode on the Radeon GPUs, and we see this here with the Radeon VII too. Vega 64 could outperform the 1% low power of the RTX 2080 Ti, and here we see how the Radeon VII smashes it while delivering the same 154 fps on average. AMD's GPU section would be in pretty good shape if every game looked like it.
In this way, the Radeon VII piles up in another dozen titles. Between this feature and the first test, we looked closely at 24 games, but there were another 9 that were part of our mega benchmark.
The following graphics show you how the Radeon VII is compared to the RTX 2080, 2060, GTX 1080 Ti and Vega 64 in all 33 games …
In our test with only a dozen games, the Radeon VII was 4% slower than the RTX 2080. Now it is 7% slower with 33 games, so a slight change. The previous 12 titles are included here, i.e. an even number of cheap and unfavorable titles for the 5th generation GCN architecture.
The graph above shows that there is a high probability that the RTX 2080 will be faster in a certain title, which currently makes it a superior gaming graphics card.
The Radeon VII was 2% slower than the GTX 1080 Ti with our 12-game example, now it's 5% slower. No major changes, but for the most part, the much older GTX 1080 Ti was faster. In addition, in 10 of the 33 games, it was 10% or more faster, while the Radeon VII was 10% or more in only 2 of the 33 games.
Compared to the RTX 2060, the Radeon VII is 28% faster …
Compared to Vega 64, the latest Radeon is 24% faster. That's a nice little performance boost, but as we said in the first review, you pay 40% more for just over 20% more performance.
Put everything together
Good or bad, it looks like we got it pretty much right with our selection of games in coverage from day one. The Radeon VII is indeed a little slower than the RTX 2080, but costs the same amount and uses a little more power. The reference card is extremely loud at the moment, but AMD has promised that a solution will come. We are also happy to report any stability issues that occurred prior to release. Therefore, anyone who has bought this card should have a flawless experience.
We still have to deal with overclocking and / or under-spanning. We will report back when we find that there is room for optimization and more performance.
AMD believes the Radeon VII works the way it should be. Even though we plan to continue evaluating this GPU throughout its lifespan, as we always do, AMD makes no excuses and says that the drivers are still immature or will be redesigned early. A surprise would be nice, but in the meantime, see what you get.
The Radeon VII is a good graphics card, but not competitive enough compared to the RTX 2080. We only rate it as a game product (in which this 16 GB image storage does not play a role) and frankly we do not ship it. If it was more efficient than the RTX 2080 and it ran quietly, we might consider it a worthy alternative, but let's not gloss over it or talk around the bush, it's not that efficient, it's loud and mostly just a little slower slower but slower.
For these reasons, we cannot recommend the Radeon VII over the GeForce RTX 2080. As much as we wanted the RTX 2080 to be wiped out, which forced Nvidia to become real with its prices, it didn't. Therefore, players are forced to pay the 2016 prices for the 2016 performance (unless there is a DLSS miracle, but wait, no titles that support this …). It's not a bleak scenario at all – read why we think building a gaming PC is a good idea right now – but let's hope later in the year that GPUs offer better value for gamers.